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Howard, hot shooting lift Magic past Bobcats

Dec 15, 2007 - 6:03 AM By Derek Smith PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Dwight Howard scored 33 points and added 18 rebounds and four blocks as the Orlando Magic snapped a three-game slide with a 103-87 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night.

Howard and company outscored the Bobcats, 61-36, in the second half en route to the victory.

"Coach (Stan) Van Gundy was really mad at our effort (in the first half)," Howard said. "He really got on us, but he was right with everything he said. We have to consistently play with a lot of energy because we have a target on our back."

Trailing, 57-45, after a 3-pointer by Charlotte's Jason Richardson, Orlando made its next nine shots and went on a 20-4 run. Jameer Nelson's 3-pointer with 7:50 left pulled Orlando within four at 57-53, but Raymond Felton calmly sank a jumper to extend Charlotte's lead back to six.

Hedo Turkoglu found Howard open underneath for an easy dunk to knot the score at 59-59, and Nelson's jumper at the 5:15 mark of the third gave Orlando its first lead since 3:18 in the second quarter.

"We did a good job of finding the open guys in the second half," Turkoglu said. "They found me open and kept giving it to me."

Matt Carroll tied the score at 61-61, but a hook shot by Howard put Orlando ahead to stay. Keyon Dooling capped the run with a layup to put the Magic up 65-61.

Orlando pushed its lead to eight points, 72-64, after three periods and made 12-of-16 shots in the third while holding Charlotte to just 5-of-19 shooting.

"We let our offense dictate how we played in the first half," Nelson said. "And we can't do that. We need to have more of a defensive mindset and let our defense create our offense for us."

Richardson got the Bobcats to within seven with a shot from the arc, but the Magic continued their hot shooting and quickly pushed the lead to 13 points, 82-69, on a driving layup by Dooling with 8:11 left in the game.

It was also a battle in the paint between the first two picks of the 2004 draft. Top pick Howard clearly outplayed No. 2 selection Emeka Okafor, who scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Bobcats.

"The one and two thing," Howard said. "That rivalry is over. We just want to go out and there and win for our team. We get a little fired up to go up against each other, but the main thing is trying to help our team win."

The duo are two of just four players in the league averaging a double-double as well as at least 2.0 blocks.

The Bobcats shot 60 percent (12-of-20) from the floor in the second quarter and took a 51-42 lead into halftime. They went on a 14-4 run to end the half with Richardson and Felton each scoring five points during the spurt, and Gerald Wallace and Othella Harrington contributing the other two baskets.

"I thought for the first half we really played well," Charlotte coach Sam Vincent said. "But the Magic just caught up with us in the second half. We really missed having another big body tonight."

Charlotte had just players in uniform after starting center Primoz Brezec and reserve forward Walter Herrmann were traded to the Detroit Pistons for Nazr Mohammed in the hours leading up to the game.

The Bobcats were already without forwards Adam Morrison and Sean May due to season-ending knee surgeries for both players.

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