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Hill, Magic top Cavaliers in defensive battle

Dec 17, 2006 - 4:56 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- Grant Hill wasn't supposed to play. The Orlando Magic were glad he did.

In a plodding, low-scoring contest, Hill scored 21 points and Dwight Howard added 14, 16 rebounds and a season-high five blocks as the Magic overcame poor shooting for an 81-74 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers that snapped a three-game losing streak.

Darko Milicic had 12 points and nine rebounds and reserve Travis Diener added 11 for Orlando, which shot just 41 percent (30-of-73) from the field but had its best defensive performance of the season. The Magic held the Cavaliers to just eight points in the second quarter.

"We were getting good looks but we were just not making shots," Diener said. "You never want to get down because it's a long game. You've got to stay positive. You know that in the NBA, everybody's going to make a run. We made ours and didn't let them regain the lead. We played hard."

"You have to give them credit defensively because they did a heck of a job on that end of the floor," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said.

Orlando's frontline dominated the paint and set the tone for the contest.

"(Howard and Milicic) did a good job," Hill said. "They are big guys and they play well together. It's a lot of fun to continue to watch them develop a chemistry. They are so long and cover so much space, boards, defensively. I'm glad they are on our team."

On Thursday, the injury-plagued Hill missed the Magic's 99-89 loss to Charlotte with right knee tendinitis, and was a game-time decision for Saturday's contest.

The 6-8 Hill was able to play and showed glimpses of his former All-Star form, using a mix of soft jumpers and hard drives to the basket. He shot 9-of-16 from the floor and grabbed six rebounds.

Despite his stellar play, Hill said that it was a concerted team effort. Orlando's bench scored 40 points on Saturday.

"It was a great effort by everybody," Hill said. "We did what we had to do. They got off to a great start and we started poorly, but we fought, we got back into the game. I think everybody for the most part played pretty well.

"Seeing J.J Redick and Travis Diener out there, guys who haven't really been getting a lot of minutes so far this year, but they really stepped in."

Redick scored six points in just 14 minutes.

"Our bench was critical. I thought Travis, Darko, J.J. and Keyon (Dooling) came in and played really well," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "You can tell Travis and J.J. are a little bit more comfortable out there now."

LeBron James scored 29 points and Drew Gooden added 14 and 12 rebounds for Cleveland, which shot just 36 percent (27-of-75).

"You can't take anything away from Orlando," James said. "They are a good team. Offensively, they are good, and defensively, they make you shoot a lot of jump shots because if you go down the lane, you will face the three-headed monster in (Tony) Battie, Howard and Milicic."

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