Magic 121, Wizards 94

Stan Van Gundy threw his clipboard in disgust after a basket by
Washington’s James Singleton, stomped his foot and called timeout
with his team ahead.

If the Orlando Magic’s remaining regular-season games are mostly
meaningless, it sure didn’t look like it.

Dwight Howard had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and the Magic beat
the Washington Wizards 121-94 on Wednesday night.

Refusing to rest his starters for the playoffs, Van Gundy wants
things to stay rolling.

“I just want to keep getting better,” he said. “We’re just
going to keep working on trying to shore up areas where we need to
get better.”

In other words, business as usual.

J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus added 16 points apiece to pull
Orlando within a half-game of the idle Los Angeles Lakers for
home-court advantage in case of a possible NBA finals rematch, the
only thing really left at stake for the Magic. They’ve already
clinched a third straight Southeast Division title and are locked
into the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 playoff seed.

“That’s really looking ahead, but that’s really all we have to
play for right now,” Magic forward Matt Barnes said. “Every game
is still important.”

Not so much for Washington.

Nick Young had 21 points, and Mike Miller scored 16 for the
Wizards, who missed another chance for their first three-game
winning streak in two years. The teams split the season series
2-2.

“We ran out of gas a little bit,” Wizards coach Flip Saunders
said.

They also had no problem with the Magic’s aggressive
attitude.

“I think it’s a smart play,” Miller said. “It’s not coach Van
Gundy’s first rodeo. He’s done this before. I think it’s good to
keep yourself on that rhythm.”

The play in the second quarter was a microcosm of Van Gundy’s
philosophy.

After Singleton made a jumper over Pietrus, Van Gundy was having
none of the poor defense and shoddy effort. He railed his players
before picking up the clipboard and drawing up a play.

“Sort of on cruise control, not with a lot of energy and
intensity in the first half,” he said. “We couldn’t stop them,
which is a concern.”

The Magic responded with a 16-2 run capped by 3-pointers by Ryan
Anderson and Pietrus to go ahead 46-33. The Wizards would come back
quickly, trimming the lead to six at the half.

That wouldn’t last.

The Magic went on a 16-4 spurt and ended the third quarter in
dramatic fashion: Jason Williams made a 3-pointer with 2 seconds
left. Then Barnes stole a pass from Fabricio Oberto and batted the
ball back to Williams, who converted a 26-footer at the buzzer to
give the Magic a 19-point lead and throw the crowd into a
frenzy.

“That was pretty good,” Van Gundy said.

“I just got lucky,” Williams said.

A day after Cleveland coach Mike Brown said he intends to rest
his players and is approaching the final regular-season games “as
a high-level practice,” the Magic are choosing to go full speed
into the postseason. Orlando has won 16 of its last 19 games and
plays at Cleveland on Sunday.

Van Gundy has said he won’t sit players unless they’re injured
because the Magic, who use a deep bench, don’t have anybody in the
top 40 in minutes played.

They also have a chance to catch the Lakers in the chance they
meet in the finals.

Orlando and Los Angeles split the season series. The Magic will
have to finish ahead of the Lakers in the standings because Los
Angeles owns the tiebreaker with a better record against the East
than Orlando has versus the West.

Van Gundy said he can understand Brown’s plans. Just don’t
expect the Magic to change theirs.

“They have home-court wrapped up all the way through the
playoffs, so he’s right,” Van Gundy said. “It’s a nice situation
to be in. I’ve never been there.”

NOTES: Wizards F Al Thornton returned after missing the last
seven games with a strained hip flexor. He was held scoreless in 12
minutes of play. … Magic G Vince Carter showed no signs of being
slowed by injury after tweaking his right big toe during Tuesday’s
practice. … The Wizards’ last three-game winning streak came
April 4-9, 2008.