Denton: Magic-Wizards Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
February 16, 2011

ORLANDO – At the conclusion of Tuesday’s Orlando Magic practice, head coach Stan Van Gundy gathered his team around him and issued a cryptic question that also doubled as a stern challenge.

``Are we a team that can do it night after night or was that just a one-night thing?’’ Van Gundy asked his squad, referring to the Magic’s thrilling throttling of the Los Angeles Lakers last Sunday.

The Magic, led of course by the continued excellence of superstar center Dwight Howard, answered that question in resounding fashion on Wednesday night, thumping the hapless Washington Wizards 101-76 at Amway Center.

Howard, the Eastern Conference’s reigning Player of the Week, gashed the Wizards inside with 32 points and 10 rebounds in just three quarters of work. He made 12 of 15 shots – most of them with ease – meaning he made 25 of 31 shots in the Magic’s last two victories against the Lakers and Wizards.

``Our effort and intensity has to be the same way from game to game and it has to be consistent because that’s the only we can win a championship,’’ Howard said. ``The last two games have been OK as far as the effort, but we have to continue it.’’

Jason Richardson scored 16 points and hit three 3-pointers, while Brandon Bass had 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in his first start since injuring his ankle almost three weeks ago. Ryan Anderson chipped in 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench for the Magic (36-21), who woke up after a slow start in the first quarter to throttle Washington (15-39). The Wizards were without starters Rashard Lewis, who was cheered in his return to Orlando, and Nick Young, but got 27 points from rookie point guard John Wall.

``When you’re supposed to be a dominant team like we are, you are supposed to go out and dominate teams. And that’s what we did,’’ said Gilbert Arenas, who had six assists against his former team. ``Good or bad teams, have to play like that the rest of the way.’’

The Magic will take the next four days off for the NBA All-Star break and will return to practice on Monday. Howard, the Magic’s lone participant in the all-star festivities, likely won’t practice that day after getting back into Central Florida from Los Angeles near sunrise. Orlando doesn’t play again until Wednesday when it hosts the Sacramento Kings. Orlando then hosts Oklahoma City (Friday) and Charlotte (Sunday).

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Wednesday’s finale before the NBA All-Star break: