NBA scores: Howard dominates in return to Orlando, Celtics blasted by Bobcats

USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Howard dominated in his first game back in Orlando, putting up 39 points and 16 rebounds while also tying his record for most free throws attempted in a game. Meanwhile, the Celtics were blown out by the Bobcats and the Heat won their 19th straight game.

Lakers 106, Magic 97

When Dwight Howard returned to Orlando for the first time on Tuesday, he knew there would be boos. There were certainly plenty of them, but Howard shook them off and put forth one of his most dominating performances of the season in the Los Angeles Lakers' 106-97 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Howard scored a season-high 39 points and pulled down 16 rebounds, going to the foul line 39 times in the process. That tied a free throw record that he himself set just last season. Many of the free throws came in the second half as part of a "Hack-a-Dwight" strategy, but it backfired, as Howard made 16-of-20 freebies in the second half.

The game was mostly tight throughout the first half and the Magic (18-47) actually held a one-point lead midway through the third quarter. But the Lakers (34-31) then went on a 15-3 run to take control of the game, and the lead remained in double-digits throughout the majority of the fourth quarter.

Orlando struggled offensively, shooting just 39.8 percent from the field. Jameer Nelson did have 21 points and seven assists, while Tobias Harris had 17 points and 15 rebounds. However, only two of Harris' points came after halftime.

Bobcats 100, Celtics 74

Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers decided to give veteran Paul Pierce the night off against the Charlotte Bobcats in the midst of a stretch featuring 9-of-11 games on the road. The rest of the Celtics seemingly decided to take the night off as well, as they were blown out, 100-74, by the woeful Bobcats.

Gerald Henderson scored a career-high 35 points on the night as the Bobcats (14-50) ended a 10-game losing streak. After a tight first half, Charlotte blew the game open in the second, outscoring Boston, 51-28. Ben Gordon added 17 points off the bench in the victory.

Jeff Green and Jordan Crawford had 14 points apiece to lead the listless Celtics (34-29). Boston shot 40.9 percent and was outrebounded, 48-29. Kevin Garnett had just five points and two rebounds in 21 minutes, shooting 2-of-10 from the field.

Heat 98, Hawks 81

For the second straight game, LeBron James was a bit off his "A" game. And for the second straight game, the Miami Heat still blew out an Eastern Conference playoff team, defeating the Atlanta Hawks, 98-81, and extending their winning streak to 19

James had 15 points on just 3-of-11 shooting, although he did have seven rebounds and seven assists. Dwyane Wade led the Heat (48-14) with 23 points, and Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers both poured in 14. While Miami was not as sharp as usual offensively, it made up for it with a stifling defensive performance, turning Atlanta (34-29) over 22 times.

Josh Smith had 15 points and six rebounds to the lead the Hawks. Al Horford and Jeff Teague were the only other two Hawks in double figures, scoring 12 points apiece.

Timberwolves 107, Spurs 83

It appears that Ricky Rubio is just about back to full form after returning from his ACL injury. Rubio posted his first career triple-double, as the Minnesota Timberwolves blew out the San Antonio Spurs, 107-93. Rubio finished the night with 21 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, giving Timberwolves (22-39) fans something to smile about in this treacherous season.

Cory Joseph had 15 points for the Spurs (49-16), who played without the resting Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard one night after throttling the Oklahoma City Thunder. Stephen Jackson added 14 points.

Mavericks 115, Bucks 108

Vince Carter scored 13 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter as the Dallas Mavericks staved off the Milwaukee Bucks, 115-108. The Mavs (30-33) led for much of the game, but had to hold off a charging Bucks (32-30) team that never gave up in the fourth quarter. Dirk Nowitzki had 19 points and 11 rebounds in the victory.

Monta Ellis had 32 points and nine assists and was a big reason Milwaukee never went away. Mike Dunleavy added 18 points and J.J. Redick chipped in 17 off the bench.

Grizzlies 102, Trail Blazers 97

Zach Randolph returned from an ankle injury and put up a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds in a 102-97 win for the Memphis Grizzlies over the Portland Trail Blazers. Mike Conley also notched a double-double, putting up 14 points and 15 assists to help the Grizzlies (43-19) win their fifth straight game.

Damian Lillard had 30 points for the Blazers (29-34), who made a charge in the fourth quarter before falling just short. LaMarcus Aldridge also had a big game, scoring 28 points and pulling down 10 boards.

Nets 108, Hornets 98

Brook Lopez had 26 points to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 108-98 victory over the New Orleans Hornets. Deron Williams added 21 points and 13 assists for the Nets (38-27), who pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Eric Gordon had 24 points to lead the Hornets (22-43). Anthony Davis and Greivis Vasquez both notched double-doubles in the loss.

Cavaliers 95, Wizards 90

Playing without Kyrie Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers got a balanced scoring effort to help beat the Washington Wizards, 95-90. Rookie Dion Waiters led six Cavs (22-42) in double figures with 20 points. Tristan Thompson had a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds.

John Wall did have a monster game for the Wizards (20-42), scoring 27 points and handing out 14 assists. Washington got little help from its bench, as its subs scored just 11 points on the night.

More in the NBA:

Vince Carter doesn't like dunking anymore

Tom Ziller: Revisiting the Dwight Howard trade

OPP: Dwight Howard returns to Orlando

RIP Brandon Knight: DeAndre Jordan's dunk of the year

What was Brandon Knight's actual mistake?

Derrick Rose should shut it down

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