By JEFF BARTL
(AP) -- Dwight Howard insists his trade request still stands, but it isn't deterring him from helping out his current team.
His Orlando Magic seek their ninth consecutive victory over the Charlotte Bobcats when the teams meet Friday night at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The offseason drama surrounding Howard and his on-again, off-again trade demand has carried into the regular season, but it hasn't seemed to affect his play.
Howard scored 21 points in Monday's 104-95 win over Houston, then came through with 16 points and 24 rebounds in Thursday's 94-78 victory over New Jersey.
He scored only 11 in a season-opening loss to Oklahoma City on Christmas Day, though Howard has stepped up the past two games.
"My focus is on what the Magic have to do to get better," Howard said.
His supporting cast has player better as well. Ryan Anderson scored 22 points Thursday and is averaging a team-high 18.3 points, while Jason Richardson contributed 16.
J.J. Redick scored 15 points off the bench, and Orlando (2-1) held New Jersey to 37.7 percent shooting.
"I like the way we're heading right now," Howard said. "We're doing all the right things on defense. We're making mistakes here and there, but we'll get it right, and our effort has been great."
Orlando improved to 41-15 - playoffs included - when Howard has 20-plus rebounds. Six such games have come against Charlotte, with the Magic going 5-1 in those contests.
The Magic have dominated the Bobcats in recent seasons, winning the last eight and 15 of the last 16 matchups, including a four-game sweep in the first round of the 2010 playoffs.
They have also won eight straight in Charlotte, though the Bobcats (1-1) could end that run if they play like they did Wednesday.
Charlotte gave Miami all it could handle before falling 96-95 on a Dwyane Wade basket with 2.8 seconds remaining, which came after Gerald Henderson hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 12 seconds left.
The Bobcats jumped out to an 11-0 advantage and led 60-45 at halftime before giving it back.
"In the third quarter, we turned it over too many times," coach Paul Silas said. "It got them back in the game. Once they got back in the game, we played tough. They're just too good."
Boris Diaw had 16 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists, and despite the loss was pleased with Charlotte's effort against one of the league's best teams.
"I think we surprised them by playing so aggressive," Diaw said. "And shots were falling and we were really committed defensively."
Henderson scored a career-high 32 points and D.J. Augustin hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 17 seconds left in regulation in the most recent meeting with Orlando on April 6, but the Magic pulled away for a 111-102 overtime win.
Updated December 30, 2011