The Orlando Magic are coming off a big win over the NBA's top team, but missing two starters in their next game could make it difficult for them to maintain momentum.
After losing 100-84 at league-worst Charlotte on Tuesday, a frustrated Stan Van Gundy said his team didn't have a "push to be better," but Orlando responded with a 99-94 win at Chicago on Thursday.
Although the Magic (26-15) blew an 18-point lead, they held on after limiting the Bulls to one field goal in the final 2:55.
Dwight Howard finished with 29 points and 18 rebounds and Ryan Anderson had 11 points and 10 boards. Orlando went 11 of 26 from 3-point range, with Richardson connecting on 4 of 6 from beyond the arc.
"We stepped up tonight and everybody played great," Howard said. "We have to play that brand of basketball to compete for a championship. We can't fall back and have a game like Charlotte and expect to be in the same breath as Chicago and Miami."
The victory kicked off a crucial stretch for the Magic before Thursday's trade deadline. After Sunday's game against the Pacers, they'll host Miami on Tuesday and visit San Antonio on Wednesday.
While Orlando mulls trading Howard, it has two immediate roster concerns. Turkoglu was suspended for Sunday's game after making contact with an official and Richardson is expected to miss at least one game with a left ankle sprain.
Richardson hopes to return Tuesday, but Van Gundy was less optimistic, saying the veteran guard would be out at least three games.
Although the timing is far from ideal, Van Gundy said it presents the team the opportunity to show it can be consistent, something he has voiced frustration with in the past.
"We're at a very difficult time of the schedule, but I think it's good for us," he said. "Let's either step up and play the way we need to play every night or we're going to pay the price for it."
J.J. Redick will start in Richardson's place and Quentin Richardson will start for Turkoglu.
Playing a short-handed Magic team could provide Indiana with the break it needs as it concludes a difficult stretch.
After winning six straight against lesser competition, the Pacers (23-15) have dropped three in a row to some of the league's top teams - Chicago, Atlanta and Miami.
Indiana was outscored 7-0 after taking a 91-86 lead with 2:10 left in overtime Saturday against the Heat, and Dwyane Wade's jumper with 0.1 seconds to play won it for Miami.
"We have to understand that we're a good basketball team," coach Frank Vogel said. "We proved that we could play with these guys. We should have pulled out this game.''
Danny Granger had 19 points and seven rebounds, but second-leading scorer Roy Hibbert, who came in averaging 13.1 points and 9.5 rebounds, finished with five points and seven boards.
Hibbert has struggled in four games this month, averaging 6.0 points and 8.0 rebounds. He shot 2 of 11 Saturday.
Another tough challenge awaits Hibbert on Sunday. Howard played just 25 minutes in the first meeting between these teams on Jan. 24, when he became the franchise's all-time leading scorer in a 102-83 victory. Howard has averaged 25.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in the last two matchups.
Orlando has won two of three against Indiana this season, losing the only home meeting. The Magic have won 13 of 16 against the Pacers.
- Jason Richardson
- Orlando Magic
- Hedo Turkoglu
- Stan Van Gundy
- Dwight Howard
- Indiana Pacers
- Quentin Richardson