Orlando’s Dwight Howard bounced back to his dominating best garnering 20 points and 22 rebounds to help the Magic end a five-game losing streak with an 88-82 victory over Eastern Conference rivals Philadelphia.
Howard, who earlier this week had reportedly called for coach Stan Van Gundy’s ouster, grabbed 11 points in the fourth quarter despite playing with back spasms.
“That’s the best I’ve felt of our team the entire year,” Van Gundy said. “They’ve played some better games . . . but for just fighting for a win and executing down the stretch and doing what we had to do, I haven’t felt better about our team all year.”
Howard’s performance marked a major turnaround for the All-Star center, who scored only eight in a loss to New York on Thursday when Van Gundy told reporters he had been informed Howard wanted him gone.
Howard however later denied seeking the coach’s dismissal.
Glen Davis added 23 points and 12 rebounds and J.J. Redick had 19 points, 11 in the fourth, for sixth-place Orlando, who moved three-and-a-half games ahead of Philadelphia in the East. “I think Glen has played four excellent games in a row,” Van Gundy said. “He’s been able to shut out all of the distractions. He’s not trying to do anything but play the game the best way he can and that’s it.”