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Lewis, Magic cruise past Bulls

Jan 16, 2008 - 5:23 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- Rashard Lewis and the Orlando Magic finally got it right at home.

Lewis scored 26 points, including four 3-pointers, as the Magic posted a 102-88 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday.

All-Star Dwight Howard had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Brian Cook scored 14 off the bench for Orlando, which had lost two straight and six of eight here. The Magic are 8-8 at home and a league-best 16-8 on the road.

"It was good to come home and finally get a win," Howard said. "We have a nice home stretch coming up and we have to get these games."

It also was just the Magic's second victory in their eight home games vs. the Bulls at Amway Arena.

Lewis and Orlando took control of the game in the second and third quarters to make this game a runaway.

Trailing, 27-24, at the end of one period, the Magic outscored the Bulls, 33-25, to take a 57-52 lead at intermission.

"I just feel like being more aggressive," said Lewis, who has scored 20 or more points in five straight games. "I felt like I was kind of stuck out there on the 3-point line early this season, shooting a lot of threes.

"But at the time we were winning ball games, so I didn't want to change anything up. But I feel like it's time to step up and mix up my game."

Cook had eight points and Lewis, who connected on 8-of-12 from the floor, scored seven as Orlando shot 61 percent (11-of-18) in the quarter.

"It's been a while, it feels great," said Cook, who had not played in the last 13 games for the Magic. "I'm just trying to get back into the swing of things. I played a pretty good game offensively. Defensively, I struggled. 13 minutes, six fouls, that just comes along with playing more."

The Magic then began the third period on a 16-2 run, capped by a shot from the arc by Lewis to take a 73-54 lead with 7:07 left in the period.

"Rashard's shooting the ball extremely well right now," Howard said. "He's driving the ball as well and getting a lot of open shots. Hopefully, we keep finding him and he can keep dropping them."

Howard, who had a dunk and a short jumper to begin all scoring in the second half, posted his NBA-leading 35th double-double. Orlando finished the period outscoring Chicago, 32-10.

"I thought our bench really gave us a lift in the second quarter," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "And then in the third, I thought our starters were tremendous especially on the defensive end of the floor. That's what got us the cushion. If you take the second and third quarters, I think 19 or 20 of those 24 minutes we played very, very well."

Chicago, which trailed by 27 entering the final quarter, made just three baskets in the third, finishing the night at 48 percent (37-of-77) from the field.

"It was just embarrassing," said Bulls point guard Chris Duhon, who finished with seven points and five assists. "Our mindset going into the second half was good, but for whatever reason, we came out really flat and they took advantage."

"Probably the worst third quarter that I've seen since I've been with Chicago," Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan added. "We had a lack of effort all the way across the board by just about everybody. It was just a lack of concentration and focus."

Joe Smith scored 13 points and Luol Deng scored 10 for the Bulls, who played the game without starting point guard Kirk Hinrich, who was out with an injured back.

Rookie Joakim Noah posted his first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds after being inactive for a win against Philadelphia on Friday and being benched for Sunday's loss to Atlanta for what the team called internal discipline.

After the game Noah walked briskly past waiting media and was unavailable for comment.

"Everyone assumed that (Noah's situation) was going to be some sort of great bonding for our team," Boylan said. "I think it was more about laying down the law of how we are going to conduct ourselves as a team. Every person has to look inside themselves. You have to look in the mirror on this one."

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