95 - 88 Final
  for this game

Another strong effort from Howard powers Magic to win

Dec 9, 2008 - 7:32 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Dwight Howard has made such a habit of putting together huge games that his coach almost assumes the dominating performances are a foregone conclusion.

Howard poured in 22 points, powering the Orlando Magic to a 95-88 victory against the lowly Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.

A 23-year-old center, Howard made 7-of-16 shots from the field and added 22 rebounds and six blocks, logging his NBA-leading 17th double-double of the season. It was also the second consecutive game and third time this campaign that the 23-year-old center recorded at least 20 points and 20 rebounds.

"From my standpoint, you just get to where you expect it, quite honestly," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "And when he doesn't, you're upset.

"If he gets 15 (points) and 11 (rebounds), we're probably ticked off because (Monday's performance) is what he's capable of doing."

Howard maintains that his focus is not on putting up gaudy stats, but that numbers are just coming in the flow of the game.

"There's no statement," Howard said. "I'm just going out there, playing basketball and having fun."

Despite yet another monstrous night, Howard again struggled at the free-throw line, hitting just 9-of-18 attempts.

Rashard Lewis scored 18 points and Jameer Nelson added 15 as the Magic earned their third straight win and seventh in the last eight games.

"It was a weird game," Howard said. "But we have to learn to close teams out. If we want to be a good, dominant team, we've got to be able to play hard for 48 minutes and not let teams get back in like that."

Baron Davis scored 27 points, Zach Randolph contributed 21 and 12 rebounds and Marcus Camby pulled down 17 boards for the Clippers, who failed to earn back-to-back wins for the first time this season despite owning a late advantage.

"There were some lapses in our defense," Davis said. "We gave up a lot of three-point plays, which made us fall out of sync. Our team was physical and we played well during the middle of the game, but unfortunately we came up short."

Los Angeles rallied from a 15-point first-quarter deficit and carried a nine-point bulge into the fourth.

But the Magic used a 22-2 run over the first 7:21 of the final session to grab an 88-77 lead.

"I thought our defense was really, really good," Van Gundy said. "That sort of got everything going. It gave us a chance to attack the basket."

The Clippers, who missed 9-of-10 shots during the stretch, then reeled off eight consecutive points to pull within 88-85 with 2:52 to play. Lewis responded with a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to make it 91-85 in favor of Orlando.

Following a free throw on the other end, Hedo Turkoglu's 3-pointer gave the Magic a 94-86 cushion at the two-minute mark that sealed the victory.

"We need to work on playing tight and together in the fourth quarter," Randolph said.

After missing 17 of their first 22 shots to fall behind 24-9, the Clippers went on a second-quarter surge. Randolph's jumper with 2:56 remaining gave Los Angeles its first lead, 42-41, in the midst of a 10-1 run to close out the half.

The Clippers gained some separation in the middle of the third when Davis converted consecutive layups for a 63-56 advantage. He later nailed a 3-pointer to beat the buzzer as the Clippers took the 75-66 lead into the fourth.

  • 45
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    Magic 95, Clippers 88  FinalDec 9 6:38 PM
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    Magic 95, Clippers 88  FinalDec 9 1:24 AM

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