Basketball News Services
Dwight Howard played his first NBA game last night and though it was merely a summer league game (the opener of the Pepsi Pro Summer League hosted by the Magic), it was his first chance to display his skills against professional competition. The verdict, to quote lead Basketball News Services analyst Steve Kyler, was straightforward: "No offense, sporadic defense."
Howard finished with seven points after hitting just one of his thirteen shots. From the silver lining department, he got four blocks, four offensive rebounds, and 11 total rebounds, all game highs, in the 89-73loss to Cleveland. Head coach Johnny Davis liked the defense that he saw and said that the offense would come eventually.
Kyler was more blunt. Howard had solid defense but no offense to speak of. His shot is mechanical-looking and has an odd two-action release that appears easy to time, and he seems to have difficulty getting his shot off in traffic. Defensively, Howard is a "pogo stick," leaping for every block. He did disrupt shots as well as send some way back. His four blocks compare with five total blocks by Cleveland. While many will try to chalk this game up to jitters, it appears as if Howard has no offensive moves at all. Howard said he has was looking to get double-digits in rebounds, which he did, and he wasn't worried about points.
The big winners of last night's game appeared to be Keith Bogans, who led all players with 24 points, and Jameer Nelson, who owned the game with a solid stat line of 13 points, five assists, four rebounds, two steals, and just two turnovers. Nelson reportedly played as if he were the first overall pick.
The best thing we can say about Howard is: it's his first game. We'll see what he does tonight against familiar foe Al Jefferson as the Magic face the Celtics at 5:00 p.m. EDT. Howard predicts he will be a lot more physical tomorrow. My prediction? Jefferson will own him. Do we have the makings of the next great Magic/Bird, 'Melo/'Bron sort of rivalry here?
The Magic will play host in the second annual Orlando Pepsi Pro Summer League July 6-10 at the RDV Sportsplex in Maitland, Florida. Their next game is tonight, Wednesday, July 7th, versus the Boston Celtics at 5:00 p.m. EDT. The complete schedule is as follows:
*Tuesday, July 6th - Cleveland 89 - Orlando 73
*Wednesday, July 7th - Boston - 5:00 p.m. EDT
*Thursday, July 8th - Washington - 5:00 p.m. EDT
*Friday, July 9th - Miami - 5:00 p.m. EDT
*Saturday, July 10th - New Jersey - 2:00 p.m. EDT
Read quotesabout Dwight Howard from Doc Rivers, Jameer Nelson, Danny Ainge, Paul Silas, and Matt Guokas.
Brian Schmitz ofThe Orlando Sentinelwrites: Orlando Magic forward Dwight Howard wanted to come out Tuesday night as the NBA's No. 1 draft pick and "have fun and dominate." At least he had fun. As far as domination, well, that might take a while for the 18-year-old making the leap from high school to the pros... [Jameer] Nelson, the college player of the year at Saint Joseph's last season, turned in the play of the night. He made a steal near the sideline and did a 180-degree turn in the air. Nelson then had the presence of mind to loft a blind lead lob to a streaking Keith Bogans, who made the layup.Bogans, the Magic's second-year small forward/guard, led Orlando with 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting.
John Denton ofFlorida Todaywrites: [John] Weisbrod, the Magic's general manager since March, has twice received written death threats at his home in suburban Orlandoand was forced to retreat to a hotel last week and check in under an alias. The first incident happened on June 17 -- one week before the NBA Draft -- when a written note threatening Weisbrod's life was taped to the front door of his house. The latest incident happened June 30, the day the Magic officially traded superstar Tracy McGrady and three others to the Houston Rockets for Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley and Kelvin Cato. Vandals wrote threatening messages on the glass front door of Weisbrod's house with some sort of marker.
Michael Osipoff ofThe Gary Post-Tribunewrites: Potential-laden rookie Ray Young could wind up with the Orlando Magic.
Dwain Price ofThe Ft. Worth Star-Telegramwrites: Developmental coach Morlon Wiley says he has been offered a job to join the Orlando Magic coaching staff.