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Three Points

December 03, 2006|PAUL NETTER

BLOOMING IN ORLANDO

Led by third-year sensation Dwight Howard and proving that its 16-6 finish last season was no fluke, the Orlando Magic won its 13th game Friday, a total it didn't reach last season until Jan. 7.

The Magic has done it with defense, limiting opponents to league-low 42.3% shooting and a second-in-the-league 91.9 points a game. It's a good thing too, because it also leads the NBA in turnovers at 18 a game.

General Manager Otis Smith is excited, saying, "Where we are now is not where we're going to be two years from now, three years from now."

A NUDGE IN MIAMI

Miami Coach Pat Riley, whose Heat is 5-7 without injured Shaquille O'Neal this season after going 10-13 without him last year, has some familiar wishes for the center who has sat out an average of 15.6 games a season over the last five.

"I hope his thought process is that he tries to almost reinvent himself physically," Riley said. "He has to come back a lot lighter, a lot leaner. Those kinds of things are really important now."

HUGE TURNAROUND

Dallas has thrived during its winning streak that reached 12 games Friday.

In starting 0-4, the Mavericks averaged 95 points and 44.7% shooting while giving up 105.2 points and 50.9% shooting.

In its next 12 games, however, Dallas averaged 103 points and 47.3% shooting while giving up 91.5 points and 44.7% shooting.

Notably, Dallas was holding opponents to 28.7% three-point shooting during the streak.

-- PAUL NETTER

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