Magic 109, Kings 88
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)
The strategy for the Orlando Magic in the fourth quarter was relatively simple: Dump the ball inside to Dwight Howard on the offensive end and have the big man keep the Sacramento Kings away from the basket at the other end.
Howard had 30 points, 16 rebounds and spearheaded a stellar fourth quarter defensively for Orlando that helped the Magic beat the Sacramento Kings 109-88 on Tuesday night.
``He had five assists, made his free throws, scored his points and didn't turn the ball over,'' coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``There was no reason not to go to him. When he's that efficient, it's easy to just keep pounding the ball to him, pounding the ball to him, pounding the ball to him. He did a great job tonight.''
Howard shot 9 for 15 from the field, made 12-of-17 free throws and passed the ball well out of double teams in the post in what Van Gundy called his best offensive game of the season.
His defense in the fourth quarter was almost as good, as Orlando held the Kings to 10 points on 4-for-22 shooting to break open a close game and roll to the win.
``Defensively he just takes care of everything,'' teammate Jason Williams said. ``He erases damn near every mistake the perimeter guys make.''
The Magic trailed by two points after three quarters but went on an 18-4 run to start the fourth, holding the Kings to one basket in the first 7:15 of the period.
Ryan Anderson started the run with a 3-pointer on the opening possession of the quarter to give the Magic a 79-78 lead. Orlando just built on it from there. Howard's dunk upped the lead to 10 points midway through the quarter and Mickael Pietrus' layup capped it, giving Orlando a 94-82 lead.
``They took advantage of everything we did wrong,'' Kings guard Beno Udrih said. ``We shot bad shots, missed good shots and they took advantage of that. They went on some fast breaks and got some buckets. We just cannot win like that.''
Pietrus added 18 points and 10 rebounds, Anderson scored 12 and former Kings point guard Williams had 12 points and six assists. The Magic have won two straight following a four-game losing streak and got off to a good start on a tough four-game road trip that will also send them to Denver, Portland and Los Angeles to play the Lakers.
The day started off well for the Kings, who found out that star guard Kevin Martin has been cleared to practice after missing more than two months with a left wrist injury. Martin could return to game action as early as Friday. But they could not keep up the good news in the fourth quarter against the Magic, falling for the sixth time in seven games.
``With him coming back, that will take some pressure off of me,'' said rookie Tyreke Evans, who had 18 points on 5-for-16 shooting. ``We can hopefully get into a rhythm and get things going.''
Evans shot just 1 for 10 in the first half as he struggled to get going. But he began to find his stroke in the third quarter by going to the basket. Evans made all four of his shots in the third, including a 3-pointer. The Kings took a 78-76 lead into the fourth, but that didn't last long.
Howard scored 13 points in the first quarter and didn't score again until midway through the third. But he dominated the game late as the Kings had nobody to match up with his strength inside and even made a couple of bank shots.
``I think I did a good job tonight finding my teammates and they found me,'' Howard said. ``We just played off each other.''
The Kings went on a 14-3 run late in the second quarter to take a nine-point lead, sparked by the energy of reserve rookie forward Jon Brockman. But J.J. Redick's buzzer-beater off an inbound pass with 0.3 seconds left cut Sacramento's lead to 55-51 at the break.
NOTES: Magic swingman Vince Carter missed his second straight game with a left shoulder injury. Coach Stan Van Gundy said Carter is feeling ``a little better'' but is still ``not good enough'' to play. ... Kings F Donte Greene returned after missing two games with a sprained right ankle. ... Newly acquired big man Hilton Armstrong did not dress the day after being traded to the Kings from New Orleans. He could play Friday in Philadelphia.