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Southeast division roundup: Orlando's first place magic trick

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Southeast division roundup: Orlando's first place magic trick

Orlando Magic: Before we go any further, let me note that these teams are listed in current standings order...No Dwight Howard was not shipped back to Central Florida. Actually, the Magic (2-0) didn't have starters Jameer Nelson or Hedo Turkoglu Sunday night against Phoenix - and for over two quarters, it showed. The Suns led by 14 points in the third before the Magic stormed back for a stunning 115-94. J.J. Redick paced five double-digit scorers with 24 points before a crowd of 17,022 inside the Amway Center. Why mention the attendance? This game marked the first non-sellout since Jan. 6 2009, the Orlando Sentinel reported. If this Michael Beasley quote proves accurate - and it would be a stunner if so - except full houses again soon. Said the Suns forward, "It might be better for them that they don't have Dwight Howard. Their all-around scoring is better."

Miami Heat: Admit it or not but Wizards' fans will keep an eye on those that played here last season, but have, um, moved on. Traded to and amnestied by the Hornets before signing as a free agent with the Heat, Rashard Lewis figures to get nothing but open looks playing for the star-studded defending champions. In three games with the Heat (2-1), the perimeter threat is averaging 9.3 points, including a 16-point effort Nov.2 in a loss to the Knicks. Last season in 28 games with Washington - he missed the final 33 games, never quite making it back from an injury -, Lewis scored at least 16 points twice. If this keeps up, those keeping tabs will be doing some rolling with those eyes.

Charlotte Hornets: Any "break up the Hornets" talk after the opening game 90-89 shocker over Indiana ended with 24 hours after a road trip to Dallas included a 124-99 pounding by the Mavericks. Nobody really expected a win even without Dirk Nowitzki sidelined because Charlotte simply does not beat Dallas. Ever, never, ever...never. The Bobcats fell to 0-16 in the series, the Charlotte Observer reported. Allowing Dallas to shoot 61 percent from the field might have had something to do with this latest loss. On the glass half full front, Bobcats free agent acquisition and point guard Ramon Sessions finished with 22 points, five assists, and four rebounds.

Atlanta Hawks: Speaking of free agent signings, Lou Williams is quickly doing his part to have folks forget Joe Johnson. On the road in Oklahoma City against the defending Western Conference champions, Williams scored 14 of the Hawks (1-1) final 23 points including a run of 10 straight as Atlanta silenced the Thunder for a 104-95 win on Sunday night. Still not sure the logic of why Philadelphia let Williams go - replacing him with Nick Young to boot. The folks in Atlanta, at least the small faction that care about the Hawks (or pro sports) surely don't care what the Sixers were thinking, but are just happy they did. Williams, who finished with 19 against Oklahoma City, also led the Hawks with 22 points in the opening game loss to the Rockets.

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John Wall isn't listening to Drake's trash talk and isn't listening to his music either

John Wall isn't listening to Drake's trash talk and isn't listening to his music either

The friendly feud between Wizards guard John Wall and Raptors superfan Drake nearly tilted to Washington over the weekend as the rap star apparently floated the idea of showing up for Game 3 in D.C. 

Drake, in fact, was going to bring with him a prop to show just how confident he was after his team went up up 2-0.

"I told him to be here for Game 3. He told me he was going to be here," Wall said. "He didn't show up. He told me we was getting swept and he said he had the broom for us."

Wall and Drake exchanged trash-talk throughout the first two games held up in Toronto as Drake sat courtside. Their back-and-forth was caught on camera and went viral.

Wall now has the upperhand with the Wizards having won two straight games as the series shifts back to Toronto for Game 5 on Wednesday.

"I wanted him to know that they wasn't going to sweep us," Wall said. "We did what we were supposed to do. We came home and took home court, won two games."

Wall continued to say that him and Drake "are just having fun." He has referred to Drake as a friend in the past and Drake is a fan of the University of Kentucky, where Wall starred during the 2009-10 season.

But that friendship is currently on hold. Wall, in fact, says isn't listening to any of Drake's songs during the series and that includes 'Nice For What,' Drake's latest single. The song is being played everywhere, but Wall is avoiding it. 

"I can't?" Wall said when told he can't get away from 'Nice For What.' "I always have my headphones on."

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How the Wizards have taken Raptors big man Serge Ibaka out of the series on offense

How the Wizards have taken Raptors big man Serge Ibaka out of the series on offense

The Wizards-Raptors first round playoff series has evolved to feature the emergence of several players who started off slowly including Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat and Kelly Oubre, Jr. The opposite has happened for Toronto big man Serge Ibaka.

After Ibaka lit up the Wizards for 23 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks in Game 1, there has been a disappearance. His scoring has gone missing and it's a big reason why the Wizards have won two straight games and earned a 2-2 series split.

Head coach Scott Brooks knows Ibaka well from their days in Oklahoma City. He helped develop Ibaka and has since watched from afar as his game has changed to include a consistent outside game.

Brooks has on several occasions referred to Ibaka as one of the best three-point shooting big men in the league. The numbers back that up. Last season, he shot 39.1 percent from three on 4.0 attempts per game, excellent for a 6-foot-10 power forward.

This season that number dipped to 36 percent, but he hit 41 percent of his threes in his final 16 games of the regular season. That carried over into the playoffs when he went 3-for-4 in Game 1 as part of an 8-for-11 shooting night overall.

The Wizards made a point to take away those outside shots following their series-opening defeat. The way they are doing that is by crowding him when he gets the ball, even if it means him getting past the initial defender.

"You want to make sure you meet him on the catch. You want to take away his shot," Brooks said. "When he gets open shots, they are money. He's going to knock them down... We did a good job of meeting him on his catch and making him put the ball on the floor with his left hand. You can live with the results."

After his 23-point outburst in Game 1, Ibaka has scored just 20 points total in the last three games. He has gone 2-for-6 from three.

The Wizards are taking away his shot attempts in general. He took 11 shots in each of the first two games of this series, but just four in Game 3 and five in Game 4. In Game 3 he had three points and three turnovers and on Sunday he had seven points and four turnovers.

Here are two examples of the Wizards' defense on Ibaka. On this first play, Markieff Morris meets Ibaka as soon as he catches the ball and the result is a turnover:

On this next play, Morris follows Ibaka all the way to the rim and even though he goes up on a pump fake, Morris recovers to alter Ibaka's shot and force a miss:

The Wizards, however, did get away with one against Ibaka. He was left wide open for a three in the final minute, but the shot rimmed out:

As the first two plays demonstrate, Morris deserves a lot of credit for the Wizards' success against Ibaka. He has the size and mobility to keep up with him and is willing to use contact to his advantage.

"Just playing the tendencies," Morris said. "We're making them do things they are uncomfortable with and are getting better results."

Ibaka was fourth on the Raptors this season in points per game and third in shot attempts. He is their third option behind All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. If the Wizards can continue to lock up Ibaka, it will be difficult for the Raptors to beat them.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

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