- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Here’s Dwight Howard’s chance to win MVP. His best chance. Why? Because he can lead a Magic comeback in the stretch run — and don’t we love comeback stories? I mean, there’s really not an overwhelming MVP favorite to date. Let’s review: LeBron James, obviously. But then sometimes you might lean to his sidekick in Miami, Dwyane Wade. They might split the judges’ voting. There’s Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City scoring machine. Doesn’t feel as if young KD has quite acquired that MVP gold card yet. There’s Derrick Rose, who has taken a super star leap to lead the Bulls to the East’s third-best record. Hasn’t quite earned his full-bird stripes. Lakers star Kobe Bryant has been great at times, and other times looked human. Do Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki and Denver’s Carmelo Anthony move the MVP meter? The Celtics’ Big Four cancel each other out in the team concept, as do the Spurs’ Big Three. None of their names really are on the tip of your tongue for MVP, which is maybe why their teams are so good.”
- J.J. Redick gets crossed over — cue laughter now.
- Don’t expect the Orlando Magic to make a move at the trade deadline.
- Bill Simmons of ESPN.com: “[Ryan Anderson] submitted a rock-solid impersonation of 2009 Rashard Lewis (sans any steroid masking agents) after Orlando’s big December shakeup. He’s made at least one 3 in his past 29 games (42 percent shooting), 13 ppg and 6 rpg playing just 25 minutes a night. He’s the darling of the statistical community right now — if we bring him to Dorkapalooza next month, there might be a per-minute riot.”
- Dwight Howard is a black hole on offense to some degree.
- Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated: “The Magic have become a game of Mad Libs. Any report that reads “Orlando called (insert team name) to express interest in (insert power forward/center)” is probably true. GM Otis Smith has come up empty so far in search of a backup big man to replace Marcin Gortat. That Smith has tried to dampen expectations means he is not optimistic about landing one before the deadline. Orlando’s best hope may be for the Nets to negotiate a buyout with Murphy, whose most likely destination would be Orlando, according to a source. “
- Rashard Lewis gets love from Magic fans and former teammates during last night’s game.
- Howard is a TV star, not just an All-Star. Andrew Unterberger of The Basketball Jones explains: “Many NBA stars bring many diverse talents to the table when it comes to their advertising work, but chances are, only The Beast From the Far East is going to encourage spontaneous sing-alongs among viewers. Dwight may or may not be able to actually play the piano, but he can certainly improvise song lyrics mixing hoops braggadocio and commercial plot contrivances (“Getting quick to the rim game after game / Taking planes to Aruba with Slim, it’s never lame”) with the best of them — and sound damn good doing it, too. There’s even enough legitimate chemistry between D-12 and Ken “The Hangover wasn’t even that funny and that was like ten movies ago” Jeong to make the latter tolerable for possibly the last-ever time. Resurrecting Gilbert Arenas’s career in the second half of this season would likely be a lesser accomplishment.”