ORLANDO, Fla. -- For the Washington Bullets, there would be no surprise, no comeback, no last-second heroics from Rex Chapman. The second time around, the Orlando Magic played just like the powerhouse everybody expects them to be.
Orlando, with the second-best scoring average in the league, shredded the league's fifth-best defense in last night's 122-102 win before 16,010 at the Orlando Arena.
The Magic scored often, and with ease. Of their 45 field goals, 34 came from within five feet of the basket. Basically the game turned into a dunking and layup clinic by Orlando, a game that suited Shaquille O'Neal just fine. The league's top scorer had 29 points to lead all five starters in double figures.
"We got scouted tonight," said Kevin Duckworth, who scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Bullets. "It could happen to the best of teams. We lost, but tomorrow we'll come back and face a new day."
Fortunately for the Bullets, the new day won't bring the Magic, who took advantage of Washington's rotating defense. Orlando, shocked by the Bullets on opening night, was simply more patient as it made the extra passes and hit cutters to the basket. O'Neal and Anfernee Hardaway had six assists apiece.
"Our rotations just were not good," said Bullets coach Jim Lynam. "We were a step slow and a little late."
And nowhere to be found on the boards, where the Magic held a commanding 57-33 advantage.
Grant, who like O'Neal had 13 rebounds, also had 21 points, not a bad night for someone not feeling well. "Maybe he should have the flu every day," said Magic coach Brian Hill. "I think he's going to have nights like this, scoring-wise, playing alongside Shaq."
It was not a good scoring night for Bullets power forward Tom Gugliotta, who had four points and four rebounds in 33 minutes. Gugliotta, the subject of Chris Webber trade rumors, is shooting 39.7 percent through six games.
"I'm not worried about the way I'm shooting, that's just the way it
goes sometimes," Gugliotta said.
It was the largest margin of the season for the Magic, which set the tone in the first half when it scored 70 points. Twenty-four of Orlando's 28 first-half field goals were layups or dunks.
"Between O'Neal and Horace, they put a lot of pressure on you," Lynam said. "Then they set Penny [Hardaway] up in the box right away. They're good."
As easy as Orlando scored in the first half, the Magic lead was just 50-49 after Don MacLean scored with 7:06 left in the half.
But Washington would not score a field goal for nearly six minutes, trailing 70-58 at the half.
By the third quarter the rout was on, with Orlando taking a 101-85 lead into the fourth quarter against a Washington team that was allowing just 99.0 points a game.
"We just didn't have the same life that we did [in the opener]," said Skiles, who downplayed his return to Orlando. "It was a game, I came to play, and we lost," Skiles said. "I move on to play [tomorrow night] against New Jersey."
And the Bullets did exactly that. Sure, the worst loss of the season was frustrating. But the players realize there will be nights like this.
"It happens to the best teams," Duckworth said. "It's only six games into the season. Nobody here is ready to panic, and they shouldn't."
NOTES: Jim McIlvaine was activated from the injured list before the game, and played for the first time this season. . . . Anthony Tucker was placed on the injured list with tendinitis in his left knee. . . . Don MacLean (left ankle), Duckworth (left Achilles') and Gheorghe Muresan (left hamstring) are day-to-day.