Judging by his recent home performances against the New Jersey Nets, the star center could make another case for himself Friday night.
Feeling that most Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose(notes) was gaining national momentum as the league’s best player, Van Gundy stated his reasons why Howard should receive more consideration before Wednesday’s 111-99 win at New York.
“To me with his rebounding, his scoring and his defense, I just don’t think there’s anybody that impacts as many possessions in a game as Dwight does,” Van Gundy said.
Howard helped back up his coach’s words with 33 points on 11-of-15 shooting, 11 rebounds and three blocks. He also helped limit Knicks star Amare Stoudemire(notes) to a 6-of-20 performance from the floor.
“We just started pounding the ball inside, playing inside-out,” Howard said. “If they doubled, I tried to make the right pass out. I tried to be very patient down there. Defensively, we did a pretty good job of not fouling and sending them to the line.”
The performance helped Orlando (46-26) move a season-high 20 games above .500 and extend its win streak to four. The Magic could add to that run if Howard’s recent home games against the Nets are an indication.
The center has averaged 28.0 points - on 63.6 percent shooting - and 14.8 rebounds in the past four matchups in Orlando. He had 30 points and 16 boards during a 105-90 victory Nov. 5.
Howard was held under 20 points in two subsequent games in New Jersey, but Orlando extended its win streak in the series to six. The Magic have won five in a row at home and also 10 of 11 overall versus the Nets (23-47).
New Jersey enters this game after snapping a four-game skid and barely earning its fifth road win this season.
“To me, it’s never been an individual thing,” Humphries said. “It’s all about playing hard, rebounding, running the floor and playing the right way. Whatever comes from that is nice. It feels good to get 20 rebounds, but we want to try and win games.”
To win on the road against the Magic, the Nets could use a better performance from leading scorer Brook Lopez(notes). The center has averaged 10.3 points on 34.0 percent shooting in his four career trips to Orlando.
Lopez, though, averaged 21.5 points on 53.1 percent shooting in his past two overall matchups with the Magic.