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Howard paces Magic past Rockets

ORLANDO, Fla. — Dwight Howard had 20 rebounds and 13 points, and the Orlando Magic rolled to an easy 102-87 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.

Howard outmuscled a Rockets team lacking size and strength in the middle with Yao Ming injured. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year blocked four shots and showed how dominant he can be even on a night he didn’t have his best offensive game.

Jameer Nelson added 15 points in his first start since Nov. 16, helping the Magic win for the fifth time in six games ahead of a big Christmas Day matchup against the Boston Celtics.

Carl Landry had 20 points and Aaron Brooks finished with 17 for the Rockets.

Heat 80, Jazz 70

MIAMI — Dwyane Wade scored 29 points and Miami held Utah to its lowest offensive output of the season.

Udonis Haslem added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Heat, who improved to 11-1 against Utah since the start of the 2004-05 season. Quentin Richardson scored 11 for Miami, which also had its lowest score of the year, one point shy of the 81 it managed in a win over New Jersey last month.

Raptors 94, Pistons 64

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Andrea Bargnani scored 21 points, Hedo Turkoglu added 11 points and a season-best 11 assists and Toronto clamped down on the short-handed Pistons.

Detroit has lost six straight and matched the lowest point total in franchise history. The Pistons were without Ben Gordon (ankle), Richard Hamilton (hamstring) and Tayshaun Prince (back). Charlie Villanueva went 0 of 7 from the field trying to play through a foot injury.

Timberwolves 103, Nets 99

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Al Jefferson scored a season-high 27 points and Minnesota got a favorable videotape review in the final minute of the matchup between the NBA’s worst teams.

Jonny Flynn added 22 points and Kevin Love had 13 points and 16 rebounds as Minnesota (6-24) swept the two-game season series and sent New Jersey (2-27) to its eighth straight loss.

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