Two fans sitting behind David Steele and Matt Guokas exercised their fan rights to scream a little too liberally, sending a piercing shrill through the broadcast air waves. It was Dwight Howard shocking the Wizards and turning this one into a laugher where I can lead with fan complaints about screaming fans over the broadcast (it was really, really loud and annoying and stopped in the third quarter after a security guard talked to them).
Howard scored 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in three quarters of work, absolutely dominating the paint. Once the Magic's shots started falling in the second quarter, the Wizards had no answer without Nick Young and Rashard Lewis in the lineup. Orlando swept the season series with a 101-76 victory at Amway Center on Wednesday.
This game started and ended with Dwight Howard. You could just see it from how differently the team played with him in and out of the game. Howard posted a +25 plus/minus. Coincidentally, the Magic won the game by 25 points.
He scored the first five points of the game and got JaVale McGee to pick up two quick fouls and seemed to be going through defenders pretty quickly. Howard was into this game pretty early, continuing his torrid stretch of play and strong play against the Wizards. Howard scored 17 in the first half and was instrumental in Orlando pulling away.
Things were not easy early on. John Wall was pushing the pace and scoring on the fast break, where he is most lethal. He definitely was picking up the slack for Nick Young and Rashard Lewis' absence. He scored 19 in the first half alone and finished with 27 points, but just one assist.
And Wall's energy and speed caught the Magic a little flat-footed. Orlando came out a little flat, perhaps looking forward to the oncoming NBA All-Star Break. They gave up five quick points to Wall and the Wizards kept things very close as both teams slogged through the first quarter shooting below 30 percent.
But after picking up two fouls in the first quarter, Howard checked back in to start the second quarter and it was all Magic from there. Washington had absolutely no answer for Howard. And once the Magic started hitting their shots, it was game over with the Wizards unable to generate much offense in the half court. In the end, that is probably how everyone expected this game going.
Orlando scored 63 points in the second and third quarters and ended up shooting 45.2 percent for the game. Pretty solid considering Orlando started the game shooting in the low 30 percents. The Magic continued to play pretty good defense, holding the Wizards to 34.9 percent shooting. Washington posted an 82.6 offensive efficiency tonight.
Orlando had things flowing tonight. Eventually the shots would fall and eventually it was too much for Washington.
Howard obviously had a big part in that. The other big part in that was the patience Orlando displayed in its offense. Matt Guokas complained on the broadcast the team was struggling to find the balance between shooting too quickly and waiting too long and having to rush a shot. It was a problem early as the Wizards were able to keep their hands active and block shots and tip passes. It took a while for the Magic to adjust.
They did. The Magic had 22 assists on their 38 field goals including six from Gilbert Arenas off the bench. Orlando was as patient on offense as it has been in a while and it led to easy baskets and better looks from 3-point range. Orlando was more willing to attack and move the ball and that is when this team is most dangerous.
Stan Van Gundy said there is not a whole lot to take out of the game considering how bad Washington is. The Wizards are not the Lakers. But Orlando heads into the break on a bit of a high. Hopefully the momentum is carried over through the weekend.