ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Los Angeles Clippers were distraught and dejected, stunned after losing two things Tuesday night.
Their game to the Orlando Magic. Their general manager Mike Dunleavy.
The way both happened caught them by surprise.
Dwight Howard had 22 points and 15 rebounds to help the Magic roll past the Clippers 113-87 to tie a season high with their sixth straight victory.
After Los Angeles announced in the middle of the game that Dunleavy and the team were parting ways, interim coach Kim Hughes delivered the news to his players during his postgame speech.
"It's just like another monkey wrench in a roller-coaster season for us," said Clippers guard Baron Davis, who was nauseous, dizzy and had a stomachache earlier in the day.
The Magic left the Clippers just as woozy.
"I liked the way we approached the game coming off a big win the other night," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "There was no letdown, especially in the second half. We played well and hard, and we didn't turn the ball over in the first half. It was just a mature, very solid approach."
Not so much for the Clippers.
Davis fought through the sickness that forced him to miss the morning shootaround. He came off the bench to finish with 16 points, and Chris Kaman added 12 as Los Angeles lost for the sixth time in the last seven games.
The announcement came barely a month after Dunleavy relinquished his head coaching duties to focus solely on being general manager.
"I thought Mike was going to focus on being the GM and that's what I thought was going to be the course of event. I'm a little bit shocked it occurred," Hughes said.
His team's play on the court reinforced a long-standing view in Los Angeles: They're not the Lakers.
Los Angeles' other team didn't have as much effort or offer as much talent to slow down Orlando as the Lakers did in a back-and-forth finish Sunday. The Clippers had little intensity and allowed the Magic to put this one away early, turning things into a highlight show.
It was hardly a shocker that Howard led the way -- except for the way he did.
Sure, Howard had his blocks, swatting one of Drew Gooden's shots into the seats near the Clippers' bench. And he had his dunks, hustling on one play to beat Kaman down court and finish with a two-handed slam.
But his ballhandling skills? That one surprised everybody.
The All-Star center took a rebound and led a fast break late in the second quarter. He made a quick dribble down the lane before he dished to Brandon Bass for a dunk, bringing a crowd that had exhausted itself two days earlier back to its feet.
"For a second, I thought I was Magic [Johnson]," Howard joked.
Howard spread his arms wide mimicking an airplane in celebration, smiling, laughing, rousing the fans in a game that otherwise lacked drama. The play highlighted a big first half for the Magic and their big man, with Howard's 18 points and 11 rebounds -- playing all 24 minutes -- before intermission giving them a 67-41 lead.
It was obvious Van Gundy wanted to seal the victory quickly. He played Howard the first 32 minutes before relieving his star center for good.
"It may not look like it, but I played my normal minutes. I just played them all together," Howard said. "I was a little winded from my coast-to-coast, but other than that, I was good."
And the minutes were far too much for the Clippers.
"They just did whatever they wanted to," Davis said. "It wasn't a game."
Like so many others for the Clippers.
Gooden makes his home in the Orlando area, but getting to sleep in his own bed Monday night was more than just a perk. Gooden, who has had two stints with the Magic and shuffled around the league the last eight years, said this is the first season he hasn't taken his bed to his new team's city. "The bed was so good, I took two naps today," he said. ... Magic small forward Matt Barnes and reserve center Adonal Foyle both celebrated birthdays Tuesday. Barnes turned 30, and Foyle is now 35.
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