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Dwight Howard donned a pair of black-framed (fake) glasses with a Superman logo on the side.

If they were rose-colored, you couldn't have blamed the Orlando Magic all-star center.

"We want to win a championship," he said after the Magic stunningly demolished the Atlanta Hawks 121-87 on Friday night at Amway Arena, Orlando's 11th consecutive home victory. "We know anything is possible."

The way the Magic are playing, who can pooh-pooh such a belief?

The Magic might have sent a message to the Hawks, blasting them early to lead by as many as 50 points as they warmed up for their toughest road trip of the season, beginning Sunday in San Antonio.

But the Magic are trying to make a much bigger statement to the Eastern Conference and the entire league with a 29-8 record.

While they were beating the rising Hawks (22-13) for the second time in three days -- continuing to avenge a season-opening loss to them -- the Cleveland Cavaliers faced the Boston Celtics in a meeting of the East's ballyhooed elite.

The Cavs' 98-83 win against the Celtics (29-9) meant the Magic moved a half-game ahead of Boston for the second-best record in the conference. Cleveland leads the East at 29-6.

"It does feel special. We continue to win, we'll be right there with them," forward Rashard Lewis said. "We'll be right in the picture with both of them."

The Magic placed all five starters in double figures against Atlanta, led by Hedo Turkoglu's 21 points and 5-of-5 from 3-point land. Dwight Howard had 16 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in just 27 minutes.

Rookie Courtney Lee added 11 points and J.J. Redick scored 15, making 4-of-5 3-pointers on a dizzying night when Orlando hit 16-of-28 3s. Marcin Gortat added 12 rebounds and eight points.

The Magic have the best road record in the league (13-5) and they perhaps have finally established a true homecourt advantage.

They are 16-3 at Amway -- after going 9-10 after 19 home games last season. "We're a better team, a more complete team than last year, but having a homecourt advantage plays a big role come playoff time," Lewis said.

If the Hawks had fancied themselves as a threat in the division to the Magic, they didn't build a case this past week, falling to six games behind the Magic in the Southeast Division.

They fell even harder after tipoff Friday night, buried under a barrage of baskets by the Magic, who ran out to a 22-4 lead with a 14-0 run, making 11 of their first 12 shots.

Orlando shot 70.6 percent in the first quarter (12-of-17), cooled off to 52.2 percent (12-of-23) in the second, but took away all the suspense by leading 71-33 at halftime.

The 71 points tied a season-high the club recorded in a first half Nov. 12 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The franchise record for most points in a half is 74, set twice (against Atlanta in 2008 and Milwaukee in 1995).

Howard was pushed in the back in the third by Solomon Jones, who drew a Flagrant 1 penalty. He made both free throws for a 50-point lead at 101-51.

The Magic head out West to face three division leaders -- San Antonio, the Lakers and Denver. They are trying to join the East's big boys but are often overlooked beneath the glare of the defending champion Celtics and the LeBron James-hyped Cavs.

"In this league, in the regular season, it's all about your record. We're 29-8," Coach Stan Van Gundy said. "If you don't think we're that good, fine. It doesn't matter to me."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: January 12, 2009


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