Howard powers Magic to 106-98 win over Pacers

Dwight Howard overcame a slow start to finish with 21 points and 23 rebounds, powering the Orlando Magic past the Indiana Pacers 106-98 on Monday night.

Howard endured hard-hitting fouls and a Pacers team determined to not let him dunk. He went 4 for 9 from the field, still struggled with free throws but helped Orlando snap its two-game losing skid with some physical play in the paint.


The Magic big man had some help with 28 points from Vince Carter, who missed the past two days of practice because of a stomach ailment, sore right knee and slight hip discomfort.

Mike Dunleavy had 26 points, and Troy Murphy added 14 points after frustrating Howard early for Indiana, which had its two-game winning streak end.


Howard's defense forced the Pacers to shot from outside. And when they collapsed in the paint defensively, that left the streaky Magic shooters with open looks.

Rashard Lewis and J.J. Redick hit consecutive 3-pointers in the final two minutes to put Orlando ahead by eight and seal the victory.

The Pacers had the Magic off to a woeful start.

Indiana stifled Howard early, made Orlando into a jumpshooting team and rushed out to a 34-17 lead early in the second quarter. That cushion could have been bigger.


But Carter made sure it wasn't.

Carter made back-to-back 3-pointers late in the opening quarter, finishing with 14 points in the period to keep the game from being a blowout early.

Behind strong efforts off the bench from Redick and Anthony Johnson, the Magic slowly edged closer. Then their big man got going.

During one stretch in the second quarter, Howard swatted a layup by Murphy, sprinted to the other end for the rebound off Matt Barnes' missed 3-pointer and slammed it down over Solomon Jones to start a three-point play.

That play brought the arena alive and highlighted a 28-10 run by the Magic that helped close Indiana's lead to 54-53 at the half.

The Pacers tried not to let Howard get loose again, quickly fouling him on catches deep in the paint.

Howard and Murphy got tangled up in the third quarter after the Magic center was hacked on the neck shooting a layup. Howard pushed his right arm out after the play to create separation, the two exchanged stares and were each called for a technical foul.

NOTES: Former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula was sitting courtside. ... The Magic have started a run of playing seven of eight at home, including a Christmas Day matchup against the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics. ... The Pacers are in the middle of playing four of five on the road.