Dwight Howard has big game as Orlando Magic hold off Indiana Pacers
By AP FeedFoxSports
If Dwight Howard's days are numbered in Orlando, he doesn't resemble a man who isn't fond of being in a Magic jersey.
Howard scored 30 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and J.J. Redick added 18 points and a career-high nine assists as the Magic ran past the Indiana Pacers 107-94 on Sunday night.
It was the first of two home games Orlando plays this week before Thursday's trade deadline, which could be Howard's final two appearances in a Magic uniform if team officials honor his preseason trade request.
''Thursday, he'll either be here or he won't,'' Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said of the expected spotlight this week on his team.
For Howard's part, he said afterward the only thing that was on his mind was how Orlando can improve going forward after struggling to maintain what was mostly a 20-plus point lead for most of the night against the Pacers.
''We have to do a better job of putting four quarters together,'' Howard said. ''We have a quarter where we play great, then we kind of let up. We've got to work on that.''
To do that, of course, Howard would have to be in a Magic uniform beyond Thursday.
Asked if he was looking forward to the trade deadline, Howard remained mum on his future.
''I'm looking forward to the next game that we have,'' he said. ''That's the only thing on my mind right now.''
As for Sunday, the Magic played without starters Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson, but seemed unfazed as they built a 20-point lead in the first half and got 30 points from their bench.
Richardson sat with a sprained left ankle and Turkoglu was out serving a one-game suspension for making contact with a referee in last week's win over Chicago.
Orlando flourished without them, though, thanks to the strong efforts of replacements Redick and Quentin Richardson and an equally active night by the Magic on defense.
Howard did his damage in just 37 minutes of action and also connected on 8 of 12 attempts from the free-throw line.
Orlando has won four out of its last five, and also earned a 3-1 season series victory over Indiana.
Van Gundy echoed Howard's dissection of their performance against the Pacers, and said he thought the Magic played with energy in spurts and are not where they want to be even with the seemingly dominant win.
He did, however, praise Redick's effort. In particular playing the pick and roll with Howard, which contributed to several of his assists.
''We rode that,'' Van Gundy said. ''It was working very, very well and we rode it.''
Redick said he felt comfortable stepping into the starting lineup.
''I know that Stan trusts me,'' Redick said. ''I know that when Turk is playing and J-Rich is playing that it takes away some of the need for me to be a playmaker. But I just wanted to be aggressive.''
Paul George led the Pacers with 22 points, Tyler Hansbrough added 19 and Danny Granger 18.
They lost their fourth straight game and will try to avoid their second five-game losing streak of the season Tuesday when they host Portland.
The Pacers certainly were accomplices in the Magic's production on both ends, and played as though they had some leftover fatigue from their overtime loss Saturday night at Miami.
George acknowledged that and emotion from the Heat loss ''kicked us'' but said the losing skid isn't something they are overly concerned about.
''We've been here before,'' George said. ''At the same time, we're still in a good position. We're still a good team. Just keep working. We have a day off (Monday) and that will be much needed.''
Indiana cut a huge first-half lead by the Magic to single digits early in the third quarter before watching it balloon back above 20 points late in the period, connecting on just 1 of 12 3-pointers overall.
Orlando was 10 for 27 from beyond the arc to offset being outscored 50-36 in the paint.
Indiana coach Frank Vogel said there isn't anything special he needs to help his team rebound from their current downturn.
''They understand,'' he said. ''We've had a five-game losing streak a couple of weeks ago, then we won six straight. We know we're a good team. We know the schedule is going to hit you hard sometimes, and you've got to do the best you can to manage it.
''We have a great deal of confidence that we're a good team right now.''
Notes: Howard and Hansbrough received double technical fouls early in the fourth quarter after a brief verbal exchange following a play. It was Howard's eighth tech of the season. ... Van Gundy said that even if Howard remains in Orlando past Thursday's trade deadline, it won't end the speculation around his team. ''There won't be closure,'' Van Gundy said. ''There's closure, I guess, if he goes. If he stays, it just starts all over again. Just start the clock again. You're right back where you started from the day the playoffs ended last year, like Groundhog Day.'' ... The Pacers played Sunday without G George Hill, who sat out his second consecutive game with a sprained left shoulder.