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Hill's return lifts Magic Orlando tops struggling Knicks

Grant Hill made a key 3-pointer during a decisive run in his season debut for Orlando, and Dwight Howard had 23 points and 13 rebounds to help the Magic defeat the struggling New York Knicks, 105-90, last night at Madison Square Garden.

Hill missed Orlando's first 19 games following surgery for a hernia Oct. 31. He started and scored 7 points in 22 minutes, and was on the floor late in the second quarter when the Magic took control for good.

''It was fun to be out there," said Hill, who has been beset by injuries in six seasons with Orlando. ''It was good to get the win. I thought our team played pretty well."

Hedo Turkoglu scored 18 points and Pat Garrity added a season-high 17 for the Magic.

Heat 100, Bucks 83 -- Dwyane Wade scored 27 points for visiting Miami and Gary Payton added 20 to give coach Pat Riley his second win in as many nights. Wade and Payton exposed Milwaukee's lack of perimeter defense, combining to go 17 for 26 from the field.

Shaquille O'Neal, who playfully tossed snowballs before entering the arena in his second game back, finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds in 26 minutes. But he was saddled with early foul trouble, including two on back-to-back trips down the floor in the first quarter.

O'Neal was quickly replaced with Alonzo Mourning, who blocked three shots in his first five minutes, matching his league-leading average. Mourning finished with four blocks.

Lakers 94, Grizzlies 79 -- Kobe Bryant scored 27 points and the Lakers completed a successful, six-game road trip. The victory gave the Lakers a 5-1 record on the trip and snapped a five-game losing streak in Memphis. The Grizzlies dropped their third straight, their longest skid of the season.

Bryant, who also had eight rebounds, connected on 10 of 17 shots from the field and missed only two of 11 attempts in the second and third periods. Los Angeles's 73-52 lead after three allowed Bryant to rest comfortably on the bench in the fourth quarter.

Mavericks 102, Suns 96 -- Dirk Nowitzki scored 29 points and Jason Terry added 23, leading host Dallas in a game the Mavericks dominated but had to sweat it out at the end.

Meeting in Dallas for the first time since Steve Nash embarrassed Terry for the winning basket in their second-round playoff series, Terry outplayed the reigning MVP and former Mavs star this time. Terry made 10 of 22 shots with four assists. He had 7 points during an early 15-2 run that put Dallas ahead for good. Nash was 6 of 18 for 20 points with five assists.

Pistons 109, Kings 98 -- Chauncey Billups had 28 points and a career-high 19 assists, and Richard Hamilton scored 36 points to lead Detroit over Sacramento in Auburn Hills, Mich.

The Pistons improved to 16-3, tying the 1996-97 team for the best start in franchise history.

''We just had a great rhythm going," Billups said. ''Everyone was knocking down shots."

Hornets 102, Clippers 89 -- J.R. Smith scored 21 points and matched his career high with six 3-pointers as New Orleans held off a late charge to beat the Clippers in Oklahoma City.

Smith, who was coming off a season-high 26-point performance in the Hornets' last game, hit 6 of 10 from 3-point range to help New Orleans build an 89-70 lead in the fourth quarter.

Rockets 111, Warriors 105 -- In Oakland, Calif., rookie guard Luther Head hit a tying 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left in regulation, Yao Ming scored 4 of his 30 points in overtime, and Houston won for the fifth time in six games. Tracy McGrady overcame a terrible second half to score 23 points, and David Wesley added 19 in the Rockets' third straight win on a six-game road trip.

76ers 106, Hawks 101 -- Allen Iverson scored 39 points, Chris Webber had 29, and host Philadelphia held off another spirited effort from Atlanta. Samuel Dalembert had 11 rebounds and two blocked shots, helping the Atlantic Division-leading Sixers to their fourth straight victory as they moved over .500 for the first time since Nov. 29.

Bobcats 91, Nets 83 -- Brevin Knight scored a season-high 25 points and Charlotte snapped an eight-game losing streak with a win in East Rutherford, N.J. Jumaine Jones scored 15 points off the bench for Charlotte, which avoided tying the NBA's longest losing streak of the season set by Toronto and Atlanta.

Bulls 105, Raptors 94 -- Darius Songaila scored 18 points and visiting Chicago beat Toronto for the 10th straight time. ''At some point somebody in the locker room should say something to each other," coach Sam Mitchell said of the Raptors, who dropped to 1-10 at home and 4-18 overall.

Jazz 82, Trail Blazers 77 -- Andrei Kirilenko had 21 points, 16 rebounds, and 8 blocks to lead Utah in Salt Lake City.

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