Reunion turns sour for Lakers’ Howard
Magic rally for road victory as former teammate falters at the free-throw line.
Dwight Howard wasn’t his usually playful self in the Los Angeles Lakers’ locker room. He refused to answer certain questions and shared few personal thoughts about his ugly reunion with the visiting Orlando Magic.
“It wasn’t emotional,” Howard said.
Maybe that was part of the problem — and one reason the Magic left the reunion with their biggest win of the season.
Arron Afflalo scored 30 points, Glen Davis added 23 points and 12 rebounds, and the Magic beat Howard’s Lakers in their first game against their longtime center, 113103 on Sunday night.
Howard had 21 points and 15 rebounds against his former team, but the rebuilding Magic rallied impressively with a 40point fourth quarter for just their fourth win in 14 games, snapping a threegame skid. Orlando pulled the upset partly by intentionally fouling Howard, who went 9 for 21 at the line — including 7 for 14 in the fourth quarter.
The Magic made their decisive 12-2 run while Howard wasn’t helping the Lakers at the line in the final minutes, with Nelson and J.J. Redick hitting 3-pointers along the way.
Howard’s first few months with the Lakers haven’t gone the way he might have expected after the four-team, 12-player trade in August: a sub.500 record, a shocking coaching change, an injured point guard and an unsightly amplification of Howard’s careerlong woes at the freethrow line, where he has dropped to 46.5 percent (87 for 187) for the season.
“As a team, our effort wasn’t there,” Howard said. “We have to start the game with energy and play the whole game the same way. We didn’t do that tonight, and they capitalized on it and they got a win.”
Howard left the court after the game without shaking hands with the Magic — not that he has many close friends left in blue pinstripes anyway. Orlando has new coach Jacque Vaughn, a new front-office staff and just five players who played with Howard.
“Let Dwight be Dwight. If he wants to walk off the court, it’s cool,” said Davis, who overlapped with Howard only last season in Orlando. “No hard feelings.”
Kobe Bryant scored 34 points for the Lakers, who dropped to 3-4 under new coach Mike D’Antoni with another inconsistent performance featuring deficient defense.
Trail Blazers 118, Bobcats 112 (OT): LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and 13 rebounds, Luke Babbitt hit a pair of clutch 3-pointers and visiting Portland overcame an 18-point fourth quarter deficit.
The Blazers trailed 9779 with 5:17 left in regulation, but sent it into overtime on Babbitt’s 3 with 22 seconds left.
Pistons 89, Cavaliers 79: Brandon Knight scored 17 points, Kyle Singler and Tayshaun Prince had 15 apiece and Detroit earned its fifth straight home win.
Detroit is 1-10 on the road but 5-3 at home, and the Pistons have recovered a bit after losing their first eight games of the season.
Hornets 102, Bucks 81: Ryan Anderson scored 22 points, Robin Lopez added 21 and host New Orleans won for only the second time in 11 games.
Lopez shot 8 of 10 from the field and made all five free throws he attempted. He also scored 11 straight points during a pivotal 130 run in the third quarter that gave New Orleans the lead for good.