When Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard get together, special things usually happen. With Hedo Turkoglu making his first visit to Amway Arena since last year’s finals, Howard was the only one that put on a show.
Dwight’s stat line says it all: 18 points, 14 rebounds, eight blocks — most into the laps of those sitting courtside. If the Magic had not secured the game so early in the fourth quarter, who knows where Howard would have finished. His second career triple double was certainly within reach.
Orlando took advantage of Toronto’s porous defense and easily cruised to a 118-99 win at Amway Arena on Wednesday.
Howard dominated from start to finish in this one on the defensive end. Eight blocks really says it all. He changed shots and forced the Raptors to the perimeter. They could not get much going toward the basket and Howard was the big deterrent.
Even Chris Bosh, who usually provides the most of Toronto’s scoring punch against Orlando, was not the aggressive and dominant force he usually is. Bosh certainly could have been scoring 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, but something was off as the Raptors did not continually go to him.
Even with Andrea Bargnani shooting the ball pretty well (12 points, 6 for 12) and keeping Toronto in the game early, it was evident that it was a matter of time before Orlando pulled away. The Magic shot 70 percent in the first quarter to get a 35-24 lead. They settled down to shoot 57.3 percent and kept a healthy distance away from Toronto throughout the game.
It was a completely balanced scoring effort from the Magic. It started with Howard inside, went to the outside with Vince Carter, on to Rashard Lewis. Then to the bench with Matt Barnes and Anthony Johnson and a nice cameo from Brandon Bass, back to the starters and then finishing off with Howard.
Lewis had 21 points. Barnes had a season-high 22 off the bench. Carter had 12 and Jason Williams and Johnson each had 13 points. Williams and Carter also had seven assists. Balance, indeed.
Toronto is not very active defensively and Orlando locked down early to take the lead and played solid enough defense to grow and maintain the lead. The Raptors had stretches where they could not score and were more than reluctant to attack Howard in the paint. Even though Orlando had some lapses, to hold a high-scoring team like Toronto to 99 points is nothing to be ashamed of.
Turkoglu was received warmly in his first trip back to Orlando. He scored 14 points on 2-of-7 shooting and was like the Turkoglu of old. The Magic’s defense did enough to bother him and make him shoot jumpers. Turkoglu never really got going in any pick and rolls. No one for Toronto seemed to get into a rhythm. The Raptors, honestly, looked tired after a game last night in Miami.
Howard dominated like he did last year and coupled with Monday’s game against Indiana, appears to be rounding into MVP form. He even made free throws tonight, that’s how right everything went.
Finally it was a game where everything really went right for the Magic and they easily coasted to victory. It seems like it has been a long, long time since Orlando was able to easily coast to a victory. It was nice to get the starters plenty of rest as the game was well out of reach early in the fourth quarter.