- One of the keys to beating the Miami Heat, if the Orlando Magic play their conference, division, and in-state rival in the postseason, is slowing down Dwyane Wade.
- Another aspect of a potential Magic-Heat playoff series is figuring out if Hedo Turkoglu, typically defended and shut down by LeBron James, can be relied upon by Orlando.
- According to the SCHOENE projection system, the Magic are slated to finish the regular season with a 42-24, the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, and a first round date with the Atlanta Hawks. A Hawks team that has won nine of their last 13 games against Orlando.
- CEO Alex Martins made a remarkable save by convincing Dwight Howard to stay for another season. As David Alridge of NBA.com notes, that gives the Magic more time to improve the roster and put Howard in a better position to win a title in the hopes of inking him to a long-term extension.
- Marc Stein of ESPN.com thinks Orlando, despite keeping Dwight around for a little while longer, should trade him.
- The odds are low that the Magic could beat Miami in a seven-game series.
- The Dwight free agency circus will be coming back to town next season for Orlando.
- Abe Schwadron of SLAM ONLINE: “Bosh’s 3-point play on a James dish with 3:46 remaining was the dagger that did in the Magic, who at that point fell behind 84-73 and couldn’t claw back into the game, despite team-highs of 18 points and 11 rebounds from Dwight Howard.”
- Dave Kindred of Grantland details how Jarrod Rudolph of RealGM got the scoop that Dwight decided he was going to stay with the Magic for one more year: “[I]n six years covering the Magic, he had developed a relationship with Howard — ‘not bosom buddies, but we talked’ — that enabled him to send a casual BlackBerry note to the player after a game in San Antonio.”
- Brett Koremenos of NBA Playbook: “Throughout the course of the game, Miami went to a 5-out middle pick and roll set. The basic premise of the play is a two-man game in the middle of the floor with the screener rolling hard to the rim surrounded by three shooters. Ironically, it is an action that has been a trademark during the Stan Van Gundy-Dwight Howard era. On Sunday, however, the Magic had some difficulty defending it.”
- Five things to watch for in tonight’s game between Orlando and the Chicago Bulls. Derrick Rose, nursing a groin injury, is not expected to play.
- J.J. Redick’s playmaking ability has been well-documented at Magic Basketball recently. Zach Lowe of The Point Forward also sings the praises of Redick as a secondary distributor for the Magic.
- Tom Ziller of SB Nation: “I accept why the Magic decided to delay dealing with the Dwight Howard situation: they are playing with house money at this point. But why didn’t they try to upgrade the roster around him at the deadline? Were they too busy doing fist pumps after Dwight’s decision?”
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
This is what head coach Stan Van Gundy said after the Orlando Magic defeated the New Jersey Nets on Friday, despite committing 18 turnovers.
“We don’t value the ball much. We just throw it around and don’t really think it matters, and that’s going to be a huge problem. You’re not going to win a playoff series like that — you’re just not.”
Apparently the Magic didn’t get the memo, compiling 18 turnovers — yet again — in a loss to the Miami Heat.
Even though LeBron James stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, and five steals, he did only score 14 points on 4-for-14 shooting from the floor. So despite Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade having big games to circumvent LeBron’s relatively quiet night (for his standards), with Wade doing much of the heavy lifting in the fourth quarter (scoring 14 of his 31 points in the period) with the game still very much up for grabs, Orlando had a chance to beat the Heat.
But turnovers did Orlando in.
Sure, Ryan Anderson, J.J. Redick, and Hedo Turkoglu didn’t make much of an impact in the game and Dwight Howard just couldn’t get things going on offense in the fourth quarter when the Magic needed to rely on him to generate points. Those are relevant storylines to take away from Orlando’s loss.
Yet it all comes back to the Magic’s inability to take care of the basketball against Miami. That’s the storyline that mattered (and matters) the most.
Orlando got away with turning the ball over 24 times in an overtime win against the Heat on Tuesday. The players for the Magic, however, can’t expect that to be a formula for success. Van Gundy knows that. Yet guys like Chris Duhon and Turkoglu keep turning it over. It’s not a coincidence, then, that turnovers were the main reason why Orlando lost to Miami on Sunday.
The Magic’s margin of error for beating teams like the Heat is low as it is. Why make things harder?
Turnovers are already killer because they’re wasted possessions. They’re backbreakers against Miami because of their ability to convert those turnovers into points, usually in transition since LeBron and Wade are able to get out and run in the open floor. Orlando is fortunate that the Heat didn’t really burn them too much in that regard. Miami scored only 14 points off of 18 Magic turnovers. The end result was a 10-point victory for the Heat, though the margin of victory could have been a whole lot bigger.
Orlando better not continue testing their luck.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
With LeBron having a lackluster performance, Wade (and Bosh) picked up the slack for Miami. Wade was especially dominant in the fourth quarter, making a number of floaters and layups to shut the door on the Magic.
LVP (Least Valuable Player)
You could have your choice between Turkoglu, Anderson, Redick, or Duhon. Each of those players struggled mightily, either by coughing up the basketball, getting burned defensively, or simply not scoring.
Although Bosh had a quiet second half (18 of his 23 points came in the first half), he was the main reason the Heat got off to a good start in the game. Bosh primarily did much of his damage in the post against Anderson.
- Teams: Orlando Magic at Miami Heat
- Date: Mar. 18, 2012
- Time: 7:00 p.m.
- Television: ESPN
- Arena: AmericanAirlines Arena
- Magic: 29-16
- Heat: 32-11
- Jameer Nelson
- Jason Richardson
- Hedo Turkoglu
- Ryan Anderson
- Dwight Howard
- Mario Chalmers
- Dwyane Wade
- LeBron James
- Chris Bosh
- Joel Anthony
- Pace: 89.4 (26th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 104.9 (13th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 102.0 (11th of 30)
- Pace: 91.9 (13th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 109.2 (1st of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 100.5 (5th of 30)
Read about the Heat
AP Photo/John Raoux
There was a lot of hype surrounding Friday’s game between the Orlando Magic and New Jersey Nets.
At first, there was a strong possibility that Dwight Howard was going to show up at Amway Center in a Nets uniform. Had Dwight not waived the early termination option in his contract, it seemed more than likely that the Magic were going to send him to New Jersey at the trade deadline to avoid giving him a chance to become a free agent and possibly leave Orlando during the offseason. By trading Dwight for assets, the Magic would have been merely protecting themselves from letting Dwight walk during free agency and getting nothing in return. For Magic fans, to see Dwight sitting on the visitor’s bench would have been awkward.
Instead, with Dwight opting in to the final year of his deal (thus staying with Orlando for one more season), he did not get traded. Which made things awkward for the Nets on Friday, having to play against Dwight and the Magic.
And with no Deron Williams, no Jordan Farmar, no Gerald Wallace (acquired by New Jersey at the deadline), and no Brook Lopez, New Jersey had to play Orlando shorthanded. It’s no surprise, then, that the Nets lost.
To be frank, the Magic’s win against New Jersey — what with Dwight’s indecision impacting two franchises — was merely a footnote.
What matters now is the road ahead for Orlando. With Dwight’s future no longer casting a cloud over the Magic (for now), now the team will be able to fully focus their attention on the playoffs, which are rapidly coming up. As of now, Orlando is in line for the the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, with the Indiana Pacers trailing by 2.5 games and the Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks trailing by 3.5 games respectively. With 21 games left for the Magic, their goal should be to clinch the No. 3 seed in the East (the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat are locked in with the top two seeds regardless of the order).
Yes, that may mean Orlando might face off against the Hawks or Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs, two teams that have had the Magic’s number in recent times. But the odds that Orlando will be able to successfully avoid the Hawks or Celtics, with either the No. 3 or No. 4 seeds, are low. That’s a road the Magic will likely have to travel, so getting home-court advantage to try to maximize the chances of a series victory against Atlanta or Boston should be the goal.
Which means Orlando needs to keep winning. For the Magic, Friday’s win against the Nets was a start.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Dwight had a game-high 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting from the floor, including six rebounds and three blocks in roughly 32 minutes of playing time. A rather ho-hum performance for Dwight but it was more than enough against New Jersey.
That Game Was … Boring
Playing against a Nets’ squad that was missing three-fifths of their starting lineup, Orlando was on cruise control the entire game. That made for a rather uneventful evening between both teams.
- Teams: New Jersey Nets at Orlando Magic
- Date: Mar. 16, 2012
- Time: 7:00 p.m.
- Television: Sun Sports
- Arena: Amway Center
- Nets: 15-29
- Magic: 28-16
- Sundiata Gaines
- MarShon Brooks
- DeShawn Stevenson
- Kris Humphries
- Shelden Williams
- Jameer Nelson
- Jason Richardson
- Hedo Turkoglu
- Ryan Anderson
- Dwight Howard
- Pace: 89.4 (27th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 103.8 (18th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 110.5 (30th of 30)
- Pace: 89.5 (26th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 105.0 (12th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 102.5 (11th of 30)
Read about the Nets
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy on when he heard the news about Dwight Howard: “It was probably a little bit before the press conference. So I don’t know. Maybe noontime [or] a little bit after. I don’t really remember. I was doing my New Jersey film. I don’t really remember exactly. It was a big moment for our organization, but it wasn’t like the JFK moment where everybody remembers what they were doing, you know? It wasn’t quite that big.”
- Jason Richardson will play in tonight’s game against the New Jersey Nets. Richardson missed the previous three games with a sprained left ankle, which he suffered against the Chicago Bulls on March 8.
- Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News labels Dwight a coward.
- The Orlando Magic played hardball with Dwight, learning from their lessons dealing with Shaquille O’Neal and his pending free agency in 1996.
- With Dwight now becoming a free agent in 2013, the Dallas Mavericks loom in the background.
- LZ Granderson of ESPN.com contends that, by waffling with his decision on staying with the Magic or not, Dwight is not a leader: “He may always be the best player on his club, but as he clumsily demonstrated during much of the season, he’s doesn’t necessarily have the best personality to handle that kind of pressure.”
- By keeping Dwight around for one more year, Orlando made one of the best moves of the trade deadline.
- For the Magic, improving the roster around Dwight is still the top priority. Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post, with a stellar article, determines if Orlando can land a player like Chris Paul in free agency in 2013.
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk:They kept Dwight Howard in town by calling his bluff. That is as big a win as anybody — except that it is a one-year deal, he’s not opting out early but if the Magic don’t make moves to get this team competing with the Heat and Bulls by next trade deadline we will be right back here. That said, today they celebrate.”
- By keeping Dwight, the Magic now officially pose a threat to the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference.
- Senior vice president Pat Williams on Dwight: “Dwight has such deep roots here and that’s what we all need to understand. He’s engaged with numerous charities, cares deeply, it’s not just that he writes a check, he goes and spends time with these disadvantaged young people. He has a great heart for people and his roots are deep in Orlando. I think the thought of pulling that up and ripping it out was something that he just couldn’t really live with in the final analysis.”
- Ken Berger of CBSSports.com on Dwight standing up for himself: “Howard’s been searching his entire career for a way to stand out, to be different, to step out of the shadow of his contemporaries and do something that Shaquille O’Neal, the player Howard always will be compared to, didn’t do. On Thursday, by staying right where he was, he finally accomplished that. At least for a little while. At least until next time.”
- It’s only apt, after Dwight was nearly traded to the Nets at the deadline, he plays against them tonight at Amway Center in front of the city of Orlando.
- Talk about Dwight’s future is delayed for now.
- Ethan Sherwood Strauss of CourtVision with a valid question in response to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski’s coverage of Dwight: “Did Howard ‘flake out’ or did these sources ultimately prove flaky? It does not bother me that this anonymous information occasionally misses; it bothers me that there is no social memory when this happens.”
AP Photo/John Raoux
Nothing like a little 24-hour news cycle drama to clear out the old sinuses dear readers and I, like most, took a great deal of joy in the chaos of yesterday.
It seems clearer each week that the NBA has staked out this bizarre entertainment niche where the on-court product is cross-pollinated with long-running soap operas and after some months of initial panic over this fact, I’ve settled into a comfortable rhythm of punch-drunk bemusement. Around the time of “The Decision,” I was a manic moralist, decrying the evils of invasive coverage and the propulsive inanity of the stories. Now? I’m a total glutton for this nonsense and I have very little justification other than the fact that it’s so uselessly captivating.
It has been interesting to see, though, that observers’ reactions to the league’s drama cycle split almost entirely on media, or maybe technological, lines. People decrying the narcissism of the athletes or the ubiquitous cataloging of athletes’ feelings seem to have accumulated around print media — even print media with a developed online presence — while the gleeful peanut gallery seems has congregated around “new media” (we really, really need a better term than that).
I know this seems totally banal at first but I guess my question is: why? It has been noted that Twitter and the NBA have a special kind of symbiosis, and Twitter certainly seems to drive the melodramatic market the NBA now seems to occupy exclusively — I can’t think of one story from this week I didn’t learn first from unconfirmed reports on Twitter — but why is the NBA the Twitter sport and why do the people on Twitter seem to have such a different relationship to league business?
I suspect a reason for the NBA to have become the most “melodramatic” of the major sports — and it is arguable whether this is true, but I certainly believe it to be — is that the athletes, as many have noted, are the most visible as people. This is a theory about NBA appeal I’m very drawn to, the idea that we’re so much more physically exposed to NBA athletes that it’s easier to fit them into human stories.
Another idea I found myself pondering was the connection between Twitter, black American culture, and the NBA. Certainly the NBA is the most visibly black of the major sports, and as one SXSW paper noted, Twitter and black culture seem to have developed a unique bond. As has so often happened in sport (and pop culture generally), I wonder if black cultural change is driving the way we think about the NBA.
Of course, that’s just one reason the Twittercycle might be what it is to the NBA and it’s something I need to think about further but it seems clear to me that the real high points of excitement in the NBA universe now include, and might be entirely, moments that take place off the court.
Let me hear your ideas for why the NBA seems to have staked this territory out so much more than the NFL or MLB and what all you see coming down the pipe as a result.
AP Photo/John Raoux
With Dwight Howard opting in to the final year of his contract, the Orlando Magic got what they were looking for. Time.
With a little more time, it’s up to the Magic to do what they promised to do for Dwight — build an elite team and championship contender around him. Orlando has done it once. Now it’s time for the Magic to do it again. Will Orlando get the job done and convince Dwight to stay even longer?
We shall see.
The crew at Magic Basketball, along with Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post, discuss what might happen with Dwight and the Magic next.
Fact or Fiction: With Dwight Howard waiving the early termination option in his contract, the Orlando Magic made a mistake by not making a trade at the deadline to bring in help.
Dunlap: Fact. We’re not privy to the trade discussions involving the Magic that did or did not take place, but when you see one of the strongest backup-caliber players at your team’s weakest position get traded for Luke Walton and Jason Kapono, it raises some eyebrows. Ramon Sessions really would have helped Orlando, but perhaps its trade chips weren’t appealing enough.
Nowell: Fact. I wouldn’t have said this until I saw how low the going price was for Ramon Sessions and Nick Young, but you have to wonder why the Magic weren’t making inquiries when players were being had for basically nothing.
Scribbins: Fiction. What’s the hurry now? The team has time to work on a deal that will make the team significantly better and convince Dwight to stay. There was no need to rush into a deal at the deadline. At the end of the day, Dwight is still wearing an Orlando uniform. That’s really all there is to it.
Fact or Fiction: The Magic will pair a second star next to Dwight before the trade deadline next season.
Dunlap: Fact. Though it’d be my preference for Orlando to wait until the 2013 free-agent period to make its big move — the Magic simply have to set their sights on Chris Paul, don’t they? — it’s more prudent for it to try upgrading as soon as possible. The sooner Howard sees the Magic’s potential with better players, the easier convincing him not to leave in 2013 will be.
Nowell: Fiction. I think the best case scenario, with the money they’re paying their current roster, is to acquire young, cheap system guys to pair with Dwight. That might provide the upside and competitiveness it would take to keep Dwight long-term so the team can wait for the right situation with a star-level player.
Scribbins: Fact. Can you imagine the fan reaction if they don’t get another star in a Magic uniform by this time next year? There is no way they’re letting Dwight leave because they didn’t add help. You better believe they’ll find a way to make it a reality.
Fact or Fiction: Dwight will remain with Orlando past the 2012-2013 season.
Dunlap: Fact. I think the Magic will have made enough roster moves by then to build a stronger team and intrigue Howard into staying. They’ll also have a bit of salary-cap room and could try pairing him with another superstar, if they haven’t already traded for one by then.
Nowell: Fact. I’m not actually sure about this, but with the Magic having bought themselves a year, there may just be enough time for them to triage the payroll and find some talent somewhere in a year. Why not be hopeful today?
Scribbins: Fact. The team now has an additional year to figure out a way to keep the best player in franchise history. Plus, it doesn’t seem like Dwight wants to leave anymore. The odds are more favorable now than they have been in a while.
- Dwight Howard, waiving the early termination option in his contract (which means he’ll remain with the Orlando Magic for one more season), and the Magic have some marriage counseling to do. The onus now is on Orlando to improve the roster, in the hopes of convincing Dwight to stay for the long haul.
- Loyalty is a big reason why Dwight is sticking around with the Magic for a little while longer.
- After flip-flopping between staying or going, Dwight had one last change of heart by the time he landed in Orlando early Thursday morning after the team played the San Antonio Spurs on the road. General manager Otis Smith advised Dwight to sleep on the decision. Dwight remained steadfast in his choice after doing so.
- CEO Alex Martins, seen as the right man for the job, re-recruited Dwight to stay with Orlando for another year. Martins’ hard work paid off.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The issue is this: How will Howard feel after an offseason in which the same people are in his ear again, the ones who were pushing him to go to a bigger market? [...] Howard needs to take control of his world, and maybe he will start doing that by splitting with agent Dan Fegan, whom he hired to get him out of Orlando without this muss and fuss. He needs to get away to some island this offseason and really decide what he wants.”
- Dwight’s future with the Magic captivated a nationwide, and perhaps worldwide, audience.
- Is Orlando, able to win games and beat some of the best teams in the NBA despite the trade turmoil surrounding Dwight, a team of destiny?
- During today’s press conference, in which he announced his intentions to remain a member of the Magic for an additional season, Dwight branded himself as a loyal person. That loyalty makes Dwight different from many of today’s NBA stars. Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated goes as far to say that Dwight is “establishing himself to become the anti-LeBron.”
- By trading for Gerald Wallace at the deadline, the New Jersey Nets are trying to keep Deron Williams around so that they still have a shot at signing Dwight in 2013. It’s a big gamble to say the least.
- Dwyane Wade uses Twitter to share his opinion on loyalty.
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie writes that Magic fans are guaranteed one more year of drama with Dwight: “All he did was commit to picking up his contract option for 2012-13. He can still leave in 2013. He can still ask for a trade, behind the scenes. He can still make life — off-court life, at least — untenable for the Orlando Magic franchise. Unless Howard signs that extension, this isn’t over.”
- There’s still a chance, albeit a small one, that Dwight lands with the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent in 2013.
- Larry Coon, author of the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement FAQ, lays out all of Dwight’s contract possibilities at TrueHoop.
- The possibility that Dwight and Chris Paul team up — in 2013 — is still very real. Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com explains: “If they so desired, Paul and Howard could join forces in any number of destinations, including Los Angeles — a city Howard reportedly likes a whole lot — or Orlando. For the Magic, it would be relatively simple. They’ll have a glut of cap space because Jameer Nelson’s contract comes off the books, and the final year of Hedo Turkoglu’s deal is unguaranteed.”
- How did Orlando convince Dwight to stick around? By threatening to trade him to the Nets, a team that’s struggling to make the playoffs. That would have impacted Dwight in a number of ways (like his off-court ventures). J.A. Adande of ESPN.com applauds the Magic’s gumption: “A league source said that missing out on the playoffs would cost Howard significant bonuses from his Adidas contract. What a great play by the Magic. It seemed to drive home the point they were trying to make all along, that if Howard wants to win a championship the Magic are about as good a short- and mid-term option as he’s got.”
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “Howard had flip-flopped worse than a presidential candidate the last 48 hours between wanting to stay with the Magic and wanting to keep his free agent options open.”
- There’s a ripple effect around the league now that Dwight is still with the Magic. Teams like New Jersey and Dallas, potential suitors for Dwight, are obviously affected but they’re not the only ones.
- Marcel Mutoni of SLAM ONLINE with the line of the day regarding Dwight’s indecisiveness: “Dwight Howard is a confused young man.”
- Some quotes from Dwight’s presser.
- Ethan Sherwood Strauss of CourtVision doesn’t think Dwight should be blamed for being indecisive about his future: This is not Dwight Howard’s fault. He did not create the collective bargaining agreement. He did not create the 24-hour news cycle. He did not foster a confusing system in which the most interesting “news” is funneled to us via conflicting anonymous sources.”
- Dwight: “I’m going to go home, and play a video game.” This was said after Dwight was asked what he was going to do after his press conference today was over.
- A must-read breakdown by Andrew Sharp of SB Nation on those involved in the Dwight drama.
- Should Orlando still trade Dwight? Tom Ziller of SB Nation thinks so: “Recent NBA history has shown that the packages offered for trading a superstar with at least a year left on his deal are much better than for rentals. The Jazz did it with Deron Williams. The Hornets did it with Chris Paul (who waived his own early termination option in the Clippers deal). Howard’s waiver [...] lets the Magic effectively rewind a calendar and make a blockbuster that sets Orlando up for the future … the post-Howard future.”
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
I get it, I really do.
Dwight Howard doesn’t want to be the next LeBron James and that’s totally admirable. He sees how everything went down with LeBron getting his jersey burned, getting booed in every city, and having unreasonable (and yet probably warranted) criticism and scrutiny strapped to his every missed shot and pass in crunch time.
It makes sense to not want to do that, especially when you see where requesting a trade has gotten Carmelo Anthony. He has essentially run a coach out of the biggest city in the NBA and the new team has been a complete catastrophe since he arrived. Dwight doesn’t want the same fate as Carmelo. If anything, he’d love the Chris Paul scenario of revitalizing a big market and getting all the joy and love of doing so.
And there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with wanting to work in a new city and around new people. Yes, he has a good setup in Orlando and he gets to be the face of a franchise there. He gets to try to do what Shaquille O’Neal never would do, which is stay for the long haul and bring a title to the DeVos family. He also could go become the face of Brooklyn and help corner the biggest market in the NBA.
That would be a fun new chapter in Dwight’s career. That would be a fun new chapter in ANYONE’S career. Yes, loyalty to the franchise that drafted you is one thing but there is nothing that states he shouldn’t want to work in a new city if that’s what he wants to do.