Howard scores 23 off bench as Magic rout Knicks

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Maybe Dwight Howard should come off the

bench every night.

The second-year forward had 23 points and seven rebounds in 23

minutes, and the Magic rolled over the New York Knicks 111-87

Wednesday night in Steve Francis' return to Orlando.

Howard, a 20-year-old drafted last year out of high school,

missed the first start of his entire athletic career after showing

up late for shootaround. He scored 10 points in the first quarter

after entering the period with just 4:17 left -- many of them on

putback dunks for three-point plays. He had started 149 straight

games for Orlando.

"Traffic is traffic. But it's no excuse for me to be late,"

Howard said. "I'm a leader for the team and I can't be late for

shootaround or anything. So it's my fault."

In his first game at Orlando since being traded last month,

Francis had just two points in 11 minutes, all in the first

quarter. Eddy Curry led New York with 15 points and eight rebounds,

while Stephon Marbury added 12 points and five assists. Jamal

Crawford and Nate Robinson each added 12 points off the bench.

Orlando fans greeted Francis with a smattering of boos and

applause during starting lineup announcements, but saw little of

him later.

"I can't do anything about it. I am not in a position to demand

minutes. I did not go through training camp with this team,"

Francis said.

"It was tough because I was wanting to play. But then again,

looking at the whole time I have been here ... it has been up and

down not really knowing where the minutes are going to come from."

Seven Orlando players scored in double figures, including Hedo

Turkoglu (16 points), Darko Milicic (13), Jameer Nelson (13) and

Keyon Dooling (11). Forward Trevor Ariza, acquired by the Magic in

the Francis trade along with the expiring contract of Penny

Hardaway, finished with 10 against his former team.

Leading 59-47 at halftime, Orlando opened the third quarter with

a 12-2 run, taking a 22-point lead at the 8:40 mark after Howard

completed another three-point play off an offensive rebound.

New York's deficit hovered around 20 the rest of the game,

ballooning to 107-81 with 3:53 left in the fourth quarter after

Dooling hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired.

"There have been a lot of surprises for me this year," Knicks

coach Larry Brown said. "I looked out there and it seemed like a

lot of guys just didn't care. That's tough, but you've got to keep

finding the people that do care and hope you have enough of them."

The Knicks were without rookie standout Channing Frye, who will

miss the rest of the season after spraining a left knee ligament in

New York's loss Tuesday to Toronto. He was third among first-year

players with 12.3 points per game, and also ranks in the top five

in field goal percentage (47.7 percent) and rebounds (5.8).

New York had 22 turnovers -- 17 in the first half, compared with

10 for Orlando.

The Magic's win was their fifth straight at home, but came a

night after they set a franchise record in Charlotte with their

16th straight road loss. New York fell to 6-27 on the road.

"I think the energy we play with at home, we need to bring that

on the road," Carlos Arroyo said. "That's what it's all about."

Orlando snapped a two-game losing streak and handed the Knicks

their third straight loss.Game notes
With Frye and F Malik Rose (sprained right ankle) out,

Maurice Taylor logged 20 minutes in his second game since March 1.

He had three rebounds, two assists and no points. ... F David Lee,

a rookie from Florida, started in Frye's place, scoring 10 points.