While the Orlando Magic have secured their first winning record in five years, this may be the first season of a long run of losing for the Miami Heat.
After achieving one of their objectives for the stretch run, the Magic look to sweep the lowly Heat for the second straight season when the teams meet Friday night.
Orlando (42-24) has a list of goals it would like to accomplish late this season written on the blackboard in its locker room, and it reached one with a 110-86 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night. That victory ensured the Magic of their first winning season since 2002-03, when they went 42-40.
"We've got some guys in our locker room who have never had a winning season and I think you've got to appreciate some of the things you accomplish during a season," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "The next goal is to wrap up a playoff spot and then win our division and secure home-court for the playoffs."
Dwight Howard, playing on a winning team for the first time in his four-year career, had 22 points and 13 rebounds versus the Clippers for his league-high 57th double-double this season.
"It feels good to have a winning season, but we're not satisfied," Howard said. "We've got a lot of stuff to work on for the playoffs. We want to be great so you've got to push to get better."
The Southeast Division-leading Magic are in third place in the East. A win over the league-worst Heat (11-52) would give them 43 victories for the first time since going 44-38 in 2001-02.
Orlando has an excellent opportunity to earn that win. The Magic are 3-0 against the Heat this season and have won eight straight in this series since a 110-100 loss on Feb. 15, 2006.
Howard has played particularly well against Miami this season, averaging 20.7 points and 15.6 rebounds in three games. With the Heat's injury-depleted roster, Miami is likely to again have a tough time dealing with the 6-foot-11 center.
The Heat, who have lost six straight and 33 of 36, are on pace to have their worst season in franchise history. They went 15-67 as an expansion team in 1988-89.
Miami played two straight games with only eight healthy players before signing swingman Bobby Jones to a 10-day contract Wednesday. Jones, playing on his fourth NBA team this season, finished with five points and five rebounds in 19 minutes in the Heat's 91-88 loss to downtrodden New York on Wednesday night.
"One week, I'm in the NBA, staying at the Four Seasons," Jones said. "The next week, I'm in the D-League, sharing a hotel room with another dude."
Miami has been able to remain relatively competitive over the last three games, losing those contests by a combined seven points. The Heat are 3-11 in games decided by three points or less.
"The last three games have all been losses. They've been hard-earned losses," Miami coach Pat Riley said. "People on talk shows ridicule them, call them names, people in the media, and they're out there busting their tails."
Riley won't be coaching this game as he left Thursday for a three-day trip to several major college basketball tournaments. He'll be at the Big 12 tourney, where he'll see possible No. 1 overall pick Michael Beasley of Kansas State.
Assistant coach Ron Rothstein will coach the Heat Friday with Riley expected to be back in Miami for Sunday's game against Dallas.
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