It’s time to have a society intervention, friends. A sickness has blossomed into an epidemic, and unless we do something, it may become a permanent problem. I’m talking about “S**t Girls Say” and all of the spinoff videos that have forced me to unsubscribe to otherwise decent friends on Facebook. The first one, very funny. But it wasn’t funny because it was ludicrously overspecific, self-referential and had a narrow appeal. In fact, NOTHING IS FUNNY FOR THOSE REASONS. THEY ARE THE REASONS THINGS ARE UNFUNNY. The first video succeeded because that guy was such a talented comic actor.
After that? I chortled at “S**t Black Girls Say.” I grudgingly clicked on “S**t White Girls Say to Black Girls.” Now? S**t Bartenders Say? S**t People Say to People With Tattoos? I swear to God somebody asked me last weekend if I had seen “S**t Gay Guys Say to Their Cats.” Because I have not watched it, I assume gay guys talk to their cats the same way I do. I do not talk to my cat about being straight, I talk to him about whether he wants some kibble and why he has crapped all over the mat in front of his litter box. “Hey, Bojangles, I sure love women, and I sure don’t have quips about clothing products,” is a sentence I have never spoken.
Together, friends, we can end this, and we can go back to a world where really dumb Ryan Gosling tumblrs are the only stupid meme. He is very, very handsome, everybody, but Typography Ryan Gosling is not funny.
My cat’s name really is Bojangles, and he is obese. Gradually, Magic Basketball readers, I reveal little slivers of my life as we grow more comfortable with one another.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Celtics 91, Magic 83
Boy, it sure is a good thing I didn’t publicly write that I was willing to excuse Monday’s suckfest because the Magic seemed so resilient. It suuuure is a good thing I did not publicly state that I was starting to believe in the Magic’s fortitude and chemistry. It SURE. IS. A. GOOD. THING. That the Boston Celtics did not win without Rajon Rondo TWICE IN ONE WEEK. My trying to stay objective about the Magic is not because of ethics, it’s because I hate them and they are stupid every time I try and think otherwise.
AP Photo/Mike Carlson
After spending Thursday watching Jameer Nelson play, I regret to inform you that I have nothing groundbreaking to report. I don’t have answers, I don’t have a solution, and my prognosis is going to sound obnoxiously simple.
There are not two ways to cut this pie. Jameer shoots out of rhythm, misses layups, turns the ball over, passes with less mustard, and falls over a bunch (what is that all about?) His defense is lazy and uninspired, and his offense is passive and slow.
In a word, Jameer looks absolutely terrible right now, and there isn’t a ton of evidence that he is going to get any better.
Don’t start blowing your fan gaskets just yet. Let me explain. We love to revisit 2009 and use it as the basis of every argument about why the Magic are good, and how they are capable (with a lot of these same guys) of winning a championship.
More frequently than any other player on the current roster, guys love talking about how good Jameer was in 2009. He was aggressive, he scored a ton, he hit his long-twos, and we loved Jameerkat! What if 2009 was an anomaly for Nelson? Anyone ever think of that?
That was really his only standout season after all. In surrounding years he’s marginal at best (or injured).
What if this is the best we’re going to get from Jameer, the guy who once captured our hearts? What if the Dwight saga and the Otis Smith shenanigans were too much for Jameer? What if it weighs on him now and he’s just had enough? What if he’s sad about Dwight leaving? Maybe he doesn’t like the roster anymore. I really don’t know, but Jameer stinks, and the proof is in the pudding.
The point here is not to slam on Jameer. It’s to spur you on to consider the possibility that perhaps your standards (and mine) are too high for Jameer Nelson.
There was a point in the game against Boston where Jameer got to the hole on a nice drive. Less than 30 seconds later he got a great look from the top of the key and buried a triple. You could almost see it in his eye that he was ready to get back in the saddle and start beasting again.
So what did he do? Forced the issue on the ensuing two possessions, missed a layup, and took a terrible pull-up three that bricked miserably.
Look, we all have our bad days, but the problem for Jameer right now is that even when he starts to catch a little bit of fire, he smothers the flame all by himself. This isn’t the sign of a guy going through a rough patch. This is a sign of a guy who is well past his heyday — a guy who is better suited handing the reigns over to a young gun and transforming into a role player off the bench.
Alright, maybe that’s a little harsh. Jameer can still play, but maybe just not at the level you and I think he can. Let’s get used to it together, take the good games and rejoice, take the bad games in expectation, and live in a little place called the chill zone.
Nate Drexler is a contributing writer for Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.
The Boston Celtics were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 91-83, winning the game after trailing by as many as 27 points in the second quarter. It was one of the more impressive comeback victories in a regular season in recent seasons for any NBA team. It didn’t seem possible that the Magic would experience a worse loss during the season after Monday, in which they scored a franchise-low 56 points and lost to the Celtics by 31 on the road. Yet Orlando was able to top themselves by blowing a near insurmountable lead against a team missing three of their starters (Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, and Jermaine O’Neal). Boston was led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. Paul Pierce finished with a game-high 24 points, 10 assists, and six rebounds. E’Twaun Moore came out of nowhere for the Celtics, coming off the bench and putting up 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field (including 4-of-4 from three-point range) in roughly 18 minutes of playing time. Kevin Garnett contributed with 12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and four blocks. Mickael Pietrus had 12 points and four rebounds, while Brandon Bass had 10 points, five rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. Dwight Howard put up 16 points and 16 rebounds.
AP Photo/Mike Carlson
6-12 FG | 4-8 FT | 1 BLK | 16 REB | 16 PTS | -25
It’s true that Howard has won the Defensive Player of the Year award in three consecutive seasons. It’s also true that Kevin Garnett is a former Defensive Player of the Year award winner. And for Garnett, despite being 35 years old, he reminded everyone that he still has it defensively. Howard struggled to score against Garnett, allowing the Boston Celtics to stay at home on the Magic’s shooters.
5-12 FG | 1-4 3P | 3 STL | 0 REB | 13 PTS | +1
After scoring 10 points in the first quarter, Richardson did next to nothing for Orlando the remainder of the game. He went 1-of-2 from the free-throw line in the third quarter, made a layup shortly thereafter, and that was it. When the Magic were in desperate need of some offense, Richardson was unable to deliver. Given that Richardson isn’t much of a shot creator, that should come as no surprise.
5-12 FG | 1-2 3P | 1 AST | 4 REB | 12 PTS | +8
In the first quarter, Anderson had 12 points. When he found himself being defended by Pierce, Anderson was able to take him off the dribble twice for a layup and also shoot over him for a midrange jumpshot. Near the end of the period, Anderson made a three-pointer that put the finishing touches on a great start to the game for Orlando. That was the last time he scored.
3-10 FG | 2-5 3P | 7 AST | 5 REB | 10 PTS | -7
Turkoglu really didn’t do much to help the Magic’s cause against the Celtics. In the fourth quarter, when Orlando needed to rely on him, Turkoglu had trouble generating offense for himself. This was no better exemplified than when Brandon Bass found himself defending Turkoglu one-on-one with the shot clock winding down. Turkoglu’s jumper was blocked by Bass. It was just one of those nights for Turkoglu.
Boston gave up 58 points at halftime, had a 21-point deficit heading into the third quarter, and they won. Remember when the Magic, no matter what, would almost always lose to the Detroit Pistons for several seasons a few years back? And it didn’t matter who was wearing a Pistons uniform? It’s become more than obvious that the Celtics have taken up the mantle of being that team.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Magic need Nelson to flip the script tonight. Nelson finished with just five points and had five turnovers in 25 minutes. Bradley only scored six points, but had three steals and set the aggressive tone. Bradley was subbing for injured Rajon Rondo, who is listed as probable for tonight’s game. Rondo is no picnic, either. But you can bet that either Bradley or Rondo will pressure Nelson even more now. Nelson has struggled most of the season, and back-up Chris Duhon is getting more playing, particularly late in games. If Nelson doesn’t start turning things around, GM Otis Smith might need to look for a point guard as well when time comes to deal Dwight Howard. Probably a good idea anyway.
- Glen Davis is ready to set some screens against Avery Bradley later tonight.
- Mickael Pietrus is excited to play at Amway Center for the first time since being traded from the Orlando Magic.
- Rajon Rondo will not play against the Magic in tonight’s game.
- Dwight Howard would be open to joining the Boston Celtics.
- Who’s the real “Superman” between Shaquille O’Neal and Howard?
- Matt Moore of CBSSports.com: “This does not mean that Boston is at the top of, or near the top of the list for Howard. He’s made his choices pretty clear. But Boston has continually dogged him in the playoffs. Joining them would be joining an organization all about winning, who he knows will be able to build around him. He’d likely have Rajon Rondo as well, since the trade package would probably include the Big 3. The Magic have reportedly been looking for veteran players who can help them win now instead of younger players. If they want old guys, Boston’s got them.”
- Ben Golliver of CBSSports.com: “Anderson, the No. 21 pick, was far and away this class’s steal. He’s putting up 16.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game now that he’s starting full-time for the Magic and he’s pumping in threes at a 42.2 percent clip. Catching him with an extension just as he is making the upswing would have been an ideal situation, outside any external forces. His is a rising stock. The ground floor was two years ago, when Orlando first acquired him, but the ascent could be quite rapid and expensive. Of course, removing external forces is impossible given Orlando’s cap situation and center Dwight Howard’s expressed desire to be traded. The Magic appear to be in “Hold on tight, let’s gun for a championship and see what happens” mode right now, and given how well they’ve played for stretches this season you can’t fault them.”
- Charley Rosen of NBA.com: “They must be motivated by their embarrassing performance in Boston — during which they scored a mere 56 points, shot a measly 24.6 percent and had nearly twice as many turnovers as assists (23 to 12) — and come out of the gate with full-bore intensity.”
- Howard had an indirect effect on Ryan Anderson not receiving a contract extension at this point in time.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.
AP Photo/Charles Krupa
Ah, last week, ‘twas so very long ago. Back in those distant, sunnier times, the Magic were as foals, tottering around in the warming naivete of the new season, kicking their legs and just beginning to grasp their potential as thoroughbreds. It was in those carefree days that J.J. Redick told the Orlando Sentinel, “I like our team. We have a chance to be the best team I’ve been on in my six years with the Magic.” It was a lovely thought, the hopefulness of youth giving itself full, gilded voice until, on Monday night, the Magic played the worst offensive game of the franchise’s history. And now, a week after Redick uttered those charming, misguided words, we know in the harsh glare of hindsight that he might actually be right?
Readers of mine here at Magic Basketball will know that I have been wary of this team from the jump. Astute ones might even accuse me of severe, myopic grouchiness. I wrote at the start of the season that I didn’t think this team could surprise me. I wrote as late as last week that I still think the Magic are better off trading Dwight. My idea was that I was wisely insulating my rationality from my fannish impulses, and that years of organizational incompetence would force the other shoe to drop. I’m not writing today to fully reverse course — my pride prevents such a thing — but the past week has shown me some new things about this team, things I ordinarily don’t even look for as a viewer.
First, we have to discuss Monday night’s game. As one shot after another bricked off against Boston, I was watching with the same sort of morbid self-satisfaction an engineer might feel when he watches a shoddy bridge collapse. All of the conventional wisdom about the team seemed to be coalescing into a dispiriting beat down; I was prepared for days of internet commenters caps-shouting LIVE BY THE THREE, DIE BY THE THREE and talking about how this team isn’t tough because Dwight Howard isn’t tough, and so on and so on.
At around the third quarter, I was ready for every nonsense piece I thought I’d read about the next day, such as “Does Dwight smile too much?” or “Can Dwight ever play with enough of an edge to become really elite?” What I’m saying is, it was an emotionally fraught loss, because it seemed like the worst-case scenario we all could have seen coming was finally happening. The Magic were in a crowded part of their schedule, and the strength of the opposition up to that point had inflated the quality of the team. By the final horn, I was expecting that all of my worst predictions were coming true. But that’s the thing about this sardine can of a season. A single week contains about a twelfth of the team’s total schedule, and assumptions can be challenged pretty quick.
If Magic fans were to use word association for Earl Clark, the first word that would probably come out of their mouths? Potential. After languishing on the bench with the Phoenix Suns for two seasons, Clark came over in the Orlando Magic’s trade for Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson last season. And although he didn’t get a lot of playing time with the Magic, when he did see the floor, it became clear that head coach Stan Van Gundy had the makings of a defensive stopper on his hands. With his length and athleticism, Clark showed flashes of a player that could make an impact defensively.
Standing at 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Clark has a unique ability to defend small forwards and power forwards in the NBA. Clark’s interchangeability of quickness and strength, depending on the matchup, is what makes him a versatile defender. The problem for Clark, however, is that he’s a poor player on offense, which negates any of the positives he brings to the table defensively. Clark tries too often to be someone he’s not when he plays — a player that’s looking to score rather than a player that’s looking to defend. That’s precisely the reason that Van Gundy hasn’t used Clark much in Orlando’s rotation this season.
Yet against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, Clark got a chance to play extended minutes. Normally Van Gundy pairs Glen Davis with Ryan Anderson or Dwight Howard as part of the second unit in the second quarter of games. But with Howard saddled with foul trouble after picking up his third foul less than 30 seconds into the second quarter and Anderson needing rest after playing the entire first quarter for the Magic, Van Gundy turned to Clark on the bench. At this point in the game, Orlando was losing. But thanks in large part to Clark’s defensive impact, the Magic were able to withstand a lack of Howard on defense.
When Clark entered the game, Orlando was down by seven points at 29-22. By the end of the second quarter, the Magic were tied with the Pacers at 45 apiece. Clark and his defense was a game-changer for Orlando.
In the period, Clark had five points, three rebounds, one steal, and three blocks in a little more than 11 minutes of playing time. Clark made so many plays defensively, it seemed like he was a mini-Howard.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith indicated Tuesday that it is unlikely the team will extend the contract of power forward Ryan Anderson before Wednesday night’s 11:59 EST deadline to do so for members of the 2008 draft class. Anderson is on course to become a restricted free agent in July, and the Magic would have the opportunity to match any offer sheet that Anderson could sign with another team. [...] Smith acknowledged that Dwight Howard’s unsettled situation did factor into the team’s decision because the team does not know what its roster will look like in the months and years ahead. Not extending Anderson’s contract helps maintain some flexibility. Anderson said before tipoff that he wasn’t worried about the situation and that he hadn’t thought much about a possible extension.”
- The Orlando Magic will not exercise their team option for Daniel Orton in 2012-2013.
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “The Magic were historically woeful on Monday night, setting all-time franchise lows for points scored in a game (56), points in a half (20), field goals in a game (16) and shooting percentage (24.6 percent) in an 87-56 loss to the Celtics. The good news for the Magic (12-5) is that they get another shot at the Celtics (7-9) on Thursday and another shot at wiping the memory of the 56-point nightmare out of their minds. This game will be at the Amway Center and on national television, and the Magic can’t wait to redeem themselves against the Celtics.”
- There are now box scores for every game in NBA history.
- Jemele Hill of ESPN.com: “Howard said in early December that he wants to be traded, but he has been backpedaling ever since. And despite Monday night’s awful loss to the Boston Celtics — somehow, the Magic managed to score just 56 points against a team that was without five players — Orlando has been playing well, which is making Howard’s decision that much tougher. In the trade demand last month, he indicated that his biggest issue was that the Magic didn’t have the right pieces to compete for an NBA championship. But the way they’ve played so far this season, they might be a dangerous team in the playoffs. If the Magic were losing, trading him would be a foregone conclusion, and few could blame him for wanting to leave. But demanding a trade from a playoff-bound team reflects poorly on Howard, who isn’t comfortable being a villain. Checkmate, Magic.”
- Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Smith also said Orton is ‘a big guy you don’t necessarily have to use right away.’ He could not have been more serious, as Orton has yet to play nearly two years after his selection.”
- The Orlando Magic found their shooting touch against the Indiana Pacers.
- It’s peculiar that the Magic didn’t offer Anderson an extension. This is the same team, of course, that has more than $50 million committed in Jason Richardson and Glen Davis for the next four years.
- Orlando is the 11th-most valuable NBA franchise according to Forbes.
- After surpassing Nick Anderson as the franchise scoring leader last night against the Pacers, Howard is cementing his legacy with the Magic.
- Mark Heisler of SheridanHoops.com: “Dwight, feuding once more with his caped predecessor who now has an open mike at TNT, doesn’t want to follow Shaq’s career path to Lakers. Unfortunately, D12 has yet to tell Magic he wants to be anti-Diesel badly enough to stay.”
- Another look back at Orlando’s win against Indiana.
- Tom Ziller of SB Nation: “Dwight is now the Magic’s all-time leading scorer, which sadly removes Nick Anderson from one of his last strongholds in Trivia Land.”
- Jason Walker of SB Nation: “Defense was key for Orlando, as it held Indiana to under 34 percent shooting after an 11-19 (58 percent) first quarter. That strong defense created easier basket opportunities for the Magic as they had one transition play in the first quarter and 14 the rest of the game, including nine in the second half.”
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.