Dwight Howard: The Beast
The Beast is a comic book hero from the X-Men series. He has superhuman strength and agility. Notably, he is one of the most intelligent X-Men in the comic book universe. Once Howard refines his game, The Beast will live in Orlando. With a little luck, Disney buys the X-Men rights from Marvel and builds a Beast Ride in Disney World.
In the meantime, Billy Donovan’s understudy has stolen a page out of Phoenix’s book. They use Howard low, forcing the defense to sag and put sharp-shooting Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu on the perimeter. They have Jameer Nelson driving (although not quite the floor maestro that is Steve Nash), and a handful of other role players. Similarly to Phoenix, without Howard in the game they lose the low-post presence as the Magic’s only other experienced big is Adonal Foyle. Once Howard adds a jump-shot like Stoudemire did and stops shooting free throws like Shaq he will fulfill his destiny and become The Beast.
Orlando led by 16 after the first period and by 21 with about 7 minutes into the second period. In the third, they went ice-cold. Turkuglo ended up shooting 4 for 13, but hit two big shots at the end. Lewis hit some nice shots down the stretch; if he would just get under the boards and help Howard occasionally (he’s averaging 4.5 boards a game right now), the Magic would be a much more dominant team.
The Hornets fought hard, but, without Chris Paul, down the stretch they looked unsure of what to do. Jannero Pargo did his best to keep the Hornets in the game, but when Orlando decided to collapse on him in the lane, he could not find any teammates and resorted to taking and missing circus shots.
You’ll remember that last year the Magic started out strong as well. This time, however, it should be easier for them to sustain. More than that, however, they should be an exciting team to watch. Since they’re running the offense like the Suns, when their shooting goes cold, they are going to let teams back into the game and provide some action-packed fourth quarters.