ORLANDO, Fla. -- Gilbert Arenas found a handwritten note on his chair in the locker room Thursday night from Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy that read, "Go out there and play your game. Just push the ball."
And, finally, so did the Magic.
Arenas had 14 points and nine assists off the bench, and Orlando cruised past San Antonio 123-101 to snap the Spurs' 10-game winning streak and give some promise to a remolded Magic team that had been desperately searching for a spark.
"What it does is, I think, it shows us what's possible," Van Gundy said.
Arenas added six rebounds while backing up a sick Jameer Nelson, fellow newcomer Jason Richardson had 15 points and the Magic snapped a skid of eight losses in nine games to win for the first time since they orchestrated two blockbuster trades.
Dwight Howard also had 29 points and 14 rebounds in another dominant performance for Orlando, which shot 59 percent from the floor and had a season-high 30 fast-break points.
"For a team that hasn't practiced yet, really, to go out there and perform the way we did just shows how much talent we have in this room," Arenas said. "A month from now, we should be dangerous."
Tony Parker scored 16 points, Tim Duncan had 12 and the NBA-best Spurs (25-4) dropped their first game in almost a month. San Antonio looked very much like a tired team after beating Denver a night earlier and nothing like the one that has dominated the first third of the season.
"It was bound to happen," Duncan said.
Not that the Magic were complaining.
They were free-falling even before the two trades Saturday brought Arenas from Washington and Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark from Phoenix. They gave up Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat, plus a 2011 first-round draft pick and cash, in the deals.
What they have left has been the great unknown.
Arenas was once a strong MVP candidate with Washington but his career fizzled with knee injuries and off-the-court problems. He pleaded guilty to a felony gun charge last year and was suspended 50 games for bringing weapons into the Wizards' locker room.
The 28-year-old has talked about Orlando being a fresh start. And maybe here's the first sign of that potential: He came into the Magic's practice facility late Wednesday night and didn't leave until he made 500 shots. He even had a crowd that formed along the floor-to-ceiling windows that line the court.
"I was coming just to get 100 up. But then there was a crowd out there. I was like, 'That's pressure. Now I got to go out there and shoot some more shots," Arenas said, laughing.
The initial success for Orlando's revamped roster might not make things any clearer.
Arenas, the centerpiece of the Magic's reconstruction, again came off the bench but played heavy minutes. He entered with the Spurs leading by six in the first quarter and didn't come out the rest of the half, leading an outpouring of offense to help Orlando take a 62-53 lead at the break and go ahead by 20 after three quarters.
Nelson, who said he wasn't bothered by Arenas' minutes, was dehydrated with a stomach ailment and needed to have intravenous fluids at halftime. He started the second half but was pulled for Arenas just after a minute into the third quarter by Van Gundy and didn't return until the game was a rout.
Arenas again said after the game that Nelson was the starter and he was fine coming off the bench. Van Gundy had said matter-of-factly that Nelson would remain the starter, but he left the door open for change Thursday night in comments that will surely fuel fodder for a point guard controversy.
"Could it change?" Van Gundy said. "Sure it could change."
The Spurs could do little to stop the Magic show.
Among the highlights: Arenas stole the ball and had a full-court outlet pass to Richardson for a dunk. Turkoglu rekindled his backdoor, alley-oop pass to Howard. And J.J. Redick and Richardson were sinking 3-pointers on cue.
The Magic pulled away 97-67 heading into the fourth quarter on a flurry of fast-break points. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich cleared the bench before the final period began, and for the first time since Dec. 1 the Spurs were spectators in a loss.
Spurs G George Hill did not play for the fourth straight game because of a sprained right big toe and is expected to miss a few more games. ... Celtics assistant coach Lawrence Frank was courtside scouting for Boston's game against Orlando on Christmas Day.
- Mike Callahan
- Mark Lindsay
- Tony Brown