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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Magic put end to run of Bulls


CHICAGO — The Magic had to beat the best to overcome the sting of losing to the worst.

News photo
Give me some space: Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu drives on Chicago's Luol Deng in the first half on Thursday night. The Magic beat the Bulls 99-94. AP

Dwight Howard had 29 points and 18 rebounds to lead Orlando to a 99-94 win over the Bulls on Thursday, snapping Chicago's eight-game winning streak.

The Magic bounced back from a 100-84 loss at Charlotte, beating the Bulls two nights after losing to the Bobcats, who sport a league-worst 5-32 record. Despite the loss, Chicago's 33-9 mark is tops in the Eastern Conference.

"We stepped up tonight and everybody played great," Howard said. "I think it was our defense that got us the lead early in the game. We forced a couple of turnovers and we were able to run and get easy buckets.

"We have to play that brand of basketball to compete for a championship. We can't fall back and have a game like Charlotte and expect to be in the same breath as Chicago and Miami."

The Bulls twice overcame double-digit deficits and led 91-89 with 2:56 to play after Derrick Rose passed to Carlos Boozer for a jumper.

Orlando responded with an 8-1 run started by Jameer Nelson's lob to Howard for a vicious, two-hand dunk out of a timeout. Ryan Anderson hit a 3 and a pair of free throws in the decisive rally.

"There is some luck to it," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Towards the end, we had two guys laying on the ground and they don't get a basket. Our offensive rebounding down the stretch was big."

Boozer led Chicago with 26 points. Rose added 17 points and nine assists, but shot just 6 for 22 from the field. The Bulls missed a number of layups and open 3-pointers down the stretch.

"We came out kind of sluggish, got ourselves into a hole and couldn't dig ourselves out," Rose said.

Designated sharpshooter Kyle Korver hit just 1 of 7 from long range, including a misfire from the corner after defender Jason Richardson fell down, leaving him unguarded.

"I thought at least three of them were in the bottom of the bucket," Korver said. "You've got one play where everybody falls down and it goes in and out. I need to come through on those."

Richardson scored 18 points and hit four 3-pointers for Orlando. The Magic hit 11 3-pointers, most of them in the early going.

"We were really moving the ball well," Anderson said. "Moving it inside and out with Dwight. Dwight did a great job passing out of double teams."

Orlando jumped out to a 17-point lead in the first quarter after a conventional three-point play finished by Howard capped an 11-point Magic run.

Suns 96, Mavericks 94

In Phoenix, Jared Dudley scored 12 of his 18 points in a third-quarter comeback and Phoenix held on to beat Dallasfor the Suns' first victory over the Mavericks in nine tries.

Grant Hill scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half for Phoenix, but missed two free throws with 15.4 seconds left.

Dallas had two chances after that, but Rodrique Beauboi missed a driving layup, then couldn't hit an 6-meter jumper at the final buzzer.

Marcin Gortat added 16 points and a game-high 12 rebounds as the Suns won their fourth consecutive home game, their longest streak in nearly two years.

Steve Nash had 11 points and 11 assists for Phoenix.

Vince Carter and Dirk Nowitzki scored 18 points apiece for Dallas in the Mavericks' fifth road loss in a row.

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