Denton: Magic-Bobcats Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
April 1, 2011

ORLANDO – By the end of this season, Orlando Magic superstar Dwight Howard will likely log far more minutes than he ever has in his career. And he came into Friday night’s game against Charlotte having played well in excess of 40 minutes in 11 of the past 13 games.

After a night where he battered the Bobcats for 26 points, 14 rebounds and two blocked shots without committing a foul in 38 minutes of the Magic’s ho-hum 89-77 victory, Howard finally revealed his secret to being able to shoulder such a taxing workload all season.

``Fifty-cent hunny buns from Walgreens,’’ said Howard, who is usually a connoisseur of such top restaurants such as McDonald’s and Steak ‘N Shake. ``Hunny buns tend to refuel my body, so I always have to keep my hunny buns on deck.’’

Howard actually caught a break Friday night as he got 10 minutes of rest during the game as the Magic (48-28) grabbed an early lead and was never really threatened by the short-handed Bobcats (32-43). Orlando didn’t get a great game from many players, but it could still count on its Most Valuable Player candidate in the middle. He made an efficient 10 of 14 shots and six of eight free throws. And just for good measure, he grabbed five offensive boards and swiped two steals.

With no backup center on the roster, Howard has rarely gotten a rest in games the past six weeks. But he said he feels fresh heading down the stretch and will be prepared to play all 48 minutes if asked in playoff games.

``Coach plays me a lot, but we don’t have a lot of guys and we’re still trying to win games. It’s fine with me, but I just have to make sure that I take care of my body,’’ Howard said. ``Right now it’s just about getting ready for the playoff games.’’

Jameer Nelson had 15 points and six assists, while Quentin Richardson returned from three games off because of back pain and scored 14 points off the bench with 14 points. Hedo Turkoglu and Brandon Bass each had 12 points.

Other than Howard, the Magic weren’t particularly sharp on either end of the floor. Head coach Stan Van Gundy warned that his Magic must put some value on the final six games of the regular season and not think that they can coast into the playoffs and ``flip the switch.’’

``You can’t just turn it on,’’ Van Gundy warned. ``The Boston Celtics can get to day one of the playoffs and turn it on because they’ve been there before, they’ve won a championship and they know what it is. The San Antonio Spurs can do it, the Lakers can do it. But the rest of us can’t do it. We don’t have the background. We don’t have enough guys who have been there and done it. We’ve got to go in playing with great intensity and energy. We’ve got to play at a higher level than we played tonight, we have to. We’ve got to start getting serious about it.’’

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Friday night’s game at the Amway Center: