March 9, 2011
ORLANDO (40-24) vs.
Coverage begins at 7 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California
SACRAMENTO (AP) -- Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard questioned his team after sloppy play contributed to an embarrassing home loss to the Sacramento Kings two weeks ago.
It appears that some of those questions remain unanswered.
Following a one-game suspension for picking up his NBA-leading 16th technical foul, Howard and the Magic begin a five-game trip Wednesday night looking to avenge their loss to the Kings.
With Howard on the sidelines, the Magic (40-24), who rank in the bottom third of the league with 14.6 turnovers per game, committed 19 versus Portland en route to an 89-85 defeat Monday.
"It's been an ongoing problem, we're one of the higher turnover teams in the league," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We either (have to) take care of the ball better or we're gonna struggle."
The Magic's five-game winning streak against Sacramento (15-46) came to an end Feb. 23 as the Kings scored 26 points off 17 turnovers in a 111-105 victory, a result that led Howard to call out his teammates.
"We've been talking for a long time - all we seem to do is talk," Howard said after a 31-point, 17-rebound effort. "You guys know what the difference is. You watch the games. If guys don't want to play, they need to sit down. We can't just have guys or anybody out there not playing hard."
Orlando went on to win four straight after Howard's remarks but has now lost back-to-back games for the first time in over a month. Van Gundy is hoping to get a better effort on the trip.
"We just need to play well," he said. "I'm interested to see how well we play. It doesn't have anything to do with where we are or anything else. We just need to play well, we need to play well consistently."
Jameer Nelson, who committed five turnovers versus the Kings, also registered five against the Trail Blazers and Gilbert Arenas had six.
While the Magic have held teams to 93.5 points per game in winning three of four on the road, the Kings have surrendered 113.2 points on 50.2 percent shooting during a 2-8 stretch.
Despite a 20-point first-half performance from rookie DeMarcus Cousins on Monday night, Sacramento trailed by seven at halftime and fell 123-101 to Houston.
REWIND: Kings blown out at home by Rockets
"You've got to guard somebody. You can't give up 30-point quarters every quarter and expect to win," coach Paul Westphal said. "Our defense was not good enough really ever to give us a chance to hang around in the game."
Cousins, averaging 22.0 points and 13.3 rebounds in his last three games, was 0 of 5 from the floor and failed to score in the second half.
Guard Jermaine Taylor, who continues to see minutes in place of the injured Tyreke Evans, scored a career-high 21 last month against Orlando.
The Kings, who have dropped seven of eight at home, haven't swept the Magic since 2003-04.
"I'm sure that they remember that game and they'll come out with all guns a blazing," Westphal told the Kings' official website. "I see that Dwight Howard got suspended for a game and sat out but he'll be back in time for our game, don't worry."
Howard is averaging 27.0 points and 14.6 rebounds while shooting 70.8 percent in his last seven meetings with the Kings.
Orlando has won three of four in Sacramento after winning three times in its first 17 visits.