Bring out the dreaded brooms. In their last game before the all-star break, the Orlando Magic beat the Washington Wizards 101 to 76 and wrap up a season sweep of their Southeastern division foe.
Dwight Howard put up his usual gaudy numbers, scoring 32 points and pulling down 10 rebounds in only 28 minutes. In four games against the Wiz this season, Howard has scored above his average with 27.5 points per game (22.5 ppg for the season) despite playing well below his 36.6 minutes per game (32.8 against WAS).
While Howards success may not be surprising to Wizards fans, the numbers that will make them hang their heads are those of starting C JaVale McGee (4 pts, 5 rebs) when he’s been asked to guard Howard. McGee’s season totals of 9.2 ppg and 5.6 rpg are virtually cut in half against ‘Super-Man’, managing only 5.5 ppg and 3.7 rpg this season.
Nick Young was unable to play after injuring his knee against the Cavaliers, missing only his second game of the season. The Wizards desperately missed their leading scorer as starters Josh Howard and Cartier Martin combined for an abysmal 3-23 (13%) shooting from the field.
As usual, John Wall was the lone bright spot of the game for Washington. The first rookie PG scored 27 points, his second highest tally of the season. Wall was a one-man fast break as he often caught Orlando’s defense on their heels in transition. An effort like this by Wall shows how he’s growing from a hesitant-to-shoot, pass-first type of player he was at the beginning of the season. Although Wall set a season-low for assists with just one for the night, he gets a pass because that’s more indicative of his teammates performance than it is of his.
Andray Blatche (15 pts, 9 reb) and Kirk Hinrich (10 pts, 3 ast) helped the Wizards put up a fight as they actually led halfway through the second quarter. But that was before back-to-back three pointers by Jason Richardson (16 pts) and a 20-8 run over the next 6:13 to end the first half.
Orlando PF’s Ryan Anderson (14 pts, 8 reb) and Brandon Bass (15 pts, 11 reb) both had great games by grabbing rebounds, spreading out the defense and hitting open shots. Anderson nailed a couple of 3-pters and Bass had 5 offensive rebounds, a few of which he claimed in a crowd of Wizards jersey’s.
As most of Orlando’s starting line-up watched from the bench, Gilbert Arenas ran the Magic’s offense for most of the fourth quarter. In only his second game against his former team, Arenas (2 pts) seemed intent on scoring over Washington’s John Wall whenever the two were matched up, which lead to his 1 for 6 shooting night.
Although Arenas was able to distribute 6 assists, it’s clear he hasn’t found a comfort zone in Orlando’s offense yet. Whether a guy who was accustomed to taking over 20 shots a game as a volume scorer can learn how to efficiently contribute in a limited role is yet to be seen.
How long will Gil’ continue to buy into the team mentality at the expense of personal success before he erupts? As patron’s to this drama over the last couple of years, we know that an outburst, either on the court or in the media, may be looming if thing’s aren’t going Gilberts way. For Wizards fans who know this story all too well, it’s less of a question of if this will happen, but more about when.
Game Notes: After missing the last three games, Wizards F Al Thornton re-injured his dislocated middle finger. Rashard Lewis missed his third consecutive game with soreness in his right knee. Lewis is reportedly not considering the surgery that maybe required to fix his knee problem until the offseason, if at all.