Magic-Hornets Preview

The Associated Press

It's safe to say it's been a disappointing past few days for the Orlando Magic.

It's been more than two weeks since the Western Conference-worst New Orleans Hornets tasted victory.

With both teams hoping to get back on track, the Magic visit a reeling Hornets team looking to avoid a 10th consecutive loss Friday night.

Aside from handing Indiana its first home defeat with Tuesday's 102-83 victory, it's been a week to forget for Orlando (12-6). The Magic, who the night before knocking off the Pacers set franchise lows for points and field goals (16) during an 87-56 loss at Boston, suffered another disheartening loss to the Celtics at home Thursday.

Orlando led by as many as 27 points in the first half, but got outscored 54-25 over the final 24 minutes en route to an 91-83 defeat. The fourth quarter was worst of all, as the Magic scored a franchise-worst eight points and shot 2 of 17 from the field.

"We thought it was going to be easy after the first two quarters," said Dwight Howard, the lone bright spot with 16 points and 16 rebounds. "We can't allow that to happen. We've got to change. We have to change what we do, and guys have to know their roles and do it. That's just the bottom line."

The Magic shot 38.0 percent on the night, dropping to 0-5 when shooting 40 percent or below.

"We've got to get to where we can just play the game," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I've got to find a solution to that."

A matchup with the Hornets (3-15) could help Orlando regroup. Continuing to play without shooting guard Eric Gordon (sore right knee), New Orleans ranks 28th in the league with 87.6 points per game.

The Hornets, who have been outscored by an average of 6.1 points during their nine-game skid, haven't dropped 10 in a row since Dec. 17, 2004-Jan. 7, 2005.

After suffering three straight two-point defeats, New Orleans fell 101-91 at Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

Jarrett Jack, averaging 20.6 points on 49.5 percent shooting over his last seven games, finished with 20 points to go along with five assists but was the only starter to score in double figures. Big man Gustavo Ayon had a career-best 16 points while fellow reserve Carl Landry added 15 and 11 rebounds.

"Obviously we would like to have (Gordon) in there but even if we had (him) in uniform, that still doesn't say automatically all our problems will be cured," Jack said. "I mean we would love to have him in uniform? Of course. But I still think even if he was here, there are still 11,13,14 players who still have to get on the court and still need to find a way to be successful."

Acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers as part of the Chris Paul deal, Gordon turned down a four-year extension Wednesday, choosing instead to become a restricted free agent after the season. He has only played two games in 2011-12, none since Jan. 4.

The Hornets have won three straight meetings with the Magic despite Howard's averaging 25.0 points and 15.6 rebounds in those contests. Howard, currently pulling down an NBA-best 15.6 boards per game, has posted 12 double-doubles in his last 13 games against New Orleans.

This is the only matchup between the Hornets and Magic this season.

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