During his time in Orlando, Dwight Howard was one of the premier players in the NBA. The big man from Atlanta was known for ability to score inside, rebound and block shots.
One thing that wasn’t exactly synonymous with Howard was game-winning shots. They did exist though, including one that took place on this 10 years ago. Against the Washington Wizards, it was Howard’s putback with four seconds to play that lifted the Orlando Magic to a 100-99 victory.
Most probably weren’t expecting a nail-biter as the Magic arrived at the Verizon Center in the nation’s capital on Nov. 27, 2010. Orlando was off to a 11-4 start while the Wizards were just 5-9. Washington gave the Magic all they wanted and more before Howard saved the day.
What was once a double-digit deficit turned into a six-point lead for Washington midway through the fourth quarter. Washington used an 11-4 run to take a 90-84 lead, but three-pointers by Rashard Lewis and Quentin Richardson helped the Magic climb to within one with two minutes to play.
Over the final 90 seconds, the lead changed hands five times as Howard and Washington guard Gilbert Arenas went back and forth. After a pair of Howard free throws gave Orlando a 96-95 lead, Arenas responded with a midrange jumper. With less than 30 seconds to play, Howard responded with a hook.
About 14 seconds remained when Arenas made his way into the lane and got the roll. Now down 99-98, Orlando had to score.
The play however, wasn’t designed for Howard. It was guard Jameer Nelson who was forced to hoist it high over the outreached arms of Washington’s JaVale McGee. The ball never hit the rim, but landed in the hands of Howard, who laid it in to give the Magic the lead with 4.3 seconds to go.
Arenas would get one more shot to try to deliver the Wizards, but his runner was long as time expired. Arenas’ 31-point night ended one basket short. Howard finished with a game-high 32 points. The one-point difference between the two stars was also the difference in the final score.
Early on, it looked like things may go as expected as the Magic raced to a 12-point lead late in the first quarter. That lead would get as high as 14 points in the second quarter, but a big third period for the Wizards cut the Orlando lead to 74-72 after three. The Wizards hit their first seven shots from the field in the fourth quarter to take the six-point lead.
In addition to Arenas’ big night, Nick Young added 21 points for Washington off the bench. Andray Blatche tallied a double-double for Washington with 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
To go with his scoring high, Howard also led the Magic with 11 rebounds in the win. Richardson and Nelson added 20 and 11 points, respectively, for victorious Orlando.
Nine years after leaving Orlando, Howard remains the Magic’s all-time leader in points scored. On this day a decade ago, they needed all 32 of them, including the winning final two, in a thrilling victory over the Wizards.