Magic Host Nuggets

The Orlando Magic will go into the All-Star break with a comfortable lead in the Southeast Division, but coach Stan Van Gundy isn't satisfied by how his team - especially his star player - is wrapping up its play.

Dwight Howard and the Magic look to end a frustrating homestand on a positive note Wednesday when they try for their 15th straight home win over the Denver Nuggets.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Orlando -5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 218.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 52% of bets for this game have been placed on Orlando -5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Orlando (32-21) fell to 1-3 in its five-game homestand following a 118-111 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. The Magic, who had won seven of the previous eight, have struggled defensively during the homestand - allowing opponents to average 106.5 points on 49.8 percent shooting during the four games.

Overall, the Magic are giving up 100.8 points per game on 45.1 percent shooting.

The defensive struggles caused Van Gundy to bench Howard in the fourth quarter during Monday's tightly contested game. Howard, one of NBA's leading rebounders at 14.4 per game along with a team-leading 21.7 points, failed to break double-digits in rebounding for the second time in four games Monday, grabbing nine.

Van Gundy didn't shy away from calling out Howard, who will start Sunday's All-Star game.

"His focus isn't where it needs to be," Van Gundy said. "I don't think right now that we're on the same page to be quite honest. I think that his priorities need to be defense and rebounding.

"To me it's a matter of focus. His focus is on the offensive end. He gets discouraged when he doesn't get the ball ... I know the numbers prove that what we need him to focus on ... defensive rebounding, but that's not what he wants to do right now and so we've got a little bit of a conflict."

Howard agreed he needs to put in more of an effort defensively.

"I've just got to play harder," he said. "Being a leader, I've got to be the one who sparks the whole offense and defense, both ends."

Orlando looks to go into the break on a positive note against a Nuggets team it has beaten 14 straight times at home by an average of 14.0 points. Denver's last win in Orlando was on March 10, 1992.

Howard has averaged 17.7 points and 11.0 rebounds in seven career games against the Nuggets (32-19).

Denver, meanwhile, won its third straight and sixth in the last seven overall Tuesday with a 114-113 overtime win over the Miami Heat.

J.R. Smith scored 28 points - hitting a career-best eight 3-pointers - and Carmelo Anthony scored six of his 22 in overtime to avoid an upset against the NBA's worst team.

"We finished the game out," Anthony said. "That's what matters."

Smith, who is averaging 9.7 points, was coming off an 18-point performance in Sunday's win over the Cavaliers. He was 6-of-11 from 3-point range in that game.

"When he is that energized, it is something we can ride," coach George Karl said. "We did that tonight."

Denver hasn't won four straight since a six-game winning streak in November. Anthony is averaging 27.0 points in eight lifetime games against the Magic, whom the Nuggets beat 113-103 on Jan. 11.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

More NBA Basketball Coverage from theSpread.com

 - NBA Basketball teams
 - NBA Basketball standings
 - NBA Basketball schedule
 - NBA Basketball scoreboard
 - NBA Basketball injuries
 - NBA Basketball matchups
 - NBA Basketball stats
 - NBA Basketball odds
 - NBA Basketball public betting chart
 - NBA Basketball news wire
 - NBA Basketball top stories
 - NBA Basketball trends
 - AccuScore NBA Basketball predictions
 - Expert NBA Basketball picks
 - Comments and discussion
 - Signup for theSpread.com daily newsletter
 - NBA Basketball Home

NBA Headlines

  • WASHINGTON (AP) The Wizards have completed a trade to acquire forward Trevor Ariza from the Phoenix Suns for forward Kelly Oubre Jr. and guard Austin Rivers.
    Washington general manager Ernie ...
  • NEW ORLEANS (AP) Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry says guard E'Twaun Moore is ready to return from a lower leg strain that sidelined him for two games and is expected to play Sunday night against Miami...
  • CLEVELAND (AP) Jimmy Butler returned for the Philadelphia 76ers against the Cleveland Cavaliers after missing two games because of a strained groin.
    Sixers coach Brett Brown said before Sunda...
  • OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Lou Williams will sit out the Los Angeles Clippers' game against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a sore left hamstring.
    Clippers coach Doc Rivers made the announcement Satur...
  • WASHINGTON (AP) The Washington Wizards have an agreement in principle to acquire Trevor Ariza from the Phoenix Suns for Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers, a person familiar with the deal said Satu...

NBA Predictions & Picks

Thumbnail Bulls vs. Thunder Prediction Can the Oklahoma City Thunder hand the Chicago Bulls another lopsided loss when the two meet tonight at 8PM in OKC?
Thumbnail Kings vs. Timberwolves Prediction The Minnesota Timberwolves hope to avoid taking another step backwards tonight at 8PM ET when they play host to the Sacramento Kings, who are looking to prove they...
Thumbnail Jazz vs. Rockets Prediction Will the Houston Rockets continue their recent upswing tonight when they host the Utah Jazz at 8PM ET? Here’s our breakdown for this #NBA game.
Thumbnail Trail Blazers vs. Clippers Prediction The Los Angeles Clippers have dropped six of their last 10 games but so has their opponent on Monday night, the Portland Trail Blazers. Laying only a basket at...
Thumbnail Grizzlies vs. Warriors Prediction The Memphis Grizzlies will play in Oakland Monday night when they visit the Golden State Warriors at 10:30 p.m. ET. Is the betting total for tonight’s game set too...