Los Angeles Lakers' Dwight Howard (center) struggles to get to the basket as he is caught between Orlando Magic players (from left) Tobias Harris, Jameer Nelson and Nikola Vucevic during their NBA game in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday. The Lakers won 106-97, with Howard scoring a season-high 39 points.
Photo by AP
DWIGHT Howard scored a season-high 39 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Lakers over the Orlando Magic 106-97 in a homecoming game on Tuesday against his former club.
Howard also matched his own National Basketball Association record for free-throw attempts in a game with 39, sinking 25 of them while hitting 7-of-13 shots from the field as the Lakers improved to 34-31 in their fight for a Western Conference playoff berth. "I just wanted to come out and have a great game," Howard said. "It was a great atmosphere. I could just get my mind away and play."
Elsewhere, it was: Cavaliers 95, Wizards 90; Bobcats 100, Celtics 74; Nets 108, Hornets 98; Heat 98, Hawks 81; Timberwolves 107, Spurs 83; Mavericks 115, Bucks 108; and Grizzlies 102, Trail Blazers 97.
In Orlando, fans who once cheered Howard booed him throughout the game as the Magic players deliberately fouled him at times, sending Howard to the free throw line where his success rate is lackluster at best.
"I want to thank everyone in Orlando who supported me for those eight years," Howard said. "I don't care how many signs they hold up or how many times they boo me, I will always have love for them."
In January of last year, Howard went 21-of-39 at the charity stripe against Golden State to break an old NBA mark of 34 free throws in one game that Lakers legend Wilt Chamberlain had held for half a century.
During eight seasons with the Magic, Howard was a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, a six-time All-Star and in 2009 he led the Magic to the NBA Finals. Howard was traded to the Lakers in a four-team "Dwight-mare" deal last season and the Magic have revamped the roster this season, falling to 18-47.
The Lakers, who lost at home to Orlando in December, stretched their streak to four with their ninth win in 11 games.
Metta World Peace added 14 points for the Lakers while Jameer Nelson led the Magic with 21.