The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Washington Wizards by the score of 101-76, sweeping the season series. Rashard Lewis made his return to the Amway Center since being traded on December 18 but unfortunately for him and Magic fans, he was unable to play due to a sprained right knee. Because of that, the game — itself — was uneventful as the Magic did what a good team does, beat the living crap out of an inferior opponent. And the Wizards, for a lack of a better word, are inferior. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. Fresh off winning his fourth Eastern Conference Player of the Week award during the regular season, Dwight Howard dominated Washington, finishing with 32 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks in roughly 29 minutes of playing time. Howard imposed his will on the game from the opening tip, and he did whatever he pleased against the Wizards when he was on the court. Jason Richardson snapped out of his shooting funk a bit, putting up 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field. Brandon Bass finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and two steals. Ryan Anderson returned to his familiar role off the bench, chipping in with 14 points and eight rebounds. Jameer Nelson rounded things out with 10 points.
Washington was doomed the moment they stepped onto the court because they don’t have the frontline to slow down Howard, let alone stop him. Players like JaVale McGee, Kevin Seraphin, Hilton Armstrong, and Yi Jianlian were literally at the mercy of Howard. Head coach Flip Saunders tried to find someone on the Wizards roster that could put up a decent fight against Howard, but everyone he threw out there on the floor failed at the task.
Howard scored around, over, and on his defenders throughout the night, racking up points with relative ease and efficiency. Given that Howard thoroughly dominated the combination of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol on Sunday when the Los Angeles Lakers came into town, this is the type of performance that should have been expected when he played Washington. Howard has set expectations so high for himself this season that games like these are normal.
At least, they should be.
Kudos goes to John Wall, one of the few players for the Wizards that played well and kept things competitive in the first half. Whenever he got a chance, Wall did the best he could to race down the floor and attack the basket — usually on a missed shot — before Howard could get back in time. More often than not, Wall was successful in his task and routinely attacked the rim for layups. For someone like Wall, knowing the personnel for the Magic, that’s smart basketball.
For Orlando, this homestand provides them a chance to move up the standings in the Eastern Conference. Winning games like this is a good start.