ORLANDO, Fla. - The Orlando Magic are looking to fill one spot in their starting lineup, at shooting guard. Monday night they watched the guy they let go help beat them.
Maurice Evans, who left as a free agent last summer, scored 17 and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Orlando Magic 118-101 in the preseason opener for both teams.
"(The Magic) didn't make any attempt to re-sign me," Evans said. "I really thought we had something special there so I was disappointed."
Evans, with the help of fellow reserve Acie Law, keyed a 45-point third quarter for the Hawks. The pair combined for 20 points in that span as the Hawks turned a 51-49 halftime deficit into a 94-81 lead.
Rashard Lewis led Orlando with 22 points. Olympian Dwight Howard had 17 points, five rebounds and eight blocks. The block total matches Howard's regular-season best.
Evans averaged 9.3 points in 68 games for the Magic last season, but the team opted instead to sign free agent Mickael Pietrus. Pietrus scored nine points in 25 minutes. Evans has seemingly found a spot in the Hawks' rotation.
"I sat down with Mo earlier in the week, and when we started camp, and kind of spelled out some things that I would like him to do," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "And I thought tonight he came out and did exactly what we talked about."
Howard arrived in camp vowing to lead the league in rebounding - which he did last year by more than a board a game - and blocked shots. He had six blocks in the first half alone.
"He got a lot of opportunities because of our inability to guard the ball off the dribble," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "If he has to do that all the time, it will have an effect on his rebounding."
Though Howard didn't make any public proclamations about his free throw shooting, after making only 59 percent last year, he hit five of six tries Monday.
J.J. Redick, the former Duke star who has yet to crack the rotation, scored six of his 12 points in the first quarter.
Magic forward Tony Battie, making a comeback from a shoulder injury that cost him all of last season, grabbed seven rebounds but missed his first four shots and finished with six points on 2-of-8 shooting.
The Hawks, who made the playoffs as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference despite a 37-45 record, took eventual NBA champion Boston to seven games before falling in the first round. With a healthy Mike Bibby at point guard, Atlanta hopes to have the pieces to complement forward Marvin Williams and Josh Smith and shooting guard Joe Johnson.
"We're moving in the right direction," Johnson said. "We've got to build on what we did in the playoffs. ... We've got to stay hungry."
Bibby, who joined the team midway through last season, finally appears healthy after battling thumb and heel injuries in 2006-07. He had 11 points and four assists in 21 minutes.
Note: Hawks guard Speedy Claxton did not play because of a hamstring pull.