for this game

Howard's late dunk caps Magic comeback over Spurs

Feb 10, 2007 - 5:49 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- Dwight Howard came up big down the stretch, giving Jameer Nelson a nice birthday present.

Howard made a one-handed dunk with six-tenths of a second remaining to finish with 30 points and Nelson had a season-high 31 as the Orlando Magic snapped a three-game losing streak with a 106-104 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

Orlando rallied from an 18-point second-quarter deficit to win for just the third time in nine games by topping the Spurs for the third time in their last four meetings.

"That's a (heck) of a win for our guys," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "I was very disappointed with our defense in the first half. We gave up 59 points and to hold them to 45 in the second half, we did a much better job."

After Nelson hit a foul-line jumper to tie the score, 104-104, with five seconds left, Howard blocked Tony Parker's 11-foot jumper and Nelson grabbed the ball and called timeout with eight-tenths of a second remaining.

Following the timeout, Hedo Turkoglu lofted an alley-oop inbounds pass to Howard, who made a dramatic one-handed dunk to give the Magic the lead. San Antonio took a timeout before Tim Duncan's inbounds pass went off the backboard as time ran out.

"That dunk was a little something that coach drew up," Howard said. "A play for me dunking and I made it. ... Coach drew up a great play and Hedo made a great pass. ... I felt that if we didn't win it in regulation, we would have had a great chance of winning it in overtime."

"It was a (heck) of a pass by Hedo and we are fortunate enough to have a guy like Dwight so you can just throw the ball to the rim," Nelson said.

Trailing, 44-26, midway through the second quarter, Orlando rallied behind Nelson, who scored the final 11 points for the Magic in the third quarter, including a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left in the period to tie the game, 80-80.

"He stepped up and hit a lot of big shots," Howard said. "The games before, it seemed like he couldn't buy a shot but tonight, he shot the ball with confidence. Everybody was passing the ball and we were getting a good feel for it."

After Michael Finley and Jacques Vaughn opened the fourth quarter by hitting jumpers for the Spurs, Nelson extended his scoring streak to 16 for Orlando with a 3-pointer and a jumper to give the Magic an 85-84 edge with 10:30 remaining.

"When you make five or six (shots) in a row, you definitely have extra confidence," Nelson said. "Even if you miss, it still feels good. I've been playing in the dump the last couple of games but hopefully, I'm out of my little funk now."

Manu Ginobili made a layup to give the Spurs a 103-97 lead with 1:55 to play before Carlos Arroyo hit a jumper with 1:12 left and rookie J.J. Redick converted a three-point play with 46 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to one point.

"I was just trying to keep my dribble alive and if they committed to me, I was going to kick it out," Redick said. "But when I got into the lane, Ginobili was in no man's land and Duncan was two steps behind me, so I went to the basket and was just trying to draw some contact and it went in."

San Antonio gave Orlando some life when Bruce Bowen missed two free throws with 27 seconds to go and Tony Parker went 1-of-2 from the foul line three seconds later.

"I don't think we responded very well to their run in the third quarter," Spurs guard Brent Barry said. "We just had to play one solid quarter in the fourth. We didn't execute the way we should in the fourth quarter in order to get a win. Especially on the road, you have to do that."

Nelson, who turned 25, made 12-of-20 shots, while Howard hit 11-of-14 and Redick scored a season-high 16 points for the Magic.

Duncan scored 24 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, Barry had 21 and Finley 18 off the bench for the Spurs, who have dropped three of five on their eight-game road trip.

"It was a tough one because we played well enough to win the game," Parker said. "Orlando did a great job of fighting and staying in the game. They started making shots in the third and fourth quarter. When it is close like that, you never know what is going to happen."

"Tough loss for us, great second half for Orlando," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Jameer Nelson got them back in the game and got hotter than a firecracker. Dwight was great the whole night. It was a good win for Orlando."