Howard scores 32 to lead Magic over Wizards 101-76By KYLE HIGHTOWER, Associated Press Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)—Three days removed from a big win over the Los Angeles Lakers, it would have been understandable if the Orlando Magic’s guard was down a bit against the lowly Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.
The Wizards had no such luck.
The Magic won their second straight game and head into the All-Star break winners of four of their last five. They are 10-1 in their last 11 games against teams with records below .500.
“We got (Dwight) the ball tonight,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I’m consciously trying to after timeouts make sure we’re running stuff for him (and) I really didn’t do that tonight. He’s just been so effective.”
John Wall(notes) scored 27 points and Andray Blatche(notes) had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Wizards, who showed very little of the spark they used this past Sunday to break a 25-game road losing streak against Cleveland. They have now lost six of their last seven games and haven’t won two consecutive since mid-January.
Orlando blew the game open with a 20-4 run to start the third quarter that gave it a 68-43 lead at the 7:07 mark. Howard had 15 points in the period, including several uncontested dunks and layups as the Wizards fell into a familiar routine of poor shot selection and lackluster defense.
“We had to get ourselves going,” Magic guard Jameer Nelson(notes) said. “I mean, human nature kicked in a little bit. Guys knew it was All-Star break. That’s no excuse for it…We were able to get it going and come out with a victory the last three quarter we played.”
Over a 17-minute stretch from the 6:30 mark of the second quarter until 1:34 remained in the third, the Magic outscored the Wizards 50-20.
“We were outmanned,” Wizards coach Flip Saunders said. “Not having Nick hurt a lot. I thought we played really hard the first half, but couldn’t make a shot. It was one of those things, the harder we tried the harder we fell. It was like being in quicksand.”
When the Wizards don’t make shots, they usually find themselves in deep holes very quickly. That pattern rang true against the Magic, who hassled Orlando into 29-of-83 shooting from the field (34 percent). They also had 15 turnovers that led to 19 Orlando points.
“We reverted back to our old selves,” Blatche said. “(The) ‘I’m going to be the guy who’s going to get us over the hump’ instead of “we.”
The Magic led 48-39 at the half, outscoring the Wizards 31-21 in the second quarter.
Howard was 6 for 8 from the floor and finished with a team-high 17 points in the opening 24 minutes. He got support from Anderson, who finished with 10 points, including a pair of 3’s.
Wall led all scorers with 19 points at the half, but had just one assist. The Wizards had only three assists as a team, but outrebounded the Magic 28-23 and outscored them 22-18 in the paint.
But the Magic erased advantages in the second half, holding a 44-40 edge for the night in scoring in the paint and evening up the rebounds at 47-47.
Both teams combined to shoot 15 for 49 from the field in a sloppy first quarter that ended with Washington leading 18-17.
Wall easily slipped by the Magic’s perimeter defense on his way to 13 points, including scoring the Wizards’ last six of the quarter.
Three of the Wizards’ post players (JaVale McGee(notes), Hilton Armstrong(notes) and Kevin Seraphin(notes)) combined for five fouls on Howard in less than 7 minutes of action. But Howard picked up his second whistle of the night with 5:11 to play, when he was called for a questionable offensive foul for knocking over Wall.
It was all for nothing, though, as the Wizards failed to capitalize.
Magic guard Gilbert Arenas(notes) said that several players, including himself, plan to stay in Orlando during the break and get in a few workouts. He said that kind of commitment is the only thing that will give Orlando a chance to make headway in its final 25 games.
“If you’re going to be a dominant team, you have go out and dominate teams,” he said. “…We can’t start after the All-Star break like we finished the last 15 games (were 9-6).”
Notes: Howard posted his 45th double-double of the season. … Washington F Al Thornton(notes) left the game in the second quarter after re-injuring a dislocated right middle figure. … Wizards F Josh Howard(notes) played his second consecutive game after missing the previous 19 with a left knee injury.