Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 108

Apr 03

Preview: Orlando Magic at Detroit Pistons


  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Detroit Pistons
  • Date: Apr. 3, 2012
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: The Palace at Auburn Hills


  • Magic: 32-21
  • Pistons: 19-33

Probable starters


  • Chris Duhon
  • Jason Richardson
  • Quentin Richardson
  • Hedo Turkoglu
  • Glen Davis


  • Brandon Knight
  • Ben Gordon
  • Tayshaun Prince
  • Greg Monroe
  • Jason Maxiell

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 89.4 (26th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 104.6 (16th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 102.7 (10th of 30)


  • Pace: 94.2 (3rd of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 100.4 (27th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.6 (24th of 30)

Read about the Pistons

Piston Powered

Apr 03

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • As the Orlando Magic face the distinct possibility of playing without Dwight Howard, Ryan Anderson, and Jameer Nelson in tonight’s road game against the Detroit Pistons, it wasn’t long ago when another short-handed Magic team was able to beat the Pistons on the road.
  • Ryan Anderson’s ankle “still looks like a softball.”
  • Could Orlando make a go at a Kentucky Wildcats player in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft?
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy: “It’s all hands on deck right now. We could possibly be without three starters and really the three guys who’ve been our best offensive players over the last month. So it could be everybody on deck. We’ll see.”
  • Brendan Haywood will not be disciplined for allegedly punching Dwight Howard in the back in Friday’s game between the Magic and Dallas Mavericks.
  • Bill Simmons on Dwight’s odds of winning the Most Valuable Player award this season: “Don’t worry, he’s disqualified. Nobody can vote for Dwight after what he inflicted on his teammates, coaches and fans — a three-month soap opera of wishy-washiness that undermined his team and goes on his permanent résumé.”
  • Britt Robson of Sports Illustrated: “The conventional wisdom over the past few seasons has been that if point guard Jameer Nelson is playing well, the Magic are in good shape. But with Nelson shooting better than 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from distance while averaging 16.5 points in the last 10 games, Orlando is just 4-6 and has dropped three in a row.”
  • The problem, of course, is that Orlando — outside of Dwight, Anderson, and Redick — is not very good. Nelson’s recent resurgence has been a nice story, but it’s been undermined by the fact that players like Hedo Turkoglu aren’t playing very well (and haven’t much at all this season).
  • Not many people are jumping on the Magic’s playoff bandwagon.

Apr 02

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Glen Davis on his role with the Orlando Magic: “Whatever Stan wants me to do, I’m going to do it to the max whatever he wants me to do. If he wants me to set a thousand screens, I’ll set a thousand screens till I fall [down] and die.”
  • “Complete” players in the NBA are a myth according to Scott Leedy of Hardwood Paroxysm. All players, like Dwight Howard with his free-throw shooting, have flaws.
  • The Magic are no longer a lock to secure the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Other teams in the East are in hot pursuit.
  • Marc Stein of has a new nickname for Orlando: “Team Roller Coaster.”
  • Brendan Haywood denies punching Dwight Howard in the back in Friday’s game between the Magic and Dallas Mavericks. Dwight sat out Sunday’s game against the Denver Nuggets with back spasms.
  • It was a battle of point guards between Jameer Nelson and Ty Lawson on Sunday.
  • Orlando will continue to struggle to win games without Dwight (and Ryan Anderson by extension) available to play. Anderson suffered a sprained ankle versus the Nuggets.
  • Abe Schwadron of SLAM ONLINE: “Luckily for the Magic, their skid should end soon, as they get the Pistons twice and the Wizards once over their next 5 games.”
  • How do you beat the Magic? Matt Moore of has the answer: “You close out on the shooters, you live with Dwight Howard killing you inside, you don’t let anyone else get easy looks The defensive inconsistency is their biggest problem. If they’re exploitable defensively, they just don’t measure up with Magic teams of the recent past.”
  • Shaquille O’Neal talks about leadership and being a leader. He talks about Dwight, too.
  • Zach Lowe of The Point Forward explains why Orlando should not want to face the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs: “Atlanta has a big man (Jason Collins) capable of guarding Dwight Howard one-on-one, and the ability of Josh Smith (and, if healthy, Al Horford) to switch on pick-and-rolls and contain Orlando’s guards has given the Magic occasional fits.”
  • Anderson has Lawson to blame for spraining his ankle.
  • Tom Ziller of SB Nation breaks down the race for the No. 3 seed in the East: “The Magic lost, but remain in the No. 3 spot by a half-game margin over Indiana, who won. Atlanta was idle, and sits a game behind Indiana and a game ahead of Philadelphia. Milwaukee did not play, and remains 2.5 games behind the Knicks.”

Apr 02

J.J. Redick and Milo Greene: Mutual respect

Photo courtesy of J.J. Redick

Quick, who are the music groups that come to mind when you think about getting pumped up and ready to play in an NBA basketball game?

Here, I’ll do it for you.

Rick Ross, Jay-Z, Skrillex, Kanye West, Eminem — just to name a few. We need a list, though. Fortunately, a list of the top 100 pregame pump-up songs of all-time was thrown together. Eminem did have a few tracks on the list, Linkin Park had a handful, and the usual suspects like Jay-Z, Kanye West, and B.O.B. are littered all over the list.

So who isn’t on that list? A little alternative-indie band by the name of Milo Greene. The lazy, folksy, and really quite beautiful melodies from Milo Greene might lull the average professional athlete to sleep, but they also serve another function. They pump J.J. Redick up before games.

In mid-March, Redick dropped a tweet after the Magic game in San Antonio, saying he was glad to meet one of his favorite bands and snapped a picture with the group on the baseline of AT&T Center. A seemingly strange endorsement caused me to investigate.

An off-day in Portland
J.J. Redick wasn’t kidding. He loves this band.

According to Redick, he was in Portland on an off-day in early January doing what most people do, browsing the internet. He stumbled on a music blog that suggested Milo Greene’s “1957” as a “must-listen track.” So like any music fan, J.J. listened, loved, YouTubed, loved some more, and immediately purchased the song.

“I went to the Milo website and paid for the seven-inch vinyl so that I could download the MP3 version of ‘1957’ and ‘Silent Way’.”

Milo Greene isn’t posing. They love the NBA. Graham Fink, guitarist and vocalist for Milo Greene, told me in an interview that several of its members are “huge basketball fans,” which means they were well aware of who J.J. was before the meeting. When they saw the tweet, they thought it was just another fan. It wasn’t until later that they realized it was the Blue Devil himself.

“We received a vinyl order from a Jonathan Redick with a Florida mailing address and realized the Twitter account was actually his — I’m not gonna say we geeked out, but …”

Note: “geeked out” means “got really excited,” as in what a bunch of geeks do when a new video game comes out.

Milo Greene refused to believe that J.J. could possibly use their music as pump-up music. Not only did the band not assume it was pump-up music, but they said they never expected any crossover whatsoever into the jock world.

“I’ve got to ask J.J. if he listens to us as pump-up jams before games — if so, then we’re doing something right because he’s a shredder out there.”

But don’t think they won’t try to take advantage of the endorsement.

“Now that J.J. is on board, the sky’s the limit. Going to see the Thunder play the Lakers tonight, maybe I can slip Durant some tunes and get him in the mix — that wouldn’t suck.”

(I don’t think that ended up happening.)

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Apr 02

HoopIdea: Last five minutes of NBA games — relevant or not?

Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

You know that you only need to watch the last five minutes of an NBA game, right? Well, I thought that was true until Sunday.

In the 2011-2012 NBA season, no team in the league has a winning record when trailing at the half. Again, no team in the NBA has a winning record this season when they head into the locker room trailing their opponent. That is the most unbelievable NBA stat I have heard in a long time.

I have always felt the great teams just toy with opponents until crunch time and then lay the hammer down when the moment is right. Entering Sunday’s batch of games, here is a look at the top teams in the league and their records in a few different situations (the last two categories read “Ahead after 3″ and “Behind after 3″):

Once the great teams have their opponent in a headlock, they hold on tight about nine out of 10 times. However, they don’t have much success escaping from a deficit and appear mortal if they trail at the half and after three quarters.

The Heat (.890) are the only team in the group with a winning percentage under .900 when they head into the third quarter with the lead. The one time out of 10 would be fun to watch, but don’t hold your breath until the next time Miami lets a lead slip.

Equally, don’t think you’re getting some great deal if your buddy bets you any of these four teams will not be able to overcome a deficit heading into the fourth quarter. Your odds would be the best if you picked the Thunder to rally in the 4th quarter, but even in that situation they have only won about 35 percent of their games. If you’re scoring at home, that is a winning percentage almost identical to the one the Sacramento Kings have accumulated in all of their games this season.

Here is where it gets really crazy: even the Bobcats and Nets close out opponents when they have a lead heading into the 4th! The Bobcats are 6-2 in those situations and the Nets have put 16 of their 20 leads on ice.

Remember these four facts next time you’re watching an NBA game:

  • No team in the NBA has a winning record when trailing at the half.
  • Only the Warriors, Hornets, Wizards, and Bobcats have a losing record when leading at the half.
  • No team in the NBA has a losing record when leading after three quarters.
  • No team in the NBA has a record even close to .500 when trailing after three quarters.

Forget the last five minutes of an NBA game. I only want to see the halftime score and the difference after three quarters.

Statistical support for this story from

Apr 02

Recap: Denver Nuggets 104, Orlando Magic 101

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images


It would be easy to explain away the Orlando Magic’s loss to the Denver Nuggets by using an excuse — Dwight Howard wasn’t playing due to back spasms. But that doesn’t advance the conversation.

There’s many reasons why the Magic lost to the Nuggets and, by extension, have been losing games over the past several days. But there’s one reason that needs to be examined in greater detail.

Hedo Turkoglu not playing very well, not only against the Nuggets but the Mavericks and Knicks, with any sort of consistency — you could argue this has been a problem all season long — is a big reason why Orlando isn’t as good as they probably should be.

No one is expecting Turkoglu to play out of his mind for long stretches of time, like he did in 2008 en route to winning the Most Improved Player award that season. Instead, Magic fans are pining for the 2009 version of Turkoglu, when he was a playmaker for the Magic and not afraid of the big moment. When he was a player that played with loads of confidence.

You don’t see that right now with Turkoglu.

What you’re seeing with Turkoglu is a player that’s playing with, as I like to call it, no swag. No confidence. It comes and goes, but it’s never sustained.

In 2008 and 2009, Turkoglu had an inner belief in his skills and abilities that made him a special player, even if it didn’t jump out at you right away in his numbers.

Right now, Turkoglu is playing with a lot of self-doubt. You can see it in almost every thing he does on the court and the stats are reflecting it.

Turkoglu is not confident in his jumpshot. He’s shooting 32 percent on 1.8 field goal attempts from 16-23 feet (that would be the lowest percentage for him since 2007, which is the farthest back Hoopdata tracks shot location data). Turkoglu is shooting 34.3 percent from three-point range, which would be the worst percentage of his career since his rookie year, back when he was a member of the Sacramento Kings.

Turkoglu is not confident at the free-throw line. His free-throw percentage is 70.3 percent, far below his career average of 78.8 percent.

Turkoglu is not confident with the ball in his hands. His turnover percentage of 20.4 percent is the highest of his career, way higher than his career average of 13.4 percent.

I can go on, but you get the idea.

Whereas Jameer Nelson is finding his confidence again, playing a stellar game against Denver, Turkoglu is still looking for his.

If this trend continues, Orlando is not going to get very far in the playoffs.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Take your pick. A lot of players played well for both teams. Between Ty Lawson (25 points, nine assists, and five rebounds), Aaron Afflalo (22 points, five rebounds) and Nelson (27 points, five assists), there’s no wrong answer.


Despite allowing the Nuggets to shoot 55.6 percent from the floor, the Magic were able to stay in this game by forcing 17 turnovers and snagging 18 offensive rebounds. Glen Davis alone had more offensive rebounds (9) than Denver (7).

That Was … Fun

Despite no Dwight for Orlando (back spasms) and Denver missing a few rotation players due to a variety of injuries, this game still had high entertainment value. It was free-flowing and featured plenty of offense.

Apr 01

Preview: Denver Nuggets at Orlando Magic


  • Teams: Denver Nuggets at Orlando Magic
  • Date: Apr. 1, 2012
  • Time: 6:00 p.m.
  • Television: NBA TV
  • Arena: Amway Center


  • Nuggets: 28-24
  • Magic: 32-20

Probable starters


  • Ty Lawson
  • Aaron Afflalo
  • Corey Brewer
  • Kenneth Faried
  • JaVale McGee


  • Jameer Nelson
  • Jason Richardson
  • Hedo Turkoglu
  • Ryan Anderson
  • Glen Davis

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 94.6 (1st of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 107.7 (6th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.2 (23rd of 30)


  • Pace: 89.4 (26th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 104.5 (16th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 102.5 (10th of 30)

Read about the Nuggets

Roundball Mining Company

Apr 01

Recap: Dallas Mavericks 100, Orlando Magic 98

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images


The Magic dropped an infuriating game to the Mavericks on Friday, 100-98.  Despite having control for the better part of the contest, the Magic unraveled in the fourth quarter and missed a couple looks at the buzzer to seal it for the Mavericks.

It seemed for most of the game that the story would be Jameer Nelson’s continued resurgence, as his aggression allowed him to exploit defensive lapses all night. Had the Magic pulled the game out, fans would almost certainly be pointing to a third quarter sequence in which Jameer collected back to back offensive rebounds and finished the play with a driving left-handed layup as the emblematic moment of the contest. Instead, it serves to make clear exactly how much the Magic let slip away.

Through the first half, the Magic looked balanced and assertive,if not exactly spectacular. They worked the ball through Dwight Howard in the post, while J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson, and Hedo Turkoglu each took a hand spurring small runs. Though the Mavericks answered Orlando’s 12-point run in the first with a reciprocal run in the second, the half saw the Magic leading 55-46 and feeling good.

Orlando’s strong play extended into the second half and Nelson turned a solid effort into an outstanding one with his play in the third. The Mavericks more or less kept pace but through the first three quarters, they looked every bit the team playing on a second consecutive night. Dallas mostly kept pace by hitting just enough mid-range jumpers but despite Dirk Nowitzki’s steady scoring, the team seemed uninspired.

All that changed in the fourth quarter. Hedo Turkoglu began the quarter playing aggressively and effectively, but soon began pressing with his decision-making and committing a series of hard-to-explain turnovers. The rest of the team followed suit and before long, the game was close enough that the Magic were reverting to form and trying to match the frenetic feel of the game with a series of long threes rather than doing the attacking that had put them in command of the game earlier.

Jason Terry spurred the Mavericks comeback and the Magic struggled to hold Nowitzki at bay through the final period. In the end, the Magic seemed unwilling to assert themselves at either end and let the Mavericks make just their second fourth-quarter comeback of the season.

It’s a little difficult to take away a silver lining from this game, as the team seemed to depart from the basketball its fans yearn for and revert to the puzzling passivity that have marked the season’s most frustrating moments. Fans often talk about the Magic’s over-reliance on three-point shooting, but Friday’s performance showed that the problems go much deeper. It’s not the shots themselves so much as the way they’re found and the Magic seemed to relinquish their command of the game while trying to stay afloat with momentum-swinging shots.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Jason Terry. Dirk Nowitzki had a strong but fairly quiet scoring night, while Terry’s explosive fourth quarter put the Magic on their heels and knocked them out of their comfort zone.

LVP (Least Valuable Player)

Let’s give this to Hedo Turkoglu, who, despite playing aggressively and intelligently for most of the game, was the poster boy for the Magic’s meltdown, lowlighting the loss with fourth quarter turnovers and lazy shot selection.


While Dwight Howard didn’t visibly dominate the game’s action, he did finish with a commanding 15 rebounds and the Magic’s ability to work through him gave the Mavericks a lot of trouble for most of the game.

Mar 30

Preview: Dallas Mavericks at Orlando Magic


  • Teams: Dallas Mavericks at Orlando Magic
  • Date: Mar. 30, 2012
  • Time: 8:00 p.m.
  • Television: ESPN
  • Arena: Amway Center


  • Mavericks: 29-23
  • Magic: 32-19

Probable starters


  • Jason Kidd
  • Vince Carter
  • Shawn Marion
  • Dirk Nowitzki
  • Brendan Haywood


  • Jameer Nelson
  • Jason Richardson
  • Hedo Turkoglu
  • Ryan Anderson
  • Dwight Howard

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 91.6 (14th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 102.5 (23rd of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 101.0 (6th of 30)


  • Pace: 89.3 (27th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 104.5 (16th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 102.4 (10th of 30)

Read about the Mavericks

The Two Man Game

Mar 30

Magic Basketball Weekly: Putting David Stern and Roger Goodell under a microscope

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Do y’all remember that fun and simple time a few months back when David Stern vetoed — or didn’t veto or whatever — the Chris Paul trade? Remember how hysterical everyone was about what a black eye it was for the league, coming right after the lockout like that?

I certainly do.

I was one of those Chicken Littles (Chickens Little?) running around yelling about how the league was going to ALIENATE ITS FANS FOR GOOD WITH ITS NASTY HUBRIS. Fast forward to today, though, and not only has that fiasco been more or less forgotten, the NFL has lapped the Association as the league with the highest quotient of skeevy authoritarian nonsense.

For most of David Stern’s tenor as NBA commissioner, the league has been on a generally upward trajectory, surviving a few deep valleys of public interest, and building a massive global engine.

For several reasons, though — the visibility of the disconnect between the (mostly) black labor force and the white ownership/management, Stern’s sardonic mastermind persona, a confluence of fraught incidents, and over-corrective policies — the Association has been surrounded by this aura of dictatorial mistrust and suspicion.

The 1985 NBA Draft lottery (Patrick Ewing anyone?) and similar conspiracies arose precisely because the league was the type of organization that passed measures, like the dress code, to get players in cultural lockstep with the viewing audience. Since the Malice at the Palace, things have generally been better, though the lockout and the Paul mess were reminders of the way the league used to seem so divorced from its own fans and players.

But move, over David. Roger is on line one, and he wants to tell you to STEP OFF.

Do you want fatuous condescension, but WITHOUT wit? He’s got you. Do you want moral hypocrisy? What about an indefinite suspension for a coach who had the gall to financially incentivize players to injure each other in a game where PLAYERS ARE PROFESSIONALLY INCENTIVIZED TO INJURE EACH OTHER? Still not enough? What about making teams who followed the exact rules of a cap-free season pay all the other teams a bunch of money just because? And making the players union go along with it by threatening to NOT RAISE THE SALARY CAP?

Good God in heaven. Goodell makes Stern at his worst look like a hippie parent who lets all the neighborhood kids drink in his basement.

Here’s my beef: sporting organizations are either a mirror of society and subject to its dictums or they are not. If they are a mirror of society, then fine, have lockouts and subject fans to the unpleasantness of market realities and so forth. Try to make it at least MINIMALLY fair and non-arbitrary. But if not — if this is an arbitrary universe that operates like a bunch of petty children grabbing Monopoly money out of each others’ hands — then spare us all the legalistic crap and just say that things are because you say so.  

But if you want to have all the unfairness of stupid board games combined with the mind-numbing drudgery of tax law?

Then you’re a fat-chinned patsy for being yet another conglomeration of rich white men who want to screw the people they’re profiting off of and expect to be adored for it. I had enough half-baked populist rage BEFORE you, Roger Goodell, and I’d thank you to either make a mint letting young men to decapitate each other or go take your dullard’s face to some less public boardroom.

I will stick to the NBA where our racially charged and economic conflicts are HONORABLE. Thank you.

(Bonus reason why this column is late today: Kanye Zone. No matter what I do, I’m topping out just south of 2 million. Come at me, bro.)

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