Published October 10, 2010
| Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. – Rashard Lewis had 23 points, Dwight Howard had 12 points and 11 rebounds and the Orlando Magic opened their new arena in style with a 135-81 rout of the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday night.
Orlando built a big lead from the start to kick off an early celebration that was more than a decade in the making. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy even wore a suit and tie for the first time in years, played his starters big minutes and did everything possible to treat a capacity crowd to a blowout victory.
Peja Stojakovic had 20 points and Emeka Okafor added 13 points for the Hornets, who lost their second straight preseason game in as many nights.
The Magic took a 17-point lead in the first quarter, went ahead by 28 at halftime and 55 in the fourth quarter. Orlando's three big men — Howard, Marcin Gortat and Lewis — led the way from inside and out.
And not in the usual order.
Displaying some of his expanded game, Howard banked some face-up shots off the glass, running hooks and — of course — those powerful dunks and soaring blocks. Gortat led the way with fast-break dunks, and Lewis went back to his post-up game to highlight the arena's coronation.
The Hornets didn't have a chance.
The emotion of having their long-sought dream realized was overwhelming for some Magic executives, bringing tears to the eyes of team president Alex Martins — who, along with senior vice president Charlie Freeman — was instrumental in getting the funding for the $480 million arena and making sure every detail was built to sparkle. The Magic contributed almost $100 million.
"I'm overwhelmed because everybody has worked so hard and a lot of people deserve a lot of credit," Martins said before tip-off, his voice cracking. "I just think about the next 50 years and all of the great memories that are going to be created in this building."
The downtown arena is quite a change from the bland facility the Magic vacated a few blocks away.
The new arena — with 18,500 seats and almost three times the square footage of the old — also houses the teams practices facilities, two levels of luxury suites, wine bars, beer bars, indoor restaurants, outdoor cafes and even a nightclub. There's a play area for kids, retail outlets, food courts and the NBA's largest video screen.
The one thing missing? An NBA championship banner.
Notes: Orlando has won 17 straight preseason games. ... Hornets PF David West missed the game with a sprained right wrist. Joe Alexander started in his place ... The Magic held a grand opening gala Saturday night, raising $300,000 for the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness.