Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic woke up from a sluggish first half in time to stretch the NBA’s longest current winning streak.
Howard had 23 points and 13 rebounds, and the Magic won their ninth straight with a 117-107 victory over the injury-depleted Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night.
Jason Richardson scored 20 points and Jameer Nelson had 16 for Orlando, which rallied from a 16-point, first-half deficit.
”We just started playing hard,” Howard said of his team’s 37-26 fourth-quarter surge. ”We’re trying to be consistent with the way we play. We’ve got to learn our lesson, that we can’t expect to play only half the game.”
Hedo Turkoglu contributed 13 points and a career-high 17 assists, and Gilbert Arenas had 14 points for the Magic.
DeShawn Stevenson scored a season-high 24 points for the Mavericks, who were without top scorer Dirk Nowitzki for his career-high seventh straight game with a sprained right knee.
Shawn Marion had 18 points and Jason Terry added 16 points and nine assists for Dallas, 2-5 during Nowitzki’s absence.
Ryan Anderson’s 3-pointer with 9:54 left gave Orlando the lead for good at 88-85, and the Magic used a 26-3 run capped by Turkoglu’s 20-footer with 4:26 remaining for a 108-88 advantage.
Orlando was on the second leg of a back-to-back, having beaten the Houston Rockets 110-95 at home on Friday night. The Magic didn’t get to their hotel until early Saturday morning, and were outscored 28-19 in the first quarter.
”We got some energy,” Richardson said. ”We woke up, got our defense going and that fed our offense.”
Dallas center Tyson Chandler went to the bench after picking up his fourth foul with 6:06 left in the third quarter, but the Mavs still clung to an 81-80 lead heading into the final period. Chandler fouled out with 5:42 remaining.
Orlando has taken off since newcomers Turkoglu, Richardson and Arenas started getting into the flow with their new team. The Magic haven’t lost since the last meeting with Dallas on Dec. 21, when the Mavericks won 105-99 in Orlando.
When Nowitzki was hurt on Dec. 27 in a game at Oklahoma City, he thought he’d be out for only a short time. But he hasn’t recovered as quickly as he anticipated and remains day-to-day. He attempted to run at practice on Thursday but experienced knee pain and was told by team medical personnel to shut down the workout.
Earlier in the week, the Mavericks learned that No. 3 scorer Caron Butler was probably out for the season with a torn tendon in his right knee.
Minus Nowitzki and Butler, the Mavericks are searching for different ways to score. But to coach Rick Carlisle, everything depends on his team’s defensive effort.
”It’s going to start with defense and rebounding,” Carlisle said. ”It’s going to get our offense going regardless of who’s available. I don’t believe in the excuse game. We’ve got to get it done with the people available.”
Stevenson, who entered the night with a scoring average of 6.9 points, went 5 of 7 from 3-point range and had 17 at halftime to send the Mavericks to a 57-51 lead at the break.
At halftime, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy admonished his team for its lax defense that allowed the Mavericks to go up by 16 in the second quarter.
”Our coach was upset with our effort,” Howard said. ”We knew we had to pick it up.”
Notes: Richardson kept the Magic close with 14 first-half points, going 3 for 5 from beyond the arc. … Nowitzki’s previous career high for consecutive missed games was five in 2003-04. … Dallas has still won 12 of the last 17 meetings with Orlando. … Carlisle was ejected with 6:06 left after picking up his second technical for walking onto the floor to protest an officiating decision. ”I didn’t like the officiating, obviously, but that’s as much as I’m going to say about it,” Carlisle said. ”I think calls you disagree with are one of the realities of this league, and when you really disagree a lot you get thrown out of the game.”