Josb Robbins gave live updates from Orlando’s scrimmage here.
Howard hit a 16-foot jumper, had a putback dunk in traffic and another layup.
He hit a cutting Jason Richardson with a pass for a layup.
Howard has been working on a jump-shot and hit another from 15 feet. If opponents start respecting that shot, the league will be at his mercy.
“It was great. I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “It means a lot, not only to myself, but to the guys on the team.”
Howard said he saw a few of the signs. “I appreciate the city and everything the city has done for me. ..but our goal is to practice and get better,” he said.
He has taken the emotion out of the equation now, defusing the saga for the team’s sake. There’s no greater tell than his detachment.
When the scrimmage was complete, Howard addressed the crowd and thanked them for attending the scrimmage. He promised the crowd that the team “is going to play this hard all season.’’ And as he was leaving the court, Howard looked around to take in the scene and sign a few autographs.
“My focus was on getting better and getting my team better and not getting caught up in everything around me. After the scrimmage I did get a chance to see some of the signs and it was great to see,’’ he said. “I appreciate the city and everything it has done for me. And I’m glad that people appreciate me and the rest of the team. Our goal today was to play and get better. We wanted to have fun and entertain the crowd, but there’s a right time for that.’’
DeAndre Liggins is much further along offensively than I think anybody thought he would be. He had some good aggressive drives and is not afraid to take the ball off the dribble going up against a pretty solid defender in Quentin Richardson. Stan Van Gundy likes him a lot according to several practice reports. You can see from his long arms and quickness that he can really be a good defender. He looked the furthest along between the three rookies — Justin Harper and Daniel Orton being the other two.
There wasn’t one sustained “Stay Dwight” chant or anything that resembled it. As they often do, a small handful of fans tried to start an M-V-P chant when Dwight was at the free throw line. As they often do, the chants died quickly. When the fans should have treated today like the largest pep rally of their lives, they failed to rise to the extraordinary occasion.
Maybe they just didn’t know what to expect. Maybe they were gun shy. Maybe they were acting like the scarred girl who is afraid to let a love back into their lives. Maybe I am overreacting because I personally expected more.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)