Howard leads way as Magic dominate Wizards, win 40th game

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Orlando Magic weren't about to display any swagger after a dominating victory over a possible first-round playoff opponent.

After all, they know the Washington Wizards could look a lot different should the teams face each other over a two-week series in April.

Orlando never trailed, took a quick 10-2 lead and hardly looked back in Wednesday night's 122-92 victory. It was the Magic's third straight win and sixth in seven games, and they stretched their Southeast Division lead over the Wizards to 9 1/2 games.

"It was a combination of them being as undermanned as they were, and us playing extremely well," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It was our best game on both ends of the floor in a long time."

Before the game, both teams discussed the very real possibility of meeting again in the postseason. The Magic appear destined to earn the Eastern Conference's No. 3 seed and would draw a matchup with the No. 6 seed -- where Washington has been stuck in recent weeks.

But the Wizards responded with another lackluster effort. Their main consolation is that they expect injured stars Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler to return before the postseason.

"I don't know if Caron is coming back or not, but if they add him to the team, it's going to be very hard to beat those guys," Orlando center Dwight Howard said. "They're undermanned, but we just didn't want to relax."

Howard had 20 points and 11 rebounds, but most of his damage was done after the Magic had built a 59-44 halftime lead. Rashard Lewis had 13 of his 17 points in the first half, and Keith Bogans went 5-for-5 in the first half for 12 of his 17 points.

Jameer Nelson had nine points, 10 assists and only one turnover as the Magic picked apart Washington's dreadful attempt at defense with easy backdoor passes and 56 percent shooting. Orlando had seven layups in the first quarter alone and notched its biggest margin of victory of the season.

"They took it to us," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "They were the aggressors, and we just didn't compete physically. ... We backed off. We're playing the best team in the division, one of the best teams in the league against one of the best big men in the league, and I really thought we would compete at a higher level -- and we didn't."

Antawn Jamison scored 19 points for the Wizards, who had won four of five and were trying to get back to .500 for the first time since Feb. 8.

Washington missed more than a half-dozen shots from point-blank range in the first half and shot only 33 percent in the first quarter. The Wizards didn't have a fast-break point or a second-chance point in the first half.

"We didn't have the energy we needed," point guard Antonio Daniels said.

The Wizards thought they were ripe to pull off the upset. They had two days to prepare following a morale-building home win over New Orleans on Sunday, while the Magic were playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

Instead, one sequence at the end of the first quarter described the game better than any other.

Washington's Andray Blatche -- who shot 1-for-10 -- missed a wide-open layup after making a backcourt steal. Teammate Dominic McGuire failed to convert an easy tip-in and was called for basket interference. The Magic then held the ball for the last shot and got a favorable bounce when Carlos Arroyo's 3-pointer went very high off the rim and straight through the net at the buzzer.

"We're trying to get as many wins as we can and trying to get a better playoff spot," said Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu, who scored 12 points. "If we don't make any stupid mistakes, it looks like we're going to end up in third place."

Game notes
Magic G Keyon Dooling missed his third straight game with sprained left foot. ... Bogans continues to battle a strained abdominal muscle. "Take a little medicine, ice it, and go out there and try not to get hit on it," Bogans said. "It's painful." ... The Magic matched their victory total (40) from last season. ... Wizards rookie Oleksiy Pecherov scored a career-high 15 points. ... The Wizards reported no setbacks for Arenas one day after his first full-contact practice since knee surgery in November. "He felt great," Jordan said. There remains no timetable for the return of either Arenas or Butler (hip).