"When you have a team outscore you 22-0 on fast-break points, they're clearly playing at a pace and an energy level higher than what you are," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "And we could not keep up."
You are totally right Van Gundy. You couldn’t keep up. At the beginning of another crucial season, albeit a preseason game, you were just not prepared to step up to the plate to at least present a resume of critical intentions and potential to Dwight Howard.
At least a little nudge that, “Hey, we can actually beat these guys!” would have done something to entice one of the league’s only true centers into staying with a franchise that just continues to dish out disappointment.
The obvious was that Dwight was not happy. Yeah, yeah, give me the spill about how this exhibition game just does not count. You are exactly right. They never do. No matter how many air balls Carmelo put up against the New Jersey Nets, fans will just chalk it up to superstar’s getting their legs back underneath them.
But, this game was different. There was a sense of heart and a lack thereof. Guess who had the drive under their belt and which side seemed to be more lackadaisical than dedicated.
Dwight Howard went for 2-of-9 with five points and six rebounds. Had this been a regular season game, Otis Smith would have run to his front office and demanded the quickest possible trade his franchise could host. But, it was preseason and it seems like the general manager may still be clinging onto some strand of hope that Orlando could convince Howard that this is the place to be.
Losing to an in-state league rival 85-118 is probably not the way to count on keeping a superstar inbounds.
Howard sucked in the preseason meeting. It is no secret that he of course realized this as well. So, what brought about the lack of intensity? A good showing would have been great for Orlando’s fears.
He could have shown fans that even though his time with the Magic may be coming to an end, he will still give them everything they paid for. He will still be the type of guy that will force his way to the basket and will undoubtedly give Grade-A effort even in the midst of such an awkward trade-possible situation.
Or it may have served as an explicit message to the franchise.
Get me the hell out of here or this is what you will get night in and night out!
One would have to hope that this type of game is far out of Howard’s element of high ego and high basketball IQ. Playing like a spoiled brat who cannot get his favorite piece of candy after answering a classroom question right just does not seem like an avenue he would take.
But, there are a few sides of Dwight Howard that we have seen directly after Orlando’s ousting in the playoffs at the hands of the heartless Atlanta Hawks. Howard has not been the delightful human being he usually has been.
Maybe, it is because of the mounting frustration of watching so many players being moved towards building block organizations like the NY Knicks and the LA Clippers. He could just be fed up with all of Orlando’s fruitless moves and attempts at bringing in a viable surrounding cast in his fabled Finals run.
In either light you shine on the shaky instance in Magic territory, Howard is not the same guy with the bubbly personality he used to be and that will kill Orlando Magic’s playoff hopes before anything else.