Howard Shines as Magic Snap Skid
Orlando 108, Milwaukee 93
ORLANDO, Florida, Dec. 26 (Ticker) -- Dwight Howard's ability to shake off an ankle injury enabled the Orlando Magic to end a difficult slide at home.
Howard scored 15 of his 19 points in the first half and finished with 14 rebounds as the Magic started fast and cruised to a 108-93 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Without its top post player, Orlando dropped its fourth straight and fell to 0-3 on a six-game homestand. It got back on the right side of the score Monday as six players scored in double figures, led by Steve Francis' 21 and Grant Hill's 20.
The defensive presence of guard DeShawn Stevenson, who helped limit Milwaukee sharpshooter Michael Redd to 17 points on 4-of-16 shooting, contributed to the Bucks' first road loss against an Eastern Conference opponent.
Howard skipped out on post-game interviews, but Stevenson put the win in perspective.
"This loss stops the bleeding," said Stevenson, who scored 12 points. "Things were starting to get negative around the locker room. Players were getting on each other, but we get a win like that and it relaxes us. As far as Redd, he was missing some shots, but I made it tough for him and that set the tone."
"Hey, I was guarding Redd a little, too," said Hill, who was 10-of-15 from the floor. "DeShawn really set the tone early on, really frustrated him (Redd). In a season, you're going to win some you shouldn't win and lose some you should win. I think we've used up our games we shouldn't have lost."
Howard's three-point play less than four minutes in gave the Magic the lead for good, 9-7. He finished the first quarter with 10 points and six boards and had another three-point play late in the second that helped Orlando claim a 58-44 halftime lead.
Hedo Turkoglu contributed seven consecutive points in a 10-0 burst that ran Orlando's lead to 47-36. Howard's three-point play capped the run and Milwaukee never got closer than eight the rest of the game.
"I thought the biggest thing was offensively we shared the basketball," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "We had 15 assists and six turnovers at halftime. And yes, we've had our ups and downs, but we haven't become the team that we're capable of becoming."
Orlando committed a season low-tying 10 turnovers in winning for only the second time in its last seven home games.
Francis, who had no turnovers in the second half, scored nine points in the third period and Grant Hill eight as the Magic avenged a 104-84 loss at Milwaukee on December 3. Redd scored 30 in that game, but the Magic were without both Grant Hill and Francis.
T.J. Ford and Redd combined for 36 points on 10-of-35 shooting for the Bucks, who had won their last four road games.
"I missed a lot of easy shots, no discredit to their defense," Redd said. "I knew the defense would be geared toward me, but I missed shots I'd normally make."
"I thought the first quarter really set the tone," Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts said. "I'll give them credit for forcing some of our turnovers, but I didn't think we necessarily executed very well or made the right plays and that led to their 14 transition points in the first half, all off turnovers."
All five Magic starters shot better than 50 percent from the floor and Orlando was 43-of-80 (54 percent) overall.