Magic 90, Cavaliers 79

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CLEVELAND (AP) – Grant Hill scored 22 points, Dwight Howard added 18 with 13 rebounds and the Orlando Magic snapped a five-game losing streak by beating the listless Cleveland Cavaliers 90-79 on Monday night.

Hill, who missed Orlando’s previous game with a dislocated pinky, only scored two points and played less than six minutes of the fourth quarter. But he did enough in his first 27 minutes on the floor to give the Magic an 11-point lead entering the period.

Jameer Nelson had 11 points, Keith Bogans made three 3-pointers and Darko Milicic added nine rebounds for Orlando, which ended a six-game skid in Cleveland.

LeBron James had 18 points for the weary Cavaliers, who just completed a seven-game trip out West and were playing their fifth game in seven nights.

Larry Hughes and Damon Jones had 16 points apiece for Cleveland, which after losing for the fourth time in five games, reached the midway point of the season at 24-17 – the same record it had last season.

Leading 71-60 after three, the Magic pushed their lead to 80-64 following a 3-pointer by Keyon Dooling and Milicic’s basket inside. Bogans’ third 3 made it 83-68 with 7:19 left, and the Cavaliers didn’t have the legs to get back in it.

Hill and Howard finished a combined 15-of-22 from the field.

Unhappy with his team for letting the Cavs cut a 14-point deficit to eight in the second quarter, Magic coach Brian Hill smashed a clipboard during a heated timeout. Orlando responded by outscoring Cleveland 12-4 over the final 3:35 to take a 54-38 halftime lead.

The Magic survived a dry spell in the third quarter as Hill and Howard were the two Orlando players to score in a nine-minute stretch.

A 3-pointer by Jones pulled the Cavs within 69-59, but Nelson drained a 3 in the final second to make it 71-60.

The Cavaliers, who never led in the game, headed toward their locker room at the half with their fans either booing or grumbling about the club’s lackluster effort. The first 24 minutes were a microcosm of Cleveland’s recent road trip: moments of brilliance mixed with brutality.

James, who averaged 30.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.3 assists during Cleveland’s trip, said his energy has increased since the early season when it appeared a busy summer (he played for the U.S. team in the world championships) had taken its toll.

“Right now is probably the best I’ve felt all year,” he said before the game. “I’ve got a second wind and I’m looking forward to the fourth quarters now.”

But there was nothing he could do in the final period as the Cavs lost for just the fourth time in 19 home games.

Notes: A huge Dallas Cowboys fan, James was sorry to hear that Bill Parcells retired as the NFL team’s coach. “It’s disappointing,” he said. “I know what he brought to that franchise, and we probably won’t be able to get anyone on his level.” … Howard has been an ironman in his two-plus seasons in the NBA. He has played in 206 consecutive games, one shy of the team record held by Darrell Armstrong (Feb. 5, 1999 to April. 3, 2001). … Cavs center Zydrunas Ilgauskas was treated for a cut over the left eye in the third quarter. He returned but finished with just five points and attempted only five shots in 22 minutes.

AP-ES-01-22-07 2153EST

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