A much-needed offensive outburst by the Orlando Magic has resulted in consecutive victories over two of the NBA’s better teams.
If they can beat another one, the Magic will win a season-high third straight Friday night and snap a six-game skid to the visiting Memphis Grizzlies.
Orlando (15-27) averaged 93.6 points entering this week, recording back-to-back 100-point games only once, and was mired in a six-game losing streak. Suddenly, the Magic have put together their two highest-scoring games of the season, winning 121-114 at Chicago on Monday and 120-113 over Houston on Wednesday.
The Magic shot a season-high 59.3 percent against the Bulls and 48.9 percent Wednesday against teams which rank among the league’s top 10 in field-goal percentage defense.
"It’s like the old ‘Seinfeld’ bizarro world (episode) a little bit where it’s the Magic, but it’s not the Magic," coach Jacque Vaughn told the team’s official website.
Before beating the fourth-place team from each conference, Vaughn’s club had only one win over an above-.500 team in the previous six weeks. Prior to these two wins, Orlando had averaged 90.0 points and shot 39.9 percent in its first five games of the new year.
"I think it took time but we’ve figured out how to play," guard Victor Oladipo said. "Now that we’ve figured it out, we can’t change it."
Oladipo scored a season-high 33 versus Chicago and 32 against the Rockets while going a combined 23 of 36 from the floor. Nikola Vucevic also has been hot with averages of 30.7 points, 13.0 rebounds and 64.0 percent shooting over the past three games.
The Magic have come to life offensively despite missing second-leading scorer Tobias Harris (18.0 ppg), who is likely to miss a fourth straight game with a sprained ankle. Even without him, Orlando enters Friday in position to match its longest winning streak of the past two years.
"We need to be consistent," said Channing Frye, who scored 15 points Wednesday after totaling 14 in the previous five contests. "We need to continue to play this way and not get complacent with winning two. We need to try to win three and four in a row. When we get that consistency we’ll be able to fine-tune things."
Staying hot might not be easy against Memphis (27-11), which ranks among the league leaders in points allowed (97.9 per game) and has yielded an average of 81.2 in the last five versus Orlando. Oladipo totaled 17 points on 6-of-22 shooting in last season’s two meetings.
The Grizzlies snapped a three-game road slide Wednesday with a 103-92 victory over Brooklyn and former coach Lionel Hollins. Jeff Green was among five Memphis players to score in double figures with 10 points in 26 1/2 minutes in his Memphis debut.
"We’re very deep and talented right now," said Zach Randolph, who has totaled 47 points and 31 rebounds in the last two games.
Green, who averaged 17.6 points for Boston before being dealt to Memphis as part of a three-team deal, is excited to be part of a talented team with four players other than himself averaging at least 11.3 points.
"I mean, I’m surrounded by threats," the forward said. "It’s a great feeling to have. Coach (Dave Joerger) just wants me to go out there and just play my game and just be aggressive."
Ex-Magic guard Courtney Lee has scored 18 in two straight contests as the Grizzlies improved to 12-0 when he reaches 14 points. He’s averaged 15.2 in his last five against the team that drafted him 22nd overall in 2008.