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Posted Dec 5 2006 9:20PM
The Orlando Magic have been one of the NBA's best home teams this season, but it's their recent play on the road that's helping them gain confidence.
The Magic try to conclude their season-high six-game road trip with another victory Wednesday when they visit the Indiana Pacers.
Orlando (14-5) has won six straight at TD Waterhouse Centre and is 7-1 there this season. But the Magic are having similar success away from home, however, winning five of their last six and are 7-4 on the road overall.
The Eastern Conference leaders improved to 4-1 on their current trip with a 92-89 win Monday at Sacramento, snapping an 11-game skid at Arco Arena. Point guard Jameer Nelson drained a 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left to give the Magic their 11th win in 13 overall games.
``When we step on the court, we think we're supposed to win now,'' said Nelson, who scored 14 points and is averaging 20.5 in two meetings with the Pacers this season. ``We go out with a little swagger, and we do whatever we've got to do to win. I got that last shot, but it could have been anybody. It's not about who takes it.''
Dwight Howard recorded 18 points and 16 rebounds for his 13th double-double in 19 games. Orlando's leading scorer has also notched a double-double in both meetings with the Pacers (9-10) this season, which the teams have split.
While the Magic are thriving on their road trip, the Pacers are happy to have finished theirs. Indiana capped a six-game swing of its own with a 2-4 mark after a 101-87 defeat Monday to the Los Angeles Lakers, their third straight loss overall.
Jermaine O'Neal was the lone starter in double figures Monday with 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who were outrebounded 41-28. Sarunas Jasikevicius led the reserves with 16 points, Danny Granger added 15 and Maceo Baston had 10.
Second-leading scorer Al Harrington was held to eight points in the defeat, his lowest output since scoring four in a 96-91 loss Nov. 22 to the Magic. The Pacers' veteran forward also had one of his best performances against Orlando, however, matching a season high with 32 points in a 93-83 Indiana win Nov. 10.
Indiana allowed just five of its first 15 opponents to surpass 100 points, but the Pacers have given up at least 100 in their last four games. They also have allowed 60 or more first-half points in their last three games.
``We've trailed 15 of the 19 first quarters, so we've got to compete better to start games,'' Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. ``I've got to convince our guys that the way you start games goes a long way towards how games end. You just can't dig yourself a hole every night.''
The Pacers, who are 4-2 at home, have won their last three games at Conseco Fieldhouse against the Magic.
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