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Orlando Magic e-mail newsletter: Southeast Division notebook
When the Magic head to Washington on Monday to face the Wizards, they should expect to face a team that is counting on a strong performance on a five-game homestand to move up the Eastern Conference playoff standings. That is their longest homestand of the season. "We haven't been a great home team, and that's a trend we definitely want to change starting with this stretch right here," Wizards forward Antawn Jamison told The Washington Post. "One of the things we did well last year was take care of business at home, making this a tough place for people to come in and have to play. Not only that, but we're going to be playing teams from the Eastern Conference so that should give us an opportunity to gain some ground. We have to get some momentum going into the all-star break." . . The Miami Heat (29-19) had center Shaquille O'Neal and guard Dwyane Wade selected as starters to the NBA All-Star Game in Houston on Feb. 19 and they have won six of their past 10 games, but that does not mean that their early-season frustrations have passed. On Saturday afternoon, the Heat lost to the Nets in New Jersey, and O'Neal did not have his best game. He played just 26 minutes because of foul trouble and had six turnovers as well as 11 points and seven rebounds. He did not talk with reporters after the game. The Heat did get point guard Jason Williams back from his knee injury, though. The Nets, who lost to the Heat in the playoffs last season, have defeated them in two of their three meetings this season. Heat Coach Pat Riley said late last week that he expects Miami to play at a consistently high level if it expects to be a team that can do some damage in the playoffs. "Our guys have to stop talking about being what they think they are and they've got to do it,'' Riley told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "I think we've done it a little bit over the last couple of weeks, but enough is enough now. Shaq is in shape. He's back in 26 games. We've been together 46 games. Enough talk about learning each other and coming together. It's time to put up and play, and play against the best teams in the league, especially at home. . . . Offensively, we probably can score against a lot of teams. But I don't think it's going to win in the playoffs. We have to continually tighten up defensively.'' . . . The Charlotte Bobcats, who are so hampered by injuries that they often don't have more than nine players available to play on a given night, got some good news last week when they snapped their 13-game losing streak with a victory against the Los Angeles Lakers. One Bobcat even got a little payback former Laker Jumaine Jones, who scored 31 points in the victory. Off the court, the New York Daily News reported that Bobcats General Manager and Coach Bernie Bickerstaff might give up his role as coach after this season. The Daily News said the Bobcats would like to hire University of Kentucky Coach Tubby Smith to coach the young Bobcats starting next season. . . . This past week was a very good one for the Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta only has won 14 games all season, and three of those wins came in the past week including one on Friday against the Orlando Magic. In that victory, the Hawks got back rookie forward Marvin Williams, who had missed Wednesday's game against the Charlotte Bobcats with a sore Achilles' tendon. Williams had six points and three rebounds in the victory. Attention, Magic players: The teams and Southeast Division opponents will meet three more times this season all between March 19 and April 10. Another young Hawk, second-year player Josh Smith, received an invitation to defend his title in the dunk contest at NBA All-Star Weekend and will attempt to do so.