BLOOMING IN ORLANDO
The Magic has done it with defense, limiting opponents to league-low 42.3% shooting and a second-in-the-league 91.9 points a game. It's a good thing too, because it also leads the NBA in turnovers at 18 a game.
General Manager Otis Smith is excited, saying, "Where we are now is not where we're going to be two years from now, three years from now."
A NUDGE IN MIAMI
Miami Coach Pat Riley, whose Heat is 5-7 without injured Shaquille O'Neal this season after going 10-13 without him last year, has some familiar wishes for the center who has sat out an average of 15.6 games a season over the last five.
"I hope his thought process is that he tries to almost reinvent himself physically," Riley said. "He has to come back a lot lighter, a lot leaner. Those kinds of things are really important now."
Dallas has thrived during its winning streak that reached 12 games Friday.
In starting 0-4, the Mavericks averaged 95 points and 44.7% shooting while giving up 105.2 points and 50.9% shooting.
In its next 12 games, however, Dallas averaged 103 points and 47.3% shooting while giving up 91.5 points and 44.7% shooting.
Notably, Dallas was holding opponents to 28.7% three-point shooting during the streak.
-- PAUL NETTER