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Howard's double-double carries Magic over SuperSonics

SEATTLE (AP) -- Dwight Howard won't turn 21 for another week and
yet performances like Wednesday night are becoming the norm.

Yikes.

Howard was overpowering, scoring 24 points and grabbing 12
rebounds in leading the Orlando Magic to their fifth straight win,
94-84 over the Seattle SuperSonics.

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
eight games.

"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."

Carlos Arroyo scored 16 points and Darko Milicic added 14 as
Orlando's bench outscored Seattle's 48-17. The Magic bench actually
outscored Seattle's starters 48-46.

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
two-handed dunk.

Ariza was one of a handful of Magic players Hill used to try and
slow Allen. Ariza, Keith Bogans, Keyon Dooling and Grant Hill all
took turns shadowing Seattle's sharpshooter.

"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
fourth.

Rashard Lewis added 18 points for Seattle and Johan Petro scored
13. But Ridnour and Watson combined to make only four of 15 shots.

"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."

Game notes
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.

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