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Howard manhandles Wizards as Magic win third straight

Nov 28, 2008 - 5:44 AM By Tim Hipps PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic had little trouble with the Washington Wizards on Thursday, taking control early and cruising to a 105-90 victory.

The All-Star center collected 26 points and 14 boards as Orlando won its third straight. Howard shot 8-of-12 from the field and 10-of-14 at the free-throw line against Wizards rookie center JaVale McGee and a host of others who could not stop the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

Howard scored six points in the first two minutes of play as the Magic stormed ahead. They put it into cruise control at the end of the quarter, as Rashard Lewis, J.J. Redick and Courtney Lee each buried 3-pointers to help open up a 15-point lead.

"Our thing is we have to come out strong and let teams know how the game is going to be played the whole night, and we've got to be able to do that every night to be a great team," Howard said. "Look at the teams like the Celtics and the Lakers, they come out the first quarter and they dominate and set the tone. We have to continue to do that in order to be one of those teams."

Howard already had 14 points with nine rebounds at the end of the first, as the Magic led, 38-25, and were never seriously threatened.

"He was obviously the dominant guy in the first half," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "He scored, he rebounded, he made plays, but I thought we just got a good overall team effort, pretty good defensive effort. For five games in seven nights, I just liked our energy and our focus."

At one point in the period, the score was Howard 12, Wizards 11 - which sounds like a cross-town scrimmage in Washington. Unfortunately for the Wizards, the overall score was Orlando 25, Washington 11.

"No one in the league has matched up well against him except Houston," Wizards forward Caron Butler said. "He's a handful. He's a guy who can pound you down there. It's tough to officiate a guy like that because he's so strong. He's like Shaq. He's a great player, a great talent. He's going to be one of the best centers ever."

Hedo Turkoglu had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Orlando, which got 17 points apiece from Rashard Lewis and Mickael Pietrus. Anthony Johnson ran the Magic show with 12 assists.

"(Howard is) really helping all of us (play) better because it's so hard to guard him one-on-one out there - it opens up for other guys when they double team and he's a good passer, too," Turkoglu said. "He knows when to kick it out. We're just sharing the ball and finding the open guy and just playing through him. As long as we do that, we're always going to get good results."

It was smooth sailing for most of the night. The Wizards - who earned just their second win of the season on Tuesday in new head coach Ed Tapscott's debut - fell back to earth.

"First of all, we know they are a good team, and especially after the coach changing we know they came really hard against Golden State," Turkoglu said. "We came with that in mind, that they were going to play energetically and try to jump us early on our back-to-back. We really came mentally ready to not let them get going and to keep control of the game in our hands."

Washington was led by Caron Butler's 25-point effort. Antawn Jamison scored 17 and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Orlando improved to 9-2 when holding opponents to less than 100 points.

"Offensively, there was no movement at all," Jamison said. "You can get away with that with certain teams, but with a good team like Orlando, it's going to be a long night. They got into a comfort zone. They didn't sweat at all throughout the whole game. They ran what they wanted to run."

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