Savage from the Sideline: Magic Fans Get Their Wish

By Dan Savage
December 29, 2011

ORLANDO -- If you took a stroll through Orlando’s locker room prior to its game against New Jersey, Thursday’s matchup would have appeared like any other contest.

Dwight Howard blasted music on his headsets, singing a number of the lyrics, while DeAndre Liggins spent extra time watching film, even though he would spend the night on the inactive list.

It was business as usual.

However, walking through the Amway Center stands told a much different story. Outside of the outcome, the Magic faithful were primarily concerned with the box scores of two players: Howard and Deron Williams.

Perhaps they thought a Magic win, coupled with a big performance from D12 and a poor outing from Williams, would sway Orlando’s superstar center from desiring a trade to New Jersey. Maybe, they thought it would influence Williams to want to play here. In all likelihood, it was probably some combination of both.

Whatever the case, Magic fans got their wish.

Orlando throttled New Jersey, 94-78. Howard erupted for his best showing of the season. And Williams stunk up the joint.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Williams after his 2-for-12 shooting performance from the field. “I am not playing well right now and the team is not playing too well right now.”

Could you spit that line again D-Will? That’s music to Magic fans’ ears.

Howard, on the other hand, was dominant. Orlando’s Superman exploded for 16 points and 24 rebounds, while also notching three blocks, three steals and three assists. Does that statline sound engaged enough for you?

“He played huge tonight,” Magic shooting guard Jason Richardson explained. “He controlled the boards and did a great job of just being there on the defensive end.”

Perhaps, even better than his statistics was the fact that Howard played unselfish basketball and made the game extremely easy for his teammates.

“Every time they came down, he was willing to make the pass out,” Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy said. “That’s great; that promotes everybody else playing unselfishly and created a lot of good shots.”

That certainly doesn’t sound like a guy who has checked out. And that’s why the Magic are still contenders in the East and still believing they can keep Superman in this Metropolis.

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