Magic 109, Nuggets 98

By: AP
By: AP
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Rashard Lewis scored 25 and Dwight Howard had 23 points and 24 rebounds as the Orlando Magic beat the Denver Nuggets 109-98.

Carmelo Anthony had 32 points for Denver before fouling out late in the fourth quarter, and Allen Iverson had 21 points and seven assists.

Neither team could create much separation until the third quarter. Denver took a 63-58 lead, tying its biggest of the game, on a Marcus Camby jumper with six minutes left in the period.

Lewis led the Magic on an 18-6 run to close the third, and the Magic never trailed again. The forward had 14 in the quarter - including two 3-pointers and a driving dunk down the baseline past two defenders.

The Magic lead ballooned to 15 in the fourth, but never felt out of reach. J.R. Smith hit four 3-pointers, and Iverson reinvigorated a Denver dribble attack that Orlando couldn't stop in the first quarter.

Orlando held off the Nuggets, with Hedo Turkoglu's help. The forward missed most of the third quarter in foul trouble, but scored 12 of his 18 points in the final period.

It was Howard's sixth 20-point, 20-rebound game of the season, and came one game after coach Stan Van Gundy accused him of focusing too much on offense. The Magic center had just ceded the NBA rebound lead to Denver' Camby, and seemed eager to prove himself.

Howard, who failed to get double-digit rebounds two of the last four games, had a double-double by halftime. Camby finished with six points and eight rebounds.

Brian Cook had 18 points for Orlando, while Jameer Nelson scored 13.

Kenyon Martin had 17 points and nine rebounds for Denver, and Smith finished with 16 points.

The win was important for Orlando, which closed a five-game home stretch before the All-Star game 2-3. Denver had won four straight on the road, and three in a row overall.

Notes: The Southeast Division, which the Magic lead, entered the night on a combined 28-game losing streak. It had to end Wednesday, because division opponents Atlanta and Charlotte were playing each other. ... Magic G Maurice Evans was ejected after picking up two technicals arguing a call in the third quarter. He had two points on 1-for-8 shooting. ... Martin was called for a technical in the second quarter.

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