Orlando Magic finally beat Dwight Howard. All is right for one night.
It started out so uncomfortable. Yet, felt so right in the end.
The Orlando Magic went into Los Angeles and defeated Dwight Howard’s Lakers 113-103. A huge 40-point 4th quarter and brilliant coaching all night long from Jacque Vaughn would propel the team to the victory. Vaughn went to the Hack-a-Howard technique at the end of the 3rd quarter and throughout the 4th and forced “Mr. 4th Quarter” to make his money on the line. As Magic fans often witnessed throughout his stay in Orlando, Dwight didn’t make the fouling team pay.
Howard would finish with 21 points and 15 rebounds, but shot just 9-21 at the free throw line. He went 8-18 from the line from the time the Magic began the Hack-a-Howard with 38 second left in the 3rd quarter.
“I make them when they count.” -Dwight Howard, Magic locker room, January 2012.
— MagicBBallOnline (@MagicBasketball) December 3, 2012
The recently struggling Arron Afflalo led the team in scoring on the night with a season high 30 points and seemed to be much more comfortable on the floor and pressing much less. Big Baby Davis had 23 points and 12 rebounds and Nik Vucevic had 17 and 12.
Jameer Nelson had the most to play for tonight after being continuously thrown under Dwight’s bus last year. Far from roadkill, Jameer was the bus driver this evening for the Magic scoring 19 points and dishing out 13 assists. He used his dribble penetration to get in the lane and create easy shots for his teammates.
“It means a lot, honestly,” said Jameer Nelson after the game. “We can all say it was just a basketball game, but we know because of things that happened in the past, especially for our fans, it means a lot more to come get this victory. A lot of guys that are on this team now didn’t go through what we went through last year: myself, J.J. and Glen and Turk. We went through some things.”
The Magic used Dwight Howard’s defensive strengths against him all night while exposing the Lakers defensive weaknesses. Driving into the lane, swinging the ball around the court, getting Dwight off his feet and dumping passes to teammates for easy finishes. That was the recipe. An aging surrounding cast is all too familiar for Dwight, and the Lakers’ weakside defense is not his friend right now.
Too bad, so sad.
For Magic fans, it’s a sweet victory. In a season that is guaranteed to have a lot more negative moments then positive ones, this is a moment to cherish. Big Bad Dwight, the man who told you he loved you as he ran out the back door, fell hard tonight and it was a team effort that beat him. Every Magic player that took the court tonight knew the importance of this game to the franchise, the fans and themselves and they all played like it.
Credit to Jameer Nelson. Credit to J.J. Redick. Credit to Hedo Turkoglu. Credit to Glen Davis. Credit to the DeVos family. Credit to the fans who stuck around. For an entire year, Dwight Howard made your lives miserable. Tonight, even if it’s just one night, you all get to bask in the glory of knowing the script is flipped.