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Hill, Howard lead Magic past Celtics

Jan 8, 2007 - 3:18 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- Grant Hill and Dwight Howard helped the Orlando Magic finish their homestand perfectly.

Hill scored 21 points and Howard added 18 and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Orlando to an 87-79 triumph over the Boston Celtics, its fourth consecutive home victory.

"One thing we needed tonight was someone that was willing to drive the basketball and that is something Grant does exceptionally well," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "Other than that I thought we settled for too many jump shots. They got to the line 14 times which is simply predicated on being aggressive and taking it to the basket."

Leading 66-60 with 10:10 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Magic proceeded to go on a 9-2 spurt capped by Darko Milicic's hook shot with 6:50 to play and never looked back.

Milicic scored 12 points off the bench and Tony Battie netted 11 and had 10 boards for Orlando, which outrebounded Boston, 51-31.

"I thought Tony started off the game really well, he's under the weather and not feeling very good and I thought we got as much out of him as we could tonight, he played very hard while he was out there," Hill said.

Ahead 16-13 midway through the opening quarter, the Magic finished on a 13-4 run to close the stanza up with a 29-17 advantage.

"We dug ourselves too big a hole in the beginning of the game," Wally Szczerbiak said. "Especially on the road, you can't give up 10 points before you blink your eyes. It's not easy to fight back.

"If we came out and played like we did in the third quarter and the whole second half, we could have won this game. But we have to just to learn from it. We played well at times, played well in spurts and hopefully we can get better by Wednesday."

Tony Allen poured in 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting for the Celtics, who shot a dismal 32 percent (23-for-73), including 4-of-18 from 3-point range.

"It is difficult to move without the ball," Allen said. "I think when we did get our chances, or when I got my chance to get some stops, I think I forced it too much. I had six turnovers again. And that just comes from being too anxious. Digging a hole was us not being relaxed enough or getting the stops."

During their four-game winning streak, the Magic have allowed just 77 points per game.

Szczerbiak scored 15 points and Delonte West added 13 for Boston, which is now 2-7 since leading scorer Paul Pierce went down with a left foot injury.

Orlando now heads out on the road in six of its next seven contests.

"I don't get into how many you win, we got to go out there and we've got to play well," Hill said about the upcoming road trip. "We got three teams to start off the trip that beat us here at home. We got a big challenge and we got to go out and try to win some games on this trip."

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