The Orlando Magic have improved their position in the conference standings over the last week, as their 6-10 record is good for ninth in the East just one-half game behind the eighth place Detroit Pistons and three games ahead of the last place Milwaukee Bucks.
It will be a major challenge for the Magic to move up in the standings over the next nine games, as eight of those games are on the road. Here's a look at the first four games of their road trip this week:
Monday, December 2nd: Magic at Washington Wizards, 7:00 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Florida, NBA TV
The Wizards, at 8-9, are percentage points ahead of the Chicago Bulls for fifth place in the gosh-awful East. Leading scorer Bradley Beal is out indefinitely with a right leg injury, as is former Magic power forward Al Harrington with a strained right knee. Point guard John Wall averages 19.2 points per game on 9.0 assists, but has just a 51.6 True Shooting Percentage. Former Magic center Marcin Gortat is averaging nearly a double-double of 13.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
Tuesday, December 3rd: Magic at Philadelphia 76ers, 7:00 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Florida
The 76ers will be looking for payback after the Magic defeated Philly 105-94 last week, but have lost 7 of their last 8 games and 11 of 14 after their stunning 3-0 start. They should get a boost with the return of center Spencer Hawes, who missed the game last week and is averaging a double-double of 16.5 points and 10.2 boards per game. Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams is now shooting under 40 percent after a strong start, but is still among the league leaders in steals and is averaging 17.2 points per game. Small forward Evan Turner leads the team in scoring at 21.4 points per game.
Friday, December 6th: Magic at New York Knicks, 7:30 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Florida
The Knicks are not only the most disappointing team in the NBA, their horrible 3-13 record is tied with the Milwaukee Bucks for the second-worst record in the NBA, just ahead of the Utah Jazz' record of 3-15. Sure, they miss defensive standout and big man Tyson Chandler, who has missed most of the season with a broken leg, but it still is hard to believe their record could be so bad. Star forward Carmelo Anthony is averaging nearly 24 points per game, but is doing so at a very inefficient rate, with a True Shooting Percentage of just 51.4 percent. Shooting guard J.R. Smith averages 11.7 points per game on abysmal 33 percent shooting and 42 percent True Shooting. Off-season trade acquisition seven-footer Andrea Bargnani, is averaging 15.2 points per game, which is much better than off-season free agent acquisition Metta World Peace, who averages just 6.5 points on 42 percent True Shooting.
Sunday, December 8th: Magic at Houston Rockets, 7:00 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Florida
This wlll be the Magic's toughest test on the road trip, as the Rockets are 13-5 and lead the league with over 109 points per game. James Harden leads the team in scoring at 23.6 points per game on over 60 percent True Shooting, while forward Chandler Parsons averages 17.2 points per game on terrific 62.5 percent True Shooting. Former Magic center Dwight Howard averages 16.7 points per game and 12.4 rebounds, and has improved his free throw shooting to over 54 percent.