The ending was not a happy one, but no one could deny how great of a player that center Dwight Howard was during his tenure with the Orlando Magic.
One of the best in franchise history, Howard made six All-Star Games as a member of the Magic and became the first player in NBA history to win Defensive Player of the Year in three straight seasons. In eight seasons with Orlando, Howard led the NBA in rebounding four times, blocks twice and field goal percentage once.
Howard was durable for most of his tenure, but battled injury during his final season with the Magic. On this day 10 years ago, he suited up for Orlando for the final time in an 88-82 road win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Howard finished with 20 points and 22 rebounds.
Howard had an unusually bad shooting night at the Wells Fargo Center on April 7, 2012. He went just 4-for-14 from the field, but went 12-for-18 from the charity stripe.
The 76ers used a big second quarter to take a 45-37 lead into the locker room, but Glen Davis spearheaded a big third quarter to put the Magic in front 62-61 after three. With an 11-0 run that spanned the latter parts of the third period and early parts of the fourth, the Magic took an eight-point lead.
Philadelphia countered with a 12-3 run to take a 73-72 lead, but Howard evened things by splitting a pair of free throws. J.J. Redick scored the next eight points for Orlando to put the Magic ahead for good.
After Philadelphia drew to within two on a pair of Lou Williams free throws with more than two minutes to play, Howard scored the next five points – all on free throws. Two of those makes followed offensive rebounds. Jrue Holiday missed a three-pointer in the final seconds and Howard grabbed the final rebound of his Orlando career.
In addition to Howard’s big night, Davis led the Magic with 23 points and added 12 rebounds. Redick chipped in with 19 points while Jason Richardson tallied 10.
Philadelphia was powered by its bench. Thaddeus Young led the way with 20 points. Jodie Meeks and Williams contributed 16 and 15 points, respectively.
A back injury would ultimately end Howard’s season and tenure in Orlando. In his absence, the Magic went 4-6 to close the regular season before falling to the Indiana Pacers in five games in the first round of the playoffs.
At Howard’s urging, the star center was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers the following offseason. It would be seven years later before Orlando returned to the playoffs.
As for Howard, he’s made just one All-Star Game since his departure and has played for six different teams. His final contest as a member of the Magic came on this day one decade ago.