Ever since the NBA lockout ended, Orlando Magic officials have tried to convince Dwight Howard to remain with the franchise long-term.

The Magic hope that winning can make Howard believe the team is a bona fide championship contender. And, for a while, it looked the franchise had generated a compelling argument. The Magic won five consecutive games, including all three on a West Coast road trip and another at Madison Square Garden.

Now, however, that momentum may have dissipated, at least temporarily.

The Magic’s Boston Celtics | Video" href="http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/orlando-magic/os-orlando-magic-boston-celtics-0124-20120123,0,5527629.story" target="_blank">confounding 87-56 loss Monday in Boston and their heartbreaking 91-83 collapse Thursday in Orlando do not boost the team’s case.

On Monday, Howard shed some light on his thinking during a one-on-one interview with the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett after Howard left the Magic’s postgame locker room.

“I want to win a championship, and it takes a certain type of team to win a championship,” Howard said. “You know, there’s a lot of teams who are great during the regular season. They play well, but it’s different once you play in those playoffs, you know? It’s gut-check time.

“Like I told the Magic, I just want to win. I don’t want a team that doesn’t know how you have to win in the playoffs. I want a team that’s going to go out every night and forget about stats, forget about who scores the most points or who is the fan favorite. Just go out and play, play for each other and play to win. That’s the only thing.”

Howard tangentially returned to that theme after Thursday’s loss.

“We got caught up with the refs and all that stuff,” Howard told reporters. “It wasn’t just their physicality, but we just got caught up with the refs, and we can’t do that. We’ve just got to play better.

“We’ve got to understand that we can beat a lot of teams in this league, but for us to be that championship team, we’ve got to go through a team like Boston and Miami, all those good teams in the East. That’s the only way we’re going to get to where we want to get to.”

Those comments do not help team chemistry or his teammates’ confidence. NBA players are human beings just like the rest of us. If the best player on their team is taking a swipe at them — even if he does not mean it as a swipe — it probably will have an adverse effect.

Howard remains the league’s best center by a large margin, but you can make the argument that every aspect of his offensive game except his passing has regressed. His free-throw shooting, now at 46.9 percent, is less accurate this season than it’s ever been, and it prevents him from becoming a go-to guy down the stretches of games.

Plus, his comment about the Magic getting “caught up with the refs” reflects directly upon himself. He has earned five technical fouls this season, and his tech last night was for complaining about a non-call.

If he wants his teammates to maintain their composure, he must, as a co-captain, keep his own composure.

That said, Howard has perceived a lack of toughness with the rest of the Magic at least since their 2010 Eastern Conference finals loss to the Celtics.

This is a reason why he clashed with Vince Carter during Carter’s tenure with the team. Howard thought that Carter was way too soft to depend on in crunchtime.

Howard’s concerns about the Magic’s mental toughness appeared to intensify after the team’s first-round playoff exit last spring at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks.

After that defeat, Howard suggested specific players for the Magic front office to acquire. One of those names almost certainly was then-Charlotte Bobcats swingman Stephen Jackson, whom Howard regards as one of the league’s toughest players.

But the Bobcats wound up trading Jackson to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team, draft-day trade that also involved the Sacramento Kings.

Of course, you can debate whether Jackson would have been a good fit at all for Orlando.