CHICAGO (AP) -- For one of the few times in a long season, Juwan
Howard walked off the court with something to smile about.
Howard scored a season-high 38 points and had 10 straight during
a big run in the third quarter to lead the Orlando Magic to a 93-84
win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
The victory snapped a 13-game losing skid for the Magic in a
game that paired the teams with the two worst records in the NBA.
Orlando hadn't won since a March 10 victory over Washington.
"We could have easily tanked it and threw in the towel, but we
didn't," Howard said. "I have always been taught to fight through
adversity, and sure enough, it's been a frustrating year for us."
Howard, guarded by smaller defenders all game, hit a jump hook
and a pair of jumpers during a 13-0 run in the third quarter that
gave the Magic 66-47 lead. He had eight in a row in the fourth to
put the game away after Chicago cut its deficit to eight.
That left 6-8 Marcus Fizer, who started at center, and 6-7
Ronald Dupree as the post players for the Bulls. They weren't
nearly enough, not even against the Magic.
"You have to take advantage of that because they're missing
their strong presence inside," Howard said. "We had to expose
that, and my teammates and I took advantage of the opportunity."
Fizer was one of the few players keeping the Bulls in the game.
He scored six in a row to get the Bulls within single digits in
the fourth quarter and finished with 30 points and a career-high 20
Fizer said he hadn't started at center since his college days.
When the Bulls lost Davis, he knew he'd have to provide the bulk of
the rebounding and interior scoring.
"I was not going to allow myself to be flat and lackadaisical.
We owe the fans at least that," Fizer said. "I knew it was going
to be a long night."
For the Magic, it was a rare good night.
DeShawn Stevenson had 13 points and Britton Johnsen finished
with a career-high nine rebounds off the bench for the Magic, who
held Chicago to a season-low 10 points in the third quarter.
"We finally won a game. It seems like its been ages since we
were victorious when the clock ran out," Orlando coach Johnny
Davis said. "They were short on people tonight, but no one feels
sorry for you in this business."
This could have been the last chance for Chicago fans to see
Fizer and Crawford in Bulls uniforms. Both are restricted free
agents, and a roster shakeup is expected in the offseason.
Both Crawford and Fizer said they want to return.
"There's no question about that," Fizer said. "I love the
city. I love the organization, the fans. This is the organization
that brought me to this league."
The Bulls and Magic will face off again next month for the No. 1
pick in the NBA draft lottery. The Magic will have a 25 percent
chance of landing the top pick, and their selection can fall no
lower than fifth. The second-worst team has a 20 percent shot at
Scottie Pippen, sidelined most of the season by knee
problems, said he didn't know whether would return for another
season. He has one year left on his contract with the Bulls. "I
will try to work toward my knee getting better. I don't know quite
yet what I'm going to do," he said. ... The Magic beat Chicago for
the first time this season after dropping the first three in the
series. ... Curry missed the game with a bruised left knee. ...
Chicago was third in the league in attendance despite another
disappointing season. Davis addressed the crowd before the game,
telling them, "We want to thank you. We know we haven't given you
a lot to cheer about."