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Orlando Magic 103, Seattle SuperSonics 76


The Magic's Dwight Howard hauls in one of his twelve rebounds in Orlando's 106-73 victory over hapless Seattle.
Photo by John Raoux, the Associated Press

I guess winning ugly is better than not winning at all.

The Magic overcame their own sloppy play to rout the Seattle SuperSonics, keeping the beleaguered franchise winless in 8 games this season. Rashard Lewis, who came to Orlando via a sign-and-trade deal from Seattle, torched his former mates for 22 points in just 29 minutes. Dwight Howard helped Orlando with his 7th double-double in 8 games this season, posting 13 points and 12 boards.

Let me just assert this fact: it's not that we played well enough to win this game, but rather that Seattle played horridly enough to lose it. A team has to be trying really hard to lose when it forces 26 turnovers and still loses by 27. Then again, it's hard to win when your opponent hits 10-of-25 three-pointers, as Orlando did tonight. So I'll give us some credit there.

The player of the game is obviously Rashard Lewis, who rebounded from his awful showing against Phoenix, which included missing 11-of-14 shots, to score 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting. That makes 7 good games out of 8 for Rashard Lewis, which is encouraging.

But the player who impressed me the most was Trevor Ariza, who took over Pat Garrity's role as the first forward off the bench for us. He responded with 11 points and 11 rebounds, his fifth career double-double. More importantly, he was not content to settle for his jump-shot, driving aggresively to the basket against Seattle's zone defense. He only made 3 of his 8 shots, but made up for it by converting 5 of his 6 free throws. If "The Razor," as Magic radio play-by-play man Dennis Neumann likes to call him, can be relied upon to bring that intensity off our bench every night, other teams are going to be in trouble.

Oft-unheralded Keith Bogans also deserves some recognition for his performance tonight. KeBo, soon to be a part of at least one of my fantasy basketball teams, scored 16 points and hit 5 three-pointers; he was feeling it from beyond the arc, to put it mildly. Perhaps Brian Schmitz should reduce the 14-1 odds of KeBo being traded before the deadline; he's too valuable to this team to give up.

Keith Bogans. Valuable. Who knew?

As for Seattle... I have no idea what they're doing. I guess they'll be good in a few years once Kevin Durant improves his shot selection, but right now, they're a team that has a ton of talent on the wings (Durant, Jeff Green, Delonte West) but only two good young bigs (Nick Collison and Chris Wilcox). Kurt Thomas is a good player, but he's on the wrong side of 30 and isn't part of their long-term plans. And their depth at center is atrocious: Bob Swift is always hurt, and Johan Petro is spectacularly awful; it pained me to watch him clank jumper after jumper in garbage time tonight.

Okay, I like the Sonics, and I hope they stick it to their slimy owner by staying in Seattle, but they are just a bad team. When we turn the ball over 26 times, we should be the team losing by 27 points. Wow.

The Magic are obviously happy to win a game, but they cannot repeat tonight's performance tomorrow against Cleveland and expect to defeat the defending Eastern Conference champions.