Dwight Howard endured the worst reception of his NBA career Tuesday night, then turned in probably his best performance of the season.
Howard scored 39 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and was sent to the free throw line 39 times by his former team as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Orlando Magic 106-97.
The victory came in Howard's first return to Orlando since his drama-filled offseason trade to the Lakers. He endured a chorus of boos throughout, and tied his own NBA record for free throw attempts.
The majority of them came as the Magic tried to employ an intentional foul strategy. It backfired as the All-Star center hit on 16 of 20 attempts in the second half, helping the Lakers win their fourth straight.
"I wasn't nervous tonight. I was looking forward to playing here," Howard said. "It was a hostile environment, but I think that was something that was good for me. For my progress as a player, I think I needed that tonight."
Homemade signs jeering Howard with sentiments that said everything from "Coward" to "Kobe's Kid" were sprinkled throughout the Amway Center stands.
Boos rained down on Howard almost every time he touched the basketball. They were followed by louder cheers when he missed a free throw.
Howard, who entered the game shooting 47.8 percent from the line, made 9 of 19 in the first half.
"I think it was something I needed, to come back, and I think it was something that the city needed, too," he said. "It's closure. We can all move on. We had eight great years. People are going to feel the way they feel. I totally understand that."
Heat 98, Hawks 81: Dwyane Wade scored 23 points, and host Miami beat Atlanta to extend its winning streak to 19 games.
The Heat matched the fifth-longest streak in NBA history. Only three teams have won at least 20 consecutive games in the same season: the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers (33), the 2007-08 Houston Rockets (22) and the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks (20).
"They are still a machine," Hawks coach Larry Drew said of the Heat.
Grizzlies 102, Blazers 97: Zach Randolph returned from an ankle injury with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Memphis won its fifth straight, beating host Portland.
Timberwolves 107, Spurs 83: Ricky Rubio had his first triple-double with 21 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, leading host Minnesota over San Antonio.
The Spurs were without Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard, who stayed home to rest after Monday's win over Oklahoma City.
Bobcats 100, Celtics 74: Gerald Henderson had a career-high 35 points, and host Charlotte snapped a 10-game losing streak with a win over Boston.
The Celtics were without Paul Pierce, who was given a night of rest.
Nets 108, Hornets 98: Brook Lopez scored 26 points and had a big dunk over twin brother Robin, Deron Williams added 21 points and 13 assists, and host Brooklyn beat New Orleans.
Robin Lopez had 15 points for the Hornets, who played without leading scorer Ryan Anderson because of the flu.
Mavericks 115, Bucks 108: Vince Carter hit three key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and scored 23 points off the bench as Dallas won its fourth straight, beating host Milwaukee. Monta Ellis scored 32 points for the Bucks.
Cavaliers 95, Wizards 90: Dion Waiters scored 20 points, and host Cleveland held off Washington in its first game since Kyrie Irving suffered what could be a season-ending shoulder injury.
John Wall had 27 points and 14 assists for the Wizards, who fell to a league-worst 5-25 on the road.