ORLANDO — Dwight Howard had
21 points and 15 rebounds, Vince Carter scored 15 points and the
new-look Orlando Magic rolled to a 120-106 victory over the
Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night in the season opener for both
Ryan Anderson added 16 points, and
Jason Williams had 15 points to highlight a deep Magic bench. Orlando
went ahead by 23 points at the half, scored 100 through three quarters
and showed no signs of a finals hangover after losing to the Los
Angeles Lakers on the same floor in June.
Marreese Speights had 26 points, and
Elton Brand added eight points in his first regular-season game since
missing most of 2008-09 with a right shoulder injury for Philadelphia.
The Magic didn't spend much time embracing last season's success.
The Eastern Conference championship
banner was already hanging from the rafters before the game. A video
montage of their playoff run only lasted about three minutes, and coach
Stan Van Gundy — in his usual play-the-game-already attitude — was
stretched out in his chair on the bench during opening night
It didn't long take to open a big lead, either.
A perfect preseason behind them, the
Magic showed signs that those exhibition wins weren't a fluke. They
went down by five points early in the first quarter before showing why
so many have them picked to again contend with Boston and Cleveland for
a conference title.
Carter took a near halfcourt
alley-oop pass from Matt Barnes and finished left-handed, his mother in
the fourth row among the throngs in the arena brought to their feet in
celebration for the hometown kid.
Carter, a Daytona Beach native who
has made his home in Orlando for years before being traded in the
offseason from New Jersey, followed that with a 3-pointer to highlight
a furious Magic push that put them ahead by 23 points at the half.
Even with all the talent on display, Orlando was missing a key piece.
The Magic are without Rashard Lewis
for the first 10 games after the All-Star forward was suspended by the
league for testing positive for an elevated level of testosterone.
Lewis posted a link on his Twitter page to a video of him exercising on
a stationary bike at his home about two hours before tip-off.
Philadelphia didn't show quite the same energy.
Having Brand back didn't help much,
and although Louis Williams had 18 points, his reign as the full-time
point guard was shaky. The Sixers were sloppy and resembled little of
the team that took the Magic to six games in the first round of the
playoffs last season.
The only real fight Philadelphia
showed all night was when Speights went face-to-face with Howard after
the big men got tangled up underneath the rim in the second quarter.
Howard was called for a technical foul on the play.
The Sixers never got so close again.
Most of the Magic players
said during the morning shootaround that they watched the Lakers'
championship ring ceremony Tuesday night. Howard said it was difficult
to observe but joked that "the rings are very pretty." Van Gundy said
seeing Los Angeles get its rings brought back a lot of bad memories
from the finals. "You sort of relive the whole thing," Van Gundy said.
"Not pleasant." … Tiger Woods, a central Florida resident, sat
courtside but didn't return to his seat for the second half with the
Magic leading big.
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