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Howard, Magic pick up first win at Staples Center

Dec 3, 2007 - 6:58 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic finally conquered the Staples Center.

An early season MVP candidate, Howard had a rare off night but still collected 17 points, eight rebounds and five blocks as the Magic held off the Los Angeles Lakers, 104-97, on Sunday night.

Hedo Turkoglu collected 14 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists and Rashard Lewis had 18 points and seven assists for Orlando, which won in Los Angeles for the first time since March 17, 1996 - when the Lakers played at the Great Western Forum.

That victory came in Shaquille O'Neal's last season with the Magic before getting traded to the Lakers the following offseason.

Rather than look into the past, Lewis was more interested in just getting the win - especially after Friday's loss vs. the high-powered Phoenix Suns.

"It's important because we don't want to get used to losing ballgames," Lewis said. "We want to be consistent throughout the year."

The Magic secured Sunday's victory with a decisive 9-0 run, capped by Keyon Dooling's steal and emphatic dunk to make it 100-93 with 1:44 left. Dooling deflected Lamar Odom's errant pass to teammate Keith Bogans, who threw it back to Dooling for the big finish.

"I was disappointed with the way we finished tonight," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "We seemed to run out of gas in the course of the ballgame - minutes played and conditioning right now."

The 21-year-old Howard is having a dominant season, averaging 23.8 points and 15.0 rebounds entering Sunday's play. The former No. 1 overall selection also ranks among the league leaders with 15 double-doubles.

The 6-11, 265-pounder also was coming off a 30-point, 20-rebound performance in Friday's loss to Amare Stoudemire and the Suns.

"It feels good here. I knew coming in, it was going to be a tough game for us," Howard said. "I think they are No. 2 or No. 3 in the league in scoring. So we had to put up a lot of shots.

"I think we did a great job of staying composed through all the adversity that happened throughout the game and got a good win."

While he didn't post numbers as big in this one, Howard made his presence felt against emerging Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who has grabbed at least 10 rebounds 11 times this season.

Bynum had just 10 points and six rebounds on Sunday. And Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant admitted that his team had a plan against Howard - even if it didn't work to perfection.

"We just wanted to be physical with him, limit his touches and try to keep him from catching it so deep in the paint," Bryant said.

Bryant collected 28 points, six rebounds and five assists for Los Angeles, which has lost five of its last seven games.

"They executed better than we did," the two-time scoring champion said. "We did a pretty good job on our rotations, they just knocked down shots right in our face."

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