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Carter's 48 points help Magic beat Hornets

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Vince Carter had a season-high 48 points, leading the Orlando Magic back from a 17-point second-half deficit to beat the New Orleans Hornets 123-117 on Monday night.

Carter was 19 for 27 shooting and had 34 points in the second half with some of the most sizzling moves since he joined the Magic, who have won nine of their last 11 games.

Dwight Howard added 25 points and 12 rebounds, and Rashard Lewis finished with 18 points for Orlando.

Peja Stojakovic had 29 points, and Darren Collison and David West added 27 points apiece for the Hornets, who have lost four of five since Chris Paul went down with an injured left knee.

For at least one night, Vinsanity was back. With plenty of other fireworks.

Darius Songaila was called for a flagrant-one foul with 6:21 left in the fourth after he wrapped up Howard and tossed him to the ground. Howard made the free throws, then Carter had a jumper and a step-back 3-pointer at the top of the key to tie the game at 106.

Carter followed that by slicing into the lane and finishing strong with his right hand for a layup, drawing a foul on James Posey for a three-point play. He would later hit another 3-pointer — his sixth of the game — and stand near midcourt, soaking in the celebration, pumping his chest and popping his jersey.

He wasn't done.

Carter would add a fall-away floater over Posey from the baseline to extend Orlando's lead to 116-110, and he would later make a pair of free throws to seal the win.

It was by far Carter's best performance since he was traded from New Jersey in the offseason, finishing three shy of his career high. The eight-time All-Star expected to be Orlando's missing piece to a title was back in peak form, and the Magic can only hope he stays there.

The short-handed Hornets had no answer.

Playing without the injured Paul and Marcus Thornton (lower back), they just couldn't keep pace at the end. Early on, the Hornets seemed just fine without their injured backcourt.

Stojakovic, Collison and West were hitting from inside and out to finish with 16 points apiece at halftime. As quickly as the Magic trimmed a 14-point deficit to six, the Hornets extended their lead even quicker.

West closed the half with two straight three-point plays, the last coming on a fast-break layup, losing his balance and falling into the media table behind the basket after being fouled by Howard. West's free throw gave New Orleans a 70-55 lead at the break.

NOTES: Hornets coach Jeff Bower said before the game that he was happy for the city of New Orleans that the Saints beat the Colts in the Super Bowl. "It just really makes you feel good," Bower said. "We're fans like everybody else." ... A winter snow storm expected to hit the Midwest in the next couple days could threaten Orlando's travel plans. The Magic play at Chicago on Wednesday and at Cleveland on Thursday. "I hope we can get in. I just want to make sure we can get out," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said, laughing.