After some inconsistent play, the Orlando Magic are coming off one of their best offensive games in a nearly a month.

Next, they'll go for a milestone victory.

The Southeast Division champion Magic will try to reach 50 wins for the first time in 12 years as they meet the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

Orlando (49-29) hasn't had a 50-win season since notching a franchise-best 60 in 1996. That year, the Magic were swept by Chicago in four games in the Eastern Conference finals, and have been ousted in the first round of five postseason series since then.

The Magic are 4-5 in their last nine games after winning five straight from March 10-17, but are coming off a 115-83 rout of the Bulls on Wednesday. Playing with six stitches in his upper lip, Dwight Howard had his best outing in 22 games by scoring 30 points on 12-of-15 shooting and pulled down 14 rebounds.

The Magic's leading scorer at 21.0 points, he totaled just 17 in his last two.

"I just wanted to come out and play a lot better than the last two games. I didn't think I brought myself mentally and physically to the game," he said. "So I just wanted to come out and give a great effort on both ends."

Coach Stan Van Gundy said although the Magic are locked into the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, it's important they finish the regular season strong. Orlando travels to Chicago and Atlanta for its next two games, then closes the season at home against Washington.

"It should be pretty easy to focus right now on what you need to do," Van Gundy said. "We understand we're locked into the position but at the same time, there are still things we want to accomplish in the regular season. We really need to get ready and we've got to be very focused to do that."

Van Gundy said Howard especially needs to step up.

"I think the tendency is for him to say they're not getting me the ball," he said. "And that is partially true. It's not all on him, but he's got to work harder to get it too."

Howard had 28 points and 16 rebounds in Orlando's 111-103 win over Minnesota (19-59) on Nov. 6. He's averaging 16.3 points in seven career games against the Timberwolves.

Minnesota comes in having lost six straight, including a 122-90 loss to New Orleans on Wednesday. Rashad McCants scored 23 points and Randy Foye added 20 as the Timberwolves stayed competitive in the first half, trailing by two at the break, but were outscored 74-44 in the second half.

"We just have to find a consistent way to play basketball," forward Kirk Snyder said. "Obviously we're talented, but we just have to find a consistent way to play together and try to do it for a long period of time."

Al Jefferson, who tied a career-high with 40 points on Tuesday in a loss to Charlotte, finished with only 14. Jefferson had 25 and 10 rebounds in the loss to the Magic earlier this season, and averages a team-high 21.1 points.

The Timberwolves have the second-worst record in the Western Conference, 1 1/2 games ahead of Seattle, and third-worst in the NBA.


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