Magic fall to Rockets in Dwight’s return

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Jose Luis Villegas / Sacramento Bee / MCT

Arron Afflalo had 18 points in the Magic's lose to the Rockets on Wednesday night.

Former Magic center Dwight Howard returned to Orlando for the second time since being traded on Wednesday night, and again left town with a win.

Howard, James Harden and Chandler Parsons led the Houston Rockets to their 42nd win of year after beating the Magic 101-89 in front of 16,012 at the Amway Center.

Harden paced the Rockets with 31 points, while Howard and Parsons each scored 19.

The Magic started off the game strong by outscoring the Rockets 32-19 as the team benefited from 61 percent shooting and 10 points off of seven Rockets turnovers.

“I think we came out hoping that we’d play well and have a 15 point lead after the first quarter,” said Rockets head coach Kevin McHale. “They came out real aggressive, played very well and got into us. They were shooting 70 percent there for a while in the first quarter.”

The Rockets outscored the Magic 82-57 the rest of the game, including a 34-17 advantage in the third quarter. Howard scored 11 of his 19 points in the third quarter, helping the Rockets run away with the game.

The Magic kept the game close despite missing starters Victor Oladipo and Jameer Nelson, but welcomed the return of Arron Afflalo, who missed five games due to an ankle injury.

Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn was encouraged by the team’s decision making without Oladipo and Nelson.

“Our approach was really good,” said Vaughn. “We were attacking the second side of pick and rolls, getting the balls to our bigs and they were making decisions for us. We just kept things extremely simple, which was good.”

The Magic honored Howard with a video tribute in between the first and second quarters, which Howard appreciated.

“I thought we had some great times here in Orlando,” said Howard. “I will never forget them. It was good to see some of those plays.”