Denton: Magic-Raptors Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
January 21, 2011

ORLANDO – At times in Friday’s one-sided, almost unfair third quarter, Orlando Magic star center Dwight Howard looked like the playground bully holding a little kid away by the head as he flailed away and hit absolutely nothing.

Time and time again, the bigger, stronger Howard would go up into the air and do as he pleased against the smaller, weaker Toronto Raptors. Anytime the Orlando Magic needed to pull away from Toronto, their big man would simply flex his considerable muscles and dominate the basketball game.

Howard finished with 31 points and 19 rebounds – of which 17 points and seven rebounds came in the third quarter – as the Magic rode the massive shoulders of their big man and breezed to a 112-72 rout of the Raptors.

``Coach (Stan Van Gundy) told us to go out and follow the word that I always say, which is `Dominate,’’’ said Howard, who made 12 of 21 shots, hit seven free throws and grabbed nine offensive boards.

How utterly dominant was Howard? Howard had as many points (31) and rebounds (19) as Toronto’s starting five had points (31) or rebounds (17). And that was without even playing in the fourth quarter as the Magic romped.

``Some of the young fellas over there for Toronto looked like they were scared of him,’’ Magic point guard Gilbert Arenas said with a chuckle.

``Some of the time – well, pretty much all of the time – it looks like he’s out there playing against high school kids,’’ Magic forward Ryan Anderson remarked. ``He’s just so much bigger, so much more athletic and so much more talented than a lot of the guys in this league. That was impressive, very impressive.’’

Anderson tied a career-high with 21 points, but 17 of those came in the fourth period after Howard had already broken the will of the Raptors (13-30). J.J. Redick chipped in 12 points, while power forward Brandon Bass scored 10 points and frustrated Toronto star center Andrea Bargnani, who missed 11 of his 14 shots and scored only 11 points.

The Magic won at home for the eighth straight time. The Magic are 17-5 at the new Amway Center this season. The Magic are winning by an average of 16.5 points a game at home. And the 40-point win wasn’t even the biggest home victory of the season. They beat Minnesota by 42 points at Amway Center back in November. The largest home win ever was by 46 points in 1995 against Philadelphia.

``It feels good to have one like this after having a lot of close games in a row,’’ said Van Gundy, whose Magic needed a last-minute four-point play and overtime to beat Philadelphia on Wednesday. ``Now, we have to go back on the road and do better than we did the last couple of games on the road.’’

The Magic headed deep into the heart of Texas after the game for a Saturday night showdown against the Houston Rockets. The Magic beat the Rockets 110-95 back on Jan. 7 in Orlando.

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from the Magic’s eighth straight home victory at Amway Center: