HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU — There has been all kinds of ugliness as teams play their first preseason games after several months off and only one week of training camp. But when Dwight Howard scores only five points and grabs only six rebounds in 30 minutes of action, and the Orlando Magic’s 21-game preseason winning streak comes to an end with a 33-point loss to the Miami Heat, there are going to be questions about Howard’s mental state and how his trade demand is affecting his team.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com gives his take…
So it was a bad game for Howard. But it also begged the question of whether it was a message from a guy who has demanded repeatedly to be traded. The Magic currently are not in the mood to trade him; they’ve technically pulled him off the market.
“So, here’s where we are: If he has a bad game, now it’s going to be he’s disengaged,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I mean that is b.s. That is after-the-fact stuff. I didn’t think he was disengaged at all. He just didn’t play real well.”
Van Gundy could defend him all he wanted, but it was hard to take anything else away from what took place out on the floor. Neither Howard nor his teammates looked like they were very inspired by their situation.
Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel isn’t ready to rush to judgement…
Folks, preseason games are seldom pretty and this was more like a glorified practice, the by-product of the lockout.
There would be more alarms going off if the Magic had been routed by the Charlotte Bobcats, frankly.
You have to put it in perspective: The Heat played in the Finals last season and have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who, by the way, all helped torch the Magic in the telltale third quarter.
It really wasn’t all that surprising. The Magic were dismantled by the Heat last season in their second regular-season game of the year in Miami — and that was after a full training camp and eight unbeaten preseason games.
Whether it was a message or just a bad night, the second preseason game between these two teams has obviously become a must-watch. And fortunately, you can see it on NBA TV at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Will Howard and his teammates respond in front of the home crowd? Tune in and scrutinize for yourself.