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Rookie Howard chips in 18 points

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The Orlando Magic weren't going to grumble
about the quality of play after gaining a much-needed victory to
stay in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Orlando had a double-digit lead for most of the game and forced
23 turnovers, but the Magic still struggled to put away the Toronto
Raptors 108-96 Wednesday night.

Orlando turned those 23 miscues into 34 points, and that was
clearly the difference in a game in which neither side sustained
the momentum. Grant Hill led Orlando with 21 points, and rookie
Dwight Howard contributed 18 points and nine rebounds.

"At this point, we don't care who it is, we just got to hop on
teams early and that's what we did," said forward Pat Garrity, who
had 16 points off the bench for Orlando. "We're a little
short-handed right now, so to win convincingly at home should be a
good boost."

It was the second straight win for the Magic, who are trying to
revive their playoff chances. Both wins came against last-place
teams -- Toronto and Atlanta -- but after previously losing 10 of 11
games, none of the Magic players was complaining.

"We've lost quite a few games to teams with losing records this
season, so it's not like we can look down our noses at anybody,"
Hill said. "We need to start building momentum so winning and
winning at home is a good start."

"Considering the situation we're in, this was a good win,"
added guard Steve Francis, who had 16 points, nine assists and five
turnovers. "We're slowly starting to get it, but we don't want to
get in over our heads. We've got to take it one game at a time and
see what happens."

The Raptors clearly were disgusted by their performance. Though
they shot 49.3 percent, they kept stifling themselves with careless
ballhandling.

Rookie Chris Bosh had 16 points and 11 rebounds, but six
turnovers. Point guard Rafer Alston had 17 points, but only two
assists and four turnovers. Toronto cut what had been a 17-point
deficit to nine, 87-78, with 9:15 left in the game, but that was
the only time in the fourth quarter when the deficit was under 10
points.

"We are not playing to win," said forward Jalen Rose, the only
starter not to have a turnover. "We don't play together. We are
just out there playing because it's on the schedule. We need to
develop maturity and responsibility, a know-how, a willingness to
play to win instead of playing just to play."

Game notes
Magic rookie Jameer Nelson missed his first game of the
season with a rib injury. ... Nelson and Dwight Howard were the
only Magic players to play in every game. ... The Magic scored 129
points against the Raptors in December, their highest point total
since a Dec. 7, 2001 game against Atlanta. ... Raptors F Jalen Rose
is just 17-for-58 (29 percent) in his last four games.