Howard Leads Magic Past Wizards

Magic 105, Wizards 90

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards were helpless against Dwight Howard.

The NBA's leading rebounder, Howard had 26 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks to help the Orlando Magic beat the Wizards 105-90 on Thursday night.

Orlando has won eight of its last nine games and six in a row on the road.

Howard toyed with four Washington defenders -- scoring 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the first 8:45 as the Magic took a 25-11 lead.

"Our thing is we have to come out strong and let teams know how the game is going to be played the whole night," Howard said.

"We've got to be able to do that every night to be a great team. Look at the teams like the Celtics and the Lakers, they come out the first quarter and they dominate and set the tone. We have to continue to do that in order to be one of those teams."

JaVale McGee started at center for Washington, and he picked up two fouls in 2:16. Andray Blatche was the next to try to stop Howard, and he had two fouls in 1:47. By then, Howard had seven points.

Etan Thomas was the third to guard Howard, who scored seven more points as the Magic went on an 11-0 run to take that 14-point lead.

"He was obviously the dominant guy in the first half," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Getting off to a good start was also important."

Howard went to the bench moments later, and Washington, which has dropped 11 of its 13 games this season, went on a 19-3 run to cut it to 38-34 early in the second quarter. Only Darius Songaila had a modicum of success against him.

Playing against Howard was a frustrating experience for Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott.

"He takes up a lot of space," Tapscott said. "It's like a quarter-mile around his shoulders, he's so broad."

Caron Butler scored 19 of his 25 points in the first half for Washington, and Antawn Jamison had 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Orlando had just three points in the first 6:57 of the second quarter after scoring 38 points in the first quarter -- the most allowed by Washington this season.

The Wizards played their second game under Tapscott after beating Golden State by 24 points in the first. Tapscott, who replaced Eddie Jordan on Monday, said he'd had time to add a few of his own innovations to the offense. He suggested that Butler and Jamison would play on the same side of the court more often, and also warned that there probably wouldn't be a repeat of Tuesday night's romp.

"That was a one-of-a-kind game," Tapscott said.

After McGee hit a layup to start the quarter to cut Orlando's lead to nine at 55-46, the Magic went on a 16-3 tear to make it 71-49 lead with 6:57 to play in the third quarter.

Hedo Turkoglu added 20 points and had a season-high 10 rebounds. He clearly admires his 6-foot-11, 265-pound teammate.

"He's huge. He's really helping for all of us for playing better because it's so hard to guard him one-on-one out there," Turkoglu said. "It opens up for other guys when they double team and he's a good passer, too."

Butler could only stand and watch his teammates flail against Howard.

"No one in the league has matched up well against him except Houston," Butler said. "He's a handful. He's a guy who can pound you down there."

Rashard Lewis, who gave Orlando a victory Wednesday night in Philadelphia with a late 3-pointer, added 17 points, and Mickael Peitrus also had 17. Anthony Johnson had a season-high 12 assists.

While the Magic had a comfortable Thanksgiving, their coach did not. Stan Van Gundy said that he was feeling sick, and didn't join the team for its pregame holiday meal.

"I did the stuff to get ready for the game, took a nap. Happy Thanksgiving," Van Gundy said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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