By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- Aside from handing the Indiana Pacers their only home defeat of the season, the Orlando Magic had a rough go toward the end of last month.
A couple of easier matchups have helped the Magic get off to a good start in February.
Seeking a third straight victory overall, visiting Orlando tries for a seventh win in its last eight meetings with Indiana as the teams face each other for the third time in 12 days Saturday night.
It was a forgettable conclusion to January for the Magic (14-9), who finished the month with five losses in six games - with their only win over that stretch coming 102-83 at Indiana on Jan. 24. After that win, Orlando suffered a season-worst four straight defeats - including a 21-point home loss at the hands of the Pacers (16-6) on Sunday.
The Magic, though, may have put their woes behind them this week. Two days after snapping their skid with a 109-103 win over road-weary Washington, Orlando beat Cleveland 102-94 on Friday. The Magic committed a season-low five turnovers and held the Cavaliers to 36.7 percent shooting from the field.
"We did good job of spacing the floor out, moving the ball and getting each other involved," said Jason Richardson, who returned following a two-game absence (knee) to score 19 points - his second-highest total of the season.
Dwight Howard had 19 points and 16 rebounds and finished two blocks shy of a triple-double. His 9-of-16 effort from the foul-line, however, helped allow Cleveland to cut what was a 21-point lead to five with 2:12 to play after continuously sending him to the line.
"That's the game plan," Howard said. "Until I get better at the line they're gonna continue to do it. It is what it is. I shot them better. I just gotta continue to work on them. They'll fall."
The Magic had outscored the Pacers by an average of 14.5 points while taking six straight in the series before Sunday's loss. Orlando has still won its last four visits to Indiana while limiting the Pacers to 40.3 percent shooting.
Indiana, however, has now won a season-best four straight overall after prevailing 98-87 at Dallas on Friday. Second-year swingman Paul George made 7 of 11 from 3-point range and finished with a career-high 30 points.
"Yeah, he's oozing confidence, as is our whole team," coach Frank Vogel said.
While George was been held to a combined 13 points in the two games versus the Magic this season, he could fare better this time.
"I've grown into a confident player. I feel like I can knock down any shot," said George, averaging 12.4 points on the season. "I've got a comfort level out there right now."
The Pacers have to like their chances of keeping things going in front of their home crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where they've allowed just 87.9 points per game while going 6-1. Indiana is holding teams to 39.3 percent shooting on its own court - the second-best mark in the league.
Orlando guard Jameer Nelson is all but certain to miss his fifth consecutive game with concussion-like symptoms. He could return Monday when the Magic host the Los Angeles Clippers.
Glen Davis will also be unavailable against the Pacers as he serves the back end of a two-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team.
Updated February 4, 2012