Magic Hold on to Beat Hornets 95-88

Tuesday, November 20th 2007, 7:21 am
By: News On 6

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ The young and improving Orlando Magic may lack the maturity to consolidate big leads.

They do not, however, lack the ability to beat good teams.

Dwight Howard had 24 points and 15 rebounds and Rashard Lewis scored 19 to lift the Orlando Magic to a second straight impressive victory, 95-88 over the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night.

One night after Orlando handed the Boston Celtics their first loss of the season, the Magic's fifth straight victory snapped the Hornets' five-game winning streak.

``I'm extremely happy,'' Lewis said. ``We have a long season ahead of us. We're just improving every day for the playoffs and to get to that ultimate goal, which is to win a championship.''

In other NBA games on Monday, it was: Charlotte 101, Portland 92; Memphis 125, Seattle 108; and Utah 102, New Jersey 75.

The Magic nearly blew a 20-point lead before holding on to beat Boston on Sunday. They showed the same resilience on the road a night later, when they blew a 21-point lead and fell behind by five points in the fourth quarter before rallying to tie their best 12-game start at 10-2.

The Magic hoped they wouldn't have to win that way, one night after their 48-year-old coach, Stan Van Gundy, joked that he'd have a better chance of living to 50 if his team could win without squandering huge leads.

``We're not trying to kill him. I think he's doing a good job of coaching us,'' Lewis said. ``We have been building a lead on teams and then we kind of relax on defense and that's what he doesn't like. We've got to learn how to bury teams.''

At least Lewis continues to show an ability to bury 3-pointers. He hit five during the game, including two crucial ones in the fourth quarter, the last giving the Magic an 89-84 lead with 1:26 to go.

Already playing without Chris Paul, who missed his second game with a sprained right ankle, the Hornets lost Tyson Chandler in the second quarter when the starting center hyperextended his right knee. After the game, Chandler was on crutches, but said he hoped to return to action within days, not weeks.

Peja Stojakovic scored 21 to lead New Orleans, which fell to 9-3 after its best start in franchise history. Jannero Pargo, who started for Paul, scored 18 points. David West scored 14 for New Orleans and Morris Peterson 11.

``The Hornets deserve a lot more credit tonight than we do,'' Van Gundy said. ``I am being honest. The thing that helped us was Chris Paul being out and Tyson Chandler being out for half the game.''

Bobcats 101, Trail Blazers 92

Gerald Wallace scored 27 points for the third consecutive game, and host Charlotte improved to 6-4, the best record through 10 games in the team's four-year history.

Raymond Felton had 24 points and 10 assists and Jason Richardson scored 24 points for Charlotte. Wallace hit 10 of 19 shots, including a key dunk, steal and layup in the Bobcats' decisive run midway through the fourth quarter to drop the Trail Blazers to 0-7 on the road.

Jarrett Jack scored 18 points, Brandon Roy had 17 and Martell Webster 15 for Portland, but the Trail Blazers committed 19 turnovers.

Grizzlies 125, Supersonics 108

Stromile Swift scored a season-high 24 points, and Mike Miller added 19 points and seven assists for host Memphis, which stopped a three-game skid.

Damon Stoudamire had 16 points and seven assists and Hakim Warrick added 16 for the Grizzlies. Pau Gasol had 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists and seven blocks, one short of his career high.

Delonte West led Seattle with 17 points, Chris Wilcox added 16, and Jeff Green had 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Jazz 102, Nets 75

Deron Williams rebounded from two subpar games to score 20 points and lead host Utah over reeling New Jersey.

Williams made 8 of 11 shots and had six assists and Carlos Boozer scored 17 points to help the Jazz improve to 5-1 at home. Mehmet Okur and Ronnie Brewer added 14 points each for Utah.

Richard Jefferson scored 22 points and Bostjan Nachbar had 16 for the Nets, who lost their sixth straight game after starting the season 4-1.

Vince Carter, the Nets' most reliable scorer, has missed the past five games with a sprained right ankle. His timetable to return is uncertain though he joined the team on this four-game Western Conference road trip.