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 Magic overcome Bryant's big night, win 106-103

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PostSubject: Magic overcome Bryant's big night, win 106-103   Magic overcome Bryant's big night, win 106-103 Icon_minitimeSun Dec 21, 2008 4:39 pm

ORLANDO, Fla.(AP) Kobe Bryant did his job. The Orlando Magic did, too.The
Los Angeles star scored a season-high 41 points, but Magic center
Dwight Howard made eight of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter, and
Jameer Nelson had 27 points to lead Orlando to a 106-103 victory over
the Lakers on Saturday night."ESPN magazine did a story about
how to defend LeBron James,'' Magic coach Stan Van Gundy joked. "I
don't think anybody is coming to me for that gig about defending Kobe.
We better keep winning games, so I can stay employed.''Bryant
missed a three at the buzzer that would have sent the game to overtime.
He made 14 of 31 shots, and all 11 of his free throws."They had three guys over at me every time (in the second half),'' Bryant said. "When I get going, they send everybody.Orlando
survived despite early foul trouble for Howard. Nelson had 15 points in
the third quarter to lead the Magic back from an nine-point halftime
deficit."I think it was really a good thing that I missed those
two games,'' Howard said. "One, for me, giving rest for my body. And
two, for my teammates that they can win without me, and do a lot of
great things and trust each other.''Rashard Lewis added 22 points for Orlando, which has won six straight home games. Derek Fisher had 27 in support of Bryant.In
the last three days the Magic swept Western Conference contenders San
Antonio and Los Angeles, giving them credibility as force for the NBA
title."We believe we're contenders,'' Nelson said. "The
naysayers say we're not. This means a lot. I think it's a statement
game. It shows we're serious and we're contenders for the East.''The Lakers lost their last two games on last-minute shots."Those
things are going to happen when you're on the road,'' Lakers coach Phil
Jackson said. "Those shots are more friendly at home, I guess.''Van Gundy said the Magic beat the Lakers at their best."It's hard for me for anyone to make a case the Lakers had a bad game,'' Van Gundy said.Los Angeles, which fell to Miami on Friday night, lost two straight games for the first time this season.Howard, playing his second outing after missing a pair of games with a sore knee, had 18 points and 12 rebounds."He wanted the ball,'' Van Gundy said. "He really played well in the second half.''The Magic improved to 21-6."I'm not trying to lie to you. It feels good in perspective. But it counts as one (victory),'' Van Gundy said.Orlando
held a lead late in the fourth quarter, and foul-plagued Howard hit a
pair of free throws with just over a minute left. Rashard Lewis hit one
of two free throws in the final minute to put the Magic up to stay.Nelson hit a long jumper to tie it at 78 late in the third quarter, with the Magic using six 3s to get back in the game.Bryant had 25 first-half points as the Lakers took a 58-49 halftime lead.Notes:
The Magic made 12 of 33 3s. ... Los Angeles is on a five-game trip. The
Lakers return home to play NBA champion Boston on Dec. 25.

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