Dwight Howard has helped make the Orlando Magic's two losses to open the season a distant memory.

Howard and the Magic look to close out a perfect five-game homestand Monday when they host the Portland Trail Blazers.

Orlando (4-2) opened the season by scoring 85 and 84 points in losses to Atlanta and Memphis, respectively, but has since averaged 105.3 points while winning the first four games of this homestand.

Howard had 31 points and 16 rebounds - both season highs - in a 106-81 victory over Washington on Saturday. The center shot 11-for-13 from the field and also had three blocked shots, bringing his season total to a league-leading 24.

"I've seen him have numbers like that before, but I'm not sure he's played a better game since I've been here," said coach Stan Van Gundy, in his second season with Orlando.

"On top of being dominant physically, which he always is, he was just so patient. He wasn't forcing anything, just letting the game come to him. He looked like a more mature, professional guy down in the low post."

Howard, who is averaging 22.0 points and 13.7 rebounds, said his teammates are making it possible for him to put up the big numbers.

"When those guys spread the floor, it just give me more room around the basket, allows me to do more things," Howard said. "It makes it easier for me when it's not so cluttered."

On the other end of the floor, Orlando has held its last two opponents below 40 percent shooting from the field.

"We're playing better on defense," point guard Jameer Nelson said. "When we make mistakes, we don't hold our heads down anymore, we go on to the next play."

While the Magic seek to complete an unblemished homestand, the Trail Blazers have dropped all three of their road games while winning all three of their contests at home - a pattern they'll seek to change as they open the first of three five-game road trips they'll take this season.

They defeated Minnesota 97-93 at the Rose Garden on Saturday, as LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and 13 rebounds and Brandon Roy added 24 points and nine assists.

"Not saying we're not comfortable on the road, but we're a lot more comfortable here," Blazers forward Channing Frye said. "Now we have to be professionals and go out on the road and get some wins."

Injured center Greg Oden (foot) will join the Blazers on the road trip, but it hasn't been decided whether he will play in any of the games. He's been out since injuring himself during Portland's season opener, and was originally expected to miss four-to-six weeks.

Orlando has defeated Portland four straight times, including both meetings last season. The Blazers haven't won in Orlando since an 89-83 victory on Nov. 24, 2004.


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