The Rockets go for an eighth home win in nine games Sunday night when Howard faces his former team.
Houston, which signed Howard to a four-year deal worth roughly $88 million this summer, has opened 14-7 while posting an NBA-leading 107.9 points per game. The Rockets have also started to clamp down defensively, holding teams to an average of 95.1 during a 6-2 stretch.
Howard was at his best in his first two matchups against Orlando (6-13) while with the Lakers last season, averaging 30.0 points and 15.5 rebounds. The Magic, who saw Howard go a combined 34 of 60 from the foul line in splitting those games, may try to implement the same strategy.
“We may use it, we may not but it is in our bag,” Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn said.
Orlando has dropped a season worst-tying four straight and 11 of 14, and things won’t get any easier if Nikola Vucevic can’t go again. The third-year center, averaging 14.7 points and a team-best 10.9 boards, is uncertain to be available after missing the last two games with a sprained left ankle.
Three of the Magic’s last four losses have come by at least 18 points. Orlando has allowed 108.8 per contest in going 1-8 on the road.
Orlando had taken five straight from Houston before giving up 114.5 points in losing both meetings last season.
Tonights game is set to tip-off at 7pm.