Dwight Howard had a season-high 33 points and added 17 rebounds to help the Orlando Magic beat the Detroit Pistons 116-91 on Wednesday night.
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year added seven blocks in a dominating performance that gave Orlando its 11th win in the last 14 games. Howard was 11 for 13 on free throws, a refreshing reprieve for the Magic from his normal woes.
Vince Carter finished with 20 points, and Jameer Nelson had 14 for Orlando.
Richard Hamilton had 36 points, and Tayshaun Prince scored 13 for the Pistons, who had little help late with Ben Gordon ejected.
The Pistons lost their cool late.
Gordon was given a double-technical foul and ejected about halfway through the fourth quarter, extending his arm and hitting J.J. Redick near the face before arguing with the official. Gordon headed to the locker room with the Magic going ahead 96-83 on the free throws and essentially sealing the win.
Howard may have done that already.
His alley-oop dunk on a pass from Jason Williams _ one of many on this night _ minutes earlier put Orlando ahead by 10 points, thwarting the latest Pistons' rally.
So much for an All-Star break hangover.
Howard, the Magic's only All-Star player, had consecutive alley-oop dunks on nearly identical plays in the opening quarter, with Nelson throwing an over-the-shoulder lob each time that Howard sliced down the middle to slam. Howard later got a rebound on the defensive end in the second quarter to start a fast break, then sprinted down the floor and took a no-look pass from Williams _ who looked right and threw left _ for a one-handed dunk.
Howard's hot start helped the Magic go ahead 48-36 in the second quarter. They just couldn't hold the lead.
Hamilton hit a pair of 3-pointers to highlight a 16-3 Pistons push that briefly put them ahead, ending the half with Orlando leading just 56-55 despite the Magic shooting 57 percent before the break.
But Howard kept the Magic in control.
He sent a shot by Rodney Stuckey into the stands in the third quarter and then really started showing off. After taking a defensive rebound, Howard dribbled up court, spun away from Tayshaun Prince before dishing to Nelson, who was fouled on a layup attempt. Howard couldn't help but grin.
Orlando would go back ahead by 12 points but never could hold a lead. Detroit trimmed the deficit to six at the end of the third quarter with some potent outside shooting.
NOTES: Howard's previous season high was 32 points against Indiana on Jan. 20. ... Pistons G Chucky Atkins was inactive with a sternum injury. He is day to day. ... Magic SF Matt Barnes was called for a flagrant-one foul with 7:07 remaining in the third quarter after he collided with Jonas Jerebko, who was trying to set a screen. Jerebko hit the hardwood falling backward, and officials ruled Barnes' force was enough for the flagrant-one foul. ... Ben Wallace, a notoriously poor free throw shooter, air-balled a free throw in the second quarter.
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