- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Before Sunday, it had been months, maybe even years since Glen “Big Baby’’ Davis took his gaudy 2008 NBA championship ring out of the safe. Heck, he even thought he had lost the oversized bauble at one time when he mistakenly left it in a safe that he had given away. But on Sunday, with his Orlando Magic rolling along at an impressive 11-4 and on the verge of him returning to Boston, Davis brought the ring with him to practice to serve as motivation and a reminder. [...] Davis returns to Boston on Monday for the first time since leaving the Celtics for the Magic back in November. Technically, the Magic acquired the 6-foot-9, 290-pound Davis and reserve shooting guard Von Wafer in a sign-and-trade deal for Brandon Bass, but he wanted to play for the Magic in order for a larger role on the team. The Magic sought Davis because of his toughness, emotional nature and willingness to do some of the dirty work that the team sorely needed. Those two wants – the Magic wanting Davis to do dirty work and Davis wanting more of a primary role – have clashed at times, but Orlando has been delighted by his play of late as the Magic have won six of the past seven games.”
- Dwight Howard has been named the Eastern Conference Player of the week for January 16-22.
- There was no shootaround for the Orlando Magic before tonight’s game with the Boston Celtics.
- A must-read interview by Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel with NBA commissioner David Stern.
- John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “There’s talk that the Magic might play out the season without trading Dwight Howard. They’re playing well, but do they have any chance of knocking off the Bulls or Heat to get to the conference finals? Health will be a factor, but they’re 1-4 against Chicago and 2-2 against Miami over the last two seasons.”
- Amin Vafa of Hardwood Paroxysm: “In recent years, this matchup would be touted as a defensive slugfest and an Eastern Conference Finals preview. Today? The most notable part of the matchup is comparing Glen Davis to Brandon Bass after they switched roles. Boston is injury-hobbled and slipping on defense. Orlando is drama-hobbled, and also slipping on defense. Let’s hope it’s a good game regardless.”
- Glen Davis might cry before playing against the Celtics.
- Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “It’s not just Ryan Anderson shooting lights out: Hedo’s doin’ it under the radar, too. And as noted in the Weekend Dime, Dwight has debunked any notion of trade uncertainty impacting his production, on course to be just the NBA’s second 20-and-15 man since Moses in 1982-83.”
- A new Howard trade rumor involving Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler.
- Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston: “So the book on Bass when he arrived was that he was an upgrade offensively, but was a step backwards on defense. That’s been somewhat true, though Bass has been both far better as both a rebounder and a man-on-man defender than we originally imagined. He’s still learning the team’s help defense philosophies and has been late on rotations, but his consistent offensive contributions afford him more patience on the defensive side (where his one-on-one numbers remain spectacular).”
- The Magic’s schedule gets a little bit tougher this week.
- Would Orlando be better off with Stoudemire and Chandler instead of Howard? Probably not.
- Zach Lowe of The Point Forward opines whether or not the Magic are slowly becoming a contender again in the league: “I wrote two weeks ago that we’d learn a lot about Orlando’s legitimacy when we saw whether its offense — its undoing last season — could hold up against better competition. So far, so good. With the exception of a stinker against the Spurs on the third night of a back-to-back-to-back, Orlando’s motion-heavy system functioned well in tough games over the last 10 days against Portland, New York and the Lakers — each among the league’s top 10 in points allowed per possession. The Magic’s offense has jumped from sixth in points per possession to second over the last two weeks, and their defense, an early season problem, is creeping back toward the overall top 10. If the Magic can keep up this kind of two-way play, they are a legitimate threat — if an underdog, still — to the Bulls and Heat in the Eastern Conference. We’ll learn even more in the five-games-in-seven-days stretch that starts Monday and includes two games apiece against Boston and Indiana.”
- Marcin Gortat, formerly a back-up center to Howard for Orlando, is having a career year with the Phoenix Suns. Jared Dubin of Hardwood Paroxysm pens an excellent article explaining the reasons that Gortat is fulfilling his potential.
- The Magic are bringing in a lot of traffic to their official website.
- Gilbert Arenas, currently a free agent, still hasn’t found a home yet in the NBA.
- Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak: “Anderson, just 23 and starting for the first time in his career, came to the Magic to be Rashard Lewis’s understudy and is making a name for himself reprising and expanding Lewis’s famous role—the stretch four marksmen. Van Gundy’s offense, like so many in the NBA, seeks to spread the floor around a rotating pick-and-roll attack designed to punish defenses for deploying extra defenders to address the primary pick-and-roll action. It fixes the defense on the torturer’s rack, pulling it apart until it eventually breaks and surrenders an open shot. [...] It is at this moment, when the defense rushes to the paint like so many white blood cells to the Howard’s infecting presence, that Ryan Anderson shines. Most teams can surround a pick-and-roll attack with a couple competent shooters, but few can boast a big man with the consistent deep stroke that has made Anderson an early season sensation. Even Glen Davis, for all his flaws, is a reliable catch-and-shoot threat from 18 feet. Every time Howard rolls with his hands high, defenses facing the Magic must triage the threat, and Anderson has responded by killing those that leave him untreated.”
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.
The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers by the score of 92-80. After facing off against the Miami Heat on Thursday and head coach Mike Brown making the decision to play the starters for Lakers down the stretch despite the game being out of reach, there was a concern Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and others would have little energy playing on a back-to-back. Those fears were realized, as Los Angeles looked gas at times. Nevertheless, the Magic did their job and came away with a victory against the Lakers. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double figures. Dwight Howard had his 37th career 20-20 game, the fifth of this season, and the second in a row following Wednesday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs. Howard finished with 21 points and 23 rebounds. Jameer Nelson had his best game of the regular season so far, putting up 17 points and nine assists. J.J. Redick contributed with 15 points and six assists. Ryan Anderson had 13 points, eight rebounds, and four steals. Jason Richardson returned to the starting lineup and doing so at the small forward position, filling in for an injured Hedo Turkoglu, chipping in with 12 points and four rebounds. Los Angeles was led by Bryant, as he showed that he had plenty in the tank despite playing for a second straight night. Bryant put up a game-high 30 points on 11-of-22 shooting from the field (including 7-of-7 from the free-throw line), eight assists, and three rebounds.
AP Photo/John Raoux
6-14 FG | 9-17 FT | 1 BLK | 23 REB | 21 PTS | +10
If it wasn’t clear at the start that Howard was playing with a chip on his shoulder after catching wind of Shaquille O’Neal’s comments about him, it should have been clear enough by the end of it all. Howard was out for blood. Not only did he have another 20-20 game but he got Andrew Bynum into foul trouble for three quarters and made him a non-factor.
6-12 FG | 3-4 3P | 9 AST | 2 REB | 17 PTS | +8
After being thoroughly outplayed by Tony Parker on Wednesday, Nelson acquitted himself nicely against Derek Fisher. Granted, Nelson getting the best of Fisher should be expected, given their history. But with Nelson struggling so much early on this season, it wasn’t a guarantee. It’ll be interesting to see if Nelson can build on this performance moving forward.
5-11 FG | 3-6 3P | 6 AST | 2 REB | 15 PTS | +5
Redick was steady against the Los Angeles Lakers. He aided in the Magic’s fast start in the first quarter, making a layup and a three-point shot — both plays taking place in transition. Normally known for his shooting, and rightfully so, Redick was effective in acting as a playmaker of sorts, setting up his teammates on offense and racking up a season-high six assists.
5-10 FG | 3-6 3P | 4 STL | 8 REB | 13 PTS | +12
Anderson did just fine. It’s curious that the Lakers didn’t try to exploit him more when he was defending Pau Gasol, but that falls on head coach Mike Brown and the rest of his coaching staff. Perhaps Anderson’s biggest contribution to the game came in the fourth quarter when he had a three-pointer and dunk on back-to-back possessions to essentially close out the game for Orlando.
|Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are clearly missing a lot of things on the roster. There’s no consistent perimeter threat outside of Kobe Bryant, there’s a lack of quality depth, there’s little in the way of three-point shooting or transition scoring, Gasol and Bynum aren’t getting enough touches in the post. Los Angeles’ defense is great but there’s a lot of holes that need to be addressed.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Jameer Nelson is struggling largely because of the constant talk that Dwight Howard would love to play with Deron Williams or Chris Paul. That’s the opinion of Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith. [...] Nelson has started this season poorly, averaging just 8.3 points per game on 39 percent shooting. It’s still early in the season, but both are career-lows for Nelson. Nelson made just two of his 16 shot attempts in Wednesday’s 85-83 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Nelson and Howard are the Magic’s co-captains. Howard has asked the Magic for a trade, and that trade request still stands. Howard has said publicly that he has been displeased that the team’s front office has not acted on more of his personnel suggestions. One of the three teams Howard has specified as his preferred trade destinations is the New Jersey Nets, who have Williams as their point guard. According to Smith, all the talk about Howard’s future has backed up on Nelson.
- Hedo Turkoglu will not play against the Los Angeles Lakers tonight. Jason Richardson might.
- Dwight Howard fires back at Shaquille O’Neal’s criticisms.
- Ryan Anderson will likely receive a contract extension soon.
- Could Steve Nash be a trade target for the Orlando Magic?
- More on the possibility that the Magic could make a go after Nash and other gems of information from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: “League sources say Orlando has not ruled out making a play for Steve Nash in the event the Suns decided to trade the point guard to a contender before the March 15 deadline. Nash, even at 37 and even on a rental basis, could push the Magic back to the NBA Finals at a time when the Celtics are faltering and the Heat are showing signs of wear and tear. As for what happens if the Magic get to March 15 and Howard still has not renounced his desire to be traded, along with the accompanying threat that he could leave outright as an unrestricted free agent? Magic officials have not made a decision of what course of action they’ll take at that point, but the options are clear: Trade Howard at the deadline for fear of getting nothing if he walks July 1, or call his bluff.”
- Even on a back-to-back, the Lakers are favored to win in tonight’s game.
- Jameer Nelson is fading into oblivion. Zach Lowe of The Point Forward explains why: “Nelson is shooting a career-worst 39 percent, including 25 percent from three-point range. A jump in turnovers has sunk his ability to create looks for teammates — already middling for starters at his position — to below-average levels.”
- The assertion that Andrew Bynum is better than Howard is a laughable one.
- Check me out at ESPN.com, ESPN Los Angeles, and Forum Blue & Gold, where I talk about all things concerning Orlando and Los Angeles both in the present and future tense.
- Kobe Bryant and Howard have been talking.
- Additional thoughts on the possibility that Nash is traded to the Magic.
- Bryant has let it be known to Howard that if they join forces, it’s still his team.
- Ben Golliver of CBSSports.com on the Howard-Bynum comparison: “Of course, there’s no contest. Howard, 26, averages more points, grabs more rebounds, dishes more assists, gets more steals, blocks more shots and shoots a better field goal percentage than Bynum. Howard has missed seven games in 7+ NBA seasons while Bynum has repeatedly been sidelined with injuries. Here’s a statistical side-by-side if you need convincing. Howard is a 5-time All-Star, 3-time Defensive Player of the Year, 4-time All-NBA first team. Bynum, 24, is having a career year and will make his first All-Star game, but his best individual achievement to this point was making the 2005 McDonald’s All-American game. He’s probably the league’s second-best big man, but he’s a distant second.”
- Shaun Powell of NBA.com: “Obviously, it’s really not up to the Lakers; Orlando must pull the trigger, although Bynum is about the best the Magic can expect in a trade at this point. But the Lakers would be foolish to keep Bynum over Howard. As good as Bynum looks right now, he’s not in Howard’s league defensively (who is?), and other teams don’t have to gameplan for Bynum as they do for Howard. Besides, Howard stays in terrific shape and mainly injury-free. Do you trust Bynum’s knees in the long run? Thought so, too. Bynum is only 24, but his body seems much older.”
Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
Today is a happy day for me, the culmination of a dream I’ve had lo these many weeks. Or two weeks. This is the week, dear readers, when you stepped up to the plate and offered me not two, not even three, but no fewer than FIVE emails to answer. So dedicated am I to encouraging y’all to participate in the majesty that is Magic Basketball Weekly, I will address all of the emails I received. Which is to say that I will skip my weekly rant to open the column and I will delve right into games of the week.
GAMES OF THE WEEK
Nuggets 108, Sixers 104
Wizards 105, Thunder 102
Spurs 85, Magic 83
I am the cheapest person in the entire world, and for this reason, purchasing NBA League Pass for the first time this season was like getting a volunteer colonoscopy, especially given the fact that it was NOT DISCOUNTED AT ALL for the shortened season. All that said, on Wednesday night, I watched, within five minutes of each other, three of the most exciting finishes so far of the season. It ruled, and it was completely worth getting League Pass. Let me also say this: it completely sucks that the Magic did not beat the Spurs, but I am the sort of rationalizing, mincing, emotionally weak fan who consoles themselves by saying: “If it was that close on the third night of a back-to-back-to back without Turkoglu, I’ll take it!” See? Moral victories! There’s a reason we give them to six year olds!
Jazz 106, Nuggets 96
I feel like the Jazz are trolling me. I hate them. I always have. They are boring and they have a dumb name and for a billion years they had the boringest coach who has ever lived. I can not disassociate the Jazz from decades of hearing television honkeys bloviating about RESPECTING THE GAME every time Jerry Sloan’s crooked nose was shown. I don’t know why they can’t just go away and start sucking like logic says they should. Almost nobody on their team is good, and watching Raja Bell play basketball is like the first time you see your dad being unable to open a pickle jar. It’s depressing. You want me to talk about how much of a mouth breather Enes Kanter is? No. I won’t, because they don’t deserve this much thought. Go away, the Jazz, because you’re pretty decent.
Rockets 90, Hornets 88
I guess I have no idea what the appropriate three letter abbreviation/airport code deal is for New Orleans. Is it really NOLA? Isn’t that just slang for the sorts of fratdoofs who say HOTLANTA? Anyway, the Rockets are like the last good guy left in some art-house war movie, the sort of movie that sets you up for a happy ending where Mr. StrongJawButKindHeart is going to get the girl until WHAM! Right before the credits start, StrongJaw is killed, and Serbians or whoever are traipsing over his body. LIFE IS POINTLESS, THIS MOVIE IS SO SMART. That’s the Rockets.
Okay, fine. Quick rant. Dubstep sucks. I hate it. I will confess that I don’t usually get into music that is primarily experiential — i.e. more about the club than the living room hi-fi — but still. It’s sort of exactly what dorky kids who want to have a subculture where they can be cool and piss off their parents would design. WHOA BROA, SKRONKY BASS. DROP THAT SKRONKY BASS, BRUH. THEY’LL NEVER UNDERSTAND US. It isn’t even usually satisfying bass! It sounds like how when I was a little kid I used to blow into cardboard tubes and go durrdurrdurrdurr but also if somebody was trying to fix a zipper next to me doing that. Now, as always, because I am an insufferable elitist, I do have a couple of Metacritic-approved dubstep albums. Like Burial. (Srsly, guuuys, the sampling has so much organic soul behind it hurrhurrhurr). And I understand that I’m supposed to like James Blake, but that just seems like Chris Isaak with a sampler. Two first names on both of em, same pretty boy warble voice. Anyway. I hate dubstep!
Bonus stupid dubstep!
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
In the summer of 1996, Shaquille O’Neal joined the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent, leaving the Orlando Magic high and dry in the process. It’s been close to 16 years since that incident occurred so as the saying goes, time heals all wounds, right?
Well, given that there’s a legitimate possibility that Dwight Howard could be traded to the Lakers at the deadline, you can forgive Magic fans if they feel like old wounds are being opened up. Shaq was a franchise center that wanted to play in the bright lights of Los Angeles, and it’s more than obvious that Howard also wants that stage (the same applies for cities like Dallas and Brooklyn).
Will Howard actually leave the Magic?
No one knows the answer to that right now. What we do know in the immediate future is that the Lakers, playing on a back-to-back after losing to the Miami Heat on Thursday, are in town. Orlando and Los Angeles square off in their only matchup of the regular season. The Lakers, with a new head coach, a relatively new supporting cast, and a renewed Kobe Bryant (for now), have changed. As such, the Magic will be facing a different opponent than they’ve been accustomed to facing dating back to 2009.
For more on the Lake Show, Andy Kamenetzky of ESPN Los Angeles as well as Darius Soriano and Phillip Barnett of Forum Blue & Gold drop some knowledge and share their insight.
Fact or Fiction: The Los Angeles Lakers should be considered the favorites to win the Western Conference?
Phillip Barnett, Forum Blue & Gold: Fiction. Right now, I think the Lakers are in the mix to contend for the Western Conference title, but they’re far from the clear-cut favorites as they have been in recent years. Between Dallas defending their title and Oklahoma City on the verge of breaking through, winning the West will be a challenge for the Lakers.
Andy Kamenetzky, ESPN Los Angeles: Fiction. Unless you’re a Laker fan who puts the “home” in “homer.” The West’s best is clearly OKC, and a bunch of other squads are jockeying for the other spot in the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers can be that team, and I haven’t bought into the demise many have predicted, but their margin for error is undoubtedly small.
Darius Soriano, Forum Blue & Gold: Fiction. The Lakers have holes at PG and (somewhat) at SF while having an unreliable bench. A team with that many question marks surrenders its status as “favorites” to win the West (or a championship) to a more complete team like the Thunder.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Stan Van Gundy plopped down into his chair for his postgame press conference and groaned. This loss hurt. If just one or two little things had gone differently, the Orlando Magic could have beaten the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. Instead, the Magic lost 85-83 in overtime. Van Gundy blames himself for not making key adjustments quickly enough. Von Wafer missed a foul shot that would have tied the game late in the extra period. And although J.J. Redick swished a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the end of overtime, he released the ball just a fraction of a second after the final buzzer. [...] The defeat ended the Magic’s five-game winning streak, and it also ended a grueling stretch in which the team played three games in three days. Playing without injured starters Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu, the Magic used 10 players. But Nelson still wound up playing just over 38 minutes, and Van Gundy said afterward that was too much. But the Spurs (10-5) were playing their 10th game in 15 days, and they also were without injured guard Manu Ginobili. They also had not won on the road in five tries this season.
- J.J. Redick’s running diary of the Orlando Magic’s one and only back-to-back-to-back of the regular season. It’s a must-read, especially since it contains this tidbit from Redick from last night’s gut-wrenching loss to the San Antonio Spurs: “We were down in the final seconds when Stan drew up a high pick-and-roll play for Jameer Nelson, and he found Ryan for a pretty good look from 3-point range. The shot was off, but Dwight got the rebound – as he did most of the night. It was about 3.4, 3.5 seconds when Dwight turned and threw the ball at me. I shot-faked and it was 1.8. If I shot the ball right away, the defender was so high I wouldn’t have gotten off a good shot so I really had two options. One was to jump into him, which looking back, it was kind of at an angle so I would have had to lean in. Two-tenths of a second was basically what I needed. I could have rushed that escape dribble a little more. If I could do it again, that would probably be it.”
- After getting called for a foul trying to stop Richard Jefferson from connecting on an alley-oop play, Glen Davis pulled down his shorts and earned a technical foul.
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie on Penny Hardaway’s recent interview with SLAM Magazine: “As a high schooler, writing online back during Penny’s time in Orlando, I made plenty of Hardaway jokes while suggesting (not unkindly) that Darrell Armstrong take over as Magic point guard — moving Hardaway over to the less-strenuous off-guard position in the starting lineup. And because he didn’t tear up his knee in a publicized, Bernard King-sort of way, I’m definitely amongst the “we” when I tell you that we didn’t give Penny the respect his injuries deserved. And to understand, years later, that he was one of the first that had to undergo microfracture surgery in order to sustain his career? We all should have been bonding with Penny at the time, so to speak.”
- Is Ryan Anderson in the same stratosphere as Dwight Howard when comparing their numbers? Well, let’s just say that the question isn’t as ridiculous as it might seem.
- Danny Nowell made an appearance on ESPN.com’s Daily Dime, where he provided his take on the Magic’s loss against the Spurs: “As the Magic stood poised to vault the Spurs on Superman’s shoulders, two thrilling, if disappointing, plays proved the difference. With 16 seconds left in overtime, surprise standout Von Wafer hit a driving layup while being fouled to give the Magic a chance to tie, only to miss the free throw. It seemed as if he might get off the hook when Howard gathered a Ryan Anderson miss and kicked it to the perimeter with time expiring, but J.J. Redick’s swish was half a second too late. It was that sort of night for the Magic — a gutty fight to the final seconds, but a fraction too little a second too late.”
- Another look back at Orlando’s loss against San Antonio in yesterday’s game.
- Despite a monster game from Howard, the Magic couldn’t eek out a win against the Spurs.
- Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland breaks down a key play from last night’s game between Orlando and San Antonio.
- Howard had the line of the week in the NBA with his 45-point, 23-rebound performance against the Golden State Warriors.
- A look at the possibility of Howard teaming up with Deron Williams in Dallas.
- Quentin Richardson can be a good defender even when he’s not playing. Confused?
- Also, make sure to check out Nowell’s insightful take on Carmelo Anthony at HoopSpeak.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Every so often, the writers of Magic Basketball tackle the world’s most important issues. In this case, we make a grand sweep of the Eastern Conference in the NBA and examine the early storylines being talked about by the mainstream media and blogosphere.
Are the Philadelphia 76ers for real? Have the Boston Celtics reached the end of the road? After their thrilling five-game series in the 2011 NBA Eastern Conference Finals last season, will the Chicago Bulls be pitted in a grudge match with the Miami Heat in this season’s Conference Finals?
And where do the Orlando Magic stand in all of this?
Nate Drexler: No one in the East can beat the Heat or the Bulls. For real. No one. They will finish 1-2 no matter what.
Matt Scribbins: Let’s hold off on naming you Nateradamus. You’re a great writer, but I’m not in love with this prediction. I’m telling you this right now — the Bulls and Heat will not face each other in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Drexler: Alright, alright. That’s a nice safe position you’re sitting in. It’s sort of like the “technically, anything could happen” position that my buddy takes no matter what the score and clock say in any game. I get it. So let me ask you a hard question. If the Heat and Bulls aren’t playing each other in the Eastern Conference Finals, then which one of those teams will choke in the early rounds? And who’s going to beat them?
Scribbins: The favorite to beat the Heat has a rotation six deep — two ankle braces, two compression sleeves, and two knee braces. Seriously, it looks like Dwyane Wade wears sweatpants on the floor. And somehow he just collected a new injury while wearing more pads than an NFL offensive lineman! For the Bulls, I think Rose’s turf toe could make it nearly impossible for the reigning MVP to play at an elite level through a grueling regular season and playoff schedule. After the injuries take their toll, the 76ers, Magic, or Celtics will deliver the final nail in the coffin to one of these teams.