Friday’s Magic Word | Magic Basketball



Jan 13

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic already have completed one-sixth of their regular season, and enough games have passed to start drawing some conclusions. As coach Stan Van Gundy surveys his team, he sees plenty of valid reasons for concern. But even the unabashed worrier sees something that he loves about this group of players. They fight. That intangible quality came into full focus as Orlando won all three of its games on a successful West Coast road trip, including Thursday’s 117-109 victory over the Golden State Warriors. Although two of those victories came against admittedly lower-echelon teams, the Magic encountered adversity and overcame it. […] Those positive moments included a performance against the tough Portland Trail Blazers in which the Magic perhaps played better on the offensive end than at any time since they clobbered the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 1, 2010. Orlando’s ball movement has improved, at least for now. Small forward Hedo Turkoglu, plagued by maddening inconsistency last season, has heightened confidence and made key clutch plays down the stretch of the wins over the Blazers and the Warriors. And the team’s offense has shown admirable efficiency as a whole.”
  • Jason Richardson’s knee injury, which occurred against the Golden State Warriors, is deemed not serious.
  • If Von Wafer wants to earn more playing time, he’s going to need to improve his defense according to head coach Stan Van GUndy.
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel on Dwight Howard: “Can the Magic contend? That’s the question. They have no cap-space flexibility to attract another star, but you know who can change all that? Dwight. If Dwight really wanted to play the part of GM, he can try. All he has to do is turn the tables on the Nets, ask Williams to force his way to Orlando in a trade and see what the two can do here with better pieces than the Nets have (along with better weather and no state income tax.) He can be a one-team, one-town man who becomes the franchise hero forever, which is essentially the sales job that owner Rich DeVos told me he used when talking to Dwight. Howard is putting his reputation on the line at the trade deadline, what he stands for as a player, as a competitor.”
  • A look back at Howard’s record-breaking night against the Warriors.
  • It was a successful road trip for Howard and company.
  • Head coach Mark Jackson’s Hack-a-Dwight strategy backfired.
  • With every win, the possibility that the Magic gamble and keep Howard past the trade deadline grows. Marc Stein of has more on the scenario: “In the surprise of the week on this scorecard, I heard officials from two teams insist that Orlando’s keeping Howard past the March 15 trade buzzer is the scenario they actually expect … even if that means exposing the Magic Kingdom to the prospect of being leveled again by a repeat of Shaquille O’Neal’s defection without compensation to the Lakers in the Olympic summer of 1996. Could GM Otis Smith and Magic ownership really dare to let the trade deadline pass and risk the sight of Howard’s leaving not only for the 2012 London Games in July but also for a new full-time team … while getting nothing back in return? Just to show fans they exhausted every concept they could concoct to try to keep Dwight?”
  • John Hollinger of ESPN Insider: “Here’s the thing about Hack-a-Dwight, or Hack-an-anybody: The player has to be an exceptionally bad foul shooter for this strategy to have much merit. Emphasis on exceptionally. It works with Ben Wallace or DeAndre Jordan. With just about anyone else, it’s highly questionable. Take Thursday night, for instance. Dwight Howard is a career 59.5 percent foul shooter and has done slightly better than that each of the past three seasons. But let’s take 59.5 percent as his chances of converting any given free throw. Sending him to the line for two shots produces an expected return of 1.19 points from the foul shots, a scoring rate better than that of any offensive team in the history of basketball. Just sending him to the line time after time is one of the worst percentage moves a team could possibly make.”
  • Golden State had no one to stop Howard offensively in last night’s game.
  • Howard isn’t interested in being traded to the Warriors.
  • Howard’s 39 free-throw attempts stole the show in Orlando’s win yesterday.
  • J.J. Redick enjoyed his time in Portland.
  • More on Howard’s lack of interest to play for Golden State.
  • Chris Bernucca of “You are the GM of an NBA team. It is the start of training camp, and your owner wants a championship this season. Every player is a free agent who can be signed to a one-year contract. Who is the first player you sign? I might sign Howard, who is the most dominant player in the league at his position.”
  • Zach Lowe of The Point Forward provides his take on Jackson’s ill-fated decision to intentionally foul Howard throughout the game between the Magic and Warriors.
  • Steve Perrin of SB Nation: “To be fair, Jackson was dealt a bad hand in this game, facing the most dominant big man in the NBA in the Warriors’ first game since losing Kwame Brown for the season with a pectoral tear. With his best and biggest low post defender sidelined, the Warriors were down to Biedrins and a bunch of smallish power forwards to try to contend with Howard. Jackson may have felt that Howard was going to score more against his team straight-up than he would at the line. Even so, it was the wrong strategy on every level — statistically, from an entertainment standpoint, for the game itself, and eventually on the scoreboard.”
  • Hack-a-Dwight has spawned other “hyphenated player-specific NBA defensive strategies.”
  • Tom Ziller of SB Nation with some revealing numbers: “In the fourth quarter, when Golden State fouled Dwight the most, Orlando scored 37 points in 24 possessions, or 1.54 points per possession, which is like Max Roach-level rhythm.”
  • Howard was more efficient when he shooting from the free-throw line as opposed to when he was shooting from the field against Golden State.
  • Similarities between Ryan Anderson and Peja Stojakovic.

Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.

Bleeds Magic Blue
Bleeds Magic Blue

so the road trip was successful, what else do we need to see before we deem this a championship contender?