Howard, Arroyo Help Magic End Slide
Orlando 102, Seattle 89
ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 24 (Ticker) -- Dwight Howard and Carlos Arroyo weren't ready for the Orlando Magic to continue their losing ways.
Howard collected his 41st double-double with 23 points and 16 rebounds and Arroyo scored 11 of his season-high 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Magic ended their eight-game losing streak with a 102-89 triumph over the shorthanded Seattle SuperSonics.
"I felt comfortable out there," said Arroyo, who played collegiately at Florida International and received numerous cheers every time he scored during his first home game in a Orlando uniform. "Hopefully, I can continue to adapt to our system. It's only going to get better."
"We're trying to turn things around as a team," said Howard, who made 10-of-14 shots. "Carlos and Darko bring a lot of energy to the team. We're looking forward to finishing the season."
Grant Hill was the story of the first half, scoring 17 of his 19 points to help Orlando hold a 58-49 advantage at intermission. Howard had 13 points and 10 rebounds before the break.
"Grant came out tonight and knew we needed a win," Howard said. "We needed him offensively and he stepped up."
Seattle stormed back within 78-76 as Rashard Lewis made a shot from the arc with 10:37 remaining. The Magic responded with a commanding 11-2 burst as Arroyo scored seven points during the stretch.
"Carlos, having been a point guard his whole life, just has an understanding of where the ball should go," Orlando coach Brian Hill said. "He's going to get the ball to the right people and knows when he's supposed to keep it himself. I don't expect him to go 7-of-11 every night, but he did a very good job tonight."
Hill's jump pass to Howard for a dunk gave Orlando a 12-point edge with 5 1/2 minutes left. After Deshawn Stevenson connected on back-to-back jumpers, Howard scored on a jam with just under three minutes to go, giving the Magic a 100-85 bulge.
The SuperSonics only had seven players in uniform. They were without All-Star sharpshooter Ray Allen, who had a stomach flu, and newly acquired Earl Watson.
"I really thought under the circumstances, that our effort overall was really good," Seattle coach Bob Hill said.
"Their depth just wore us down." "We have some guys that we are not used to playing with," said SuperSonics guard Luke Ridnour, who had 16 points and six assists. "We can't make excuses. We played hard with seven guys, but it just wasn't enough."
Stevenson scored 14 points and Milicic added eight and five rebounds for Orlando, which shot 52 percent (42-of-80) and held a 45-31 edge in rebounding.
Damien Wilkins scored 21 points and Chris Wilcox added a season-high 20 for the Sonics, who shot 46 percent (34-of-73) but made just 2-of-9 from the arc.
"Coming into the game, we knew we would be shorthanded," said Wilkins, who sank 9-of-15 shots. "We didn't know we would be without Ray. We gave it our best effort and we were in a position to win. Unfortunately, we were shorthanded and didn't get it done."