The Orlando Magic went down with another embarrassing loss Sunday night, as they received a 106-85 beating at the hands of the breakout Indiana Pacers. Despite a 24-point, 13-rebound effort by Dwight Howard, the Magic could not muster up enough production to earn the victory.
This devastating loss marks the team's fifth defeat in the last seven games. After starting the season with a fantastic 10-4 record, the Orlando Magic have dropped games against the Boston Celtics, New Orleans Hornets, San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers.
Over this rough stretch, the Dwight Howard fiasco has heated up considerably. From calling out his teammates to expressing an interest in signing with the Boston Celtics, "Superman" has not restrained from making headlines.
Sunday night's 21-point loss to the Indiana Pacers will probably not bode well for the Magic's attempts to convince Howard to stay in O-Town. It would not come as a surprise if more trade rumors regarding Howard come to fruition.
After all, Howard has made a habit of whining to the media after losses. But, is all this complaining justified?
Sure, most of his Team USA buddies have formed big threes and twos in big-market cities, but that doesn't mean that, as a superstar, you are automatically granted the opportunity to play with other All-Stars in cities like New York or Los Angeles.
The city of Orlando has been an extremely loyal fanbase during Howard's seven-year tenure in the NBA, and it is growing at a rapid rate. From the miserable 2004-05 season to the 2009 NBA Finals, O-Town has had the Howard-led Magic's back since day one.
Plus, the Magic currently have a talented roster. With breakout power forward Ryan Anderson, former All-Star Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu, there is no doubt that this team can make a run for a title come the end of the season.
However, Howard has been critical of the roster the Magic currently possess. Just last Friday, Howard ripped into his teammates for their lack of effort.
"Play basketball. That's why we all get paid to do this, because we love the game and it's basketball, so why not give it your all," Howard said after a loss to New Orleans.
Whether you believe his comments were completely out of line or not, everyone can agree that his trade desire is negatively affecting his teammates. Magic GM Otis Smith believes no one has been hurt more than Jameer Nelson, who is having a slow start to the season. In Smith's opinion, Howard "indirectly threw him under the bus."
In the end, Howard should stop worrying about where he will play next year and start helping this Magic squad more.
Even though Howard is having arguably the best statistical season of his career, averaging a shade under 20 points to go along with 15 rebounds per game, there is no doubt that he has not been the leader Orlando needs. Ripping into your teammates and requesting a trade out of Orlando isn't going to instill confidence in your team.
If Orlando wants to make one final push before Howard has the chance to leave in the upcoming free-agency period, they absolutely need "Superman" to focus on winning.