The Orlando Magic have been frustrated by their poor defensive effort recently.

A matchup against the struggling offense of the Houston Rockets on Wednesday could provide some relief.

Orlando (17-9) has lost two straight and five of its last six, including a 111-108 defeat at Dallas on Monday. It was the fourth time during the current slump that Orlando has allowed an opponent to score at least 100 points.

The Magic shot 52.4 percent from the field and never let the Mavericks' lead get bigger than 11, but they couldn't stop Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 31 points.

"Dirk's a great player," coach Stan Van Gundy said, "but everybody can score on us."

Orlando, which lost 123-119 at home to Memphis on Saturday, is allowing 99.4 points per game this season - 107.3 in the last seven contests.

"People have just been able to kind of get what they want on us and that's kind of our reputation," guard Keyon Dooling said. "We've got to kind of change our mentality. Obviously we've got good offensive players, but we've got to become a better defensive team."

While its defense has struggled, Orlando's offense continues to perform well. The Magic have averaged 105.0 points the last seven games and have shot above 50 percent the last three. Hedo Turkoglu had 26 points Monday while Dwight Howard added 22 points and 13 rebounds.

Turkoglu, who is second on the team in scoring at 19.0 points, has averaged 24.0 the last three games. He was 10-of-14 from the field Monday.

Orlando's defense may have a better chance at containing its next opponent given Houston's recent offensive struggles.

The Rockets (12-12) have dropped three of their last four and five of eight, including a 96-83 loss to Dallas on Saturday. Houston has been held to fewer than 90 points in each of its last four games.

Yao Ming had 28 points and 14 rebounds on Saturday while Tracy McGrady added 12 points. Shane Battier was the only other player to score in double figures with 11.

Dallas scored 21 points off 19 Houston turnovers.

"It seems like I say this all the time, but we couldn't make a shot," coach Rick Adelman said. "We missed layups and the only one who was consistent all night long was Yao. ... We just have to find a way to get more people involved and I don't know how we're going to be successful if we can't do that."

The Rockets could be in for even more offensive troubles in this game if a sore knee hinders McGrady like it did Saturday. Houston's leading scorer bruised his left knee on a drive in the first quarter and finished just 5-of-18 from the field.

McGrady, who came out in the second half with a black wrap around his knee, said he's had soreness in the knee for about two weeks.

"I don't know the logical terms of it," said McGrady, who averaged 28.1 points in four seasons with Orlando before being traded to Houston on June 29, 2004. "It has something to do with my kneecap being out of line. Tonight I banged it and it's just one of those things."

Houston has won three straight and nine of 10 against Orlando.


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