- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Rich DeVos, 85, recently fell in his Grand Rapids, Mi. home. Despite breaking bones in his wrist and ankle, he is determined to get back on his feet so he can travel to Orlando and see his team start its playoff run later this month. Pat Williams, a few weeks short of his 71st birthday, is fighting an aggressive bone cancer called multiple myeloma. He is determined to fight this insidious thing. He calls his peril an ‘adventure.’ In other news, the Orlando Magic lost to the Toronto Raptors, one of the worst teams in the NBA, Sunday night. It’s easy enough to connect the dots. The two veterans in this organization — the man who owns the club and the guy who brought pro basketball to Central Florida — are hanging tough, swinging back with all the strength they can muster. The young guys in the organization made like puppies wanting to get their belly scratched against the Raptors. And here we thought dinosaurs were extinct and could do no harm. Leadership comes in many shapes, sizes and demographic groups. Perhaps the Magic should downplay this “fear the beard” deal and go old-school to find their playoff mojo. Dedicate your playoff run to the AARP guys. Win it for DeVos. Win it for Williams. You won’t find a better inspirational push than the tag-team of DeVos and Williams. They are beat up, but still determined to be there at crunch time. Can the younger generation say the same thing?”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “As hard as it is for him to do, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy needs to treat the last five games like the preseason. The Magic have to gear up, mentally and physically, for the playoffs. I think his players, Dwight Howard included, have told him as much. The Magic are hurt and they need rest, and frankly, these games won’t make a difference, given they are stuck at No. 4 in the East.”
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy is frustrated.
- After the Orlando Magic lost to the Toronto Raptors last night, Van Gundy declared “we didn’t care.”
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “How the heck do the Toronto Raptors grab 15 offensive rebounds — they got a second chance on nearly 40 percent of their missed shots — against Dwight Howard? This was a terrible display by Orlando. Credit the Raptor trio of Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, and Leandro Barbosa for shredding Orlando’s defense to the tune of 61 combined points.”
- The Magic are on a crash course towards playing the Atlanta Hawks in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
- Nada Taha of SLAM ONLINE: “Standing on the sidelines, I was amazed. This guy just came home from a west coast road trip and put up 31 points and 22 rebounds the night before in Milwaukee. There he was, playing a round of “Knock Out” with a group of kids who he and adidas just outfitted in new sneaks and gear. He joked around with them, gave them high fives and then stayed an extra hour after the event to sign autographs. This, I thought, is what makes Dwight, Dwight.”
- Dwight Howard with another Van Gundy impersonation.
- Zach Lowe of The Point Forward: “Back to that simple explanation: Howard is an elite offensive player. Fine. So is every MVP candidate. But none of the realistic candidates do what he does on defense. Only James is in the same league, but even his blur of arms and speed and strength doesn’t approach Howard’s level of total dominance on that end. The Magic have built an elite defense with only one player universally regarded as an above-average defender. Stan Van Gundy’s system has a lot to do with Orlando’s excellence, but that system — stay at home, let Howard disrupt pick-and-rolls, don’t gamble, seal the defensive glass — is based on Howard. The fact that the defense remains successful with Howard on the bench is a tribute to the team’s commitment to it and the ease with which a cohesive bench unit can defend other bench units. And if we’re going to take points away from Howard for his lack of clutch shot attempts, we should add some for the fact that he leads the league in clutch rebounds per minute and is near the top in blocks. Defense matters at the end of games, too. Also: If Rose gets credit for lifting an injury-riddled roster for parts of this season, then Howard should get some for keeping Orlando afloat despite a mid-December overhaul that completely disrupted the team’s rotation and handicapped its defense.”
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