Howard had 31 points and 19 rebounds and the Orlando Magic coasted to a 104-86 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, two nights after a last-second victory over Boston.
"I wasn't concerned about numbers tonight," Howard said. "We just wanted to play aggressively at both ends. We're trying to be more aggressive and for the most part, we did that."
The Magic, who have won five of six, went ahead of Atlanta in the Southeast Division.
Howard had some help from the Magic bench, especially Ryan Anderson and J.J. Redick. Anderson, a 6-foot-10 forward in his second year, had 16 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes. He hit seven of 11 shots, including a pair of three-pointers.
"People look at Ryan's shooting, but a lot of big guys stretch the floor with shooting and that's all they do," Van Gundy said. "Ryan scores driving the ball to the basket, he scores down on the post and on offensive rebounds. He's a very good player with a chance to be outstanding."
Redick had a career-best seven assists and eight points while being matched up defensively against Jamal Crawford, who was just 6 of 17 from the field.
The Hawks have now lost six straight times to the Magic, including all three games this season.
"We haven't figured [Orlando] out, that's all I can tell you," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "It's about coming out and having a lot of heart and we didn't do that for 48 minutes,"
The Magic led 58-54 in the middle of the third quarter when Howard led a 16-2 spurt to make it 74-56. The Magic center had eight points in the run, including a coast-to-coast fastbreak that ended in a three-point play.
Howard tipped a defensive rebound toward halfcourt, beat Hawks' guard Mike Bibby to it, then dribbled the rest of the way for a dunk with Bibby hanging on his back. That made it 68-54 and though Johnson interrupted the run with a driving layup, the Magic went on to score six straight points and seize control of the game.
The only time the Hawks got the deficit under 10 after that was when Johnson made a 3-pointer that cut Atlanta's deficit to 81-72 with 8:41 left in the game.
Howard and the Magic reserves responded with a 14-5 run capped by Anderson's 3-pointer that made it 95-77 with 4:11 left.
A tip-in by Johnson gave the Hawks a 16-6 lead to start the game, but the Magic went on a 15-2 run to end the quarter with a 21-18 lead.
Anderson and Redick combined for 12 points in the second quarter as Orlando's reserves pushed the advantage to 42-34 before Atlanta's offense came alive.
The Hawks hit five straight jumpers, including a 10-footer by Crawford that cut the deficit to 46-44 with five seconds to play in the half.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy will be the East coach in the All-Star Game if the Magic defeat Detroit on Sunday. ... Orlando has beaten Atlanta six straight times. The average margin of victory is 18.5 points. ... Mike Bibby is shooting 13 of 40 in his past five games for the Hawks.
- Joe DeRosa
- David Guthrie
- Courtney Kirkland