ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Dwight Howard had 24 points and 18 rebounds in a bruising battle with Amare Stoudemire, and the Orlando Magic beat the New York Knicks 112-103 on Thursday night for their fifth straight win.
Stoudemire finished with 30 points, four rebounds and four assists but was got into foul trouble early in a matchup of two of the NBA’s best big men. Both were called for technical fouls, never shied away from contact and showed more offensive prowess than defensive pressure.
Howard just had more help.
J.J. Redick and Ryan Anderson had 14 points apiece, helping the Magic build a 20-point lead before halftime and hold on late. New York trimmed the deficit to two in the fourth quarter before the Magic pulled away for good.
Wilson Chandler had 29 points and Shawne Williams added 15 for the Knicks, who have lost five of seven.
This was the first meeting in the season series between the teams; their Nov. 2 game at Madison Square Garden was postponed because of safety concerns after debris fell into the arena during overnight cleaning of asbestos-related materials. The Magic were already in New York and had to fly back.
Maybe it was worth the wait.
Howard grabbed his own rebound late in the game and dunked over Stoudemire, who was late getting over to the play. Stoudemire answered on the next possession, converting a three-point play over Howard to cut Orlando’s lead to 98-96 and pumping his chest in celebration.
A few plays later, Hedo Turkoglu made a 3-pointer over Stoudemire. Then Howard hit a pair of free throws and Orlando was ahead by nine with a minute left. And just for an exclamation point, Howard had a three-point play over Stoudemire in the final minute that brought fans to their feet.
The two big men seemed to feed off the matchup and weren’t shy about being physical.
Howard picked up his NBA-leading 12th technical foul in the first quarter for arguing with officials. At one point, Stoudemire even shoved Howard in the post.
The words were often too much and officials did everything they could to control play. Stoudemire picked up a technical foul in the second quarter after banging bodies with Howard and expressing his displeasure for being called for holding.
After Stoudemire got his third foul with almost six minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Magic went on a 23-10 run led by Howard to go ahead 62-42. By the time New York recovered, it was too late.
NOTES: Magic assistant coach and former Knicks center Patrick Ewing was asked before the game if anything had changed in his hopes of becoming an NBA head coach. “I’m still waiting on that call,” he said. … Stoudemire, who was a high school star in the Orlando area, was cheered during pregame introductions. … Magic backup SG Quentin Richardson was sent home with flulike symptoms.
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