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Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009

Howard, Magic humble Hawks

ATLANTA (AP) Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic made sure the Atlanta Hawks don't have illusions about their strong start.

News photo
Big night: Orlando's Dwight Howard drives on Atlanta's Al Horford on Thursday. The Magic beat the Hawks 93-76. AP PHOTO

All it took was Magic coach Stan Van Gundy challenging Howard to play smarter and harder.

"I came out in the second half and just trusted my teammates," Howard said. "They made some open shots and I tried to dominate the paint. It doesn't matter if we're down 20, we're going to continue to fight."

Howard had 22 points and 17 rebounds, Vince Carter added 21 points and the Magic beat Atlanta 93-76 on Thursday night.

The Hawks dropped to 11-4 in a failed bid to tie Phoenix for the NBA's best record. They also missed a chance to improve to 8-0 at home for the first time since 1993-94.

Orlando wiped away the disappointment of a one-point home loss to Miami on Wednesday night with its sixth win in seven games.

"I said to them at halftime, 'The question is, does anybody want to play?' " Van Gundy said. "I think we were pouting. We were tired. It's easy to make an excuse, but at the end of the day they're going to give you a W or an L. Nobody cares how long they've been rested or anything else. Nobody cares."

Atlanta, which has dropped two straight following a seven-game winning streak, blew a 14-point lead after Joe Johnson banked in a jumper to begin the third quarter.

The defending Eastern Conference champion Magic went on a 25-10 run that ended with Carter's three-point play and a 64-63 advantage with 2:09 left in the third.

"We were playing against one of the top teams in the East," Johnson said. "We showed no signs of urgency in the second half."

Johnson finished with 22 points for the Hawks, a half-game behind Orlando for the Eastern Conference and Southeast Division lead.

Atlanta's half-court offense fell into a deep funk after Marvin Williams hit a 5.5-meter shot to give the Hawks a 57-44 lead with 10:26 left in the third.

Over its next 34 possessions, Atlanta managed just six field goals.

"It was like we forgot how we got the lead," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "We played so differently in the second half, so we have to go break this tape down and figure out why that is."

Jazz 105, Bulls 86

In Salt Lake City, Carlos Boozer scored 28 points on 12-for-14 shooting as Utah ended a run of three defeats by Chicago.

Deron Williams had 21 points and six assists for the Jazz, while Boozer also had eight rebounds, five assists and three blocks.

Luol Deng had 26 points and eight rebounds for the Bulls.

James Johnson was the only Chicago player other than Rose and Deng to score in double figures, finishing with 10.

The Bulls fell to 1-4 on a six-game trip, which ends Monday night in Milwaukee.

Chicago couldn't stop Utah inside, where the Bulls were outscored 62-42, or cool off the Jazz's shooting. Utah finished 45-for-74 from the floor — a better percentage (61) than the Jazz had from the foul line, where they went 13-for-23. Utah also had 29 assists to Chicago's 14 and finished with a season-high eight blocks.

Mehmet Okur scored 14 points and Ronnie Brewer had 15 points and six assists for the Jazz.

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