NBA.com Daily Confidential

The surprising Orlando Magic are in the midst of their toughest test of the early season, a season-high six-game road trip. So far, the Eastern Conference leaders have been up to the challenge.

Playing the third game of the trip, Orlando (12-4) looks for a rare win over the Portland Trail Blazers (6-10) when the teams meet Friday night.

The Magic have won five straight and nine of their last 10, including a 94-84 victory over Seattle on Wednesday. That came two days after Orlando opened the road swing with an 88-75 win over Utah - owner of the NBA's best record at 13-3.

``We're just having fun,'' forward Dwight Howard said. ``When you're having fun, you're out there playing hard.''

Howard had 24 points and 12 rebounds Wednesday, going 8-for-8 from the field and 8-for-12 from the free-throw line for his seventh straight double-double and ninth in 10 games.

``I hope as he gets older, he keeps getting better,'' coach Brian Hill said of the third-year player. ``You don't expect the 8-for-8 every night, but 24 and 12, I'm not going to say it's becoming the norm, but it doesn't surprise you either.''

Howard is averaging career highs of 17.1 points and 13.6 rebounds.

The Magic had one of the league's worst road records last season at 10-31, but are halfway to that victory total at 5-3 after winning their last three games away from the TD Waterhouse Centre.

Now, Orlando will try for a rare win at the Rose Garden.

The Magic have dropped six of their last seven games there, losing by an average of 13 points. Orlando is 3-12 against Portland all-time.

The Magic's trip ends Wednesday against Indiana. They face the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday and Sacramento on Monday.

The Blazers have lost three straight and eight of 10, including a 105-97 defeat to the Pacers on Tuesday. Portland shot a season-low 39.1 percent for the game, but was tied with Indiana heading into the final quarter. The Pacers, though, quickly opened an 11-point lead and the Blazers couldn't respond.

``We didn't execute down the stretch,'' said Portland's Jarrett Jack, who had 21 points and six assists. ``We can't give up 30 points (in a quarter) like we did.''

Zach Randolph led Portland with 30 points and 11 rebounds, and the Blazers got back center Joel Przybilla, who played for the first time since getting kneed in the groin during the second game of the season. He finished with two points and 10 rebounds.

Portland is still playing without guard Brandon Roy (left heel) and forwards Darius Miles (right knee) and Raef LaFrentz (calf). Roy and Miles will miss Friday's game, while LaFrentz is listed as day-to-day.

Portland has given up at least 105 points in its four losses over the last five games. The Blazers are allowing opponents to shoot 48.6 percent from the field, second-worst in the NBA.

The Blazers are 5-0 when holding opponents under 100 points.


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