Suns
Magic
99 - 111 Final
  for this game

Howard outduels Shaq in Orlando's come-from-behind victory

Mar 4, 2009 - 4:03 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- The modern incarnation of Superman won out over the old-school model. But unlike the real man with the cape, Dwight Howard needed some help from a sidekick or two.

In a battle of All-Star titans Tuesday night, Howard got a leg up on his All-Star counterpart, Shaquille O'Neal, leading the Orlando Magic to a 111-99 triumph over the Phoenix Suns in a fast-paced and often-messy showdown.

Orlando's center seems to have taken over the NBA's Man of Steel from Phoenix's superstar center, whose left arm is adorned with the iconic "S" shield. And Howard did his part in this one, collecting 21 points and eight boards while locked in a physical battle with Shaq all night long.

"We held him in check the first half without a double team, but in the end, all that matters is who comes out with the win," Shaq said.

O'Neal finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, but his team came up on the short end thanks to a dominant fourth quarter showing by the Magic.

"We had a lot of turnovers, but we played good defense and forced turnovers ourselves and kept them in a half-court offense," Magic forward Rashard Lewis said. "We paid more attention to detail in the second half, and our defensive effort kept us in the game."

It was Lewis who turned the tide in Orlando's favor, stepping up in the final frame to put his team over the hump. With the Magic trailing by three with just under nine minutes remaining, Lewis connected from mid-range to slice the deficit to one.

After Hedo Turkoglu tied the game with a 3-pointer at the seven-minute mark, Lewis followed one possession later with a 3-pointer - his first of the night.

"They are a great all-around team," Suns point guard Steve Nash said. "They have great offensive weapons but they can play great defense, too. They showed that tonight."

With less than three minutes left, he came up big again with what may have been the backbreaker - another three from the corner to extend the Magic's lead to eight. The All-Star forward led all players with 29 points and 12 rebounds, going 9-of-16 from the floor and 9-of-9 from the foul line.

Both teams had trouble gaining control all night - much less maintaining it. Turnovers dictated the momentum for most of the night, as the teams combined for 45 on the night.

"We did a horrible job taking care of the ball," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "You wouldn't think you would stay in the game at this level with 24 turnovers, especially against Phoenix, but we played great defense and got lucky they missed some shots."

Jason Richardson buried a 3-pointer early in the third quarter to open up a five-point edge for Phoenix, but the Magic answered with a 10-0 run capped by back-to-back dunks from Howard and Lewis.

"Dwight had a terrific second half, which was especially hard to do after the first half he had," Van Gundy said. "Once he got a chance to play, he got into a rhythm and played really well."

But the Suns, once again displaying the quick-strike ability that had evaded them through most of Terry Porter's short-lived run at the coaching helm, kept their foot on the gas.

It didn't take them long to push back ahead. It was Richardson and Leandro Barbosa leading the charge in the third, attacking the basket with relative ease as Phoenix took a five-point lead on Matt Barnes' 3-pointer and Richardson's dunk. Ultimately, however, the Magic got just enough stops and takeaways to come out on top.

"It's not great defense that caused it, I can tell you that," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "We've just got to be more protective of the ball. We just can't afford to turn it over; we didn't do that, especially in the fourth when we had some bad turnovers."

Richardson led the way with 27 points, going 4-of-7 from the arc and adding six boards.

Turkoglu added 22 points for the Magic.