ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Jermaine Taylor enjoyed his breakout game in front of some of his closest pals. Dwight Howard slumped in his locker after this one, upset with his team’s effort.
Taylor had a career-high 21 points, Beno Udrih added 18 and the Sacramento Kings beat Orlando 111-105 on Wednesday night to snap a five-game losing streak against the Magic.
Samuel Dalembert and Jason Thompson had 17 points apiece for Sacramento, which won for just the third time in its last 11 games.
Dwight Howard had 31 points and 17 rebounds for Orlando. Hedo Turkoglu added 19 and Jameer Nelson 15.
Howard has said for weeks that the Magic have enough talent to win an NBA title, but this one left him dejected.
“We’ve been talking for a long time — all we seem to do is talk,” Howard said. “You guys know what the difference is. You watch the games. If guys don’t want to play, they need to sit down. We can’t just have guys or anybody out there not playing hard.
“We’re professional athletes. This is what we do for a living. If you can’t go out there and go hard for two hours, then you shouldn’t be playing.”
The Kings played their fourth straight game without starting shooting guard Tyreke Evans, who is recovering from plantar fasciitis in his left foot. But Sacramento got a very solid night from Taylor, who played his college ball at nearby Central Florida.
Taylor gave away 10 tickets to close friends and had at least a dozen more fans cheering loudly for him from a section near the Kings’ bench.
“It felt real good,” he said. “(Evans’ injury) is not something you want to see, but it’s the NBA. It happens. As long as I’m in the starting spot, I’m going to take advantage of it and go out there and have fun and play.”
Sacramento big man DeMarcus Cousins started off defending Howard, and struggled offensively for the second straight game. The rookie went 2 for 7 from the field and finished with nine points.
Orlando led 84-79 after three quarters but Sacramento put together a 12-6 surge to take a 91-90 lead with 8:35 left. It was back and forth from there as neither team could grab control of the game.
Howard made two free throws to tie it at 98 but Dalembert responded with consecutive baskets for the Kings. Udrih made a layup with 1:52 to play to make it 104-100 Sacramento.
The Magic pulled within two again on Nelson’s jumper before Thompson hit two free throws to make it 106-102 and Luther Head connected from the right wing made it a six-point lead with 20 seconds to play.
“That was an amazing win for us,” Sacramento coach Paul Westphal said.
Sacramento shot 52 percent from the field, compared to 44 percent for Orlando, and outrebounded the Magic 42-36. Orlando also went 8 for 28 from 3-point range and had 17 turnovers that led to 26 Sacramento points.
“Down the stretch it was just terrible,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “When we got the lead we had a couple of careless ones and it’s terrible.
“I’m not happy with anything other than Dwight right now. I’m not happy with anything.”
Van Gundy said earlier Wednesday that he would be surprised if the Magic made any deals before the trade deadline on Thursday. But with big tests next week against New York, Miami and Chicago, that possibly could change.
“We have a lot of talent, but talent won’t win you championships,” Howard said. “You get to the finals, both teams are very talented. That’s how they got to the finals. But hard work, commitment — every play, every night is what gets you the championship.
“We’re one of the most talented teams in the NBA. We’re a deep team, we have guys that can do a lot of different things, but if you don’t bring it, it’s a waste of talent.”
NOTES: Kings G/F Francisco Garcia missed his 17th straight game Wednesday with a strained left calf and is expected to be out one to two more weeks. … Taylor started his fourth straight game Wednesday in place of the injured Evans. … Evans’ foot was re-examined Monday in Los Angeles and he was fitted for a walking boot. He will be re-evaluated in three weeks.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)