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 Magic dominate Hornets from start, win 88-68

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PostSubject: Magic dominate Hornets from start, win 88-68   Fri Dec 26, 2008 5:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla.(AP) First, Stan Van Gundy
praised the Orlando Magic after their latest win. Then, he criticized
them for a lackluster second half.Hedo Turkoglu scored 20 points
to lead the Magic to an 88-68 win over the New Orleans Hornets on
Thursday in a matchup of division leaders."Our first half was our best offensive half of the year,'' the Orlando coach said. "The second half was easily our worst.''However,
Van Gundy said he understood how his team could build a 61-31 halftime
lead and then shoot 23 percent in the second half."When my wife
wants me to do things around the house I do just good enough of a job
to not get yelled at,'' he said. "That's human nature.''Dwight
Howard had 12 points and 15 rebounds in Southeast-leading Orlando's
sixth-straight win. Rashard Lewis added 18 points and Jameer Nelson 14.The Magic's only loss in their last 11 games was by one point at Phoenix on Dec. 12.David West had 13 points for New Orleans. Chris Paul and Devin Brown each added 12.Paul, the NBA steals leader (3.7 average), snapped his league-record string of 108 games with at least one."Half
the time when I got a steal I didn't even know it,'' said Paul, who was
unaware his streak ended until after the game. "It was going to end at
some point so why not Christmas?''The Magic led by as many as 31
points early in the third quarter. The Hornets did not get closer than
19 points the rest of the game."You don't want to give the championship already, but they played well tonight,'' Paul said. "They got us.''New
Orleans came in off a 13-point home loss to the Lakers on Tuesday. With
backup point guard Antonio Daniels still sidelined, Paul has had to
play nearly all the minutes, including a 17-point, 10-assist
performance in 46 minutes against Los Angeles.Paul and most of
the starters came out early in the fourth quarter with the Magic up by
at least 20 to rest for Friday's home game against Houston.Nelson said the Magic were worried more about keeping Paul from creating shots offensively."He can pass and score,'' he said. "One of our big goals was to keep him out of the paint.''With
Peja Stojakovic also out for the fourth straight game with back spasms,
the Hornets were weak up front, and the Magic took advantage. Lewis hit
four of five shots, including both 3s, in the first quarter.Hornets center Tyson Chandler picked up two fouls in the first six minutes."We
have to understand that against some of the these you can come out and
mess around a little bit, but against the Lakers, Orlando and the team
we play tomorrow night you can't come out that way,'' Hornets coach
Byron Scott said. "That's the bottom line.''Howard had three
blocks and was called for goaltending twice as Orlando built a lead
that grew to 29-14 at the end of the first quarter. Paul had eight
points to keep New Orleans in the game.Fueled by a pair of 3s by
Nelson and six straight points by Howard, including a rousing putback
dunk, Orlando went on a 22-4 run to take a 59-29 lead with just over
two minutes left in the first half.Orlando shot 56 percent and made eight of 14 3s in the first half to take a 61-31 lead.Paul had 12 points at halftime.The
Hornets resorted to a Smite-a-Dwight strategy, fouling Howard nearly
every time he touched the ball in the paint. Howard, who was shooting a
career-low 57 percent from the line this season, made four of eight."His energy was great, but he was frustrated because they were hammering him inside,'' Van Gundy said."Last
year we would have won a big game or two and then come back and a lose
a game we believed we should win,'' Howard said. "So far we've been
staying consistent. That's a great sign of maturity for a young team.''Former
starter Mickael Pietrus, still playing with a split on his broken right
thumb, continued to come off the bench for the Magic and finished with
11 points. Keith Bogans, who started in his place, did not score.Notes:
The Hornets won their previous two road games. ... Howard had made the
first of two free throws early in the second half when the crowd
started chanting "MVP. MVP'' He smiled as he shot the second one,
clanging it off the front rim. He had made four of five free throws to
that point. ... Howard was one of three players picked for the Slam
Dunk competition on All-Star Saturday, Feb. 14, in Phoenix. He joins
Memphis' Rudy Gay and 2006 winner Nate Robinson of the Knicks. A fan
vote will pick the fourth competitor. ... Howard wore specially
designed blue-and-red Superman shoes for the first and only time this
season.

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