Feb. 23, 2011
KINGS (13-41) vs.
Coverage begins at 4 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California
ORLANDO (AP) -- After a difficult stretch, the Orlando Magic headed into the All-Star break on a positive note with help from star center Dwight Howard.
Howard and the Magic could keep rolling in their return Wednesday night as they host the lowly Sacramento Kings.
The Magic (36-21) dropped five of eight from Jan. 24-Feb. 6, but won four of five before Howard headed off to Los Angeles to start for the Eastern Conference All-Star squad, which lost 148-143 on Sunday.
NEWS: NBA Standings
Howard had five points and seven rebounds during the exhibition, but has shined recently in games that count, averaging 28.3 points and 14.3 rebounds over the past four contests. Before the break, he scored 32 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in a 101-76 rout of visiting Washington on Feb. 16.
"I'll be anxious to see how we come out and play down the stretch," said coach Stan Van Gundy, whose team is 10-1 in its last 11 against sub-.500 teams.
If recent matchups with the Kings are an indication, the Magic might start that stretch run with a victory, Orlando has won five in a row over Sacramento (13-41) and three straight at home.
The Magic also won't have to face Tyreke Evans, who is out for three weeks with an injured left foot. The reigning rookie of the year, who has been slowed much of the season by plantar fasciitis, was averaging a team-high 18.3 points and 5.5 assists per game.
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Without its second-year guard, Sacramento lost for the eighth time in nine games, 117-97 to Miami on Tuesday. The Kings were outscored 35-16 in the first quarter and trailed throughout while allowing the Heat to outshoot them 56.7 to 47.6 percent.
REWIND: Kings miss Tyreke in loss to Heat
"When you give a team like that those chances, it's tough to win the game," guard Beno Udrih said.
Samuel Dalembert was the only Sacramento player to score more than 14 points with 18 off the bench, and he had 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double this season.
Rookie DeMarcus Cousins, now the team's active scoring leader (14.0 ppg) finished with eight points on 3-of-14 shooting. The Kings also played without forward Carl Landry, who was held out because he might be sent to New Orleans before Thursday's trading deadline.
"We're involved in some fairly significant discussions so it was pertinent not to play him," coach Paul Westphal said.
Cousins, Dalembert or Jason Thompson might have the difficult task of trying to contain Howard, and the Kings might need all three players to stop the Orlando center, who has averaged 26.3 points and 14.2 rebounds in his last six matchups with Sacramento.
NEWS: Kings roster
Since winning at Phoenix on Feb. 13, the Kings have dropped three in a row on their season-high, seven-game road trip. Following the game with Orlando, they'll stay in the South with matchups against Charlotte on Friday and Memphis on Saturday.