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Win sign of 'good' to come for Magic
Published December 27, 2005
ORLANDO - The Magic is showing signs of coming together, just as coach Brian Hill hoped.
Steve Francis scored 21 and Dwight Howard returned from a sprained right ankle to finish with 19 points and 14 rebounds as the Magic had its highest scoring game of the season in a 108-93 victory over Milwaukee on Monday night.
"We've had our ups and downs," Hill said. "We haven't become yet the team that we're capable of becoming. (The win) to me is an indicator that we're able to be a good team, we just have to do certain things on a consistent basis."
Grant Hill added 20 points for Orlando, which beat Milwaukee for the second time in seven games. The Bucks had won two straight overall and nine of their previous 12.
Milwaukee's Michael Redd missed his first six shots and went 4-for-16 from the field. He was averaging 25 points but finished with 17. The rest of the Bucks didn't shoot much better, hitting just 44 percent to 54 percent for the Magic.
Francis scored nine of his 21 in the third, including an impressive follow shot after Howard missed a layup, to help keep the Bucks from getting close.
Redd's three-point play with 9:54 left in the fourth pulled Milwaukee to 85-77, but the Magic answered with three straight baskets to stop the run.
CAVALIERS 102, BULLS 91: LeBron James scored 12 of his 32 points in the fourth and surpassed 30 for the 16th time this season and ninth in December as Cleveland stretched its winning streak to six games.
Drew Gooden scored 20 as Cleveland improved to an Eastern Conference-best 12-3 at home.
Andres Nocioni and Kirk Hinrich each hit 3s to spark Chicago's 14-6 run to open the second half. Eric Snow then made a 20-footer for Cleveland, and a few seconds later James drove to the basket to put it back in command.
JAZZ 105, GRIZZLIES 102 (OT): Utah's Andrei Kirilenko scored a season-high 24 in his return, grabbed 14 rebounds and made two key defensive plays in the final moments.
Mehmet Okur had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and made a 3-pointer in overtime to put visiting Memphis ahead 102-100. Keith McLeod added a career-high 22 points, including the final two of the game on two free throws with 3.5 seconds remaining.
With the Jazz clinging to a 102-101 lead, Kirilenko blocked Pau Gasol's layup and then was fouled. He made one free throw and, 10 seconds later, stole the ball and dribbled out the clock to thwart the Grizzlies' final attempt to tie.
Kirilenko made a 3-pointer on the last play of regulation to force overtime.
SONICS 118, CELTICS 111: Flip Murray scored a season-high 29 for host Seattle, which overcame Paul Pierce's 43 points - the most allowed by the team in a game this season. Nick Collison drew an over-the-back loose-ball foul on Mark Blount with 57.6 seconds left and hit both ensuing free throws. He then hit an 18-footer with the shot clock running down to push the Sonics' lead to seven and finish off the Celtics.
MAVERICKS 102, PACERS 80: Devin Harris scored 20, including a 20-footer that he intended to be a pass, and Jerry Stackhouse proved his injured knee is fine with an active third quarter that featured a dunk for host Dallas. Dirk Nowitzki added 23 points to help the Mavs tie San Antonio for the best record in the West at 21-7. The Pacers lost their second straight and fell to 5-3 since making Ron Artest inactive.
NETS 109, KNICKS 101: Vince Carter scored 27 and Richard Jefferson added 23 to lead visiting New Jersey to its sixth consecutive win. Carter has led the Nets in scoring in all six wins, averaging 34 points during that span - New Jersey's longest winning streak since a franchise-record 14 straight in 2004. The Nets' lead ballooned to 17 with 1:09 left in the third but the Knicks got to within 103-94 after Jamal Crawford's three-pointer with 5:41 remaining in the fourth. Crawford then made two free throws to make it a seven-point game, but the Knicks got no closer.
TRAIL BLAZERS 105, KINGS 92: Zach Randolph had 22 points and nine rebounds and Juan Dixon added 21 points for visiting Portland, which sent Sacramento to its fifth straight loss. Steve Blake and Ruben Patterson scored 12 apiece for the Trail Blazers, who maintained a 10-point halftime lead through most of the second half of just their third victory in 15 games.
SUNS 103, WOLVES 89: Boris Diaw had a career-high 31 points, 11 rebounds and five assists to lead visiting Phoenix, which had lost five of seven. Kevin Garnett and Wally Szczerbiak helped the Timberwolves pull within 80-77 early in the fourth after a follow dunk by Garnett. Then the Suns called timeout and ran away with the game.
WIZARDS 94, LAKERS 91: Gilbert Arenas scored 34 and keyed a second-half comeback to lead host Washington for its third straight victory. Los Angeles trailed by three with 16 seconds left and got the ball back after Washington turned it over on a late whistle against Arenas for traveling. But the Wizards double-teamed Kobe Bryant, who turned it over, and the Wizards ran out the clock.
SPURS: Guard Tony Parker was cited for impeding traffic and failing to produce a valid Texas driver's license during a traffic stop in which girlfriend and Desperate Housewives actor Eva Longoria was his passenger, San Antonio police said.