March 10, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) defends against Chicago Bulls small forward Jimmy Butler (21) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Earl Clark Returns to Orlando Tonight. Dwight Howard Too.

The Los Angeles Lakers play the Orlando Magic Tuesday night in Orlando, and it’s not guaranteed to be a happy homecoming for the familiar faces. Orlando is currently 18-46, just good enough for second to last in the Eastern Conference. A quick look at the Magic’s roster and it’s easy to tell why fans can hardly blame the players on the floor for the struggles. They have some missing pieces which come into town tonight, including 1 big piece, they can now blame in person.

Magic fans could blame management too. But their hand was really forced last year when Earl Clark and Chris Duhon skipped town. So all the commotion of the close to 75 media members were on hand to see Clark return at shoot-around this morning to his second (of 3) NBA homes. The Lakers starting power forward has made the most of his first starting opportunity and is very widely recognized and praised in LA. In 2 seasons in Orlando, Clark played in 78 games, only 1 of which he started, and averaged about 12 minutes per game.

The media then noticed Dwight Howard shooting extra baskets after the shoot-around when he joked to the media that they should interview him on his return to Orlando, not Clark. Or was it the other way around? Let’s go with the latter actually.

I would expect a very turbulent return to Orlando for Dwight Howard. He played the best basketball of his career there, and took the Magic to an NBA Finals. So he has nothing to apologize for his on court performance. But Howard’s should I stay or should I go routine has set this franchise back by at least 5 years. He ousted Stan Van Gundy as well to assure there was no continuity in this Magic team. And the 18 wins are the evidence of a team who only looks good when compared to the Bobcats. If he has a big game some of those initial boos could turn to cheers as Lakers fans are everywhere. But it is certainly a big game for both teams.

A lot of conclusions will be made about Dwight Howard’s effort, abilities, and potential based on how he performs in the biggest game of the Magic’s season. But don’t forget in the team’s first matchup, the Magic thoroughly outplayed the Lakers down the stretch.

How will the Lakers fare tonight LA Sports Hubsters

Tags: Dwight Howard Earl Clark Los Angeles Lakers

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