Notebook: Lakers 106, Magic 97

Posted Mar 12, 2013 11:42 PM

Dick Scanlon, for

THE FACTS: Dwight Howard scored a season-high 39 points in his return to Orlando and tied his NBA record of 39 free-throw attempts in leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 106-97 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Facing a hostile crowd in his first game back in the city in which he played his first eight NBA seasons, Howard made 25-of-39 foul shots, most of them resulting from Orlando's Hack-a-Howard strategy that worked well in the Magic's victory at Los Angeles in December.

Howard's big night enabled the Lakers to win their fourth straight in spite of a lackluster game by the rest of the team. Kobe Bryant nailed a 3-pointer just 16 seconds into the game, then didn't score in the rest of the first half and finished with 11 points.

Jameer Nelson led the Magic with 21 points. Tobias Harris had 17 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.

QUOTABLE: "I think it was something I needed, to come back, and I think it was something that the city needed, too. It's closure. We can all move on. We had eight great years. People are going to feel the way they feel. I totally understand that."
-- Howard

THE STAT: Howard's 39 free throws tied the NBA record he set while playing for the Magic at Golden State on Jan. 12, 2012. He made 21 that night.

QUOTABLE II: "I hate it for the fans. They can come to practice for free and watch him shoot 40, 50 foul shots. They don't even have to pay for the tickets. I'll invite them all.''
-- Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni

TURNING POINT: With Howard, Bryant and Nash on the bench at the outset of the fourth quarter, Antawn Jamison scored eight points to help the Lakers stretch an eight-point lead to 16 in 3 1/2 minutes.

HOT: A 48 percent foul shooter, Howard made 16-of-20 attempts in the second half.

QUOTABLE III: "With any player, if you get 39 cracks at it, it's only natural for you to gain some type of rhythm. Usually the percentages kick in when you take five to 10. But when you actually make a few, you gain some confidence, and he did a good job of making them down the stretch for them.''
-- Magic guard Arron Afflalo

NOT: The Magic shot 7-for-24 in the first quarter, then missed their first eight shots in the second quarter.

GOOD MOVE: Hack-a-Howard helped the Magic stay in the game in the first half when he made two of his first nine shots and the rest of the team stood around.

BAD MOVE: Hack-a-Howard was not a useful strategy at the end of the game because the Lakers were up by 11 points when it was implemented with less than five minutes left. At that point the Magic needed stops.

QUOTABLE IV: "If we had made six more threes, I probably wouldn't have done it. But strategy-wise, I needed to give our guys rest; I played a few guys a lot of minutes, and to see if he could make 'em. We used the percentages, and he stepped up and made 'em."
-- Magic coach Jacque Vaughn

IN THE ARENA: Anti-Howard posters (something of a tradition in Orlando for defecting players) were all over the arena, most of them depicting him as a crybaby or Bryant's lackey.

FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Harris continued to pile up good numbers. In his first 10 games with Orlando, he has averaged 15.6 points (on 50 percent shooting) and 7.4 rebounds.

ROOKIE WATCH: Magic forward Maurice Harkless scored 12 points before fouling out with 8:16 left.

NOTABLE: Other than Howard, the only NBA player to shoot as many as 30 free throws in a game since 1985 is Shaquille O'Neal, who shot 31 for the Lakers against Chicago on Nov. 19, 1999. He made 19. ... Lakers forward Pau Gasol, who has been out for five weeks with a partially torn plantar fascia, is running again and might be playing soon, according to D'Antoni.

UP NEXT: For the Lakers: Wednesday @Atlanta, Friday @ Indiana, Sunday vs. Sacramento. For the Magic: Friday @ Oklahoma City, Sunday @ Milwaukee, Tuesday @ Indiana.