The Orlando Magic haven't been getting many points from leading scorer Dwight Howard lately, but that may help them gain ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Magic look to continue their recent success with a balanced attack when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.

Orlando (34-39) is trying to reach the playoffs for the first time in four seasons and is battling New Jersey for one of the final two spots in the Eastern Conference race. Indiana and New York Knicks are just outside the playoff picture, though, with less than three weeks remaining in the regular season.

The Magic were a dismal 9-24 from Jan. 12-March 21, but have since won three of four including a 95-87 victory over the Pacers on Friday.

"That's a good win for us obviously with the situation in the standings," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "Obviously it just puts that much more importance on every game as we move forward here."

Howard is averaging 17.6 points this season, but that's dropped to 10.5 over the last four games along with 13.0 rebounds. He was held to 10 points and eight rebounds Friday, while committing seven of Orlando's 24 turnovers.

"It just has to stop,'' Hill said about the team's giveaways. "Dwight had seven of them. How many walks did we have tonight? We had at least four walks, four or five walks.''

Grant Hill had just one turnover and stepped up with 11 of his team-high 22 points in the fourth quarter and hit 14 of 16 from the free-throw line in the win. He's trying to score 20 or more points in three straight games for only the second time this season and is averaging 22.9 points in 15 career meetings with the Timberwolves - his second-best mark versus any opponent.

Hedo Turkoglu also has stepped up with Howard struggling by averaging 14.8 points over the last four games and reserve Trevor Ariza scored 17 points Friday, including seven in a 1:35 fourth-quarter span.

Howard led the Magic to a 109-98 win over the Timberwolves (30-42) in their only meeting this season on Nov. 11, tallying 21 points and 22 rebounds.

Kevin Garnett recorded 28 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota in that game, and had another dominant showing Friday, but it wasn't enough as the Timberwolves fell 92-77 to Miami. Garnett had 22 points and 20 rebounds in the loss while Mark Blount added 18 points for Minnesota, which shot just 36.9 percent (31-for-84) from the field, including 2 of 18 from 3-point range.

"Everything was an exhaustion with whoever caught it - I am going to exhaust my play first,'' said Minnesota coach Randy Wittman, whose team is trying to avoid a fourth straight loss. "They are the best in the league in taking away your first option and the strong side. If you don't get the ball moved to the weak side, you are going to struggle like we did.''

Minnesota has struggled on the road, losing 13 of its last 14 while going 10-27 overall. The Timberwolves likely will miss the playoffs for the third straight season as they're 13th in the Western Conference.

The Magic are 22-14 at home and going for their first three-game winning streak there since a four-game run Dec. 30-Jan. 7.


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