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Sunday, Nov. 15, 2009

Hapless Nets still winless

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard showed the winless New Jersey Nets that he'd like to repeat as the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year.

News photo
Midair matchup: New York's Danilo Gallinari puts up a jumper over Golden State's Monta Ellis on Friday night. The Warriors beat the Knicks 121-107. AP PHOTO

Howard blocked five shots, scored 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Magic defeated the New Jersey Nets 88-72 on Friday night.

The Nets, the NBA's only winless team at 0-9, played without three starters and shot 33 percent (28 of 85) for the game.

It was the first real defensive statement of the season for the Magic and Howard, who had only 13 blocks in the first nine games this season. He swatted away five Nets' shots and altered several more.

He put the clamps on New Jersey center Brook Lopez, who averaged 23.7 points and 11 rebounds in his last three games, but got only four points and five rebounds against the Magic.

"We all played better defensively," Howard said. "My job is to erase other people's mistakes and I did that tonight. I think I had a good night."

"It's no coincidence that Dwight blocks five shots and they (Nets) shoot only 33 percent in the game," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "He was really into it. He was guarding his man (Lopez) and blocking shots and that makes a huge difference in the game."

Howard's performance helped Orlando overcome a triple-double by New Jersey point guard Rafer Alston, who had 17 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. It was the first triple-double of Alston's 11-year career.

It came against the team he helped to reach the NBA Finals with last season, but it didn't prevent the Nets from extending the worst start in franchise history.

"I just want to win, no matter who it's against," Alston said. "We were right there, but we just let go of the rope in the fourth quarter."

The Magic put all five starters in double figures, but had their own offensive struggles for most of the game. Howard dominated inside against Lopez and his backup, Sean Williams, but when New Jersey sent their big men some help, Orlando's perimeter players couldn't take advantage.

Mavs 89, Timberwolves 77

In Minneapolis, Dirk Nowitzki scored 15 of his 20 points in a tense third quarter and had 11 rebounds to lead Dallas to a victory over the Timberwolves.

Nowitzki only had a quiet five points and five rebounds in the first half before jawing with Timberwolves rookie Jonny Flynn five minutes into the third. He received a technical foul, then scored 13 points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked three shots in the next seven minutes to hand Minnesota its ninth straight loss.

Jazz 112, 76ers 90

In Philadelphia, Carlos Boozer had 24 points and 12 rebounds, and Wesley Matthews added a career-high 16 points as Utah ran past the hosts.

Warriors 121, Knicks 107

In New York, Stephen Jackson scored 23 points and three other players had 22 as Golden State sent the Knicks to the worst 10-game start in franchise history.

Danilo Gallinari had 19 points and 10 rebounds in his first career double-double for New York, which dropped its sixth straight and fell to 1-9.

Trail Blazers 86, Hornets 78

In New Orleans, LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points and 13 rebounds to help Portland beat a Hornets team that lost Chris Paul to a sprained ankle while trying to adjust to new head coach Jeff Bower.

Paul sprained his left ankle at the end of the third quarter, moments after setting up Hilton Armstrong's dunk that cut Portland's lead to 62-52.

Hawks 97, Celtics 86

In Boston, Joe Johnson scored 24 points and Jamal Crawford had 18 as Atlanta pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the hosts.

Nuggets 105, Lakers 79

In Denver, Carmelo Anthony got the better of Ron Artest, scoring 25 points in 29 minutes and leading the Nuggets past Los Angeles.

Kings 109, Rockets 100

In Sacramento, Jason Thompson had a career-high 27 points and added 11 rebounds for the Kings, who won their fourth straight game by beating Houston.

Raptors 104, Clippers 89

In Los Angeles, Chris Bosh had 21 points and 14 rebounds for Toronto, which overcame an early 22-point deficit and made four 3-point shots during a game-ending 16-0 run that carried it to a road victory over the Clippers.

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