Orlando Magic relish their upcoming six-game homestand

As Orlando Magic players, coaches and staff members traveled from frigid Chicago to warm Central Florida early Tuesday morning, the vast majority of them felt ecstatic to be returning home.

They had spent 14 of the first 16 nights of this month on the road. Their travels had taken them to eight different cities: Washington, Philadelphia, New York, Houston, Memphis, Charlotte, Oklahoma City and, finally, Chicago. Even in an age of chartered jet flights and luxury hotel stays, that's a brutal travel schedule.

The grind finally has ended, and a chance to build some momentum has arrived. The Magic will open a six-game homestand Wednesday night when they host the Utah Jazz at Amway Center.

"We've been on the road for a while now," center Nik Vucevic said just before the team left Chicago. "It'll be fun to get some home games and play in front of our fans. We've got to get some wins to make our record better."

The Magic (8-17) are about to encounter one of the easiest stretches on their schedule.

The next six opponents — the Jazz, Sacramento Kings, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors — held a combined record of 58-91 entering Tuesday. Only the Hawks and Warriors had winning records, and they both hovered just one game above the .500 mark.

"It'll be good for us in general, but this is getting to that point in the season where you don't want any significant separation," swingman Arron Afflalo said. "This is a good opportunity for us to play against some teams we should be able to compete with and get our record back respectable and see where it takes us from there."

Even after their 83-82 win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night, the Magic have lost eight of their last 10 games.

Translation: The Magic have plenty to work on.

The homestand should help.

They'll have opportunities to hold productive practices, because they won't leave Orlando again until New Year's Day.

"We have to take care of [our families at] home, but let our family know that we have to go to work every day also," coach Jacque Vaughn said.

The practice time should help reintegrate combo forward Tobias Harris and power forward Glen Davis back into the team. Harris recently returned from missing almost the entire season because of a high-ankle sprain, and Davis' 10-month absence due to a foot injury ended on Nov. 23.

Harris and Davis have some rust, and they also have limited experience playing alongside some of their teammates.

Harris is shooting 30.4 percent from the field since he returned from injury on Friday. Davis is shooting 45.1 percent — a strong accuracy rate for him — but Davis has been disappointed with his consistency.

Then again, there's a lot the rest of the Magic need to improve on, too.

"We've just got to get better at everything," point guard Jameer Nelson said. "We do some things well. We're not great at just any one thing right now. We still have to kind of establish an identity.

"Me in particular, I think our identity should just right now be playing hard. I don't think we play hard for long stretches of the game. We have too many stretches where I guess we get down on ourselves. It seems like we kind of feel sorry for ourself when things aren't going our way. But the only way we're going to get out of it is playing hard."

Now, with six home games in the immediate future and with a fully healthy roster, the Magic won't have any excuses for anything less than their most energetic stretch of the season.

jbrobbins@tribune.com. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog and follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.

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