Orlando's mediocrity on the road is especially troubling because the Magic will almost certainly need to produce a road win against the mighty Bulls, who have all but clinched the Eastern Conference's top seed, if it wants another crack at an NBA title this season. (That will be no small task, considering that Chicago was 22-0 at home in the first half.) Hill points out that Orlando lost 12 of its last 15 regular-season road games a year ago but in the playoffs won two games in Boston to close out the Celtics. Then the Magic won twice in Chicago to eliminate the Bulls. Still, no team has won the NBA title with a losing regular-season road record since the Washington Bullets did so 18 years ago.
"We're not panicking because we know the NBA season is about peaks and valleys, and we're still peaking most of the time," says O'Neal, illustrating his topographical theory with his humongous hands. "We're healthy again, and we're not planning to go downhill anymore."
Says Magic general manager Pat Williams, "Not that long ago we couldn't win on the road or at home, and my problem was that I couldn't figure out any other place to play the games. At least now we can win at home. That's encouraging."
At One Magic Place there's always some room for optitude.
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