The Orlando Magic used a big second half to propel them to a 110-92 victory over the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center Friday night.
Early in the game, the Magic started off hot, building a 12-point first quarter lead. The Magic let up a little bit on defense and the Wizards cut the lead to eight at the end of the first quarter and even took a four-point second quarter lead before the Magic closed the game on a 9-4 run. The Magic defense raised their game in the third quarter, holding the Wizards to just 15 third quarter points, and then used a three-point barrage to put the game away.
Dwight Howard led the Magic with 22 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks while Nick Young and Kirk Hinrich each scored 17 points to lead the Wizards.
After the jump, you can read more thoughts and observations from the game.
The Magic are still have some problems, but they did a decent job on the defensive end, forcing the Wizards into a lot of jumpers. Of course, that wasn’t nearly as difficult as it is against other teams because outside of John Wall, no one on the Wizards showed much of a desire to get to the rim.
Nick Young takes a lot of bad shots so the Magic kept him outside and had him shoot those same kinds of shots. It worked. Young scored his 17 points on 7-of-20 shooting.
Dwight Howard was Dwight Howard – he scored 22 points on 11 shots, missing just once from the field but went just 2-of-5 from the free throw line. The best part about Howard’s night was the Magic were actually able to play Malik Allen for 16 minutes and limit Howard to just 32 minutes a night after playing 48 minutes against the Miami Heat. Allen had just three rebounds and didn’t score but if he can give Howard some rest, it’s going to go a very long way.
Gilbert Arenas and Rashard Lewis’ first games were the stories of the game coming in and both did a decent job. Lewis scored 14 points on 10 shots despite not making a three-pointer. He also grabbed eight rebounds, which is something he struggled with while on the Magic (of course, he had a different role on the Magic and had to fight Howard for boards). Arenas didn’t shoot well (4-of-12) but did fill up his state line, scoring 10 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out six assists. He was more aggressive for the second consecutive night and that is probably a good sign.
Ryan Anderson bounced back from his sad ending to last night’s game by scoring 19 points and grabbing eight rebounds. He was 7-of-14 from the field and 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. Anderson’s rebounding continues to impress and it’s much needed, especially with the absence of Brandon Bass.
Speaking of rebounds, Earl Clark grabbed seven, including four offensive boards in just 18 minutes. He was also very aggressive on the offensive end. He had 10 points but he was just 5-of-12 from the field and missed all three of his free throw attempts. Still, he had some flashes, namely when he crossed over and hit an off-balance shot while being fouled. Clark needs experience and playing time to improve and he has a nice opportunity to do that with Brandon Bass out of the game.
J.J. Redick also bounced back from his horrible shooting performance by scoring a very efficient 15 points on eight shots. The fourth quarter became very entertaining when Redick (3-of-5 from outside) and Hinrich (also 3-of-5 from the outside) had an in-game shoot-off.
Jason Richardson was a little more aggressive had his best night in a while. He scored 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
Hedo Turkoglu continued to struggle, going 2-of-10 from the field. Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy wants Turkoglu to be more aggressive and that’s just something he hasn’t done nearly enough of.
Next Up: The Magic will travel to Boston to play the Celtics in a nationally televised game on Sunday afternoon.
Final Thought: It was tougher than the score indicated but it was good for the Magic get a win on the second night of back-to-back despite playing without a starter in Brandon Bass.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and ESPN 1080′s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com). Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).
Topics: Al Thornton, Andray Blatche, Brandon Bass, Dwight Howard, Earl Clark, Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Javalle Mcgee, John Wall, Nick Young, Orlando Magic, Rashard Lewis, Ryan Anderson, Trevor Booker, Washington Wizards