for this game

Howard, Turkoglu lead Heat past Magic

Nov 25, 2007 - 4:56 AM By Jim Rickenbacker PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- It seemed like old times as former Orlando Magic stars Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway returned together to take on their old team. But Dwight Howard did not let them enjoy similar success in the "Magic Kingdom" this time around.

An early-season candidate for MVP, Howard collected 17 points and 13 rebounds and Hedo Turkoglu added 27 points as the Magic secure their seventh win in their last eight games, 120-99, over Hardaway, O'Neal and the Miami Heat on Saturday.

O'Neal and Hardaway - a dynamic duo over a decade ago with the Magic - led Orlando to the 1995 NBA Finals. But with both players declining in the twilight of their careers, it was the Magic's current star who carried the day along with a resurgent bench.

"I thought this was the closest we've come all year to putting 48 minutes together," said Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy, whose team now embarks on five-game West Coast trip. "I thought we were outstanding at the offensive end against a very good defensive team.

"They had a pretty good night, but we had a great night. This is a very good win for us heading out on the road."

Howard, who promised in the preseason to be an "animal" every night, didn't put up the monster numbers he did in Friday night's win over the Charlotte Bobcats that featured nine dunks by the All-Star center.

But he once again drew noteworthy reviews, shooting 6-of-7 from the field on Saturday, while Turkoglu shot 9-of-16 - including 5-of-7 from the arc.

"If you look at the last three games before this one, (Howard's) numbers are frightening," said former Magic coach Richie Adubado, who is the team's the current radio color analyst. "Domination is the only word to describe it."

Despite his numbers the past few games and the way he's carried himself on court this season, Howard remains humble about his performances.

"I've got a very long way to go," Howard said. "You've got to become a good player before you become a great player."

Beating the Heat was just as pleasurable for Van Gundy, who coached the Heat to the Eastern Conference finals in 2004-05.

By the time the next season rolled around for the Heat, Pat Riley returned to coaching and Van Gundy wound up consulting, remaining loyal to Riley.

Nevertheless, Van Gundy downplayed meeting Miami for the first time in the regular season.

"Tonight was like any other game, it really was," Van Gundy said. "We also haven't had time to think about it like you would if you had all week to build up and think about it.

"This is our fifth game in seven days, so I didn't have time to think about this game until (Friday night) after the (Charlotte) game."

On Saturday night, Van Gundy and the Magic found themselves in a heated matchup of division rivals at different ends of the standings.

The Magic squandered a 20-point lead against the Boston Celtics this past Sunday and allowed the Bobcats to hang around for longer than Van Gundy would have liked.

By halftime Saturday night, Orlando had a 59-49 advantage, thanks to Howard's 14 points. O'Neal wound up with 12 points at the half, but Howard had three more rebounds and a block late in the second period that helped the Magic grab their 10-point halftime lead.

Still, the Magic missed seven free throws in the first half, particularly disturbing since they missed 17 against Charlotte.

Propelled by its bench, Orlando's lead swelled to 86-66 on a pair of free throws by Keyon Dooling with 2:28 remaining in the third period.

In fact, the reason Orlando still maintained a double-digit lead was its bench. For the game, the Magic's bench outscored the Heat's reserves, 36-13, led by Dooling's 17 points.

"What we want to do as the bench is compliment the starters," said Dooling, who also is a former member of the Heat. "Obviously, when you're playing against some of your former teammates, and some of the people you used to work with, it's exciting and you want to beat them. Being from South Florida, I always get up for the Heat."

Dooling, who scored 14 points against Charlotte, ran his total to 12 against the Heat to give the Magic a 97-81 cushion early in the final period.

Not even the shooting of Dwayne Wade nor O'Neal's dunks could bring the Heat back from that deep hole.

"They are one of the best teams in the league when they are making their shots," Wade said. "Even though they have Dwight's post presence, they still rely on the outside shot. When they're making them, they're a pretty tough team."

O'Neal, who accounted for a pair of three-point plays early in the fourth period, finished with 20 points. Wade racked up 22 of his 32 points in the second half, including 11 in the third period for Miami.

"We had a lot of stupid mistakes, but we fought back," O'Neal said. "They just capitalized on our mistakes, and we couldn't get over the hump. At this point in the season, I'm not worried."

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