Magic dismantle PacersJan 28, 2009 - 3:34 AM By Zach Chalifour PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- Dwight Howard scored 22 points and dominated the Indiana Pacers down low to help propel the Orlando Magic to their first win in three games, 135-111, on Tuesday.
Coming off of a two-game losing streak - only their second such slide this season - the Magic (34-10) weren't about to let another one get away from them, playing with top-level energy right from the opening tip and not trailing the entire game.
"We played great with a lot of energy, staying on the attack all night. We needed to come out fast after the way we played the last two games," Howard said.
The boost in the home team's energy came off of the bench, as Mickael Pietrus recorded a season-high 27 points and 10 rebounds to post his first double-double of the season in his first action since December 29.
According to Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, Pietrus was expected to miss two more games before making his return.
"He wasn't even expected to play - we were going to sit him until Sunday - but he felt good and wanted to play, so we gave it a shot," the Magic's coach said.
Pietrus, who missed the last 12 games with a broken wrist, scored seven first-quarter points to provide the home team with an early boost of energy to open up an early 16-point lead.
"I was very excited to play," Pietrus said. "After being gone so long, it felt really good to be back on the court again and enjoying the fun with the rest of the guys to help us win."
Howard, coming off of his first career ejection in a disappointing 103-97 loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday, also pulled in 10 rebounds to record his league-leading 34th double-double.
"Pietrus looked good, shot the ball well and played great defense; we were real happy to see him back on the floor," Howard said of his teammate's return.
Rashard Lewis and rookie Courtney Lee posted solid games of their own aside Howard and Pietrus, pouring in 24 and 14 points, respectively.
Following the quick start by the Magic, the Pacers did manage to cut the lead to 13 with 8:41 left in the second quarter but couldn't get it any closer the remainder of the game.
T.J. Ford was the only bright spot for the last-place Pacers (17-28), finishing with 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting.
Ford noted the Pacers couldn't get the rest of their offense going enough to keep up with the Magic's attack.
"It is tough defending their inside-outside game," Ford said. "Tonight their shooters were hot; they got a big lead, and we couldn't recover from it."
Danny Granger was kept in check by Lee and Pietrus all night, as the duo's suffocating defense held Indiana's star to just 10 points while shooting only 4-of-14 from the field.
"It looked like every three they shot went in. They are a good team - the best in the East," Granger said.
Marquis Daniels was the visitors' second-highest scorer with 16 points, and Troy Murphy added 13.
ORLANDO 135 FINAL
Jan 27 9:27 PM
ORLANDO 102 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 27 8:56 PM
ORLANDO 68 HALFTIME
Jan 27 8:12 PM
ORLANDO 36 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 27 7:35 PM
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