Denton: Magic-Wizards Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
February 4, 2011


WASHINGTON, D.C. – This Gilbert Arenas, one who was gritty and engaged defensively and attacking from his opening ovation until the final horn, was one the Orlando Magic hadn’t necessarily seen over the past six weeks.

But Arenas being sparked by his return to Washington, the city where he played for seven-plus seasons before being traded to Orlando in December, was a welcomed sight for a Magic team searching for energy and playmaking a night after losing a home heartbreaker against Miami.

Arenas was surprisingly cheered by the same fans who once jeered him and he responded with 10 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals and a blocked shot as the Magic pulled away late in a 110-92 defeat of the Wizards at Washington’s Verizon Center.

``It was great. They recognized that one bad year can’t cover seven good years that I was here for,’’ Arenas said of the ovation that he received. ``I was playing defense against somebody (Washington’s Nick Young) that I taught every move in the book to, so that made it pretty easy. I just wanted to come out and help us get a win after we had a rough one last night. We’re trying to position ourselves before the all-star break.’’

Despite not getting to Washington until almost 4 a.m. Friday morning following Thursday’s 104-100 loss to Miami, the Magic (32-19) had enough energy left to outscore Washington (13-36) 59-43 in the second half to breeze to the victory. The Magic made seven of nine 3-point shots in the fourth quarter and got big performances from Dwight Howard and Arenas throughout to gut out a victory.

``To come back on a quick turnaround and play the way that we did in the second half really says a lot about our team,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``I didn’t look out there and ever think we had great energy during the game. But what we did have was great resolve and commitment to get the job done.’’

A night after playing all 48 minutes against Miami, Howard made his first 10 shots and had 22 points and 15 rebounds in 32 minutes. But all eyes were on Arenas, who was traded to Orlando six weeks ago following a tumultuous ending to what had been a dazzling career in Washington. Arenas once again didn’t shoot the ball well, but it was his willingness to battle defensively against Young impressed the Magic. Young, who came into the game averaging 17.3 points per game, made just seven of 20 shots and was whistled for a frustration technical foul in the fourth quarter.

``I got in Nick’s head all the way back to last week,’’ Arenas said of his well-in-advance trash talk. ``He never scores on me. He already knew what was going to happen. I didn’t really do anything different than what I always did in practice against him. He never scored in practice, so I knew he wasn’t going to score in the game. They were trying to get him involved to break that spell that I have over him, but not this time.’’

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Friday night’s bounce-back win in Washington:

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John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com. Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at AskJD@orlandomagic.com.