It has been about 24 hours and Dwight Howard has come and gone. The atmosphere was electric while the game disappointed.
The game was not what was important to a lot of fans. A win would have made the entire season for many as karmic justice. For others it was just cathartic to have the scapegoat of Dwight Howard in person to direct ire and anger at. Yes, the Magic are second worst in the NBA right now and the future feels bright, but Dwight Howard is the kind of player that makes your team relevant no matter what.
It also makes it a good one.
Magic fans missed that and you could tell by the energy in Amway Center last night. The more than 19,000 in attendance set an arena record and was the eighth sellout of the season. It was an electric atmosphere that was missing for much of the season. That is to be expected when you have a losing team.
For one night, the Magic did not feel like a losing team. They felt like a team with something to play for. They got their Playoff atmosphere at the beginning.
The win over the Lakers in December and the game last night in Orlando are going to be two of the more memorable games from this season. Amway Center was wild last night so let's revisit it a bit this evening.
It started with Dwight Howard meeting the media before the game. This was the first time Howard met the Orlando media since his trade face-to-face in its full force. The media storm was incredible. Just look at the photos:
That is just a ridiculous amount of people to cover a shootaround. Howard spoke to the media and addressed his return to Orlando saying he appreciated the fans in Orlando and his eight years in Orlando but was ready to move on.
When Howard finally took the floor, the anticipation and anger was palpable. And Orlando fans let it all out as he took the floor and every time he touched the ball after that.
There were several fantastic signs fans made too. There was a lot of creativity put in to let Howard know how Orlando fans feel about the way he handled his departure. There were plenty of people who used tape to cross out Howard on their No. 12 jerseys or changed the Howard to Harris for Tobias Harris.
The Superman Cape guy was dressed in all green with Kryptonite blazed across his chest.
Even the Fat Guy had a few signs.
In the end, the game lacked any real rhythm because Orlando could not make a shot for a good portion of the game and the team resorted to fouling Dwight Howard purposefully hoping he would miss enough free throws to enable the Magic to win. Howard made 25 of his record-setting 39 free throws on his way to 39 points and a dominating performance that saw him look like his old self on the defensive end.
Howard was smiling and talking with fans throughout the game. He spoke with Jameer Nelson after the game too as they shared some words.
Howard was gracious again with the Orlando media after the game and answered several questions about his response to the fans, his return to Orlando and whether he, the fans and the franchise can move on.
Until next year, this will have to tide Magic fans over when it comes to Dwight Howard.