Magic Continue To Roll, Defeat Sonics
Posted Nov 30 2006 1:57AM
Orlando 94, Seattle 84
SEATTLE, Nov. 29 (AP) -- Dwight Howard won't turn 21 for another week and yet performances like Wednesday night are becoming the norm.
Howard was overpowering, scoring 24 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in leading the Orlando Magic to their fifth straight win, 94-84 over the Seattle SuperSonics.
Howard was perfect from the field, making all eight attempts, and went 8-for-12 at the free throw line. It was his seventh straight double-double and ninth in his last 10 games.
Coincidentally, the Magic have won nine of 10.
``I hope as he gets older he keeps getting better,'' Orlando coach Brian Hill said. ``You don't expect the 8-for-8 every night, but 24 and 12, I'm not going to say it's becoming the norm, but it doesn't surprise you, either.''
After controlling the middle all night and frustrating Seattle's frontline with his rebounding hustle and defense, Howard capped his night by swatting Luke Ridnour's floater four rows deep into the stands with 49 seconds left.
Four of his eight field goals were dunks, he added a couple of tip-ins, too. The eight field goals made without a miss was a career-best for Howard, but Hill was most impressed with Howard's aggressiveness in drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line.
Orlando improved to 12-4, one game back of Utah for the best record in the NBA. The Magic have won the first two of a season-high six-game road trip.
``We're just having fun,'' said Howard, who turns 21 on Dec. 8. ``When you're having fun, you're out there playing hard.''
Fun would not be used to describe Seattle right now. A team built for offense is suddenly stagnant at that end of the floor. The Sonics lost their third straight home game and shot only 30 percent in the second half.
Ray Allen led Seattle with 21 points, but missed his first five shots of the second half and didn't score until there was 5:35 left - a 3-pointer that brought Seattle within 10. The Sonics never got closer than eight in the final 7 minutes.
The Sonics have failed to score 100 points in six of the last eight games.
``It's frustrating right now, I can't lie to you guys,'' Allen said. ``Offensively, we do some good things, we do some bad things, but consistently, we're not getting over the hump.''
Seattle led 59-53 on Ridnour's 3-pointer with 6:38 left in the third, its largest lead since holding an 11-point advantage early in the second quarter.
Howard then scored the next six points, all on three-point plays, and Hedo Turkoglu's 3-pointer gave Orlando a 62-61 lead, all part of a 13-2 run.
The Magic's lead reached 74-65 less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, when Trevor Ariza capped a 6-0 spurt with a two-handed dunk.
``Our bench has been doing a good job all year, whether it's scoring or defensively,'' Brian Hill said. ``Usually they give us a big lift on the defensive end of the floor.''
Nick Collison finally scored on a tip-in with 9:26 left, Seattle's first field goal since the 5:30 mark of the third quarter. Seattle's only points during the stretch were free throws from Allen and Earl Watson. Orlando led by as many as 14 in the fourth.
``Dwight Howard tonight climbed over everybody's back and had his way with us,'' Allen said. ``That's got to not be able to sit well with some of our guys, for someone like that to come and manhandle us in the paint.''
Notes: Orlando F Pat Garrity missed his fifth straight game with a sprained right knee. Brian Hill hopes Garrity can play Friday in Portland. ... The announced crowd was 14,232, but KeyArena was only half full, the result of an incoming storm. A similar storm Monday night paralyzed traffic in the region.
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