Not All Smiles at Home

The Orlando Magic have been struggling at Amway Arena in recent weeks. Their problems at home against the Houston Rockets run much longer.

After another letdown in Orlando snapped a four-game winning streak, the Magic look to beat the Rockets at home for the first time in nearly six years when the teams conclude their season series Friday night.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Orlando –4.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 192 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 75% of bets for this game have been placed on Orlando –4.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Southeast Division-leading Orlando (22-12) lost 96-95 to New Jersey on Wednesday night, dropping its record at Amway Arena to 7-7. In contrast, the Magic are 15-5 on the road.

Orlando has lost five of its last seven at home after winning five of its first seven there this season. The Magic are allowing 100.7 points per game at home, second-most in the Eastern Conference.

"I think our focus needs to be a little bit different, could be a little bit better when playing at home," Orlando guard Carlos Arroyo said. "Playing a little bit harder at home, finishing games - it's something that we learn from our mistakes and we move on."

The Magic have lost five straight home games against the Rockets (15-17) since an 83-74 win on April 8, 2002. Orlando is averaging 88.8 points while shooting 40.4 percent from the field during that skid.

The Magic, however, already have a win over the Rockets this season, beating them 97-92 on Dec. 19. It was the second victory in the last 11 meetings overall for Orlando, which hasn't swept a season series with Houston since 2001-02.

Plus, the Rockets are struggling and are expected to be without Tracy McGrady (knee) for the fifth straight game.

After a 97-93 loss to Boston on Wednesday night, Rockets coach Rick Adelman said he had no update on McGrady. But trainer Keith Jones told Houston television station KRIV that medical tests on Wednesday showed McGrady had a stretched tendon in the back of the knee.

"We are looking at another week, possibly 10 days before he returns to play," Jones said.

The knee problem forced McGrady to miss the second half of last month's matchup with Orlando, where he played four seasons before being traded to the Rockets prior to 2004-05.

While McGrady was limited to three points on 1-of-10 shooting in the loss to the Magic, Yao Ming led the Rockets with 19 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks. Yao is averaging 27.3 points while shooting 62.3 percent from the field in his last four road games versus Orlando.

Yao had a strong effort against the Celtics on Wednesday, scoring 19 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, but the Rockets lost for the eighth time in 12 games. He will be matched up with Orlando's Dwight Howard, who has 15 straight double-doubles.

Howard, though, was held to his second-lowest point total of the season Wednesday, finishing with 13 while going 3-for-10 from the free-throw line. The fourth-year center is averaging just 11.0 points while shooting 40.0 percent from the floor in three home games against the Rockets, though he did have 21 points and 11 rebounds last month in Houston.

Howard has been playing with a new starting point guard the past three games, with Arroyo replacing Jameer Nelson. Arroyo had 16 points and seven assists against the Nets, and is averaging 15.3 points since being inserted into the starting lineup.

Arroyo missed this season's first game against the Rockets due to a left foot injury.

By: Marc Young - - Email Us

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