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Pacers-Magic Preview

AP - Sports

A disgruntled Dwight Howard wasn't shy about sharing his frustration with his teammates following the Orlando Magic's most recent defeat.

Reminding them of Tuesday's blowout win over the Indiana Pacers may provide more motivation.

Orlando seeks to recover from an embarrassing loss by winning a seventh straight matchup with Indiana when the teams meet Sunday night at the Amway Center.

Howard's on-again, off-again trade demand has been comparable to the Magic's performances lately, having lost four of six.

Orlando (12-7) trailed by double digits throughout the second half of Friday's 93-67 loss at New Orleans, which had lost nine straight and has the Western Conference's worst record.

Howard had 28 points and 16 rebounds, but none of his teammates scored in double figures and none had more than five boards or assists. The Magic committed 23 turnovers and shot 39.3 percent while allowing the Hornets to hit 50.6 percent.

"It hurts to get out there and you play your hardest and you expect everybody to play the same way, and I'm not calling anybody out by no means because we all have to get better ... but if you don't want to be out there, don't dress up," Howard said. "If you don't want to play, stay home. People work too hard. I want to win a championship. I work too hard every night for anybody to not want to go out there and play hard.

Howard had 17 free-throw attempts while the rest of the Magic had four. He was 9 of 14 from the field as the other four starters combined to go 5 for 23.

"None of the - whatever, trade stuff - none of that stuff matters," he added. "Play basketball. That's why we all get paid to do this, because we love the game and it's basketball, so why not give it your all?"

Howard's rant also stems from two defeats to Boston this week. The Magic blew a 27-point lead in Thursday's 91-83 home loss and set a franchise record for fewest points in an 87-56 road loss to the Celtics on Monday.

"The three worst losses I think we've had since I've been here and it's in the matter of five days. It's tough to take," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It's very, very bad right now. It's a matter of energy and we don't seem to conjure that up right now."

However, Orlando did bounce back from that 31-point rout in Boston with a 102-83 win at Indiana the following night. While Howard was limited to 14 points and nine boards, Ryan Anderson scored a game-high 24.

Anderson, though, sat out Friday with a sore left calf and his status for this game is uncertain.

The Magic's six-game winning streak in this series includes five double-digit victories. The Pacers also have dropped six straight in Orlando, giving up an average of 112.3 points.

Indiana (12-6) hasn't been very consistent lately, either.

Following the loss to the Magic, the Pacers beat East-leading Chicago 95-90 on Wednesday before falling 94-87 in Boston on Friday.

It was their first loss in seven games when getting at least 20 points from Danny Granger, who had 21. He was 1 for 6 from 3-point range as Indiana finished a season-worst 1 for 19.

Roy Hibbert, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds Tuesday versus Orlando, sprained his right ankle in the second quarter Friday but returned in the third and should play Sunday.

Magic starting point guard Jameer Nelson did not return to Friday's game after being inadvertently hit in the jaw in the second quarter but hopes to play versus the Pacers.

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