Howard helps Magic end 5-game lose streak

Howard helps Magic end 5-game lose streak

Howard helps Magic end 5-game lose streak

Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard drives past New York Knicks’ Tyson Chandler during the second half of an NBA game. AP photo

Orlando’s Dwight Howard was back to his dominating best on Saturday with 20 points and 22 rebounds as the Magic ended a five-game losing streak with an 88-82 victory over the Eastern Conference rivals Philadelphia 76ers.

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 told reporters.

“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 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.”

Philadelphia is still hot on the heels of Atlantic leaders Boston Celtics, who had an 86-72 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Paul Pierce scored 24 points for the Celtics to cool off the Pacers.