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Howard, Hill lead Magic to sixth straight win

Dec 2, 2006 - 5:53 AM PORTLAND, Oregon (Ticker) -- Dwight Howard may be establishing himself as a potential MVP candidate, but Grant Hill was the man the Orlando Magic turned to in the clutch.

Howard scored 18 points and grabbed 16 rebounds and Hill made the winning bucket with less than a second remaining as the streaking Magic notched a 91-89 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Hill made two crucial free throws with 30 seconds remaining to tie the score at 89-89, then won it with the help of teammate Hedo Turkoglu, who rebounded a bad miss by Portland rookie Sergio Rodriguez and called timeout with 0.8 seconds to play.

Following the timeout, Turkoglu inbounded from the sideline, making several fakes before lobbing a pass near the front of the rim to Hill, who had slipped a pick. He caught the ball and put it home in one motion with three-tenths of a second left to give Orlando its sixth straight win.

"That was our first option, so we were fortunate that he was open," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "Grant made a great cut. Hedo made a spectacular pass so what can you say. That was the play ... or Jameer (Nelson) was going to be open after the screen."

"Basically when they come to switch, Jameer sets the screen for me, tells me to come off the screen and cut back door," Grant Hill added. "We figured Jameer would be open for a jumper. I was wide open. I'm just glad I didn't try and dunk it."

Turkoglu scored 13 points for Orlando, which maintained the best record in the Eastern Conference at 13-4.

"I think this win says a lot," Grant Hill said. "Sometimes, if you want to be one of the top teams in the league, you have to be a little lucky. Zach Randolph was playing great. The rest of their guys were playing hard and we got lucky. I'll take it."

"What can I say about them. They are just a resilient group of guys," Brian Hill said. "They just keep fighting, playing hard and getting the job done. We feel real fortunate to be able to come in here and get this type of win."

While Hill and Turkoglu won it at the end, Howard controlled the middle for most of the game. The third-year forward was 8-of-11 from the field, helping the Magic shoot 49 percent (37-of-75).

"Oh man, this was a great win for us," Howard said. "We wanted this win after controlling most of the game."

Howard was coming off a 24-point, 12-rebound effort in Wednesday's victory at Seattle in which he was 8-of-8 from the floor. Named the East's Player of the Month earlier Friday, he has eight straight double-doubles.

"In the first quarter, the bigs had to come out with a lot of energy," Howard said. "That's what I tried to provide for my team. Just try and run the floor, play hard and try to be active."

Randolph had 28 points and 13 rebounds for Portland, which has lost four straight and nine of 11.

"We still have some learning to do out there," Randolph said. "We are an inexperienced team and it shows sometimes still. I just glad it's still early in the season and we can build from this experience and maybe not have this go on again. A tough loss."

Jarrett Jack added 14 points and five assists for the Trail Blazers, who shot 41 percent (32-of-78).

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