Howard returns and Magic thump SpursDec 19, 2008 - 7:28 AM By Ben Millar PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- Despite missing two consecutive games with a sore left knee, Dwight Howard scored 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Orlando Magic to a 90-78 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.
The win that stretched the Magic's current winning streak at Amway Arena to five. Orlando had dropped 11 of the last 14 meetings to San Antonio.
After an extremely sluggish start, Orlando led 19-13 after one and picked up the pace in the second quarter.
Nearing the four minute mark in the second quarter, Jameer Nelson dished a baseball-like overhand pass while falling in between two defenders on the perimeter to Rashard Lewis who hit a 3-pointer from the corner to put Orlando up 40-21.
"Our energy was extremely high and that is what I wanted," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Overall I was really happy with how we played and our energy was our biggest factor in winning."
Nelson led all scorers with 24 points and added seven assists.
"Jameer (Nelson) was absolutely tremendous tonight," Van Gundy said. "He has been on a roll lately. Hopefully, he can keep it up."
"Jameer Nelson had a great game," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "He hurt us more than anybody on the court, made big shots and got everybody involved."
The Spurs had quickly squandered a 9-3 lead and the Magic went into the break ahead 44-29. The Magic lead was as large as 23 points in the second half.
"I think our players can take great satisfaction in showing a lot of competitiveness and hanging in a tough situation," Popovich said. "Going down by 23, I thought they showed a lot of class and a lot of competitiveness hanging in the game doing what they did."
Tim Duncan had 19 points and nine rebounds but got little help.
"We are nowhere close to where we want to be. We will use all 82 games to hopefully get everything right and go into the playoffs feeling right," Duncan said. "We are trying to work everybody in. Nothing is set in stone and we are not doing anything perfectly. We are trying to figure out what works best and who works well with each other. Until we get there we will continue tweaking."
Rookie Courtney Lee who had 10 points off the bench. Lee was one of five Magic players in double figures. Lewis added 15 points and Hedo Turkoglu added 11.
Howard was 6-of-12 from the field in 33 minutes. He added a pair of blocks and had five of Orlando's six offensive rebounds.
"Dwight (Howard) looked fine out there," Van Gundy said. "He missed a few early shots on a physical team and that was tough on him. He didn't complain about the pain at all."
SAN ANTONIO 78
ORLANDO 90 FINAL
Dec 18 10:34 PM
SAN ANTONIO 52
ORLANDO 65 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 18 10:00 PM
SAN ANTONIO 29
ORLANDO 44 HALFTIME
Dec 18 9:15 PM
SAN ANTONIO 13
ORLANDO 19 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 18 8:44 PM
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