Grant Hill heads to the All-Star Game this weekend with a feeling he hasn't had in five years. He's playing -- and he's playing well.
Hill, who will start in Sunday's game in Denver after missing most of the last four seasons with an ankle injury, scored a season-high 39 points to help the Orlando Magic to a 99-94 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers last night.
It was the Magic's third win in four games, while Los Angeles has lost six straight.
It was Hill's highest points total since he scored 40 for Detroit on Jan. 8, 2000, against Minnesota. Hill hit 12 of 16 shots and 15 of 16 free throws while playing a season-high 42 minutes.
"I don't expect to do that all the time anymore, but it's nice to know I can still do it once in a while," Hill said. "I really felt like, for the first time, I could do what I want out there, and it's obviously been a long, long time since that happened."
As good as Hill was for the first 47 minutes, the Magic turned to Steve Francis when it had to close out the game.
Clippers guard Bobby Simmons, who had 20 points, made two free throws to cut what had been a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter to 91-89 with 59 seconds left.
Francis then made back-to-back jumpers, the second with 17 seconds remaining to give Orlando a 95-90 lead. Francis finished with 16 points and seven assists in just 29 minutes.
TIMBERWOLVES 82, NETS 71: Kevin McHale earned his first coaching victory as Michael Olowokandi had 17 points and 12 rebounds in Minneapolis. Vince Carter had 25 of his 32 points in the first half for the Nets.
LAKERS 102, JAZZ 95: Kobe Bryant scored 40 points in his second game back from an ankle injury, leading Los Angeles at home.
Utah was missing its top two scorers, Carlos Boozer (17.8 points per game) and Andrei Kirilenko (14.6). Both were sidelined by sprained right ankles.
BULLS 107, KINGS 102: Rookie Ben Gordon scored 11 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter to lead Chicago at home. The Bulls snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Kings, beating them for the first time since Feb. 28, 1998.
Eddy Curry scored 25 points and had 12 rebounds for Chicago, which handed the Kings a rare Eastern Conference loss. They are 15-3 against East teams.
MAVERICKS 114, WARRIORS 107: Dirk Nowitzki had 35 points and 11 rebounds, and Michael Finley scored 24 points as visiting Dallas beat Golden State for the 22nd time in their last 24 meetings.
NUGGETS 100, HAWKS 96: Carmelo Anthony's jumper with nine-tenths of a second to play gave Denver its first win in Atlanta since 1988. Anthony led the Nuggets with 22 points as Denver ended a 14-game losing streak in Atlanta.