NBA: Orlando hand Kings coach first loss

FRIENDLY ADVICE::Dwight Howard told Magic teammate DeMarcus Cousins that he should try not to get into tiffs with the referees, as this would give him a bad reputation

Reuters and AP, LOS ANGELES

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 - Page 19

Dwight Howard failed to produce his usual magic, but Orlando did enough to defeat Sacramento 104-97 on Sunday and hand new Kings coach Keith Smart his first loss.

Howard managed just five points while battling foul trouble in 20 minutes of play, but Orlando still pulled out the win with a strong run in the fourth quarter.

With the game tied at 87-87 with little more than five minutes remaining, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu knocked down back-to-back three-pointers as the visitors closed with a 14-7 run.

Richardson had a season-high 22 points and Glen Davis had 20 and eight rebounds off the bench as the Magic improved to 6-3 despite trade rumors swirling around Howard, who will become a free agent at the end of the season.

“You can either make excuses about that and get distracted, or you can overcome it,” Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters.

Sacramento coach Smart lost in his second game in charge after he took over from the fired Paul Westphal last week. The Kings won their first game under Smart with a spirited comeback over Milwaukee.

Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans had 28 points and eight assists, while DeMarcus Cousins added 16 and 10 rebounds.

It was the second straight start for Cousins, who had clashed with Westphal, leading to him being dropped from a game last week before returning to the team and coming off the bench.

Following the game, Howard had a lengthy conversation with the 21-year-old Cousins, who has been criticized for showing a lack of maturity early in his career.

“I just told him not to get into it with the referees. I said: ‘Learn from me, learn from someone who has gotten on the wrong side of the refs,’” said Howard, who picked up a technical foul in the third quarter. “It’s cost me a lot of money in technical fouls and stuff like that. I told him you don’t want to have that reputation with the refs.”

The game was a razor-close contest throughout, with the Magic holding a two-point lead at halftime and after the third quarter.

Orlando made 10 three-pointers to gain an advantage and capitalized on 17 Sacramento turnovers.


In Portland, Oregon, LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points and eight rebounds as Portland overcame a slow start to pull away from Cleveland.

Wesley Matthews added 24 points for the Trail Blazers.

Kyrie Irving, the top pick in last June’s NBA draft, had 21 points — 11 in the third quarter — to lead Cleveland, which allowed the Trail Blazers to have 22 fast-break points.


In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant scored 26 points as Los Angeles struggled past Memphis to notch their sixth consecutive home win.

Andrew Bynum had 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who committed a season-worst 27 turnovers and never pulled away from the injury-depleted Grizzlies.

Rudy Gay scored 19 points to lead five players in double figures for Memphis, which wrapped up a three-game road trip with an unimpressive fourth quarter.

SUNS 109, BUCKS 93

In Phoenix, Arizona, Steve Nash had 17 assists and 10 points in 27 minutes as Phoenix routed weary Milwaukee.

The Suns beat the Bucks in Phoenix for the 24th straight time, dating back to 1986 to 1987. It is the NBA’s second-longest active streak behind San Antonio’s 27 wins in a row at home over Golden State.

Phoenix shot 58 percent, led by Marcin Gortat, who scored 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting.

Tobias Harris scored 15 for the Bucks at the end of an 0-5 road trip.


In Washington, Kevin Love had 20 points and 16 rebounds to lead Minnesota past winless Washington.

Ricky Rubio had 13 points and a career-high 14 assists, controlling the game during much of his 30 minutes off the bench. He entered with 1 minute, 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter and quickly hit a 22-foot jumper to start a 17-2 run that gave Minnesota the lead for good.

Nick Young and Trevor Booker scored 14 points apiece to lead the Wizards, who dropped to 0-8 to extend their franchise-worst start to a season. Washington has already lost four games by 18 or more points.


In Oklahoma City, the Thunder became the first NBA team to win three games on consecutive nights this season by beating the San Antonio Spurs.

Kevin Durant had 21 points and 10 rebounds. He needed only three more assists to record his first career triple-double, but -instead sat out the entire fourth quarter with the rest of Oklahoma City’s starters. The Thunder were able to coast to the finish after outscoring the Spurs 37-21 in the third.

Reserve James Harden scored 20 for the Thunder.

Gary Neal scored 18 to lead the Spurs, who played without point guard Tony Parker from midway through the third quarter. A team spokesman said Parker was fine and could have played.