If the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard has any aspirations of playing for the New Jersey Nets, tonight’s game may have been enough to change his mind. Orlando beat up on the hapless Nets 94-78 as Howard led the way with 24 rebounds and 16 points.
Maybe the intimidation started when Howard smacked Nets' center Mehmet Okur’s shot into the third row of the Amway Center crowd. From that point on it was total domination for the Magic. Well, at least the score says it was.
Howard yanked 24 rebounds in 37 minutes of play and patrolled the middle like a big man is supposed to. He was 7-of-9 from the field and ended the game with three additional blocked shots.
Other than his controlling performance on the floor, Howard really has to work on his stroke from the charity stripe. David, Howard’s middle name, missed seven free baskets on the night as he was sent to the line nine times. He may be able to get away with that type of performance against a team like New Jersey but Howard knows that he’ll need to improve his production as the season progress.
“Its ok, its ok just gonna keep shooting. Keep coming into practice everyday and they’ll start falling,” Howard said about his continued struggles from the free throw line.
Magic point guard Jameer Nelson was limited to only 16 minutes due to a stinger he developed sometime in the third quarter. Nelson was held without a point but because the Magic controlled the tempo throughout, there was no need for Nelson to push the issue. Afterward, Nelson said that his neck felt better but he would see how he feels in the morning.
Magic forward Ryan Anderson and guard Jason Richardson led Orlando in points, Anderson with 22 and Richardson with 16. Anderson has gobbled the points in bunches early this season but according to his coach, his rebounding leaves a lot to be desired.
“Ryan is going to score, and I think he’s capable of a lot more. Nobody with his ability should be out there with three rebounds on a night like tonight,” said Van Gundy about Anderson’s need to be more aggressive around the rim.
In regards to J-Rich, he said that he’s making a concerted effort to be more aggressive in attacking the rim and trying to get to the free-throw line. Instead of settling for off the dribble shots and threes, Rich will drive the lane and look to create his own shot.
“I worked on that in the offseason…Trying to get to the free throw line more and not to be just a jump shooter.”
Overall, Orlando played a pretty good game considering this is their third one since Sunday’s opener in Oklahoma City against the Thunder. The Magic shot 50 percent from the field in the first half and finished up shooting 44 percent for the game. The team banged nine three-pointers on 21 attempts and led the Nets by 20 at one point in the contest.
This game against a New Jersey team without its second best player in center Brook Lopez isn’t necessarily the bar that the Magic will be judged by. But a win is a win and as long as Howard has Magic sprawled across his chest, I’m sure Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith will take them any kind of way they can get them.
The Magic travel to Charlotte tomorrow to take on the Bobcats.
You can find the original article by visiting West Orlando News Online.