The Orlando Magic enter this week in their worst position in the standings so far this season, thanks to their 0-3 record last week, as the Magic averaged only 85 points in the three losses. Orlando's winning percentage of .303 is now the second-worst in the NBA, and its 10-23 record is three games ahead of the last-place Milwaukee Bucks (7-26). The Magic are still within striking distance of a playoff spot, 3.5 games behind the eighth-place Detroit Pistons.
Orlando plays four games of its five-game road trip this week, and will be underdogs in each game. Here's a look at their schedule this week:
Monday, January 6th, Magic at Los Angeles Clippers, 10:30 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Florida
The Clippers, who are tied for fourth place in the West with the Golden State Warriors at 23-13, will be without the services of outstanding point guard Chris Paul for at least a month as he recovers from a separated shoulder incurred last week. The Magic will also miss seeing former teammate J.J. Redick, who will return later this month from a broken hand. Darren Collison replaces Paul as the starting point guard. Power forward Blake Griffin leads the Clippers in scoring, averaging 22 points a game along with 10.5 rebounds on 57 percent True Shooting. Center DeAndre Jordan averages 13.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. Orlando has beaten the Clippers in 11 of their last 13 games, including in Orlando earlier this season.
Wednesday, January 8th, Magic at Portland Trail Blazers, 10:00 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Florida
Orlando faces another challenge as the Blazers, despite a stunning home loss on Saturday to the rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers, are surprisingly one of the top teams in the league at 26-8 and are tied for second place in the West, just a game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder. The high-scoring Blazers are the best offensive team in the league, with a league-high offensive rating of 113.5. Five Portland players average double figures, led by power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who averages over 23 points and 11 rebounds per game. Last season's Rookie of the Year, point guard Damian Lillard, averages 21 points and 6 assists per game on 58 percent True Shooting.
Friday, January 10th, Magic at Sacramento Kings, 10:00 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Florida
The struggling Kings, losers of seven of their last ten games, are just barely ahead of the Magic with a 10-22 record and ahead of only the last-place Utah Jazz in the West. Center DeMarcus Cousins leads the Kings, averaging over 23 points and 11 rebounds per game. Newcomer Rudy Gay, who has played in 12 games with Sacramento since his arrival from the Toronto Raptors, is averaging over 19 points a game on surprisingly efficient 57 percent True Shooting. Point Guard Isaiah Thomas averages 19 points and 6 assists per game. The Kings beat the Magic, 105-100, last month in Orlando.
Saturday, January 11th, Magic at Denver Nuggets, 9:00 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Florida
After a good start to the season, the Nuggets are currently reeling as they have lost 9 of their last 12 games to slip to 16-17, tied for tenth place in the West. Former Magic point guard Brian Shaw is in his first season coaching Denver. Point guard Ty Lawson, who averages 18 points and 8.1 assists, leads the Nuggets. Small forward Wilson Chandler averages 13 points a game, and point guard Nate Robinson, a key offseason free-agent addition, averages 10 points a game. Denver is coming off an impressive 137-115 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, so it is still capable of putting up big numbers on any given night.