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. …