Dwight Howard had 27 points and 11 rebounds, and the Orlando Magic continued their recent reign over the visiting Atlanta Hawks with a 93-89 victory last night in a rematch of last season’s lopsided Eastern Conference semifinal.
Vince Carter finished with 19 points and made two huge layups in the final minute-plus to seal the Magic’s victory, the 11th in the last 12 meetings over Atlanta. Jason Williams also had 8 points and eight rebounds to fill in for an injured Jameer Nelson.
Joe Johnson had 23 points and Al Horford scored 16 for the Hawks, who have lost two games in two days after winning their first six this season.
But the rematch of last season’s playoff series had a decidedly different feel.
Almost every time it seemed the Hawks would buckle — as they did so often against Orlando last season — they came back. Even when Josh Powell took a scary fall in the fourth quarter after being fouled hard by Howard in a midair collision, Atlanta’s backup power forward refused to leave the game and tied the score at 72 with free throws.
They just couldn’t close it out.
Spurs 95, Bobcats 91 — Manu Ginobili scored 26 points, including a driving layup with 4.9 seconds left to end Charlotte’s late comeback bid, and visiting San Antonio held on for a win to continue the Bobcats’ early-season misery.
Surprising rookie Gary Neal added 15 points, Tim Duncan had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Tony Parker had 12 points and eight assists for the Spurs, who nearly blew a 9-point lead with under 3 minutes left before securing their fourth straight win.
Bulls 94, Nuggets 92 — Derrick Rose scored 18 points, including 8 during a furious fourth-quarter rally, to help host Chicago beat Denver.
Luol Deng added 17 points and Taj Gibson had 16 points for the Bulls.
Denver led, 80-74, with just under seven minutes left before Chicago went on a 16-6 run sparked by Rose.
Carmelo Anthony led Denver with 32 points.
Warriors 109, Raptors 102 — Stephen Curry scored a season-high 34 points, Monta Ellis added 28, and Golden State beat host Toronto.
Ellis, the NBA’s leading scorer, fell heavily after a collision under Toronto’s basket late in the fourth quarter. He remained down for several minutes before being helped up and walking slowly to the locker room. Ellis topped 25 points for the third time in seven games.
David Lee fouled out with 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Warriors.
Grizzlies 109, Suns 99 — Zach Randolph had 23 points and 20 rebounds and Rudy Gay added 22 points to help host Memphis defeat Phoenix.
Randolph was 9 of 16 from the field and led six Grizzlies in double figures. The points and rebounds were season highs for the Memphis forward, and the fifth 20-20 game in his career.
Grant Hill led the Suns with 19 points.