Despite Orlando's solid standing in the Eastern Conference, more performances like their latest will leave the Magic wondering if they can be a legitimate NBA title contender.
The Magic look to bounce back from one of their worst losses of the season and continue their recent success against the visiting Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night.
One night after Orlando was held to 34 points in the second half of a 91-81 loss at rival Miami, the Magic (29-18) scored their second-fewest points of the season during an 85-59 defeat at home to a Chicago team without injured star Derrick Rose on Monday.
Orlando is third in the East, but has committed 59 turnovers in the last three games and failed to score 20 points over the last six quarters of the last two contests where its shot 37.5 percent.
"We're just not building solid habits and making good enough decisions,'' coach Stan Van Gundy said. "And at the end of the day, you are going to hit the playoffs and you are going to be left with your habits. We're running out of time. We have 5 1/2 weeks and it's time.''
Dwight Howard had 18 points and 12 rebounds Monday, but none of his teammates scored more than 10 as the Magic lost for the third time in four games. Less than two weeks after winning 99-94 at Chicago on March 8, Orlando was outscored 25-11 in the fourth quarter and committed 19 turnovers that resulted in 25 points for the Bulls.
"When you play the way we played, this is a team-wide thing,'' Van Gundy said. "I've got to take responsibility.''
While Van Gundy believes he needs to take charge, his players have actually realized that they also must hold up their end of the deal if they want to go far in the postseason.
"If we want to win we all have to buy in - me, the team, the most important guy all the way to the least important guy,'' forward Glen Davis said. "Consistency (is what's lacking). Sometimes we get bored with the journey and just play to the level that we need to."
Orlando has played at a high level while winning four of five versus Phoenix (23-23). The Magic have won the last three home meetings with the Suns by an average margin of 16.7 points. Howard has averaged 24.8 points in the last four home games versus Phoenix.
Looking for their first win in Orlando since a 106-96 victory Nov. 10, 2007, the Suns try to bounce back after their season-high four-game winning streak ended with a 99-95 loss at Miami on Tuesday. Ex-Magic star Grant Hill had 19 points with seven rebounds as Phoenix blew a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead to lose for the fourth time in 15 games.
"(Miami) made the plays down the stretch, but we also had an opportunity to make plays that we didn't complete,'' said Suns coach Alvin Gentry, whose team succumbed to a 17-0 run in the final period.
Phoenix forward Channing Frye had averaged 18.0 points on 51.6 percent shooting (33 of 64) in the previous five games, but went 1 of 7 from the field and finished with two points Tuesday.
Hill scored 21 points in the Suns' 105-89 loss in their last trip to Orlando on Nov. 18, 2010.
- Phoenix Suns
- Stan Van Gundy