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Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011

Howard leads Magic to marquee victory

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) This was a win that really meant something for Orlando.

News photo
Block party: Magic center Dwight Howard blocks the shot of Lakers center Pau Gasol on Sunday in Orlando. The Magic won 89-75.

Dwight Howard had 31 points — 19 in the second half — and 13 rebounds as the Magic earned their first victory over a winning team in more than a month, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 89-75 on Sunday.

"This was kind of to prove to ourselves that we can beat the best teams in the NBA," Orlando forward Ryan Anderson said. "It was a must-win for us in a sense that we haven't been playing well against good teams."

In the nearly two months since they reshaped their roster with a pair of blockbuster trades, it's been hard to tell whether the new-look Magic have the chops to make a deep playoff run. Those questions still linger, but a decisive win over the defending NBA champs was the starting point they've been looking for.

"We haven't played an entire 48 minutes in a long time," Anderson said. "Everybody really came to play and we had everybody contribute tonight. We played great defense and just had it in our mind to play hard the entire game."

Jason Richardson chipped in 12 points for the Magic.

Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum each scored 17 to lead the Lakers, held to a season low in points. Lamar Odom added 15 and Pau Gasol 11.

"Offensively we were really stagnant. Defensively we could have been a little better. But they had 89 points. It was a winnable game as far as points go. But we didn't put any up," Bynum said.

Orlando rebounded from a six-point home loss to New Orleans on Friday and snapped a string of eight straight losses to teams with winning records. Orlando's previous victory against a team above .500 was Jan. 8 at Dallas.

The Lakers' loss snapped a four-game winning streak. They conclude their seven-game road trip with visits to Charlotte on Monday and Cleveland on Wednesday.

Celtics 85, Heat 82

In Boston, Rajon Rondo had a triple-double with 11 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds as the Celtics beat Miami, with the defending Eastern Conference champions clinching the season series against their top pursuer.

LeBron James scored 22 points for Miami, which had won eight in a row. But he missed the first of two free throws with 13 seconds left and the Heat trailing by two points. He dived into the stands to knock away the inbound pass, but threw it right to Ray Allen.

Glen Davis made both of his free throws with 6.3 seconds to go, and Mike Miller missed a 3-point attempt in the final seconds that would have sent the game to overtime.

With the win, the Celtics (39-14) took back the top spot in the conference from Miami (39-15) and earned the tiebreaker for home-court advantage in the playoffs.

Grizzlies 116, Nuggets 108

In Memphis, Darrell Arthur scored a career-high 24 points and Zach Randolph led a late rally that helped the Grizzlies erase a 17-point third-quarter deficit against Denver.

Raptors 98, Clippers 93

In Toronto, Andrea Bargnani scored 27 points, and Ed Davis had 13 points and a career-high 14 rebounds as the Raptors beat Los Angeles.

Trail Blazers 105, Pistons 100

In Auburn Hills, Mich., LaMarcus Aldridge scored 36 points and Wesley Matthews added 24 as Portland beat Detroit for its fourth straight win.

Kings 113, Suns 108

In Phoenix, Donte Greene scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter as Sacramento, playing without DeMarcus Cousins, ended a five-game losing streak.

Warriors 100, Thunder 94

In Oakland, Monta Ellis had 32 points, and David Lee added 23 points and a season-high 19 rebounds.

Wizards 115, Cavaliers 100

In Cleveland, Nick Young scored 31 points, and John Wall had 19 points and 14 assists as Washington snapped its 25-game road winless streak.

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