The Orlando Magic have been going through a rough patch lately, making it harder for the mainstream media and blogosphere to consider them an elite team and a championship contender right now. That being said, if there’s been a bright spot amidst the darkness for the Magic, it’s been Dwight Howard.
Mental gaffes against the Memphis Grizzlies aside, Howard has been playing like a man possessed lately. Howard toyed around the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, putting up 20 points, 20 rebounds, and two blocks in roughly 26 minutes of playing time. But the game that stands out for Howard was his performance on Friday.
On that night, Howard put on a clinic against the Chicago Bulls — also known as the best defensive team in the NBA, given that they rank first in defensive efficiency. No matter who the Bulls assigned to Howard, whether it was Kurt Thomas, Carlos Boozer, or Omer Asik, there was little that could be done to slow down the big fella.
For the most part, head coach Tom Thibodeau made the decision to play Howard straight up, given that’s the strategy he elected to use as the assistant coach of the Boston Celtics last year in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals when they won the series in 6 games.
Let Howard get his, then stop the perimeter attack for Orlando.
Granted, the strategy worked — Chicago lost the battle but won the war — but not before Howard unleashed his fury. For those that want to make the argument that Howard is on the shortlist to win the Most Valuable Player award, this is the game to watch.