Magic aim for season sweep of Spurs

In each of the last two seasons, the Orlando Magic were presented with chances to complete a season sweep of the San Antonio Spurs but did not come close to getting it done.

After winning two games in Mexico City, the Magic host the Spurs on Wednesday night and get a chance at completing their second-ever season sweep of the Spurs.

On Nov. 29, 2016, the Magic snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Spurs with a 95-83 win at San Antonio. In their attempt to get the sweep, the Magic shot 39.5 percent and committed 17 turnovers in a 107-79 home loss on Feb. 15, 2017.

Last season, the Magic coasted to a 114-87 home win on Oct. 27, 2017, as part of their 8-4 start. They failed to get the sweep by shooting 34.1 percent and committing 20 turnovers in a 108-72 loss at San Antonio on March 13.

On Nov. 4, the Magic led by as many as 26 points, shot 50.5 percent as Aaron Gordon scored 26 points in a 117-110 win at San Antonio. The win in San Antonio put the Magic in position to get their first season sweep since 2008-09 when they reached the NBA Finals.

“We played very well for about 40 minutes,” Orlando guard Evan Fournier told reporters on Tuesday when asked about the first win over the Spurs. “Offensively, defensively the focus was pretty good. The intensity was very high. We had a five-minute stretch where we let up, but overall we were very good.

Besides going for the season sweep, the Magic (14-15) will attempt to reach .500 again. They lost three straight after getting to 12-12 with a win at Miami on Dec. 4 but rebounded with two effective defensive showings against the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz.

“I’ve said it from the beginning that the difference in this team is our attitude,” Orlando guard D.J. Augustin said. “In the past, we’d lose a few games and we’d keep losing because we’d get down on ourselves. Now, if we lose one or two, it might be nasty or a really tough loss, but we’ll still fight back and get a good win against a good team.”

After a 97-91 win over the Bulls on Thursday, the Magic held the Jazz to 31.5 percent shooting and scored 41 points in the fourth quarter of a 96-89 victory on Saturday. The Magic allowed their second-fewest points of the season and their lowest shooting percentage of the season.

“I think it’s been like that a couple of times this year — more than just those last two games — where our defense helped us stick around while our offense was struggling,” said Orlando forward Jonathan Issac, who blocked six shots in Mexico City. “Absolutely, I think we’ve done a great job defensively and there’s still so much room for improvement.”

San Antonio (16-15) has spent most of the last month hovering around .500. Since the Spurs were 7-4, they are 9-9 in their last 18 games.

San Antonio was 11-14 after a 121-113 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers two weeks ago but has won five of its last six games. The Spurs rebounded from scoring 31 second-half points and blowing a 21-point lead Saturday to Chicago by coasting to a 123-96 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

“There was nothing to say,” forward Rudy Gay said after San Antonio’s fourth double-digit win on a 5-1 homestand. “We were really engaged. There was no question we messed up and let that one go (against Chicago).”

On Monday, San Antonio scored at least 120 points for the eighth time and shot 56.3 percent for its third-best shooting percentage of the season. It also was the ninth time the Spurs shot at least 50 percent.

Rudy Gay scored 21 points and is averaging 16.6 points in his last nine games. DeMar DeRozan added 20 and is averaging 22.9 points in his last nine games.

“I think we’re starting to figure out each other more than anything,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We’re pleased with the progress, but still have a long way to go.”

Orlando is 4-14 since getting its lone season sweep of the Spurs.

Besides going for the season sweep, the Magic (14-15) will attempt to reach .500 again. They lost three straight after getting to 12-12 with a win at Miami on Dec. 4 but rebounded with two effective defensive showings against the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz.

“I’ve said it from the beginning that the difference in this team is our attitude,” Orlando guard D.J. Augustin said. “In the past, we’d lose a few games and we’d keep losing because we’d get down on ourselves. Now, if we lose one or two, it might be nasty or a really tough loss, but we’ll still fight back and get a good win against a good team.”