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Howard struggles but Magic conjure up win over Kings

Updated: 2012-01-09 17:23
( Agencies)

Howard struggles but Magic conjure up win over Kings

Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard (R) shoots over Sacramento Kings' DeMarcus Cousins (L) during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Sacramento, California, Jan 8, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

Dwight Howard failed to produce his usual magic but Orlando did enough to defeat Sacramento 104-97 on Sunday and hand new Kings coach Keith Smart his first loss.

Howard managed just five points while battling foul trouble in 20 minutes of play but Orlando still pulled out the win with a strong run in the fourth quarter.

With the game tied at 87-87 with little more than five minutes remaining, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu knocked down back-to-back three-pointers as the visitors closed with a 14-7 run.

Richardson had a season-high 22 points and Glen Davis had 20 and eight rebounds off the bench as the Magic improved to 6-3 despite trade rumors swirling around Howard, who will become a free agent at the end of the season.

"You can either make excuses about that and get distracted, or you can overcome it," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters.

Sacramento coach Smart lost in his second game in charge after he took over from the fired Paul Westphal last week. The Kings won their first game under Smart with a spirited comeback over Milwaukee.

Sacramento's Tyreke Evans had 28 points and eight assists while DeMarcus Cousins added 16 and 10 rebounds.

It was the second straight start for Cousins, who had clashed with Westphal leading to him being dropped from a game last week before returning to the team and coming off the bench.

Following the game, Howard had a lengthy conversation with the 21-year-old Cousins, who has been criticised for showing a lack of maturity early in his career.

"I just told him not to get into it with the referees. I said, 'learn from me, learn from someone who has gotten on the wrong side of the refs'," said Howard, who picked up a technical foul in the third quarter.

"It's cost me a lot of money in technical fouls and stuff like that. I told him you don't want to have that reputation with the refs."

The game was a razor-close contest throughout with the Magic holding a two-point lead at halftime and after the third quarter.

Orlando made 10 three-pointers to gain an advantage and capitalised on 17 Sacramento turnovers.


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