Updated: March 15, 2012, 11:00 AM ET

1. Was This Howard's Last Hurrah For Orlando?

By Timothy Varner
TrueHoop Network

SAN ANTONIO -- Stan Van Gundy and Tony Parker have something in common. They can both change directions quickly.

The Orlando coach opened his pregame set with a series of praises about the Spurs. Van Gundy called Parker "the best cutting point guard in the league" and claimed embarrassment over how much better Gregg Popovich-coached teams execute in comparison to the rest of the league. But no one in the Magic locker room will remember that. And no one outside the locker room will care.

The Spurs beat the Magic on Wednesday night. But if San Antonio's 122-111 victory is remembered for anything, it will be remembered as a parenthetical between news interviews.

Van Gundy's pregame praise of the Spurs didn't last long. He tried to set the mood with chalk talk, but it went the inescapable direction of Dwight Howard's on again, off again dalliance with his future in Orlando. When faced with a series of questions about Howard, Van Gundy broke hard the other direction.

Dwight Howard
AP Photo/Bahram Mark SobhaniLots of things are in-between these days for D12.

"I don't even want to talk about it. It's so tiresome," he said.

"I've been dealing with this for three months. There is nothing fresh about it. I'm tired of it. Talk to somebody else."

And while the night did not meet Van Gundy's "freshness" requirements, it was rich with irony.

The Magic were playing in San Antonio, after all. While Orlando might be on the cusp of starting over, the Spurs just keep moving along as one of the league's best teams. Unlike Orlando, San Antonio is never mired in the kind of media circus that seems to follow the Magic from game to game. The Spurs' modus operandi is to quietly work with players behind the scenes -- and they tend to extend the contracts of their best players long before they become the objects of public spectacle.

Tim Duncan is as quiet as Howard is loud.

This is the other irony, of course. Howard has a gift for drawing attention to himself while complaining about getting too much attention. He gives every impression of a man who wants it both ways.

After the game, Howard eschewed a quick "no comment," and instead delayed his interview until most of his teammates had showered, dressed and cleared the locker room. He put up a little woe-is-me, didn't-I-answer-this-last-night resistance, but, after giving that a turn, he returned to the language of veiled ultimatums and coded ambiguity.

"I've done my job," he said after the game. "And despite everything, I'm still the same person. So if you want to scrutinize me for taking care of Dwight, that's fine."

It wasn't an interview that lent itself to relief or clarity or even intelligibility.

"They took a chance on me at [age]18. ... I gave them everything I had for years. ... Take a chance again.

"They took a chance on me at 18, when everybody else said, 'No, don't do it!'

"They looked stupid at first, but look now. It's the same situation."

From this vantage point, it didn't seem that anyone in the locker room understood whether it was the same situation or, for that matter, what situation Howard has in mind. Howard's recent time in Orlando is accentuated by confused sentiments and the dizzy swirl of conflicting visions. Judging by tonight, Howard's time aboard his strange tilt-a-whirl of uncertainty will continue 'round for at least another day.

Timothy Varner's work appears on 48 Minutes of Hell, TrueHoop's San Antonio Spurs blog.

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