Orlando 104, Chicago 84

CHICAGO, April 13 (AP) -- There are bigger goals, bigger prizes still out there for the Orlando Magic.

That doesn't mean they were about to dismiss reaching the 50-win mark after a long, painful rebuilding process.

Hedo Turkoglu called it "special,'' and Rashard Lewis said it was a sign of things to come.

Turkoglu scored 24 points, and Orlando beat the Chicago Bulls 104-84 on Sunday night to reach 50 victories for the first time in 12 seasons.

"It's important,'' Turkoglu said. "I'm happy to be a part of it. This is my fourth year here. We've had ups and downs. This is special.''

Added Lewis, who came to Orlando in a sign-and-trade deal with Seattle: "It lets you know what the future holds for this franchise.''

The present isn't exactly bad.

Dwight Howard added 19 points even though he sat out the fourth quarter, and Lewis finished with 18.

Orlando got a much-needed win after dropping six of 10 and two of the last three to lottery-bound New York and Minnesota. In between, the Magic captured their most lopsided win of the season when they beat Chicago 115-83 at home on Wednesday. This one wasn't as easy, even though they seemed poised early to blow out the Bulls again.

The Magic hit 11 of 14 shots in the first quarter while grabbing a 36-24 lead, and shot 34-for-69 overall. They finally put the Bulls away with a 14-2 run that began in the closing seconds of the third quarter.

Turkoglu scored seven during that spurt, starting it with a reverse driving layup that gave the Magic an 82-74 lead heading into the fourth.

Lewis hit a 3-pointer - one of four for him - to make it 92-76 and Carlos Arroyo capped it with two free throws with 7:40 left. The Bulls managed just 10 points in the quarter, matching a season-low they set Jan. 15 in a loss at Orlando, and were 5-for-19 from the field.

"They're just better than us,'' Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich said. "They have been all year, and they were tonight. If they get hot from beyond the arc, I think they can beat anybody. They're definitely going to be a tough out.''

And that's exactly what the Magic did on Sunday, hitting 11 of 27 3-pointers.

"We don't have any answers for them,'' Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan said. "They have a powerful player inside, perimeter shooting and some bigs who run the pick-and-roll. That puts a lot of pressure on your defense.''

With the game out of reach there was no need for Howard, who had 30 points and 14 rebounds against the Bulls last week, to play in the fourth. This time, Chicago did all it could to prevent him from getting a shot off but the strategy failed. Howard attempted just four field goals but hit 13 of 17 free throws, and he can expect more of the same from playoff opponents.

"When he's making free throws, you can't get away with that strategy and we're tough to stop,'' said coach Stan Van Gundy, in his first season with the Magic.

Andres Nocioni led Chicago with 22 points and Luol Deng added 19, but it wasn't enough to stop the Magic from winning No. 50 wins for the first time since 1995-96.

They won 60 that season, their third straight with 50 or more, but lost in the Eastern Conference finals to a Bulls team that won 72 games and took the title. Then, Shaquille O'Neal headed for Los Angeles, and the Magic started to fade.

They bottomed out in 2003-04, going 21-61, before another dominant big man arrived.

Now, with Howard, they're third in the Eastern Conference.

"I'm surprised we haven't won more than 50 this year,'' Howard said. "I think we should have won at least 55. To win 50 is big. Every year, we've progressed.''

Notes: The Magic have made at least five 3-pointers in all 80 games, extending their NBA record. ... Van Gundy was sporting a bruise below his right eye after horsing around with his 13-year-old son. "I was trying to come up with a better story,'' he said. "But I'm not good on short notice.'' ... The Magic's first miss was a 3-pointer from the corner by Keith Bogans with 4:46 left in the first quarter. ... Ben Gordon scored a season-low three points in 18 minutes for Chicago.


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