The Orlando Magic are one of the best road teams in the NBA, but they feel they'll need to improve at home to win their first playoff series in more than a decade. Their latest game was a step in the right direction.
Already looking forward to the postseason, the Magic look to build on one of their best performances at Amway Arena this season as they host the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.
No team in the NBA has more road wins than Orlando (35-22), which is 20-11 away from home. The Magic, though, haven't been quite as successful at home, where they're 15-11.
First-year coach Stan Van Gundy hopes his club can improve on that mark, especially because the Magic have a good shot at securing home-court advantage in the first round of the postseason considering their big lead atop the Southeast Division.
"When you're fighting so hard to get a home-court advantage in the playoffs, we have to play better on our home court," Van Gundy said after a 115-99 home win over Philadelphia on Friday - his club's second consecutive victory in Orlando. "We have to play more like we did tonight on a consistent basis to make the home court truly an advantage."
Orlando's 115 points were its most at home since scoring 119 in a loss to Memphis on Dec. 15. The Magic shot 51.2 percent from the field - their highest home percentage since Dec. 26 - and made 15 3-pointers to match their highest total at Amway Arena this season.
Dwight Howard's inside presence made it easier for Orlando's 3-point shooters. The All-Star center had 24 points and 18 rebounds while shooting 9-for-12 from the field.
"I was just ready to go from the beginning," said Howard, averaging 20.0 points and 13.6 rebounds at home compared to 23.2 points and 15.4 rebounds on the road. "We've got to start winning a lot of games at home, and playing good in front of our crowd, getting our fans going, get everybody up on their feet. Come playoff time, we're really going to need our fans into the game so we can win."
The Magic haven't won a playoff series since Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway helped them advance to the Eastern Conference finals in 1996.
The Kings (26-28) don't have the same postseason aspirations the Magic do, but they haven't lost since trading point guard Mike Bibby during the All-Star break.
Francisco Garcia came off the bench to score a team-high 23 points with six 3-pointers as Sacramento beat Charlotte 116-115 in overtime on Friday for its third straight win.
"Right now every time he shoots it, we think it's going in," Kings coach Reggie Theus said of Garcia, who is 15-of-21 from 3-point range in the last three games while averaging 20.0 points.
Like Bibby, Ron Artest had been the subject of trade rumors all season, but the volatile forward remained with the Kings as Thursday's trade deadline passed. He had 20 points and made the go-ahead jumper in Friday's victory.
When asked if he was happy to still be playing for the Kings, Artest said, "I have no comment. The most important thing is winning. That's the only thing that makes me happy. I'm happy when we win. I'm a sore loser."
Artest can opt out of his contract after this season, but didn't say whether he plans to pursue that option.
"It's up to my agent," he said. "You don't know who's going to offer you money. I don't know if anybody wants me."
Artest didn't play in these teams' first meeting Jan. 8 because of an elbow injury. Despite his absence, the Kings overcame Howard's 29 points and 15 rebounds to win 104-100.
Sacramento hasn't swept a season series against Orlando since winning both meetings during the 2003-04 season.
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