Howard leads Magic past Lakers

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 21, 2012
Dwight Howard scored 21 points and grabbed 23 rebounds, and the Orlando Magic survived a tough shooting performance for a 92-80 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night. Jameer Nelson added 17 points and nine assists, and J.J. Redick had 15 points as Orlando had all five starters in double figures. Kobe Bryant scored 30 points and Pau Gasol chipped in 13 for the Lakers, who lost their second straight and posted a season low in points to drop to 1-6 on the road this season. The Magic led by as many as 23 points, helped by Los Angeles' second consecutive night shooting under 40 percent. Orlando, which was slightly better at 41 percent but connected on 12 3-pointers, has now beaten the Lakers in six of their last nine regular-season meetings. The Magic played their fourth game in five nights and Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy did some lineup shuffling to give his team some fresher legs against the Lakers' big front line. With forward Hedo Turkoglu sitting out, Van Gundy opted to start Redick in his place - forming a three-guard lineup with Jason Richardson and Nelson at the point. It did help neutralize the Lakers' height advantage and led to several fast break opportunities for Orlando. The strategy also worked because the matchup between Howard and Lakers 7-footer Andrew Bynum was diminished barely 2 minutes into the second quarter when Bynum picked up his third foul. He returned, but left again late in the third after getting whistled for his fourth. Los Angeles also tried sending Howard to the foul line. That, too, was ineffective as Howard managed to rack up nine points there. The Lakers cut the Magic's lead to 74-66 midway through the fourth quarter, but a technical on Bryant ignited an 8-0 Orlando spurt to push the lead back to 16. The Magic mostly were able to cruise from there. Both teams struggled at times shooting in the first half, but the Magic caught fire with just over 4 minutes to play before halftime, and Ryan Anderson's 3-pointer broke a streak of seven straight missed shots for Orlando. With Bynum out, Howard also had a relatively easy time inside and was good on 6 of 8 free throw attempts to finish the half with 10 points and 15 rebounds. Bryant scored 15 first-half points, but it was the lone early bright spot for the Lakers. The Magic led 22-10 after one, with the Lakers struggling mightily on the offensive end. Relying on a lot of perimeter shots, the Lakers were just 4 for 21 in the period, including Gasol missing all four of his shots. Orlando wasn't much better at 9 for 20, but managed to build as much as a 12-point cushion thanks to a 10-2 advantage on points in the paint. Notes : Turkoglu sat out for the second straight game with back spasms. ... Richardson returned to the starting lineup after missing three games with a bone bruise on his left knee. ... F Glen Davis played after attending his grandmother's funeral earlier in the day in Louisiana. ... The Lakers return home to host Indiana Sunday night and then are off until Wednesday when they play the Clippers.
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