Dwight Howard was hacked, scraped, scratched, pushed and punished by the Indiana Pacers, emerging in the locker room with a wrap around his left knee and a few blemishes on his broad shoulders.

So maybe he hurts after all.

Fired up by all the physical play, Howard overcame a slow start to finish with 21 points and 23 rebounds, powering the Orlando Magic past the visiting Pacers, 106-98, last night.

"I don't enjoy it," Howard said. "But I just have to remain patient, remain calm and try not to get frustrated."

Howard endured hard-hitting fouls and a Pacers team determined not to let him dunk. He went 4-for-9 from the field, still struggled with free throws but helped Orlando snap its two-game losing skid with some physical play in the paint.

He was hit so much that Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was critical of the officials, again saying Howard is not getting the same calls as perimeter players such as Cleveland's LeBron James and Los Angeles' Kobe Bryant.

"If you're going to continue to hit him around the head and grab him around the neck, look I don't care, those are flagrant fouls," Van Gundy said. "I don't care who you are, you're only going to take that for so long. It's absurd what's going on."

The Magic center had some help with 28 points from Vince Carter, who missed the past 2 days of practice because of a stomach ailment, sore right knee and slight hip discomfort.

But Carter sympathized most for Howard. "It's a scary feeling when somebody grabs your head and neck like that," Carter said. "I just hope it stops before somebody gets hit."

Mike Dunleavy had 26 points, and Troy Murphy added 14 points after frustrating Howard early for Indiana, which had its two-game winning streak end.

The Pacers tried to not let Howard get loose, quickly fouling him on catches in the paint.

That strategy was highlighted when Howard and Murphy got tangled up in the third quarter after the Magic center was hacked on the neck shooting a layup. Howard pushed his right arm out after the play to create separation, the two exchanged stares and were each called for a technical foul.

But Indiana's formula nearly worked. Howard was just 13-for-22 shooting free throws.

In other games:

* At Salt Lake City, Jonny Flynn drove for the go-ahead layup with 3 seconds left and the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Utah Jazz for the second time this season, 110-108.

* At Denver, Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points - his fourth straight game with at least 30 - and the Nuggets extended their run of success against Oklahoma City with a 102-93 victory.

* At Memphis, Paul Pierce scored 19 points, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo added 18 apiece and the Boston Celtics won their 11th straight game, beating the Grizzlies, 110-105.

* At Dallas, J.J. Barea scored a season-high 23 points and Dirk Nowitzki scored four of his season-low 10 in the final 59 seconds, sending the Mavericks to a 94-90 win over New Orleans. Barea scored 19 points in the first half, helping Dallas build an early 21-point lead. Then coach Jeff Bower benched all his starters except Chris Paul, who had 20 points and 16 assists, and the Hornets got aggressive in a failed comeback attempt.


* Houston forward Trevor Ariza received a one-game suspension after he was ejected from a game in Toronto for throwing a forearm at Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan. Ariza will sit out tonight's game against Detroit.

* Former Hornets coach Byron Scott is rejoining ESPN as an NBA analyst. Scott was fired last month after more than five seasons in New Orleans.