The Magic are trying to stiff-arm reality, but the calendar closes in and the standings provide a harsh reminder.

They are 14-28 and mired in a horrendous losing rut. Vegas wouldn't post a line on their chances of making the playoffs.

It hurts and haunts J.J. Redick. He experienced the good times with Dwight Howard, just the other day, it seems.

"It's tough for anybody who values winning. It's not just the vets, but people who have been here and have won the last few years. It's been tough on everybody,'' Redick said.

"The reality is that when we lose, the responsibility is on the vets. You can't put any blame on (rookie forward) Mo Harkless for losing 15 out of 17 or whatever it is right now. You know, the ownership is on us to be better."

As a competitor, Redick won't allow himself to think any other way, even though a drop-off without Howard was expected in this rebuild.

Now the Howard holdovers and other veterans struggle with the concept of playing for professional pride.

The Magic defied doomsayers to start the season at 12-13, but they've won just twice the past 17 games.

Their long-shot postseason dreams essentially ended after a 10-game losing streak. Glen "Big Baby" Davis missed all those games after sustaining a shoulder injury. Hedo Turkoglu has had a lost year after breaking his hand in the regular-season opener Nov. 2.