Magic-Wizards Preview

Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic are looking to get back on

the winning track heading out of the All-Star break.

Facing the Washington Wizards should represent a good chance to

do that.

Howard and the Magic look to continue their domination of the

woeful Wizards on Wednesday night in the nation’s capital.

Orlando (22-13) has won 10 of 14 overall, but entered the break

by shooting 37.8 percent from the floor – 7 for 32 from beyond the

arc – in an 83-78 defeat at Atlanta on Thursday. That performance

prompted a brief players-only meeting.

“You’ve got to stick together and buy into what we’re trying to

accomplish and go from there,” Howard said. “My focus is just to

keep the guys in the locker room together despite what’s being said

on the outside.”

Howard appeared in his sixth All-Star game Sunday, finishing

with nine points and 10 rebounds in the Eastern Conference’s

152-149 loss in Orlando.

The center remains the driving force of the Magic despite the

trade speculation that has swirled around him. The franchise’s

all-time leader in points (11,024) and rebounds (7,821), Howard

leads Orlando with 20.1 points and an NBA-high 15.3 rebounds per

game.

Ryan Anderson, second on the team with averages of 16.1 points

and 7.3 boards, is looking to shake out of a recent funk. He

averaged 10.5 points on 34.9 percent shooting over the last four

games before the break.

Howard and Anderson scored 23 points apiece and Howard had 18

rebounds in the Magic’s 109-103 home win over Washington (7-27) on

Feb. 1, Orlando’s eighth consecutive victory in the series. Those

eight wins have come by an average of 17.2 points.

Washington is also trying to end a five-game overall losing

streak as it opens a five-game homestand. Coach Randy Wittman’s

frustration grew after the Wizards’ highest scoring effort of the

season went for naught in a 119-118 loss at Milwaukee on

Tuesday.

Wittman benched starting center JaVale McGee in the second half

and played leading scorer Nick Young for only five minutes after

the break, but was also critical of his younger players.

“I am done with young guys,” Wittman said. “If they don’t want

to play the right way, the young guys aren’t going to play. They

are not learning anything when they play the way they want to

play.

“It doesn’t do us any good. “You get no development out of them

if they are going in and playing the way they want to play and the

way they did in that first half. … They are not developing. All

they are developing is bad habits. I went with guys that I knew

that were going to go out there and bust their rear ends and try to

do things the right way in the second half.”

Wittman does continue to rely on second-year point guard John

Wall, who is averaging 20.2 points and 9.7 assists and shooting

50.0 percent over his last six games.

That’s much better than Wall played in the last meeting with the

Magic, when he missed 11 of 12 shots to finish with two points.

Wall is averaging 14.2 points and 6.0 assists in five career

games against Orlando.