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Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010

Magic consign Cavs to third straight loss

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Dwight Howard sat on a chair in front of his locker and plopped his son, Braylon, onto his lap. The 2-year-old was wearing a blue shirt with the Superman emblem stamped on the chest.

News photo
Men of Steel: Cavaliers center Shaquille O'Neal goes up for a shot against Magic center Dwight Howard during their game on Sunday in Orlando. AP PHOTO

Statement? Hardly. The big man did that on the court.

Howard had 22 points and 16 rebounds in a bruising battle with Shaquille O'Neal, and the Orlando Magic beat Cleveland 101-95 on Sunday for the Cavaliers' first three-game losing streak in two years.

"He's a big load," Howard said of O'Neil, who had taken offense recently to Howard being called Superman. "You just got to get in there and fight him. You got to get out there and wrestle with him. You got to make him work."

They both did plenty of that.

Howard was 8-for-13 shooting and added four blocks, and Vince Carter had eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter to help the Magic beat Cleveland for the first time this season.

O'Neal made his first eight shots and finished with 20 points, and LeBron James had 33 points and nine rebounds for the Cavaliers, who were eliminated by Orlando in last year's Eastern Conference finals.

"Dwight is one of the only true big men left. I'm sure he doesn't mind a little bit of physicality," said O'Neal, who avoided any verbal jabs at Howard after this one. "I darn sure don't mind it. Two big, strong guys. Old ball, young ball going at it. Fun game to watch."

Stayed tuned. Might be plenty more matchups this season.

Although the Cavaliers' losing skid — all since acquiring Antawn Jamison from Washington — comes on the heels of a 13-game winning streak, they still lead Orlando by five games. And with the Magic starting to play their best basketball, a conference finals rematch might be in store.

"We play the way we're playing, they play the way they're playing, we'll eventually meet," Howard said.

Nuggets 114, Celtics 105

In Denver, J.R. Smith scored 16 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and the Nuggets recovered to get the win after blowing an early 20-point lead.

Thunder 109, Timberwolves 107

In Minneapolis, Kevin Durant scored 32 points to extend his streak of games with at least 25 points to 28 games and Russell Westbrook had a triple-double to lead Oklahoma City to its ninth straight win.

Jazz 93, Trail Blazers 89 (OT)

In Portland, Carlos Boozer scored on an offensive putback at the end of regulation to force overtime, then gave Utah its first lead since the opening minutes, and the Jazz rallied from down 25 in the third quarter to stun the Blazers.

Pistons 109, Spurs 101 (OT)

In Auburn Hills, Mich., Richard Hamilton scored 27 points and Rodney Stuckey added 20 and Detroit held on for the win after trailing to start overtime.

Grizzlies 104, Nets 94

In East Rutherford, N.J., Rudy Gay scored 29 points and Memphis added another exclamation point to a frustrating season for New Jersey, rallying from an 18-point first-half deficit for the win.

Warriors 108, Hawks 104

In Oakland, Calif., Stephen Curry scored 32 points and made the go-ahead free throw in the final minute.

Suns 104, Kings 88

In Phoenix, Jason Richardson scored 26 points, Amare Stoudemire had 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Steve Nash had 17 assists as the Suns completed a season sweep of Sacramento.

Hornets 102, Rockets 94

In New Orleans, David West scored 27 points, including four in the final two minutes.

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