- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Orlando Magic shooting guard Vince Carter tweaked his tender right big toe during Tuesday afternoon’s practice. But Carter told me a few minutes ago that the injury is not serious and said that he’ll be able to play Wednesday against the Washington Wizards. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy originally told reporters that Carter had “tweaked” an ankle during the practice and sat out the end of the workout. But Carter clarified that he had tweaked his toe and not his ankle. Carter said he aggravated the toe when Ryan Anderson stepped on on his foot during practice.”
- Orlando Magic television color analyst Matt Guokas has set the internet ablaze after stating on a recent telecast that Dwight Howard is a better defender than Bill Russell. Here’s what Guokas told me via e-mail (note: I cleaned up the message): “Dwight’s pick and roll defense is the best I’ve seen. Back in the 50′s and 60′s there wasn’t the discipline in running offenses, nor was there spacing involved because of the three-point line. Help and recover is more of a factor now. Bill was a deceptively strong individual defender against Wilt, even though Wilt put up big numbers. And Russell guarded the paint extremely well and kept his approximate eight blocks a game in play for the most part.”
- Sometimes it feels like the “Heart and Hustle” era is overlooked in Magic history. No problem. Orlando Pinstriped Post has you covered by unveiling a tee “celebrating the fan-favorite 1999/2000 ‘Heart and Hustle’ Orlando Magic squad that won 41 games despite having a roster full of castoffs, rookies, and journeymen as the front-office prepared to clear salary for the 2000 Free Agency period.”
- The NBA has gone green this week and Orlando is at the forefront of the movement, as Kyle Stack of SLAM ONLINE describes: ”Orlando is constructing Amway Center, which they hope will become LEED certified. It will be designed to use 20 percent less energy and 40 percent less water than arenas of a similar size. They will run a compact florescent lightbulb giveaway Apr. 7 for the arena’s first 500 fans. The fans will receive a voucher upon entry and can exchange it for a lightbulb outside the arena starting in the third quarter.”
- Dwight Howard explains his pre-game routine.
- John Hollinger of ESPN Insider lists Howard on his All-Defensive First Team and tabs him as the Defensive Player of the Year: ”I was down on Howard earlier this season, as I didn’t think he was moving particularly well in the first half of the season. All that’s changed since about Christmas, however, and Howard is back to his dominating ways. So are the Magic, who rank a close second to Charlotte in defensive efficiency despite a roster laden mostly with offensive players. The reason, of course, is Howard, who patrols the middle with his breathtaking shot-blocking ability, dominates the defensive glass, helps his guards on the perimeter and nullifies opposing breaks with his speed back down the court. It would be nice if he’d block a few more shots to his teammates rather than going for volleyball spikes into the 10th row, but as long as we’re comparing him to current players rather than Bill Russell, Howard is easily the cream of the crop.”
- Brian Windhorst of The Plain Dealer states why the Magic are as dangerous as ever, specifically against the Cleveland Cavaliers: “Orlando went through a miserable period just after Jan. 1 where they lost seven of nine games as their defense lagged, Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson struggled and Dwight Howard wasn’t impacting games. As is his style, coach Stan Van Gundy had a series of meltdowns and issued a series of venomous challenges to his team. Basically, they listened. Since mid-January, the Magic have gotten back to the active defense that was just as much of a bedrock as their 3-point shooting in the run to the Finals last year.”