The Orlando Magic sprinted to the finish line with a late run to turn back the Indiana Pacers 106-98 in a physical contest on Monday.
Vince Carter scored a game-high 28 points while Dwight Howard powered his way to 21 points and 23 rebounds for the Magic, who used a 12-2 spurt in the last few minutes to run away with what had been a close contest.
Trailing 96-94 with 4:58 left, Orlando scored 10 straight points over the next four minutes to halt a stretch of two straight losses and improve to 18-6 on the season.
It was a strong recovery performance for Howard, who was held to just one field goal attempt against the Phoenix Suns on Friday but endured some hard fouls to dominate the Pacers.
“It’s out of hand what they’re letting people do to Dwight,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I don’t care who you are. You can only take that for so long.”
Looking for their third straight win, the Pacers (8-14) faltered down the stretch with turnovers and missed shots despite 26 points from Mike Dunleavy.
Playing without leading scorer Danny Granger, who is out for at least four weeks with a foot injury, Indiana came out hot and led 36-19 early in the second quarter before Orlando responded and pulled back to within one by half-time.
In the third quarter, Howard was grabbed violently by Indiana’s Troy Murphy and the two confronted each other. Both received technical fouls.
“I just have to stay calm,” Howard said. “Guys are going to do whatever they can to get me frustrated. I just got to stay frustration-free and injury-free.”
The All Star big man also had four blocks including one as the Magic held Indiana scoreless during a four-minute stretch towards the end of the game.
Orlando’s defense came up big late to compensate for the team’s 42 percent shooting. Anthony Johnson and J.J. Redick both scored 13 points off the bench for the home side.
Murphy finished with 14 points for the Pacers while rookie Tyler Hansbrough had just eight points after entering the game averaging more than 17 points and seven rebounds in his last three games.
CELTICS 110, GRIZZLIES 105
The Boston Celtics won their 11th straight game and extended their lead in the NBA standings with victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Paul Pierce scored 19 points and Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo added 18 each for Boston, which led by eight points with 2:49 left before Memphis answered with six straight points to get within two with 90 seconds left.
Kevin Garnett’s jump shot from the top of the key stopped the rally, and Allen sealed it for the Celtics by hitting a 3-pointer as the shot clock was running out with 17.5 seconds left.
Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies with 23 points.
NUGGETS 102, THUNDER 93
In Denver, Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points as Denver beat Oklahoma City for the fifth straight time.
J.R. Smith added 19 points for the Nuggets, who opened a 3-1/2 game lead atop the Northwest Division.
Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City with 32 points for his ninth straight game of 25 or more, the longest active streak in the NBA.
Trailing by 15 points at halftime, the Thunder managed to get within 96-88 with 57 seconds remaining, but the Nuggets hit all six of their subsequent free throws, posting an 11th win in 12 home games.
CLIPPERS 97, WIZARDS 95
In Los Angeles, Eric Gordon matched his season high with 29 points and hit his final free throw with 11 seconds left to lift Los Angeles past Washington.
Chris Kaman had 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter for the Clippers, who overcame a 17-point deficit in the second half.
Caron Butler scored nine of his 20 points in the final 2:43 for the Wizards, including a 3-pointer with 11.8 seconds left.
Gordon’s 1-for-2 effort at the line followed, then Washington’s Earl Boykins lost control of his dribble in the frontcourt with about four seconds left.
In other NBA action it was:
• Mavericks 94, Hornets 90
• Timberwolves 110, Jazz 108
• 76ers 117, Warriors 101
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
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Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017