Dwight Howard Leads Magic Past Jazz

Tuesday, November 28th 2006, 6:07 am
By: News On 6

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ This road trip out West isn't looking so daunting for Orlando, not with Dwight Howard dominating inside and the Magic playing better than they have in years.

Howard had 21 points and 16 rebounds to help Orlando beat the Utah Jazz 88-75 Monday night in a matchup of the teams with the best records in each conference.

Howard recorded his sixth straight double-double and ninth this season. He is averaging 19.1 points and 15.8 rebounds in seven road games this season and Orlando won the opener of a six-game, 11-day Western Conference trip.

``We couldn't do anything with Howard,'' Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. ``He's so big and long, we couldn't keep him off the boards. He got huge rebounds, and he obviously made his free throws.''

Howard shot 13-of-16 from the foul line and Grant Hill, who missed Saturday's game to attend a funeral for his grandmother, scored 16 points for Orlando.

The Magic went a combined 3-26 against Western Conference teams on road trips the past three seasons. But this year they're off to their best start through 15 games (11-4) since the 1998-99 season, when they reached the playoffs but lost in the first round.

``Last year, we may have kicked it away but this year is a new year,'' said Jameer Nelson, who finished with 15 points. ``This is a big win. This is a big start for us.''

In other games, it was: Miami 103, Philadelphia 91; Dallas 93, Minnesota 87; and Golden State 111, San Antonio 102.

Led by Howard, the Magic outrebounded the league's top team in rebounding margin, 45-36, and outscored the Jazz in the lane, 40-32.

``The big thing is we were able to get stops at the other end of the court,'' Orlando coach Brian Hill said. ``We did a good job getting to the free-throw line and getting balls off the glass that gave us a lot of extra possessions on a night where we frankly didn't shoot the ball well.''

Howard's two free throws lifted the Magic to their biggest lead of the night at 81-60 with 5:28 remaining. The Jazz (12-3), who have twice come back from 16-point deficits to win games in the past two weeks, rallied to get within eight.

Andrei Kirilenko capped a 13-0 run with a dunk off a loose ball with 2:08 to play, cutting it to 81-73. But Hill answered with a jumper from the corner.

Carlos Boozer finished with 21 points and nine rebounds, Mehmet Okur had 13 points and Kirilenko added 11 for the Jazz.

Mavericks 93, Timberwolves 87

At Dallas, Josh Howard made a go-ahead floater with 1:05 left and two key free throws with 13.7 seconds to go, sending the Mavericks to their 10th straight victory.

Howard and Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 15 points and Erick Dampier added 12 points, 11 rebounds and a tremendous blocked shot of a potential tying layup by Ricky Davis with about 15 seconds left.

The Mavericks were up by 20 points in the third quarter and were leading 82-67 with 7:48 left when they made things interesting by missing 10 straight shots.

Kevin Garnett led Minnesota with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Warriors 111, Spurs 102

Jason Richardson scored 26 points and dunked during a key fourth-quarter run, and host Golden State stopped San Antonio's franchise-best road start at seven wins.

Tim Duncan had 22 points, 16 rebounds, six blocks and four assists, but had three straight shots blocked by Andris Biedrins midway through the fourth quarter that allowed the Warriors to capitalize on the other end. San Antonio went nearly 3 1/2 minutes without scoring before Brent Barry's 3-pointer with 5:55 left.

Heat 103, 76ers 91

At Miami, Dwyane Wade had 33 points and 13 assists, and the Heat shot a season-high 59 percent from the field to overcome Allen Iverson's 45 points.

Wade led the Heat in scoring for the 11th consecutive game. He became the first NBA player to have at least 30 points and 12 assists for three games in a row since Kevin Johnson of Phoenix in February 1989.

Udonis Haslem had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Alonzo Mourning blocked seven shots and added 14 points for the defending NBA champion Heat, who had lost their past four home games.

Iverson went 17-for-37 for the 76ers, who shot 37 percent and lost for the ninth time in 11 games since starting 3-0.