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Howard misses loss

ORLANDO — Many in the sellout crowd inside Amway Center must have thought it was an April Fools' Day prank when center Dwight Howard wasn't on the floor during introductions before the Magic's matchup with the Nuggets

It was no ruse.

And with the Magic's most important, and usually most durable, player sitting out for the first time this season with back spasms, the Nuggets took advantage of his absence in a 104-101 victory Sunday night.

Ty Lawson had 12 of his 25 points in the second half and Arron Afflalo added 22 points to lead Denver, which won back-to-back games for the first time since a four-game winning streak the first week of March.

Denver shot 56 percent from the field — tops for an Orlando opponent this season — and racked up 44 points in the paint. The Magic had 46 points underneath but shot just 42 percent (37-for-88) and 25 percent (8-for-25) from the field and 3-point line, respectively.

Jameer Nelson led Orlando with 27 points, followed by Ryan Anderson with 20 and Glen Davis, Howard's replacement in the starting lineup, with 18. The loss was Orlando's third straight and only the second to the Nuggets in 19 meetings at home.

After averaging 17 turnovers a game over a 10-game stretch, Orlando had 12 on Sunday. What was missing was ball movement, with the Magic posting just 15 assists.

Howard missed just the eighth game of his eight-year career.

"When you look at it, we couldn't stop them at all," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We could not get a stop on any situation. It was a very frustrating night. I've been saying it all along, we need to get a lot better defensively, and (Sunday) we were certainly exposed."

Davis got his first start at center in place of the six-time All-Star and helped limit Nuggets 7-footer JaVale McGee to two points.

Denver also kept the Magic in the game with 17 turnovers.

Orlando trailed throughout the second half but cut a six-point halftime deficit to 93-90 on a free throw by Davis.

The Nuggets responded with six straight points, including a dunk off a fastbreak by Kenneth Faried with 1:47 to play.

Orlando called timeout, and Van Gundy and Nelson could be seen in a somewhat heated exchange in the team huddle.

Nelson downplayed the incident afterward, saying he was simply trying to inspire his teammates.

The Magic had one more rally in it, using a three-point play by J.J. Redick to cut its deficit to 99-97.

Jason Richardson got off a desperation heave at the buzzer, but the ball bounced harmlessly off the backboard.

Meanwhile, Mavericks center Brendan Haywood denied Van Gundy's accusation that he punched Howard in the back during Friday's game.

"Man, I don't know what's wrong with Stan," Haywood told ESPN.com on Sunday. "I was watching NBA TV (Saturday). They said they looked over (footage) and couldn't find it. I guess Stan has that magical hand cam that he was taking from the bench and he got something nobody else got."

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle backed his player, saying there was no evidence of a punch.

GAME HIGHLIGHTS: Rajon Rondo had a triple double and the host Celtics handed Miami its biggest loss of the season, 91-72. Boston outscored the Heat 31-12 in the third quarter and stayed ahead by at least 19 the rest of the way as Rondo had 16 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds. … Russell Westbrook scored 27 and Kevin Durant added 26 points and 10 rebounds as the host Thunder defeated the Bulls 92-78 and closed within a game of Chicago for the league's best record.

JORDAN DENIES SALE: Michael Jordan says he is 100 percent committed to the Bobcats and has no intention of selling the struggling franchise. The New York Daily News reported Sunday that Jordan has contemplated selling if the team doesn't turn things around, in performance and profitability. In a statement, Jordan called the story a "false report."

Nuggets 104, Magic 101

DENVER (104): Brewer 3-9 1-2 8, Faried 2-2 0-0 4, McGee 1-3 0-2 2, Lawson 10-16 3-3 25, Afflalo 8-14 3-3 22, Koufos 3-4 0-0 6, Harrington 7-14 2-3 18, Miller 4-7 7-8 15, Hamilton 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 40-72 16-21 104.

ORLANDO (101): Turkoglu 4-10 2-2 11, Anderson 7-18 3-3 20, Davis 6-14 6-11 18, Nelson 11-21 3-4 27, J.Richardson 3-12 0-0 6, Redick 4-8 5-5 15, Clark 2-5 0-0 4, Duhon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 37-88 19-25 101.

Denver 27 21 28 28— 104

Orlando 19 23 32 27— 101

3-Point GoalsDenver 8-19 (Afflalo 3-6, Lawson 2-3, Harrington 2-5, Brewer 1-3, Miller 0-2), Orlando 8-32 (Anderson 3-10, Redick 2-3, Nelson 2-8, Turkoglu 1-4, Davis 0-1, J.Richardson 0-6). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsDenver 43 (Faried 9), Orlando 51 (Davis 16). AssistsDenver 21 (Lawson 9), Orlando 15 (Nelson 5). Total FoulsDenver 22, Orlando 15. A18,846 (18,500).

Celtics 91, Heat 72

MIAMI (72): James 11-20 1-2 23, Bosh 2-11 0-2 4, Anthony 0-2 0-0 0, Chalmers 1-5 0-0 2, Wade 6-17 3-5 15, Turiaf 0-1 0-0 0, Haslem 4-7 0-0 8, Cole 2-11 2-3 7, Battier 4-8 1-2 11, Jones 0-2 0-0 0, Pittman 1-4 0-1 2, Harris 0-0 0-2 0, Howard 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 31-89 7-17 72.

BOSTON (91): Pierce 8-17 5-5 23, Bass 3-5 10-10 16, Garnett 5-12 0-0 10, Rondo 7-13 1-3 16, Bradley 5-10 2-2 13, Stiemsma 2-5 2-2 6, Dooling 2-4 0-0 5, Pavlovic 1-2 0-0 2, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Hollins 0-1 0-0 0, Moore 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 33-70 20-22 91.

Miami 19 25 12 16— 72

Boston 29 20 31 11— 91

3-Point GoalsMiami 3-16 (Battier 2-6, Cole 1-2, Jones 0-2, Chalmers 0-3, Wade 0-3), Boston 5-13 (Pierce 2-4, Rondo 1-2, Dooling 1-3, Bradley 1-3, Pavlovic 0-1). Fouled OutStiemsma. ReboundsMiami 55 (Bosh 11), Boston 52 (Rondo 11). AssistsMiami 15 (Bosh 4), Boston 21 (Rondo 14). Total FoulsMiami 15, Boston 18. TechnicalsBoston defensive three second. A18,624 (18,624).

Thunder 92, Bulls 78

CHICAGO (78): Deng 4-13 0-0 8, Boozer 4-8 0-0 8, Noah 1-8 3-3 5, Watson 2-7 0-0 4, Korver 5-13 1-2 14, Asik 0-2 0-0 0, Gibson 4-8 2-4 10, Brewer 3-8 1-2 7, Lucas 7-20 0-0 19, Scalabrine 0-1 1-2 1, Butler 0-3 2-2 2. Totals 30-91 10-15 78.

OKLAHOMA CITY (92): Durant 11-16 2-2 26, Ibaka 4-8 1-2 9, Perkins 2-3 0-0 4, Westbrook 10-18 6-6 27, Sefolosha 1-4 0-0 2, Collison 2-7 3-3 7, Harden 3-7 4-4 11, Fisher 0-2 0-0 0, Mohammed 0-1 0-0 0, Hayward 2-4 0-0 4, Ivey 1-2 0-0 2, Aldrich 0-1 0-0 0, Jackson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 36-74 16-17 92.

Chicago 20 19 12 27— 78

Oklahoma City 27 22 31 12— 92

3-Point GoalsChicago 8-24 (Lucas 5-13, Korver 3-5, Deng 0-3, Watson 0-3), Oklahoma City 4-9 (Durant 2-2, Westbrook 1-2, Harden 1-3, Hayward 0-1, Sefolosha 0-1). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsChicago 57 (Gibson 11), Oklahoma City 48 (Durant 10). AssistsChicago 17 (Lucas, Korver 4), Oklahoma City 20 (Westbrook 5). Total FoulsChicago 14, Oklahoma City 15. A18,203 (18,203).

Raptors 99, Wizards 92

WASHINGTON (92): Singleton 5-8 1-2 15, Vesely 5-8 0-0 10, Seraphin 8-14 0-0 16, Wall 4-8 5-7 13, Crawford 6-15 4-5 18, Mason 3-8 4-4 12, Cook 2-7 0-0 4, Martin 0-1 0-0 0, Mack 1-2 2-2 4. Totals 34-71 16-20 92.

TORONTO (99): J.Johnson 4-9 0-0 9, Bargnani 6-15 6-6 18, Gray 1-2 0-0 2, Calderon 6-10 1-1 15, DeRozan 4-11 7-9 15, Davis 4-6 0-0 8, A.Johnson 5-7 0-0 10, Uzoh 1-3 0-0 2, Forbes 3-6 3-3 9, Kleiza 1-3 0-0 2, Anderson 2-5 4-4 9. Totals 37-77 21-23 99.

Washington 21 21 19 31— 92

Toronto 22 24 25 28— 99

3-Point GoalsWashington 8-20 (Singleton 4-4, Mason 2-4, Crawford 2-6, Martin 0-1, Wall 0-2, Cook 0-3), Toronto 4-17 (Calderon 2-6, Anderson 1-2, J.Johnson 1-4, Kleiza 0-2, Bargnani 0-3). Fouled OutSingleton. ReboundsWashington 35 (Singleton 8), Toronto 48 (Gray, Bargnani 8). AssistsWashington 25 (Wall 11), Toronto 22 (Calderon 8). Total FoulsWashington 22, Toronto 22. TechnicalsWall, Toronto defensive three second. A16,858 (19,800).

Pacers 104, Rockets 102, OT

INDIANA (104): Granger 11-20 4-4 32, West 5-12 2-2 12, Hibbert 6-14 3-3 15, Collison 4-8 3-6 11, George 3-7 3-3 9, Hansbrough 1-7 7-8 9, Barbosa 4-8 2-2 10, Amundson 2-3 0-0 4, Hill 1-2 0-0 2, Jones 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 37-83 24-28 104.

HOUSTON (102): Parsons 6-12 0-0 14, Scola 6-16 1-2 13, Camby 5-8 0-2 10, Dragic 8-14 3-4 22, Lee 9-17 0-0 20, Budinger 2-7 1-2 6, Boykins 2-8 0-0 5, Morris 0-1 0-0 0, Patterson 4-12 0-0 8, Dalembert 2-6 0-0 4. Totals 44-101 5-10 102.

Indiana 27 17 19 30 11— 104

Houston 23 19 31 20 9— 102

3-Point GoalsIndiana 6-15 (Granger 6-8, Barbosa 0-1, Collison 0-1, Jones 0-2, George 0-3), Houston 9-21 (Dragic 3-6, Parsons 2-4, Lee 2-5, Boykins 1-2, Budinger 1-4). Fouled OutDragic. ReboundsIndiana 62 (Hansbrough 10), Houston 50 (Camby 9). AssistsIndiana 23 (Collison 7), Houston 25 (Dragic 6). Total FoulsIndiana 16, Houston 23. A18,197 (18,043).

Howard misses loss 04/01/12 [Last modified: Sunday, April 1, 2012 11:06pm]
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