Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Magic 103, Raptors 90

For the first time in a long time, yours truly stepped foot inside the Amway Arena in downtown Orlando.

Thanks to the generosity of a member of the breakfast bunch, a group of us had lower bowl seats to watch the home team whoop the guys from Toronto.

Dwight Howard was, as usual, a physical presence. The trio of Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, and Jameer Nelson were also impressive with 22 points a piece.

But, the "feel good story" of the evening was guard J.J. Redick, the former Duke star who has been buried on the bench since joining the team. With the recent injury of Michael Pietrus, he was given his first NBA start and hustled every minute he was on the court . . . much more impressive than his 10 points reflect.

Of course, there were notables off the court, too. That's one of the unadvertized attractions at each Magic game. You can always spot Patrick Ewing on the sidelines with the rest of the Orlando coaching staff, though he hardly resembles the star we all remember from the Knicks' heydays. Owner Rich DeVos was clearly visible in one of the floor level seats. But, try as we might, we couldn't find Tiger Woods across the arena. He may have been there, but our collective eyesight was too poor to spot him.

The most humorous part of the evening was actually a celebrity impersonator. Some guy a couple rows behind us was dressed-up like Will Farrell's character in the recent basketball parody "Semi-Pro." He ended up on the Jumbo Tron almost as much as Stan Van Gundy. Just hillarious.

After a night like this, I may just have to start following the Magic again . . . after college football season, of course.

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