Howard Quietly Leads Magic Past 76ers

Tim Duncan is well known (at least to me) for the quiet game. He will probe a defense and pick his spots, accumulating points and the defense’s attention without batting an eye or without much mention. Then you look up at the scoreboard and realize he has 25 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. With him, there is sometimes nothing you can do to stop him.

Dwight Howard is no Tim Duncan (yet). But he may have had one of those games.

Philadelphia outworked an out-of-sync Orlando team early. But with Howard (23 points, 15 rebounds) pacing the way, the Magic easily pulled away from and defeated the 76ers 109-93 on Monday in Philadelphia.

Howard had a very quiet 23 points, methodically working through Samuel Dalembert, Marreesse Speights and Jason Smith throughout the game. Hard to think 23 points are quiet, but Howard was not getting them on his healthy dose of dunks. He displayed his ability to get around and shoot over defenders. He finished nine of 11 from the floor, but it seemed like he was doing worse.

Obviously everything starts with Howard. The defense was collapsing around Howard most of the evening. There only defense was to foul him and it worked. He shot five of 12 from the line. But Dalembert had five fouls, and Speights and Smith each had two. None could really handle him inside.

The problem was Howard sometimes looked outhustled on the glass. He did grab 15 rebounds so it is difficult to say he failed to dominate the glass as he normally does. Howard certainly did the job when the Magic needed him to as they pulled away throughout the entire game.

But it is difficult to find a reason that Samuel Dalembert grabbed 14 rebounds. Dalembert absolutely outworked Orlando’s post players and took advantage of the extra attention the team gave Elton Brand. He had five offensive rebounds and 16 points. If He did not get into foul trouble, it is very easy to see Philadelphia hanging around in this game much longer.

Brand’s stellar play early in the game, combined with the Magic’s turnover struggles kept the 76ers in the game.

Elton Brand scored 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting. He scored 18 in the first half as he took advantage of the smaller Rashard Lewis. Orlando doubled him after the first quarter and he took advantage of some holes. The 76ers were simply not good enough to take advantage for long.

Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday attacked the basket pretty recklessly off the passes and Philadelphia did not have the shooters to keep up.

Orlando had eight turnovers in the first half, allowing Philadelphia to get out on the break early and get into its offense. But the Magic finished with 13 turnovers total and forced the 76ers into a half court game. That is the simple way to beat them.

On the other end, Rashard Lewis took advantage of his speed and quickness to get past Brand. He led the way with 24 points and shot eight of 12. All four of his misses were on 3-point field goals, but he still hit three.

Lewis is well recognized as the difference between a good Magic team and a great one. He had things working tonight and seems to have broken out of that mini-funk he was in with his third straight 20-point performance.

His strong offensive showing was a pattern in this game. Orlando hit 16 of its 31 3-point attempts and 52 percent on the year. Something in Philadelphia brings out the best in Orlando’s offense. The Magic hit the 120 point mark in both previous games and score plenty of points to run away with victory tonight.

It was another one of those strange games where Orlando was clearly a better team, but never really put the game away. The Magic slowly pulled away and maintained a lead the 76ers would never threaten. A pretty easy win for win number 50 on the year.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily