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Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010

Mavericks take out rebuilt Magic squad

ORLANDO (AP) All the uncertainty around Orlando couldn't have worked out better for the Dallas Mavericks.

News photo
Tough going: Magic center Dwight Howard (12) is fouled by Mavericks foward Caron Butler on Tuesday in Orlando. Dallas won 105-99. AP PHOTO

Not that they've had a problem with anybody lately.

Caron Butler scored 20 points, Dirk Nowitzki had 17 and the streaking Mavericks became the latest team to topple the reconstructed Magic in a 105-99 victory Tuesday night.

"We still know who they had," Nowitzki said of a Magic team that just overhauled its roster. "Dwight (Howard) is their focus. They have a bunch of shooters, Jameer (Nelson) and all those guys."

In other words, still not good enough to beat the NBA's elite.

Nowitzki also passed Celtics great Larry Bird for 25th on the NBA's career scoring list, finishing the night at 21,798 points. Tyson Chandler added 16 points to help the Mavericks pull away in the fourth quarter for their 16th win in 17 games.

A night after snapping Miami's 12-game winning streak, they shot 50 percent from the floor, including 46 percent from 3-point range.

"We feel like we're one of the best teams in the league, if not the best right now," Butler said. "We're playing great basketball, so we want to capitalize on every opportunity."

And Orlando provided a perfect one.

The Magic again looked like a team that hasn't had time to hold a practice since newcomers Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu were acquired on Saturday. They've lost the first two games since the pair of blockbuster trades and dropped eight of their last nine.

The latest came on another monster night for Howard, who had 26 points and 23 rebounds but got no help from his new teammates.

Bulls 121, 76ers 76

In Chicago, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng each scored 22 points, and the Bulls beat Philadelphia for their eighth win in nine games.

Despite missing big men Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, Chicago dominated nearly every offensive category and recorded its most lopsided win of the season.

Thunder 99, Bobcats 81

In Charlotte, Kevin Durant scored 32 points and Oklahoma City overcame a poor shooting night by dominating the fourth quarter in a victory over the reeling Bobcats.

The Thunder entered the final period trailing 69-68, but responded with a 25-3 run. Charlotte missed its first 11 shots, committed five turnovers and didn't get its first field goal until 2:52 remained, producing sarcastic cheers.

Nets 101, Grizzlies 94

In Memphis, Brook Lopez scored 26 points, Sasha Vujacic added a season-high 16 and New Jersey snapped a 10-game road losing streak by beating the Grizzlies.

Lopez was 8 of 14 from the field, and missed only one of his 11 free throws as the Nets won their second straight and third in the last four games.

Bucks 98, Lakers 79

In Los Angeles, Earl Boykins scored a season-high 22 points, John Salmons added 20 and short-handed Milwaukee snapped the two-time defending champions' five-game winning streak.

Kobe Bryant scored 21 points before getting ejected and Pau Gasol added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers.

Warriors 117, Kings 109 (OT)

In Sacramento, Monta Ellis scored nine of his 36 points in overtime to lift Golden State to a victory over the Kings.

Rockets seek help

HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Rockets have asked the NBA for a disabled player salary cap exception in the wake of Yao Ming's season-ending ankle injury.

Yao has been out since Nov. 10, and the team announced last Friday that he had a stress fracture in his left ankle. The seven-time All-Star, who missed all of last season following reconstructive foot surgery, appeared in only five regular-season games this year before going down again.

The disabled player exception would allow the Rockets to acquire a free agent, or trade for a player without having to match salaries, up to the value of the midlevel exception (about $5.75 million).

Team spokesman Nelson Luis confirmed the Rockets' decision on Tuesday, a request first reported by the Houston Chronicle. The NBA granted Portland a disabled player exception earlier this month after Greg Oden suffered a season-ending knee injury.

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