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Areas need punching up

Howard figuring out his Game 2 strategy

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / May 18, 2010

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MAITLAND, Fla. — After wrestling with Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis, and Rasheed Wallace in Game 1’s 92-88 loss to the Celtics Sunday, Magic center Dwight Howard said he would pick and choose his battles in Game 2 tonight at the Amway Center.

“It’s not about fighting,’’ Howard said. “I think that’s the thing I tried to do [Sunday] was just fight and fight and fight. It’s about us playing together. This series, for us, is about how strong we can be, mentally. They’re going to fight us and they’re going to do all that stuff, but how strong can we be against them?’’

Perkins presented a particularly physical but familiar challenge to Howard, who was held to 13 points on 3-of-10 shooting.

“He’s done the same thing,’’ Howard said about Perkins. “I think if I keep doing the same thing, I’m going to have the same outcome against him by allowing him to fight and play his game. His game is to be physical and to try and fight me. But I don’t have to fight him to try and score. There’s other ways around it. The times I was successful were the times I didn’t fight him for the post position, fight to score.

“I just made the game simple,’’ Howard added. “That’s what you have to do against a big body like Kendrick and Rasheed. You have to be patient.’’

Instead of wrestling, it sounded as if Howard was considering more of a boxer’s mentality in Game 2 — stick and move.

“I guess,’’ he said. “I would just say I just have to pick and choose when to post up, when to go to pick-and-rolls. Don’t give them a steady diet of something. Make them work. All the things that I do well, that I’ve done, I have to do it against them.’’

Told that was often what a boxer does in the ring — throw combinations to keep an opponent off balance before going for the payday punch — Howard replied, “Then I got to turn into Floyd Mayweather.’’

Give it a rest
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy still was not buying into the rust factor as having any consequence in Game 1.

Sure, the Magic came off a five-day hiatus after sweeping the Hawks in four games in the conference semis. But, as far as Van Gundy was concerned, it was immaterial.

“I think that’s too convenient an excuse,’’ he said. “We did not come with great energy. We did not play, we didn’t play hard enough. The Celtics brought a lot more energy than we did. That was the story.’’

Barnes better
Matt Barnes, who emerged with a balky back from the four-game sweep of the Hawks, seemed hampered in Game 1. But after yesterday’s practice, Barnes reported feeling much better. “I think more than anything [Sunday] it was my conditioning,’’ he said. “I haven’t had a chance to run since Game 4 [against Atlanta] and chasing Ray Allen around picks and screens, I had a hard time doing that. So I ran a lot today and I’ll be ready tomorrow.’’ Asked if he was concerned about more of the same in guarding Allen, Barnes said, “I’m usually pretty good with that and I haven’t felt any pain in my back for the last two days, just stiffness. Once I get warm, I’m fine.’’ . . . Howard said he was unaware about the box office results for the opening of “Just Wright,’’ the romantic comedy in which Howard plays himself in a cameo. Told the movie wound up fourth after raking in $8.5 million, Howard replied, “Oh wow. I’ll probably get about $5 of that.’’ Just enough for a box of popcorn.

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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