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Dwight Howard Makes Free Throws in Return to Orlando

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People in Orlando were keyed in for Dwight Howard's return. Not only did he leave the Magic hanging in limbo for a couple of seasons wondering whether he would exercise his option, whether he really wanted to stay in Orlando, whether he could still play for Stan Van Gundy. For two seasons he said one thing one day, another thing another day in an effort to say what people want to hear.

After getting Van Gundy fired, finally he was traded to the Lakers putting an end to that soap opera. As a result the Magic are a horrible 18-46, and the Lakers are... Well you know.

As if this day didn't have enough bluster to it, Howard compounded it by telling KCAL, "My team in Orlando was a team full of people who nobody wanted, and I was the leader, and I led that team with a smile on my face."

That didn't sit well with former teammates Jameer Nelson and JJ Redick who went so far as to tell ESPN LA, "I would be more surprised when Dwight starts taking responsibility. That would be the most negative thing I can say, but that's the truth."

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Oooh. Burn.

The only player still left from Howard's Magic teams is Nelson. But oddly enough the story of the game was all about Howard and Orlando's fatal game plan.

Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn decided the best course of action would be to exercise the Hack-a-Howard strategy. It seemed to work at first as Howard missed seven of his first nine free throws. But Howard eventually made them pay.

Howard set the NBA record for free throw attempts in this game going to the line 39 times. He sank 25 of them including 16 of the 20 attempts in the second half. This really makes you wonder why the Magic continued to employ this strategy as it backfired on them time and time again.

Howard ended up scoring a season-high 39 points while grabbing 16 rebounds and blocking three shots as the Lakers avenged their December loss at STAPLES Center with a 106-97 win. It's amazing how Howard was able to make Kobe Bryant and his Western Conference Player of the Week honors a nonstory as he scored only 11 points.

In the back-and-forth race, the Lakers now edged the Utah Jazz by a half-game for eighth in the conference. The Lakers also trail the Golden State Warriors by a half-game for seventh place.

I've seen a lot of whooping and hollering on Twitter by Laker fans convinced that the Lakers recent win streak is a sign of excellence. It's nice that they are beating the teams they should be beating, but there are also some horrible losses to Oklahoma City, Denver, Miami and the Clippers in this last month. So how this translates to a championship, I am still befuddled.

During the first quarter Howard and injured Magic center Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who incidentally is a recent vegan convert, had an exchange of words and ideas. It just reminds me that fighting should be allowed in all sports like it is in hockey. In a lot of instances it will make things a lot more interesting.

Take the World Baseball Classic. It's a fake baseball contest held while teams are playing fake baseball. With the exception of baseball purists, no one watching the tournament. Then this beauty over the weekend between Mexico and Canada sparked by the Dodgers own Luis Cruz:

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You should have heard the scorn the baseball purists thrown out on Twitter. But fuck it. Without that fight I wouldn't have been interested in the outcome of that game. And that is the only score I know from the entire tournament — Canada won 10-3. Hell, I don't even know which countries are still in the damn thing.

I'll guarantee you if fighting is allowed, a lot of jawing will be eliminated. There are a whole lot of fake tough guys out there, but in hockey you actually know which ones are for real.

So let them wail away.

Speaking of hockey, the Ducks Corey Perry was thrown out of their game against the Minnesota Wild for this shot on Jason Zucker in the second period:

Yup, that's the Corey Perry a lot of people remember, and a "Shanaban" could be in order for that hit to the head. The Ducks still won 2-1 sweeping the three-game series against the Wild.

The Kings will lose to the Phoenix Coyotes though the final score is the only thing not finalized in the game. It was 4-1 Phoenix late in the second period, and it's off to bed for me.