Carter's efficient game helps Magic beat Bucks

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Vince Carter had 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to lead the short-handed Orlando Magic to an easy 99-82 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.

The struggling shooting guard had by far his most efficient game in more than a month, giving Orlando its seventh win in eight games.

Charlie Bell and Luke Ridnour had 13 points apiece for the Bucks, who had their three-game winning streak snapped. Milwaukee fell to 0-3 against Orlando this season.

Carter finally showed signs of breaking out of his monthlong shooting slump, giving the Magic a much-needed boost. They were playing without Jameer Nelson (hyperextended left knee) and Mickael Pietrus (sprained right ankle).

It didn't seem to matter.

Carter was back in attack mode on offense, just as he was when he was with the New Jersey Nets. And maybe there was a good reason.

Former Nets coach Lawrence Frank was sitting about five rows behind Orlando's bench and will be observing practices this week, offering advice to the Magic staff. Frank, fired in November after an 0-16 start, coached Carter the last five years until he was traded to Orlando last offseason with Ryan Anderson.

But Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy insisted he asked Frank more than a month ago for friendly advice for his team, saying the timing had nothing to do with Carter's struggles.

Whatever the reason, the eight-time All-Star was back to his old self early.

After the Magic went down by 12 points in the opening quarter, Carter was dishing and driving with the kind of aggressiveness that's been missing during his slump. He made a pair of 3-pointers to finish with 15 points at halftime, leading a big push that gave Orlando a 50-36 lead at the break.

Bell's 3-pointer capped a 9-2 run to start the third quarter, cutting Orlando's lead to 52-45. But the Bucks simply didn't have the depth or the defense to keep pace with the Magic.

Dwight Howard sprinted out to block a 17-foot jumper by Kurt Thomas, his fifth of the game, in the final minute of the third period, sending the ball into the front row — the third time in the game he swatted a shot into the stands.

Howard, who finished with 22 points, came back on the other end with a two-handed alley-oop dunk on a pass by Jason Williams that wasn't even that close to the rim. Orlando eventually went ahead 77-57 at the start of the fourth quarter.

Howard also was hit in the nose by Thomas on another alley-oop attempt. He missed the shot — and the free throws — and the hit spewed enough blood it forced him to temporarily stick a tissue in his left nostril to stop the bleeding.

Something Milwaukee could never do.

NOTES: Van Gundy said the last thing he plans to do when he coaches the Eastern Conference in the All-Star game Feb. 14 is, well, coach. He said he'll just let the team play and do his best to give everybody on the roster at least "10 or 12" minutes of playing time. "I'm not coaching people. I'm not going to be yelling and screaming at guys. Maybe Dwight," he said, smiling. "Maybe Dwight." ... Bucks rookie PG Brandon Jennings was one of four players selected to compete in the Skills Challenge during All-Star weekend. Chicago's Derrick Rose, Phoenix's Steve Nash and Utah's Deron Williams were the others.