Note: since there is no basketball, and we were supposed to have games, we will imagine there were games. With the help of AccuScore, Strat-o-Matic and Basketball Prospectus, we can imagine an NBA season even if there is not one actually going on. So with that, we begin to imagine the 2011-12 season.
Even when Dwight Howard is on the floor, maybe things won't go over swimmingly. Howard stayed out of foul trouble and logged 41 minutes, but an inspired Miami team did enough to outpace Orlando on Thursday night.
LeBron James scored 40 points and helped lead Miami to a 46-17 closing kick beginning in the third quarter to help Miami record its first win and pick up a 118-84 win. The Magic scored only 12 points in the fourth quarter as the starters were unable to match the swarming Heat defensive attack.
Ryan Anderson added 18 points off the bench to keep the Magic afloat, but nobody else could crack Miami. Howard had only 16 points to go with his 12 rebounds. He shot 5 for 13 from the floor as the Heat found their answer for him.
The real question is whether Orlando would ever defeat Miami without making 3-pointers. The Magic certainly did not in this game with a 32 percent 3-point shooting effort for the Heat. Not a good sign for Orlando.
But, hey, remember the Magic went 0-2 in 2009 before going to the NBA Finals. Just saying...
AccuScore did not help Orlando's cause either. Dwyane Wade turned in an MVP performance with 47 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals in the 111-97 Miami win. Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson combined for 47 points but only Brandon Bass could reach double figures aside from those two. Not a good sign for a team that is having some offensive struggles in two early (simulated) games.
Rosters Set for Dwight's All-Star Game
So let us move on to some actual news now that we have taken care of the fake game.
Dwight Howard released the full set of players who will be at his All-Star exhibition game next Sunday at UCF Arena. The headliner (aside from Dwight): Penny Hardaway.
Yes, Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway will be back in Orlando to play basketball. Many Magic fans are very excited about this prospect. We have not really seen Hardaway and a basketball together for a while now. It will be nice to see him back in Orlando playing again.
Hardaway headlines the group of former Magic players who are showing up for this thing. Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Steve Francis, Drew Gooden, Trevor Ariza, Carlos Arroyo, Matt Barnes and DeShawn Stevenson will also be there.
As for the current Magic? Howard will play, of course. So too will Jameer Nelson, Gilbert Arenas, Brandon Bass, Earl Clark, Jason Richardson, Ryan Anderson, Quentin Richardson, Daniel Orton and Chris Duhon. That means only J.J. Redick, Hedo Turkoglu, Malik Allen and rookies DeAndre Liggins and Justin Harper will be the only Magic players not to play in Howard's exhibition game.
It appears we will get something of an early look at the Magic if Howard does go with his proposed old Magic vs. New Magic format. I am sure everyone will want to see Gilbert Arenas, as I have previously stated his development is probably the biggest key to the Magic's season.
Several former and current Magic players took on the Rollins Tars in an informal pick-up game yesterday. They lost, but Josh Robbins of the Orlando Snetinel reports they were not trying so hard. Howard coached the team of Marcin Gortat, J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson, Courtney Lee and Jason Williams in this 40-minute scrimmage. So guys are playing... just not hard yet.
That goes both for the simulated games and the "real" games right now.
Man, we need basketball.