Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 108

Mar 06

Recap: Charlotte Bobcats 100, Orlando Magic 84

Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

The Orlando Magic have had a number of bad losses this season.

A lazy 11-point loss to the Detroit Pistons on January 2 springs to mind. So do two epic fails against the Boston Celtics in the span of a week in late January; first putting up a franchise-worst 56 points on the road, then blowing a 27-point lead at home. Can’t forget about the Magic’s 26-point drubbing at the hands of the lowly New Orleans Hornets on January 27 either.

So it’s hard to say where Orlando’s loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, owners of the worst record in the NBA (was 4-31 but now is 5-31), ranks on the list but it’s certainly a bad loss. That much is certain.

What’s amazing is that for most of the first half, the Magic were in complete control of the game. Offensively, everything was coming easy for Orlando. Perhaps too easy in retrospect. The Magic were nailing their three-pointers and balancing that with easy baskets at the rim. On the flipside, the Bobcats were doing everything they could to get blown out of the game — silly turnovers, taking (and missing) bad shots, you name it.

At one point in the second quarter, Orlando was up by as many as 20 points. Then Charlotte slowly began to chip away.

However, after head coach Paul Silas got ejected with 3:53 left in the period after arguing a call in which Corey Maggette attacked the basket and got knocked down with no foul called (Hedo Turkoglu was credited with a block), Ryan Anderson made both technical free-throws to push the Magic’s lead back to 16 points. It seemed like order was being restored. Orlando let their guard down a bit but the Bobcats seemed content to continue committing mental gaffes.

Instead, Silas’ ejection seemed to spark Charlotte and that’s when the game changed. Immediately after Silas left the game, the Bobcats went on a 22-1 run that stretched into the third quarter and spanned nearly six minutes on the game clock. All of a sudden, Charlotte could do no wrong.

For nearly the remainder of the evening, the Magic exchanged leads with the Bobcats.

With the score at 84-82 in Charlotte’s favor with 5:28 left in the fourth quarter after Dwight went one of two from the free-throw line, that’s when Gerald Henderson stepped up to allow the Bobcats to put a stranglehold on the game. Matched up against J.J. Redick, Henderson drew a shooting foul on the fellow Dukie on back-to-back possessions as he went up for a shot along the right baseline. His first shot attempt was a fadeaway on the right block after he posted up Redick, which he made. The second jumper for Henderson was more academic, as he faced up Redick near the right wing, dribbled baseline, then pulled up for a jumper. Both times Henderson drew contact on Redick.

At that point, even though Henderson couldn’t convert at the free-throw line for a three-point play on either possession, Charlotte created enough distance to pull away from Orlando.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

This was a vintage Corey Maggette performance. At his best, his midrange jumper is falling and he’s attacking the rim as well as drawing fouls. All those elements were on display against the Magic.

LVP (Least Valuable Player)

Orlando seemed to think that they could show up and win simply because the Bobcats are the worst team in the league. When you play with that mentality, you’re going to lose in the NBA.

X-Factor

Lost in the rubble of the Magic’s loss was Bismack Biyombo’s defense against Dwight. A night after torching Aaron Gray and Jamaal Magloire, Biyombo put up much stiffer resistance defensively against Dwight.

Mar 06

Preview: Orlando Magic at Charlotte Bobcats

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Charlotte Bobcats
  • Date: Mar. 6, 2012
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Time Warner Cable Arena

Records

  • Magic: 25-14
  • Bobcats: 4-31

Probable starters

Magic:

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

Bobcats:

  • D.J. Augustin
  • Gerald Henderson
  • Corey Maggette
  • D.J. White
  • Bismack Biyombo

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 89.5 (27th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 104.3 (13th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 101.4 (12th of 30)

Bobcats:

  • Pace: 91.4 (17th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 94.5 (30th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 110.3 (29th of 30)

Read about the Bobcats

Queen City Hoops

Mar 06

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel ran into head coach Stan Van Gundy at the airport in Toronto. Van Gundy was waiting to board a plane heading to Charlotte. Why didn’t he travel with the Orlando Magic? According to Van Gundy, he stayed at Mount Sinai Hospital overnight because he was having chest pains.
  • Van Gundy is okay after experiencing chest pains.
  • Schmitz: “Is Dwight still leading on the Magic eight days before the deadline? Is he still this conflicted? My guess is, being around the Magic, is that he hasn’t changed his stance: He still wants to explore free agency. Neither Howard nor the Magic want to deliver the bad news until they have to. Until they’ve exhausted the last few days of perhaps trying to talk Howard out of leaving. Until they have a deal for Howard they like.”
  • In that same link, general manager Otis Smith reveals that six to eight teams are still calling about Dwight in hopes of acquiring him at the trade deadline.
  • Dwight should know by now that the Magic are committed to winning at all costs.
  • Tonight, Orlando plays a really bad team in the Charlotte Bobcats.
  • It appears that Fran Vazquez, drafted by the Magic in the 2005 NBA Draft and playing for FCB Regal in Spain right now, may be appear poised to join the team next season. Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie explains what that may mean for Orlando moving forward.
  • Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports with a must-read piece on Orlando’s current predicament with Dwight: “Several sources who’ve known Howard for years believe his hesitancy with Orlando management has helped validate Martins’ hope of re-signing him. As one of those sources said, ‘Don’t underestimate how much it means to Dwight to be a pillar in that community. Everyone else wants to pull him out of there, but I’m not so sure that’s where his heart is.’ ”
  • J.J. Redick hit a clutch three-pointer in last night’s game against the Toronto Raptors to help the Magic come away with a victory on the road.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “We cannot emphasize this enough — the Orlando Magic’s primary goal is to keep Dwight Howard in Orlando. Magic CEO Alex Martins is doing everything short of begging (actually, he’d probably do that, too) to convince Howard to stay. That stems from a real desire to keep him and to show Magic fans that they did try if Howard is traded. Bottom line: Until word comes down from owner Richard DeVos to move Howard — something he is reluctant to do — nothing is going to happen.”
  • Another recap of Orlando’s win against the Raptors yesterday.
  • Matt Moore of CBSSports.com wasn’t impressed with the Magic struggling to beat Toronto.
  • Stay Dwight.
  • “Smith’s phone should be ringing off the hook!”
  • Dwight and Ryan Anderson have been two of the main reasons why Orlando is 25-14 and ranked No. 3 in the Eastern Conference as of today.

Mar 05

Recap: Orlando Magic 92, Toronto Raptors 88

AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young

This game was all about Dwight Howard — both good and bad.

The good?

Dwight did whatever he wanted on offense. For most of the game, he terrorized the Toronto Raptors in pick-and-roll sets. The Orlando Magic ran a number of 1/5 pick-and-rolls and 3/5 pick-and-rolls with Nelson and Turkoglu serving as the ball handlers, and Dwight was able to convert on a handful of layups and dunks.

The Raptors generally did a poor job of defending the pick-and-rolls. On one possession, Aaron Gray hedged Turkoglu but was too late to recover on Dwight, giving up a dunk. On another possession, Gray opted to sag off Nelson to be in better position to stop or slow down Dwight on the roll. That didn’t work either, as Dwight slipped the screen for another dunk.

Those are instances where a weak-side defender for Toronto should rotate over to serve as the last line of defense. That didn’t happen.

When Dwight wasn’t running his own dunk-a-thon, he was making layups and hook shots in the post. Not all of them came easy either. A few times, for instance, Dwight executed an up-and-under move on the low block against Jamaal Magloire, getting him to bite on the up-fake. That allowed Dwight to go up for an easy layup.

Needless to say, Dwight had everything working for him on offense except for his midrange jumper he’s pretty much abandoned this season. As a result, Toronto was at Dwight’s mercy all night long.

The bad?

Dwight couldn’t make his free-throws, particularly in crunch time.

With 2:58 left in the game, the Magic were up by nine points with the score at 87-78. But the Raptors were able to go on a 7-0 run in a little more than two minutes to cut their deficit to two points with 31.8 seconds left, largely because Howard missed six free-throws during that timeframe.

Orlando is fortunate that Redick bailed them out with a clutch three-pointer with 9.8 seconds left to fend off Toronto’s rally but it never should have came down to that.

Dwight says he wants the ball in the fourth quarter. Shooting 1-for-7 from the free-throw line in the period isn’t going to help his argument.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Dwight Howard was unstoppable offensively. There wasn’t much Aaron Gray, Jamaal Magloire, and the Raptors’ defense as a whole could do to slow down Dwight from scoring on dunks, layups, and hook shots.

Defining Moment

With the Magic up by two points with the score at 87-85, J.J. Redick made a clutch three-pointer in the right corner with 9.8 seconds left in the game. That gave Orlando enough cushion to hold on for a narrow win.

That Was … Almost Costly

Although Dwight had 36 points on 16-for-20 from the floor, he missed seven free-throws in the fourth quarter (4-for-14 from the free-throw line for the game). That allowed Toronto to come back and nearly steal a victory.

Mar 05

Preview: Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors
  • Date: Mar. 5, 2012
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Sun Sports
  • Arena: Air Canada Centre

Records

  • Magic: 24-14
  • Raptors: 12-25

Probable starters

Magic:

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

Raptors:

  • Jose Calderon
  • DeMar DeRozan
  • James Johnson
  • Ed Davis
  • Aaron Gray

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 89.5 (27th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 104.3 (13th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 101.4 (11th of 30)

Raptors:

  • Pace: 89.8 (25th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 98.7 (29th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 103.3 (16th of 30)

Read about the Raptors

Raptors Republic

Mar 05

Monday’s Magic Word

  • A list of NBA teams that might rent Dwight Howard.
  • J.E. Skeets and Tas Melas of The Basketball Jones were in Orlando for All-Star Weekend. What did they do while they were in the City Beautiful? Compete in various NBA Jam Session activities, of course. A must-watch video.
  • Is it possible the Magic might keep Dwight at the deadline instead of trade him? If David Aldridge of NBA.com says it’s a possibility, it probably is.
  • It’s no secret that Nelson has struggled this season. It seems evident that Dwight clamoring to play with a better point guard like Deron Williams has affected Nelson mentally. Yet there’s signs that he’s starting to snap out of it and play better basketball.
  • After returning from a broken right foot after missing the first 32 games of the regular season, Brook Lopez suffered a sprained right ankle on Sunday against the Charlotte Bobcats. Will his injury affect the New Jersey Nets’ ability to acquire Dwight at the trade deadline?
  • According to a report, Orlando has almost no shot of acquiring Steve Nash or Monta Ellis in a trade. The reason? Lack of assets.
  • Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “If you believe the GM grapevine: After an 11-4 February, Orlando is serious about rolling the dice and keeping Dwight past the trading deadline, figuring that a 10 percent chance of changing his mind (but also potentially losing him for nothing in free agency) beats what they can get in a trade for him.”
  • Ryan Anderson has outproduced his WARP projection by a mile. Bradford Doolittle of ESPN Insider cautions that Anderson’s WARP number will likely fall back to earth just a bit.
  • The league is on Dwight watch.
  • If the Magic want to trade Dwight but still make the playoffs, they may want to wait until the very last second (for what it’s worth, Basketball-Reference gives Orlando a 100 percent chance of making the postseason).
  • If they decide to move Dwight at the trade deadline, which bad contract — between Glen Davis and Hedo Turkoglu — is Orlando better off unloading?

Mar 03

Recap: Orlando Magic 114, Milwaukee Bucks 98

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Like the Orlando Magic’s game against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, this one should have been over in the first quarter.

The Magic jumped out to a 15-point lead in the period thanks in large part due to precise execution on offense. Granted, the defense for the Milwaukee Bucks was porous but Orlando still had to take advantage and they did. Jameer Nelson did an excellent job of running pick-and-roll sets that generated points for the Magic. And surprisingly enough, even though Orlando is one of the worst fast break teams in the NBA, they had 10 points in transition in the quarter.

When the Magic are executing offensively, both in half-court sets and fast break opportunities, it’s easy to see why they scored 36 points in the period.

The issue is that Orlando relinquished their double-digit lead fairly quickly. This has been a recurring problem for the Magic all season.

Against the Bucks, the main culprit was the second unit. The same goes for other games too. Usually.

The primary issue with Orlando’s second unit is that even though J.J. Redick and/or Ryan Anderson anchor the lineup, they have to play with guys like Chris Duhon, Ish Smith, Quentin Richardson, Von Wafer, DeAndre Liggins, Earl Clark, and Glen Davis. That creates two problems: 1.) the offense takes a nosedive and 2.) the defense takes a nosedive. For as talented offensively as Redick and Anderson are, they can’t make up for the deficiencies of their teammates. As for the defense, with no Howard, the Magic aren’t putting up much of a resistance out there. Combine the two issues and you have blown second quarter leads

That’s what happened against Milwaukee.

From the start of the second quarter, in roughly six minutes, the Bucks cut their 15-point deficit to three points. Milwaukee even took the lead briefly near the end of the period.

As such, Orlando was in another dogfight (similar to the Wizards game) up until the start of the fourth quarter. Fortunately for the Magic, this time around, unlike against Washington, they were able to put the game away early in the period.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

After struggling to score against Drew Gooden in their first matchup this season, Dwight exacted a bit of revenge in tonight’s game. Dwight was deadly, combining those hook shots of his with a plethora of dunks.

LVP (Least Valuable Player)

How about Orlando’s second unit of Duhon-Redick-Wafer-Clark-Davis? In the second quarter, the Bucks went on a 14-2 run against them. Unfortunately for head coach Stan Van Gundy, he has to rely on those players.

X-Factor

The Magic were able to finish off Milwaukee in the fourth quarter and Redick was a big reason why. Redick scored 10 of his 14 points in the period, making two three-pointers in the left corner that served as daggers.

Mar 03

Preview: Milwaukee Bucks at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Milwaukee Bucks at Orlando Magic
  • Date: Mar. 3, 2012
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: NBA TV
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Bucks: 14-22
  • Magic: 23-14

Probable starters

Bucks:

  • Brandon Jennings
  • Carlos Delfino
  • Tobias Harris
  • Ersan Ilyasova
  • Drew Gooden

Magic:

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

Advanced stats

Bucks:

  • Pace: 92.3 (8th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 102.9 (17th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 105.4 (22nd of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 89.3 (28th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 104.0 (13th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 101.5 (12th of 30)

Read about the Bucks

Bucksketball

Mar 01

Recap: Oklahoma City Thunder 105, Orlando Magic 102

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Don’t distress, Magic fans. For the first time in a while, Orlando looked really good. Not good as in “winning games,” but good as in moving the ball, playing with confidence, and playing hard.

The Magic came out with a ton of energy, and put the clamps down on defense. Russell Westbrook was able to get his shots to go, but the Magic looked crafty in places where they usually don’t. I look back to plays like J.J. Redick sneaking in to force a turnover in the backcourt, Chris Duhon getting Durant in the air and finishing at the rim, and Jameer Nelson stepping into a three after Westbrook cheated a pass and missed.

The big word that defines all of this behavior is swagger. Everyone from Dwight Howard to Earl Clark played this game like they should have won it. Howards deep hook shot was working, so he continued to go to it. Jameer’s aggression was creating opportunity, so he kept doing it. Ryan’s shot was falling, so he shot.

The turning point in the game was the third quarter. Dwight Howard went nuts after a quiet first half and simply could not be stopped against a team who was supposed to have two guys who could keep him in check. With a lead, Orlando had the luxury of being able to pump the ball into Dwight over and over again. When it wasn’t there, he kicked, but for the most part his post game was available, and he made the OKC bigs pay, using the glass and demonstrating a ridiculous hook shot.

Most impressively, the Magic found success with their second line. Between Redick’s defense, Duhon’s ability to protect the ball, and the overall patience, Orlando was able to not only protect the lead, but extend it.

The most telling part of the night was the fact that Orlando had five different players in double-digits close to the beginning of the fourth quarter. They shared the ball well, and relied on the team to win the game. Put differently, guys picked their spots. No, they knew their spots, and executed perfectly. It was Dwight’s offense and every guy on the team not named Dwight that put himself in the best possible position to optimize.

No question the final and most important test for the Magic came in the fourth quarter as Westbrook and Durant started to come on. Once they started scoring, OKC tightened up a bit, and Orlando found themselves only up four with just six minutes remaining in the game.

Kevin Durant was simply too much, though, down the stretch. He hit some huge shots including a three-pointer in Hedo’s face and a one-legged fadeaway that we can just call the dagger.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Kevin Durant. A quiet start ended with an enormous second half for Durant, who hit a back-breaking 3 and a one-legged fadeaway en route to 38 points in a vintage OKC comeback. He’s the new closer. Forget what you heard about Kobe Bryant.

Defining Moment

With just less than six minutes left in the game, OKC cut the lead to four. Either Orlando would respond or it wouldn’t. The Magic didn’t, but Durant did, scoring 14 of the Thunder’s final 23 points.

X-Factor

Russell Westbrook. He came out scorching with 10 assists and 29 points, including 17 in the first half. His effort gave way to what would eventually be KD o’clock.

Mar 01

Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Oklahoma City Thunder at Orlando Magic
  • Date: Mar. 1, 2012
  • Time: 8:00 p.m.
  • Television: TNT
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Thunder: 28-7
  • Magic: 23-13

Probable starters

Thunder:

  • Russell Westbrook
  • Daequan Cook
  • Kevin Durant
  • Serge Ibaka
  • Kendrick Perkins

Magic:

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

Advanced stats

Thunder:

  • Pace: 93.6 (4th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 108.8 (2nd of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 102.0 (13th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 89.2 (26th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 103.7 (14th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 101.0 (12th of 30)

Read about the Thunder

Daily Thunder

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