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Howard leads Magic in preseason opener

Oct 11, 2006 - 2:37 AM CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Dwight Howard clearly wants to be included among the elite big men in the NBA.

Howard had 18 points and 10 rebounds as the Orlando Magic posted a 109-90 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats in the preseason opener for both teams.

The top overall pick in the 2004 draft, Howard made 6-of-11 shots from the floor in a matchup against the No. 2 overall pick from that draft, Emeka Okafor. Howard scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds in the decisive third quarter, when the Magic stretched a two-point halftime lead to 86-75 after three quarters.

The Magic shot 49 percent (36-of-74) from the field while holding the Bobcats to 34 percent (28-of-82), including just 3-of-15 from 3-point range. Orlando also dominated the paint, outscoring Charlotte, 46-30.

Keith Bogans had seven points in the third and finished with 14 for Orlando, which welcomed back Grant Hill, who played in just 21 games last year due to a sports hernia. Hill contributed 16 points - 12 in the first half - and went 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.

Bobcats rookie Adam Morrison scored 19 points off the bench to lead all scorers. The third overall pick in June had 16 points at halftime and finished 7-of-14 from the field, including 2-of-2 from the arc.

Okafor struggled with foul trouble, going scoreless before fouling out after nine minutes. Raymond Felton, a member of last season's All-Rookie team, had 16 points, and Charlotte's other first-round pick from a year ago, Sean May collected 13 along with seven boards.

Bobcats guard Brevin Knight left in the first quarter with a right ankle sprain and did not return.

The Southeast Division rivals square off four times during the regular season with the first meeting coming November 18 at Orlando.

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