Orlando Magic 103, Washington Wizards 85

Dominant performances from Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson propeled the Orlando Magic to an easy 103-85 victory against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night at Amway Center. Howard scored an effortless 28 points on 11-of-13 shooting, grabbed 20 rebounds, and blocked three shots in the victory. Anderson added 23 points and 15 rebounds--just one shy of his career-high--in just 28 minutes as the pair combined to make mincemeat of the Wizards' bigs. Howard and Anderson had more than three times as many rebounds as their counterparts, Washington center JaVale McGee and power forward Andray Blatche.

The key word on the night was "energy." Magic coach Stan Van Gundy didn't like what he saw from his club in Monday's loss to the Detroit Pistons, and so he emphasized the importance of opening Wednesday's game with plenty of energy to match the Wizards' speed and youth.

Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson, two particular targets of Van Gundy's, got the message loud and clear. Though they continued to struggle with their shots, they found other ways to contribute: Nelson dished nine assists to just two turnovers, while Richardson added four boards and five assists. Further, Richardson scored the game's first five points as Orlando made a concerted effort to involve him early; in this way, Van Gundy's usage of him recalls how he used Rashard Lewis in previous seasons.

For what it's worth, Lewis, now playing for Washington, wasn't impressed with the Magic's energy. "I know that Orlando Magic team and they played pretty well," he said, "but they did not play near as hard as they should have. The game was easy for them tonight."

Team Pace Efficiency eFG% FT Rate OReb% TO Rate
Wizards 92.0 92.4 37.6% 16.1 27.5 9.8
Magic 92.0 111.9 50.6% 20.0 36.2 16.1
Green denotes a stat better than the team's 2010/11 average;
red denotes a stat worse than the team's 2010/11 average.

It was Howard, however, who really set the tone for the game during that opening quarter. Orlando's franchise player shot 4-of-4 from the floor for 10 points, and went essentially untouched on all of his scores. Credit Orlando for moving the ball and finding ways to get Howard open, but the Wizards' suspect defense played as much a role in Howard's success as anything else. The best executed play, I thought, came when Nelson drove the lane from the wing, kept his dribble alive along the baseline, and then turned to the rim to fire a perfect lob to Howard for a jam. When on the attack like this, Nelson can effectively trick some defenses into paying attention to him and losing track of Howard.

The Wizards' defensive execution left plenty to be desired. How they managed to utterly blow their coverage of Howard in the first period, while also managing to commit a defensive three-second violation for overloading the strong side during a Glen Davis post-up, is beyond me.

Orlando continued to cruise despite iffy shooting from everyone apart from Howard, Anderson, and Hedo Turkoglu. It secured the blowout thanks to its defense, and the Wizards' own poor shot selection. Washington elected to play one-on-one offense for much of the night, resulting in 12 assists on 34 baskets. John Wall and Nick Young, its two main sources of offense, combined to shoot 11-of-31 from the floor and opened the game 0-of-11. One gets the sense that Washington plays better defense against itself than its opponents do.

Anderson continues to make a strong case for All-Star consideration, but he did so Wednesday evening in a different manner than usual. Instead of camping out behind the three-point line and firing away whenever teams sag off him to check Howard, he played all over the floor. Washington wasn't keen on leaving him open, so he had to get his own shots by crashing the offensive glass and running the floor during the fast break. Van Gundy noted he was pleased that Anderson took just five three-pointers to 11 two-pointers against the Wizards. "Ryan's a helluva shooter," Van Gundy said. "I just don't want him to pigeonhole himself into that being all he is, because he can do a lot of other things."

Apart from some silly turnovers--Howard got whistled for two three-second violations, and on both occasions Davis' tardiness in shooting led to the call--the Magic played solidly offensively. They got to wherever they wanted to, made mostly sound passes, and took shots within the flow of the offense. Further, they rebounded an extraordinary share of their own misses (36.2 percent), giving them numerous second chances to score. Anderson's seven boards paced the team in the offensive rebounding department. "[We] just came out with a little more focus to crash the offensive glass," he said.

Only when Van Gundy emptied his bench did the Magic's offense tank; unsurprisingly, the lineup featuring Larry Hughes and Von Wafer at the guards, Quentin Richardson and Justin Harper at the forwards, and Earl Clark at center fizzled at the offensive end. In the 3:28 that unit played, the Wizards outscored the Magic 10-3; Orlando's lone basket came on a long three-pointer from Richardson.

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