Howard's 22 points, 15 rebounds carry Magic
WASHINGTON – Dwight Howard scored 22 points and had 15 rebounds to lead the Orlando Magic to a 110-92 win over the Washington Wizards on Friday in Gilbert Arenas' return to the Verizon Center.
While the pregame attention was on Arenas, Howard was the star of the game.
A night after playing all 48 minutes in a 104-100 loss to Miami, Howard made his first 10 field goals and didn't miss a shot until 2:20 remained in the third quarter. Howard's two dunks and a long jumper, helped the Magic go on a 9-0 run that gave Orlando a 70-62 lead with 3:01 left in the third.
Howard had help from Ryan Anderson, who had 10 of his 19 points in the first quarter, Jason Richardson with 18 points and J.J. Redick, who had 15 points — 12 in the fourth quarter as the Magic won going away.
In his first Washington appearance since being traded to the Magic for Rashard Lewis on Dec. 18, Arenas had 10 points, six rebounds and six assists.
He checked in with 1:31 to play in the first quarter to a mostly warm reception. In his first 90 seconds, Arenas stole the ball from Nick Young, blocked his shot, grabbed a rebound and turned the ball over. In his eight minutes on the floor in the first half, the Magic performed poorly — outscored by 14 points.
They did much better in his second-half stint — with Arenas passing to Redick and Anderson for 3-pointers.
Washington, which has lost seven straight, and nine of 10, was led by Young and Kirk Hinrich with 17.
Wizards rookie guard John Wall was ejected from the game with 2:26 remaining. He had picked up his first technical earlier in the fourth quarter, and as he walked toward the locker room, he stripped off his jersey and tossed it into the crowd.
Orlando had a hot start as Howard had 10 points and seven rebounds on the way to a 29-15 lead with 2:37 left in the first quarter.
Arenas hasn't started with Orlando, and according to his new coach, Stan Van Gundy, he's been a team player.
"His attitude has been great. He's been working at it hard. He's been a team guy. He came right in and made a sacrifice coming off the bench. I always have respect for guys who are willing to make sacrifices for the good of the team," Van Gundy said.
Van Gundy recognizes that Arenas is still recovering from the multiple surgeries and the 50-game suspension last season for bringing guns to the Verizon Center locker room.
"I think he's still a ways away."
Notes: Washington rookie F Trevor Booker has six blocks. ... Orlando F Brandon Bass missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle. ... The Wizards recalled C Hamady Ndiaye from Dakota of the D-League, but he won't play for at least a few weeks. According to coach Flip Saunders, Ndiaye recently hurt his knee and he'll be better able to get treatment in Washington.