OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)—Even after his latest feat made his nickname a little outdated, Dwight Howard doesn’t mind if people still call him “The Daily Double.”
“I wish he would have had one more rebound. It would have looked really even on the stat sheet—30, 20 and 10,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “You can’t dominate a game much more than that.”
Howard had a double-double and matched his previous career-best of seven blocks in the first half as Orlando raced to a 71-42 lead. He then scored the Magic’s first nine points after halftime to stretch the lead to 32.
After that, the only drama was whether Howard would get his 10th block.
Howard said he was getting updates from backup Marcin Gortat, and he could only smile when he was whistled for goaltending when he leaped to knock away Joe Smith’s shot in the third quarter for what would have been his 10th block. In the process, he lost track of the offensive play call at the other end of the court.
“I wanted that to be No. 10 because that was the most exciting block of the night. Even though it was a goaltend, I thought that was the most exciting one by far,” Howard said, struggling to speak after being elbowed in the throat earlier in the week.
He got the block he needed by cleanly swatting another of Smith’s shots with 6:49 left in the game.
“I’m going to try to do this again,” said Howard, who set a goal of leading the NBA in rebounds and blocks this season. “It felt good, trying to block every shot. And I know Coach is very happy.”
Howard had a highlight reel full of dunks—a two-hander off an offensive rebound, a right-handed jam off a pass from Hedo Turkoglu and another two-handed slam off an alley-oop from Anthony Johnson. He also pulled up when he was all alone on a fast break and gently laid the ball in with two hands.
It was a night when he did it all, and had fun doing it.
“I want people to see who I am and not just this mean-looking basketball player,” Howard said. “I love fun. I’ll block some shots and get some rebounds, but I’ll give you a smile and whatever else you want to see.”
Oklahoma City, playing without reigning rookie of the year Kevin Durant, got as close as 14 points in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. Durant was sidelined with a sore left ankle.
Mickael Pietrus and Jameer Nelson each had 17 points, Turkoglu scored 15 and Rashard Lewis added 13 for the Magic against the team he played nine seasons with before it relocated from Seattle. Nelson had a career-high 10 rebounds.
Nelson hit a wide-open 3-pointer and jumper to stake the Magic to the lead from the outset, and Orlando pulled away to a 39-19 lead with a 20-7 run to finish the first quarter. The lead stretched to 29 by halftime as the Magic shot 54 percent from the field and 3-point range and made all 13 of their free throws.
There were some bright spots for Oklahoma City in the second half, but not enough that coach P.J. Carlesimo was looking for a silver lining.
“It’s not fair … if I talk about some guys like they did something good. That implies I’m throwing the other guys under the bus,” Carlesimo said. “We’re all under the bus tonight.”
Howard, who led the NBA last season with 69 double-doubles, came into the game leading the league with averages of 14.4 rebounds and 3.6 blocks and figured to extend those leads after following his 227 career double-doubles with his first triple.
“I think you have to give our perimeter players a lot of credit to get beat off the dribble that many times to allow him to get 10 blocks,” Van Gundy joked. “I think that they definitely did their part in that. They were very, very helpful, so I think he owes part of it to them.”
On his 20th birthday, Westbrook went 0-for-11 from the field in the first half before making his first shot of the second half. He finished 3-for-19. … Carlesimo was called for a technical foul with 5:41 left in the third quarter after Green took a hard tumble in the lane but no foul was called against the Magic. … Orlando has won the last six games against the Oklahoma City/Seattle franchise. … Oklahoma City rookies Kyle Weaver and Steven Hill both scored the first points of their NBA careers in the final minutes.