ORLANDO, Fla.- Dwight Howard had 27 points and 11 rebounds and Jameer Nelson scored 21 points as the Orlando Magic surprised the Chicago Bulls 109-94 Wednesday night in Orlando’s season opener.

The Bulls beat the defending champion Miami Heat by 42 points the night before, but couldn’t find their stroke Wednesday.

Ben Gordon flashed a dazzling array of reverse layups, drives and fadeaway jumpers on his way to 24 points that kept Chicago in the game – barely. Kirk Hinrich had 14 points and four assists and Luol Deng scored 12 for the Bulls.

Grant Hill had 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting and Hedo Turkoglu had 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Orlando trailed only once – by a point – in the game’s opening minute. They won despite committing 23 turnovers to Chicago’s 15, outshooting the Bulls 59 percent to 45 percent from the field.

Nelson keyed a 13-2 Magic run in the third quarter with a jumper, layup and 3-pointer, scoring seven points on consecutive trips in 1:17. The spurt gave Orlando an 80-55 lead before Malik Allen turned in a three-point play with 4:31 left in the quarter.

The Magic used a 17-6 second-quarter run over four minutes to take a 63-45 lead at halftime. Six different players scored in the span, including an alley-oop dunk and three-point play from Howard.

Hinrich drew a technical with 1:50 left in third quarter reacting to his fifth foul. He picked it up defending Keyon Dooling’s baseline drive less than a minute after being whistled for his fourth. He played limited minutes in the final quarter but never fouled out.

Notes: Grant Hill opened the game with a short speech at center court. “This season we expect to be exciting, we expect to be healthy, we expect to make the playoffs,” he told the crowd. … Bulls Rookie Tyrus Thomas was not with the team after breaking his nose going for a rebound in Tuesday’s opener against Miami. … Before Wednesday the Magic had lost five straight to the Bulls at home, last winning in 2003. … Orlando sold out its first two home games for the first time in nine years. … Magic rookie J.J. Redick was inactive.

AP-ES-11-01-06 2154EST

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