SEATTLE (AP) -- Dwight Howard won't turn 21 for another week and
yet performances like Wednesday night are becoming the norm.
Howard was perfect from the field, making all eight attempts,
and went 8-for-12 at the free throw line. It was his seventh
straight double-double and ninth in his last 10 games.
Coincidentally, the Magic have won nine of 10.
"I hope as he gets older he keeps getting better," Orlando
coach Brian Hill said. "You don't expect the 8-for-8 every night,
but 24 and 12, I'm not going to say it's becoming the norm, but it
doesn't surprise you, either."
After controlling the middle all night and frustrating Seattle's
frontline with his rebounding hustle and defense, Howard capped his
night by swatting Luke Ridnour's floater four rows deep into the
stands with 49 seconds left.
Four of his eight field goals were dunks, he added a couple of
tip-ins, too. The eight field goals made without a miss was a
career-best for Howard, but Hill was most impressed with Howard's
aggressiveness in drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line.
Orlando improved to 12-4, one game back of Utah for the best
record in the NBA. The Magic have won the first two of a
season-high six-game road trip.
"We're just having fun," said Howard, who turns 21 on Dec. 8.
"When you're having fun, you're out there playing hard."
Fun would not be used to describe Seattle right now. A team
built for offense is suddenly stagnant at that end of the floor.
The Sonics lost their third straight home game and shot only 30
percent in the second half.
Ray Allen led Seattle with 21 points, but missed his first five
shots of the second half and didn't score until there was 5:35 left
-- a 3-pointer that brought Seattle within 10. The Sonics never got
closer than eight in the final 7 minutes.
The Sonics have failed to score 100 points in six of the last
"It's frustrating right now, I can't lie to you guys," Allen
said. "Offensively, we do some good things, we do some bad things,
but consistently, we're not getting over the hump."
Seattle led 59-53 on Ridnour's 3-pointer with 6:38 left in the
third, its largest lead since holding an 11-point advantage early
in the second quarter.
Howard then scored the next six points, all on three-point
plays, and Hedo Turkoglu's 3-pointer gave Orlando a 62-61 lead, all
part of a 13-2 run.
The Magic's lead reached 74-65 less than two minutes into the
fourth quarter, when Trevor Ariza capped a 6-0 spurt with a
"Our bench has been doing a good job all year, whether it's
scoring or defensively," Brian Hill said. "Usually they give us a
big lift on the defensive end of the floor."
Nick Collison finally scored on a tip-in with 9:26 left,
Seattle's first field goal since the 5:30 mark of the third
quarter. Seattle's only points during the stretch were free throws
from Allen and Earl Watson. Orlando led by as many as 14 in the
"Dwight Howard tonight climbed over everybody's back and had
his way with us," Allen said. "That's got to not be able to sit
well with some of our guys, for someone like that to come and
manhandle us in the paint."
Orlando F Pat Garrity missed his fifth straight game with a
sprained right knee. Brian Hill hopes Garrity can play Friday in
Portland. ... The announced crowd was 14,232, but KeyArena was only
half full, the result of an incoming storm. A similar storm Monday
night paralyzed traffic in the region.
NBA fans will be looking forward to their newest players making plays like this next season.
The Rockets reached to China with their second-round pick, and they see a ton of upside in 7-foot-2, 210-pound Zhou Qi.
NBA free agency is almost here. With a huge salary cap jump expected, who are the top available players this year? Can the Cavs add a piece for a second title run? Our NBA experts go 5-on-5.