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Three Stars of the Night: Dwight’s Return to Orlando

Mar 13, 2013, 12:51 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers Howard drives around Orlando Magic Vucevic in NBA action in Orlando, Florida

It wasn’t a very competitive night of NBA games with blowouts littering scoreboards all across the league. But many of those games wouldn’t have seen the wide margins they did if it weren’t for some fantastic performances from guys who really went above and beyond what they’d normally provide on any given night. Without further ado, let’s get to the difference makers from tonight’s games…

Third Star: Gerald Henderson (35 points, 12-12 FT’s, 3 assists)

Henderson isn’t your typical high volume scorer, but he brought the points in bunches tonight in leading the Bobcasts to a 26 point win over the Celtics. Henderson used his typical hustle to move well off the ball and run the floor for easy baskets but was also able to create (and make) shots for himself in isolation. Henderson’s aggressiveness not only earned him shots at the rim, but also trips to the foul line where he was perfect on 12 attempts. Overall, he was simply too much for any of the Celtics’ wings to handle defensively and the key difference maker in this one.

Second Star: Ricky Rubio (21 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists)

We all know that Rubio can pass. His feel for the game is once in a generation level and every night he has at least one pass that makes you hit rewind on the DVR to watch again and again. And, against the Spurs, Rubio had several remarkable passes that will make the highlight reel. But Rubio was so much more than a passer tonight in racking up a triple double while taking advantage of a Spurs team missing Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. Rubio was all over the floor in this one, grabbing rebounds and pushing the ball to get good looks for himself and teammates. Plus, his 21 points was his first 20+ point game of the season and included one finish that was as great as any pass he made all night:

First Star: Dwight Howard (39 points, 16 rebounds, 3 blocks)

Off the floor, Howard was the center off attention coming into the game as he was returning to Orlando for the first time since his trade to the Lakers last July. But his activity on both ends of the floor and Magic coach Jacque Vaughn’s hack-a-Dwight strategy ensured that he’d also be the center of attention on the floor. Howard flashed the athleticism that’s made him the league’s premier big man, finishing in the lane with dunks and nifty hook shots, hitting the glass hard on both ends, and defending the rim with vigor. But what made his night special was his ability to knock down his free throws and turn Vaughn’s strategy into an epic fail. Dwight hit 25 of the 39 FT’s he took (64% compared to his season average of 49%), including 16 of 20 in the 2nd half. As Vaughn continued to call for his team to foul, Howard calmly stepped up to the line and knocked down his shots, only drawing out the loss he’d lay on his former team. Quite the homecoming for Mr. Howard.

  1. dko83 - Mar 13, 2013 at 1:27 AM

    Good for Dwight. I want to see him 100% healthy, totally happy, not hating Kobe… then we might see the most dominant center in the league again. Also I hate him, but I’m trying to tone down hate lately and just enjoy the games.
    PS. Playoffs going to be good this year! Anyone else #*#$&% psyched?

    • loungefly74 - Mar 13, 2013 at 8:46 AM

      great attitude, dko83. yeah, i am pumped as well. im hoping (some tweaking has to happen, of course) for some great 1st round match-ups such as:

      Knicks vs. Celtics.
      Bulls vs. Nets
      Lakers vs. Spurs/Clips
      Thunder vs. Rockets (any oklahoma versus texas match-up never gets old)
      Nugs vs. Clips/Grizz
      etc… man, there will be some awesome match-ups right away.

      glad to see Rubio showing that spark he is very capable of…the kid is graceful.

  2. baymac408 - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:29 AM

    Yea but I hate LA.. Lets GO WARRIORS

  3. rickyspanish - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:34 AM

    dko83

    I be psyched to the max. And I agree with the less hateful sports fan mentality.

  4. metalhead65 - Mar 13, 2013 at 8:17 AM

    so because he had a great game that means the way he handled his departure from orlando was ok? you see that is the reason he was booed and is hated in the city. nobody said he was a lousy player they are just reacting to the way he treated the fans and the team. they gave him all the support he could ask for and in return he acted like a spoiled child who decided he was not good enough to win without teaming up with a proven winner like kobe. l.a. will find out the true howard should he stay after kobe retires and is not there to protect him anymore and he is expected to lead the team.

    • manchestermiracle - Mar 13, 2013 at 1:00 PM

      Not pursuing good players to put around him is hardly giving him “all the support he could ask for.”

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