Boos rained down on Dwight Howard when he ran onto the Amway Center basketball court for the first time in 11 months Tuesday night. He soon silenced those Orlando Magic fans. In a dominant performance reminiscent of his Magic glory days, Howard led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 106-97 victory in front of an announced crowd of 19,287. Howard scored 39 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and tied his own NBA record for the most free-throw attempts in a single game, thwarting the Magic’s Hack-a-Howard strategy with a 25-for-39 performance from the line. “I wasn’t nervous tonight,” Howard said. “I was looking forward to coming back and playing here. I was happy to be here. It was a fun game. It was a hostile environment, but I think it was something that was good for me in my progress as a player, and I think I needed that tonight.” When it ended, Howard and Jameer Nelson embraced near midcourt and spoke — the first time they had spoken all night and perhaps in months. “I’m not going to get into anything with what happened with me and Dwight,” Nelson said. “I’m not going to give you guys anything else to write about. You guys will speculate like you’ve been doing and come up with some stories. But one thing is I wish him the best no matter where he is and what he’s doing. We came in the league together, and I have no bad blood.” The score was tied 59-59 with 6:41 remaining in the third quarter, but the Lakers scored 12 consecutive points. The spurt began with two made free throws by Howard and ended with a 3-pointer by Kobe Bryant, who finished with 11 points.
Howard's Lakers beat the Magic 106-97 in his Orlando return
Orlando Sentinel | Mar 13