Bucks-Magic Preview

All the attention Dwight Howard has been drawing inside is

leaving the Orlando Magic wide open outside.

Following another hot-shooting performance beyond the arc, the

Magic go for their fourth straight win Friday night when they host

a Milwaukee Bucks team which hasn’t won in Orlando in seven

years.

After losing four straight, the Magic (19-11) have won seven of

nine. They’ve shot 42 of 92 (45.7 percent) from 3-point range

during their current three-game win streak, including 15 of 25 in a

103-87 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday.

While Howard was held below his season averages for a third

straight game, finishing with 17 points and 14 rebounds, Ryan

Anderson connected on 7 of 10 shots from beyond the arc and led the

team with 27 points. All five starters scored in double figures for

a second straight game.

“Those have always been our better offensive games when we have

a lot of people involved,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Dwight had

the most shots (15), he’s our best player, but we’ve got five other

guys between eight and 12 shots, so that’s good balance.”

Big contributions by Anderson from outside aren’t new, leading

the NBA in 3-pointers made (87) and attempted (200). Jason

Richardson also has become a big threat at 54.5 percent from

3-point range this month, including 15 of 22 over the last three

games while averaging 20.7 points.

The Bucks know very well how difficult it is to choose where to

apply the defensive pressure. While they held Howard to 11 points

on 5-of-15 shooting last Saturday, Richardson scored 31 points,

hitting nine 3-pointers, in Orlando’s 99-94 home victory.

Howard, who averaged 25.7 points and 17.0 rebounds against the

Bucks last season, has attempted only nine free throws over the

past three games but still leads the NBA at 10.8 per game.

The Magic have won 11 in a row against Milwaukee when Howard has

played. The Bucks also have dropped 11 straight in Orlando dating

to Dec. 29, 2004, and they’ve shot below 40 percent in each of the

last five visits.

Milwaukee (12-17) was held under that mark in each of its last

two games to complete an 0-3 homestand. The Bucks have dropped six

of eight overall after a 92-89 loss to New Orleans on

Wednesday.

“It’s frustrating,” coach Scott Skiles said, “but it’s part of

the job. We’ve got to try to identify the problems and solve

them.”

Brandon Jennings scored 18 points but was 7 of 21 from the

field. He’s averaging 11.9 points and shooting 31.9 percent over

the last seven games following a 10-game span in which he scored

23.7 per game and hit 43.5 percent.

“It starts with myself,” Jennings said. “I need to come out with

a lot more energy, and I need to play harder. I can’t say I’ve been

playing hard the last couple games because I really haven’t. I need

to look in the mirror and ask myself, ‘Is this something that I’m

up for?'”

Jennings, who referred to Wednesday’s home loss to the Western

Conference-worst Hornets as “embarrassing,” has totaled 15 points

on 6-of-29 shooting in his last two matchups with Orlando.

The Bucks play six of their next eight games on the road.

They’re 5-10 away from home, but all of those wins came in their

last seven road games.