NEW YORK – Grant Hill made a key 3-pointer during a decisive run in his season debut for Orlando, and Dwight Howard had 23 points and 13 rebounds to help the Magic defeat the struggling New York Knicks 105-90 Wednesday night.

Hill missed Orlando’s first 19 games following surgery for a sports hernia on Oct. 31. He started and scored seven points in 22 minutes, and was on the floor late in the second quarter when the Magic took control for good.

Hedo Turkoglu scored 18 points and Pat Garrity added a season-high 17, and the duo helped Orlando end New York’s final comeback hopes with an impressive display of 3-point shooting.

Eddy Curry scored 23 points for the Knicks, who trailed by six or more points for the final 29 minutes and have lost four straight. Quentin Richardson added a season-high 16 and Stephon Marbury scored 13, but New York couldn’t overcome another woeful second quarter.

The Knicks were within five points midway through the second, but made only one field goal in the final 6 minutes. Orlando closed with a 13-3 run, taking a 54-39 lead when Hill made a 3 from the corner just before the halftime buzzer.

New York was 6-of-21 (29 percent) in the second quarter and has been outscored by a combined 26 points in that period in its last two games. Though Knicks coach Larry Brown said Tuesday he was planning to shrink his rotation, but had used 11 players by halftime.

The Knicks pulled within eight points early in the final quarter, but Ron Francis drove the baseline for a three-point play after a powerful dunk over Richardson, and Garrity and Turkoglu each made three 3-pointers later in the period as the Magic pushed the lead to as much as 21.

Orlando was 11-of-18 from behind the arc, with Garrity making five and Turkoglu four.

Notes: New York’s Penny Hardaway had an MRI exam Tuesday and has right knee tendinitis. The Knicks were also without reserve center Jerome James, who has a sore left Achilles’. … Orlando has won two in a row following a five-game skid. … Francis was just 3-of-16 from the field.

AP-ES-12-14-05 2227EST


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