<
>

Pietrus scores 27 in return as Magic bury Pacers with 135 points

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Mickael Pietrus came back from his broken wrist as good as new.

He had 27 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Orlando Magic to a 135-111 victory Tuesday night over the Indiana Pacers.

Pietrus, who missed the previous 12 games with a broken right wrist, came off the bench to lead a well-balanced Magic attack. Eight players reached double figures scoring, including Rashard Lewis with 24 points and Dwight Howard with 22.

"They are the best team in the East," Indiana's Danny Granger said. "Two words -- Dwight Howard -- explain it. He is the most dominant player since Shaquille O'Neal -- hands down."

The Magic used the return of Pietrus to strengthen their inside-outside attack that revolves around Howard and involves plenty of shooters on the perimeter. They reached their second-highest point total this season.

"I still have my shot. That didn't go anywhere," Pietrus said. "I didn't leave it at home. I came back aggressive and with plenty of energy. I was rested and ready to come back."

The Magic, who never trailed, snapped a two-game losing streak.

T.J. Ford, had 23 points for the Pacers and Granger, who came into the game averaging 26.1 points, had only 10.

The Magic hit 45 of 82 shots (54.9 percent) and 15 of 33 from 3-point range. It was the most 3-pointers against the Pacers this season.

With Howard dominating around the basket, the Magic held a 50-29 rebound advantage. The Pacers, who came into the game ranked 28th in defense, offered little resistance defensively.

"They've got the whole package," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "They have Howard in the middle and they are so long at the 3-point line."

Game notes
Pietrus had missed 22 of the last 27 games because of right thumb and right wrist injuries. Rookie Courtney Lee remained the starter at shooting guard. ... The Pacers have lost nine of 14 games that have been decided by 3 points or less.