Magic 113, Clippers 87

The Los Angeles Clippers were distraught and dejected, stunned
after losing two things Tuesday night.

Their game to the Orlando Magic. Their general manager Mike
Dunleavy.

The way both happened caught them by surprise.

Dwight Howard had 22 points and 15 rebounds to help the Magic
roll past the Clippers, 113-87 on Tuesday night to tie a season
high with their sixth straight victory.

While the Magic were laughing and joking in the locker room
after – even getting a surprise visit by Arizona Cardinals receiver
Larry Fitzgerald – the Clippers were receiving another blow.

After Los Angeles announced in the middle of the game that
Dunleavy and the team were parting ways, interim coach Kim Hughes
delivered the news to his players during his postgame speech.

“It’s just like another monkey wrench in a roller-coaster
season for us,” said Clippers guard Baron Davis, who was nauseous,
dizzy and had a stomach ache earlier in the day.

The Magic left the Clippers just as woozy.

Jameer Nelson had 17 points and Rashard Lewis added 15 as
Orlando took a 26-point halftime lead, cruising to a blowout after
beating the Lakers in an NBA finals rematch Sunday.

“I liked the way we approached the game coming off a big win
the other night,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “There was no
letdown, especially in the second half. We played well and hard,
and we didn’t turn the ball over in the first half. It was just a
mature, very solid approach.”

Not so much for the Clippers.

Davis fought through the sickness that forced him to miss the
morning shootaround. He came off the bench to finish with 16
points, and Chris Kaman added 12 as Los Angeles lost for the sixth
time in the last seven games.

The announcement came barely a month after Dunleavy relinquished
his head coaching duties to focus solely on being general
manager.

“I thought Mike was going to focus on being the GM and that’s
what I thought was going to be the course of event. I’m a little
bit shocked it occurred,” Hughes said.

His team’s play on the court reinforced a long-standing view in
Los Angeles: They’re not the Lakers.

Los Angeles’ other team didn’t have as much effort or offer as
much talent to slow down Orlando as the Lakers did in a
back-and-forth finish Sunday. The Clippers had little intensity and
allowed the Magic to put this one away early, turning things into a
highlight show.

It was hardly a shocker that Howard led the way – except for the
way he did.

Sure, Howard had his blocks, swatting one of Drew Gooden’s shots
into the seats near the Clippers’ bench. And he had his dunks,
hustling on one play to beat Kaman down court and finish with a
two-handed slam.

But his ballhandling skills? That one surprised everybody.

The All-Star center took a rebound and led a fast break late in
the second quarter. He made a quick dribble down the lane before he
dished to Brandon Bass for a dunk, bringing a crowd that had
exhausted itself two days earlier back to its feet.

“For a second, I thought I was Magic (Johnson),” Howard
joked.

Howard spread his arms wide mimicking an airplane in
celebration, smiling, laughing, rousing the fans in a game that
otherwise lacked drama. The play highlighted a big first half for
the Magic and their big man, with Howard’s 18 points and 11
rebounds – playing all 24 minutes – before intermission giving them
a 67-41 lead.

It was obvious Van Gundy wanted to seal the victory quickly. He
played Howard the first 32 minutes before relieving his star center
for good.

“It may not look like it, but I played me normal minutes. I
just played them all together,” Howard said. “I was a little
winded from my coast-to-coast, but other than that, I was
good.”

And the minutes were far too much for the Clippers.

“They just did whatever they wanted to,” Davis said. “It
wasn’t a game.”

Like so many others for the Clippers.

NOTES: Gooden makes his home in the Orlando area, but getting to
sleep in his own bed Monday night was more than just a perk.
Gooden, who has had two stints with the Magic and shuffled around
the league the last eight years, said this is the first season he
hasn’t taken his bed to his new team’s city. “The bed was so good,
I took two naps today,” he said. … Magic SF Matt Barnes and
reserve C Adonal Foyle both celebrated birthdays Tuesday. Barnes
turned 30, and Foyle is now 35. …