Magic 118 Raptors 99
ORLANDO, Fla. — Dwight Howard has a message to fans sitting courtside: Look out.
Howard had 18 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks, and the Orlando Magic spoiled Hedo Turkoglu’s return with a 118-99 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year had fans dodging balls in the stands at near the rate of the burritos being chucked into seats with pressurized guns between timeouts by the arena’s entertainment crew.
“You pay to sit that close, beware,” Howard joked.
Rashard Lewis added 21 points and Matt Barnes had 20 to help the Magic cruise to their second straight win with some potent three-point shooting. Orlando was 14-for-30 from beyond the arc.
The Raptors had a tough time even getting shots near the rim.
“I thought he might have popped the ball one time when he blocked somebody’s shot,” Barnes said of Howard. “It sounded like the ball was going to pop, he blocked the ball so hard.”
It wasn’t exactly a warm welcome home for Turkoglu.
He was showered with a mix of cheers and boos and scored 14 points in the arena where he was a fan favourite before parting ways in the off-season. Turkoglu also had four rebounds and four assists, not nearly enough to prevent the Raptors from losing for the fourth time in five games.
“I wish I could go back to Toronto with a better result,” he said. “We tried to be aggressive, but he’s a shot blocker. We have to take better shots and not let him have eight blocks.”
Led by their big man, the Magic turned things into a high-flying affair.
They had a series of slams and blocks, with Howard starting things in the first quarter with a two-handed, alley-oop dunk from Vince Carter that took Toronto players crowded around the rim by surprise. Howard had another high-flying slam in the second quarter that started a three-point play on a pass Anthony Johnson just lobbed up for grabs, letting his big man finish over Amir Johnson.
There were plenty more highlights on the other end.
Some of Howard’s swats went so far, so fast that teammates started to ask their centre to catch the ball or tap it in-bounds.
Howard said he’s working on that but, he admits, big-time rejections are much more fun.
“It sounds better. And the crowd, I think their reaction is better when you block one and it hits somebody in the front row,” Howard said.
There was a familiar face that kept things close early.
Not quite the pick-and-roll point forward who led the Magic in scoring in the NBA finals last season, Turkoglu still managed to get things done for Toronto. He was potent from outside and clever at drawing fouls — 8-for-8 from the line in the first half — to help the Raptors trim the deficit to five.