Magic-Rockets Preview

Houston and Orlando own identical records after four games, and while it's not a huge surprise for the Magic, it's a massive disappointment for the Rockets.

Each will try to build off its first victory of the season entering Wednesday night's matchup in Houston.

Few expected the Rockets (1-3) to start this poorly after tying for the NBA's third-best record last season, but they've mostly been guided by James Harden's play thus far - for better or worse.

They averaged 88.7 points on 37.1 percent shooting in their first three games, with opponents averaging 18.7 points off the 17.3 turnovers Houston was committing. Harden was 12 for 54 from the floor in those contests while averaging 18.0 points.

He bounced back emphatically Monday, scoring 37 on 12-of-26 shooting in a 110-105 win over Oklahoma City to hand the Thunder their first loss. His four 3-pointers were one more than he had hit in 32 attempts through the first three games, and he committed only two turnovers after averaging 4.0 coming in.

"I'm sure all great shooters go through droughts," said Harden, second in the NBA in scoring last season behind Russell Westbrook with a career-high 27.4 points per game. "Mine was pretty terrible, I admit. But it will change. It will all come around. It's a long season and I'll go on five, six, 10-game streaks where I'm just on fire and it will even itself out."

The Magic are actually ahead of schedule compared to last season when they started 0-4. They won 103-94 at New Orleans on Tuesday behind Evan Fournier's career-high 30 points. Fournier was 4 of 9 from 3-point range, hitting two in the final 1:13 to help seal the victory.

Orlando's three losses came by a combined nine points, with Friday's 139-136 double-overtime loss to Oklahoma City the second of two blown fourth-quarter leads.

"It just felt great because we lost two very close games, heartbreaking losses," said Fournier, averaging 23.7 points on 50.0 percent shooting in the last three games after going 1 of 7 for three points in the opener.

Nikola Vucevic had 22 points and 13 rebounds and has helped Orlando average 50.0 points in the paint, though the club ranks toward the bottom of the league in 3-point shooting at 31.9 percent.

Dwight Howard had 16 points and eight rebounds for Houston on Monday. He was suspended for the season opener and sat out Sunday's loss to Miami, the first night of a back-to-back. The Rockets play on consecutive nights in each of the next three weekends.

"As the season goes I think I'll be able to play those back-to-backs, but I think early in the season it's not smart to do that," Howard said. "People will say: 'Why? You're young.' But I've been in the league for 12 years and I want to be able to walk when I'm done playing basketball."

Howard has been dominant in five meetings with his former team, averaging 24.4 points and 14.8 rebounds.

Houston's Terrence Jones isn't expected to play after sitting out Monday due to a cut on his eyelid suffered in Friday's loss to Golden State.