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Magic Crush Howard-less Nets

2012 March 16
by Brian Serra

Dwight Howard smiling pre-game after opting in for the 2012-2013 season in Orlando.

A Dwight Howard trade to the New Jersey Nets was just hours away from occurring before Dwight changed his mind for the 3rd time in 24 hours and committed to the Magic for one more year. In doing so, Dwight avoided facing perhaps the most awkward day in NBA history as the Nets just happened to be playing in Orlando on the first game after the trade deadline. Can you imagine if Dwight would have faced the Orlando fans on the FIRST night wearing a Nets jersey??

The answer: doesn’t matter. Dwight was NOT in a new jersey Friday night as the Orlando Magic cruised to an easy victory over the shorthanded (more than normal) New Jersey Nets by a score of 86-70.

Dwight came out to a huge standing ovation during player intros and the energy carried over into the game. He put up 18 points on the evening on 8-10 shooting.

As excited as Dwight was to have the current speculation over, his teammates clearly were as well. The team saw 6 total players score in double figures and the Magic improved to 17-3 on the season when 5 or more players score in double figures. Balance.

He and his teammates were noticeably relieved of pressures prior to the game and you could see it not only in the locker room, but also in this dirty bird freak nasty team dance that Dwight led. As much as nobody would admit it, you could feel a different vibe pre and post game amongst the guys. Stan was asked after the game if he noticed the ONE HUNDRED PERCENT BETTER VIBE in the building and he went Classic Stan on everyone, claiming to not notice stuff like that.

Stan being Stan, “It didn’t seem different to me but then again I’m not really paying attention to that. You guys would notice that stuff a lot more than I would.”

New Jersey was missing their three best players on the game, so there isn’t much to take from the actual basketball game. The big takeaway on the night is seeing the team happy. Genuine happiness and trust. The team is bought in and the fans are bought in. The next step is to show the team growth necessary to compete, elite.

More news, notes, tidbits and such:

  • Dwight said after the game that he had texted Deron a few times in the last day to “check on his injury”. Sure. He also confirmed that this trip by New Jersey did not also include a Deron-Dwight dinner.
  • J.J. Redick and Chris Duhon were both upset over watching their beloved Dukies get upset in the NCAA Tournament. They shared a condolence filled high-five and bragged about their graduation rate. It was one of my favorite locker room moments of all-time.
  • The only negative from a basketball standpoint tonight was the 20 team turnovers for the Magic. Stan harped on it quite a bit postgame and he’s right. Against great teams, the the Magic must value each and every possession and make strong, confident passes. Not forcing bad entry passes or ridiculous behind the back passes.
  • The newest Nets player Gerald Wallace, acquired in a trade from Portland, was not yet with the team.
  • Dwight also confirmed that Dan Fegan is still his agent, despite reports saying otherwise.

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