Facing off against an old rival, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Miami Heat by the score of 102-89. The Magic were led by the two-headed monster of Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson. Howard finished the game with 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field (including 7-of-10 from the free-throw line), 24 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks. Anderson put up 27 points on 8-of-19 shooting from the field (including 5-of-11 from three-point range and 6-of-9 from the free-throw line), 11 rebounds, and three assists. Jameer Nelson had 12 points and three rebounds, while J.J. Redick had 11 points and four assists. For the Heat, it was a lot of Dwyane Wade, some LeBron James, and little else. Wade amassed a game-high 33 points on 15-of-24 shooting from the field. James was relatively quiet for his standards, finishing with 17 points, 10 assists, six rebounds, and three steals. Chris Bosh chipped in with 12 points and nine rebounds. One of the differences in the game is that Orlando got a bit more help from their supporting cast compared to Miami. One of the other differences for the Magic in beating the Heat was that they shot 17-of-42 (40.5 percent) from the three-point line. For Orlando, the 42 three-point attempts was a franchise-record.
AP Photo/John Raoux
9-14 FG | 7-10 FT | 2 BLK | 24 REB | 25 PTS | +8
One of the reasons why the Magic matchup well with the Miami Heat is because of Howard. There was no one for the Heat that could stop Howard from doing whatever he wanted on offense. But most importantly, it was Howard manning the middle for Orlando defensively that aided in their victory. Miami struggled at times to finish at the rim, while getting out-rebounded in the process.
8-19 FG | 5-11 3P | 3 AST | 11 REB | 27 PTS | +6
Anderson played like a man possessed in the first half, scoring 24 points on 12 shots and making five three-pointers in the process. The Heat had no answer for him, whether it was Chris Bosh or Udonis Haslem defending Anderson. He cooled down in the second half but the damage was done. Is there any doubt that this point that Anderson isn’t playing at an All-Star caliber level?
5-13 FG | 2-6 3P | 1 STL | 3 REB | 12 PTS | +13
Nelson had a quiet game but he was part of a key sequence in the fourth quarter as Miami was trying to rally back from a 21-point deficit. Redick missed two three-point attempts in transition, the basketball went out of bounds, but the Magic were able to retain possession. Nelson made a three-pointer shortly thereafter, extending Orlando’s lead to 12 points with 3:54 left in the game.
4-10 FG | 3-7 3P | 4 AST | 1 REB | 11 PTS | -4
Like Nelson, Redick had a quiet game on offense but he was able to make an impact in the fourth quarter, scoring eight of his 11 points in the period. Perhaps more importantly, though, is the fact that he aided in Anderson’s second quarter barrage offensively. Redick ran a 2/5 staggered pick-and-roll with Anderson and Glen Davis to perfection, feeding Anderson for a three-point shot on one occasion.
Outside of Dwyane Wade, no one for the Heat played better than good. Wade was great, annihilating the Magic in the second quarter with 18 points on an array of dunks, layups, and midrange jumpers. Wade was equally effective in the fourth quarter but he didn’t get much help outside of James and Bosh. And it’s Safe to say that James and Bosh, in particular, had off-nights.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.
Up to this point in the season, the most newsworthy item involving Jason Richardson was that general manager Otis Smith inexplicably signed him to a 4-year, $25 million contract during the offseason. Despite the fact that Richardson is 31 years old and, generally speaking, wing players like him that have relied mostly on their athleticism during the prime of their careers don’t age well when they get older. Yes, Richardson can shoot the basketball but he doesn’t do anything else discernibly well. So if Richardson isn’t making any shots, there’s not a lot of other things he can do to help a team win games.
Fortunately for the Orlando Magic, after a rough start to the regular season in which a sore knee really hampered his play (he had to sit out two games to rest and recover), Richardson has played well as of late. Sadly, like Jameer Nelson, because Richardson has been struggling mightily so far this season, he set the bar pretty low for himself to do better.
That being said, it’s always good to learn about how things work in the NBA and in this case, it’s worth taking a look at how Richardson has been able to make a positive impact for the Magic in their last three games.
Typically when Richardson has it going on offense, he’s getting a majority of his points in post-up chances and spot-up opportunities (either in half-court sets or in transition) as well as via screen-and-curls.
SLIDE 1, 2, 3:
Against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, Richardson put on display his ability to use his size and strength to overpower smaller guards. On this possession, after a missed shot by Antawn Jamison, Richardson found himself being guarded by Kyrie Irving — the Cavaliers’ point guard. Hedo Turkoglu recognized the mismatch and promptly threw an entry pass to Richardson. From there, Richardson sized up Irving and made a layup in short order.
One of the major storylines that emerged following the Orlando Magic’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, aside from Chauncey Billups getting hurt (it was later confirmed that he suffered a torn left Achilles tendon), was that Jameer Nelson played well. It seems silly that Nelson playing well is something of note. In Nelson’s case though, when you’re having — by far — the worst season of your NBA career, it’s news when you’re not performing terribly.
After missing five games due to a concussion suffered against the New Orleans Hornets on January 27, Nelson returned to the floor against the Clippers and looked the best he’s ever been this season. Perhaps it was the time off. Perhaps it was facing off against Chris Paul. Whatever the case may be, Nelson had a bit of extra pep in his step, finishing with 15 points and 12 assists. No, this was not “2009 Nelson” on display. Not even close.
Nelson just looked like a competent basketball player again.
What aided in Nelson’s return from the dead?
“2009 Nelson” lobbyists and longtime Magic fans know this mantra — when Nelson goes, so go the Magic. To take it a step further, Nelson is at his most dangerous when he’s aggressive in pick-and-roll sets. The key word being ‘aggressive’ because Nelson isn’t always in attack mode. Against Los Angeles, Nelson was the aggressor in pick-and-rolls and Orlando benefitted from his play. Particularly in the fourth quarter during crunch time.
SLIDE 1, 2, 3:
Let’s begin in the first quarter because Nelson got started fairly quickly.
On this possession, the Magic run a 1/5 pick-and-roll with Nelson and Dwight Howard. This offensive set is one of the staples of head coach Stan Van Gundy’s playbook. In any case, Howard sets the screen for Nelson. Paul, likely aware of Nelson’s struggles on offense this season, goes under the screen. Nelson doesn’t take the bait, as he dashes into the lane. DeAndre Jordan isn’t quick enough to recover back defensively and Nelson makes the layup off the dribble.
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Sometimes I think Magic fans fail to realize just what they have in Van Gundy, who is commonly recognized as one of the top three or four coaches in the NBA. I’ll even take it a step farther: When Dwight leaves, Van Gundy will be the Magic’s most valuable asset — more valuable than any single player on their roster. True, this doesn’t speak very highly of the roster, but it does speak highly of Van Gundy’s status in the pecking order of NBA coaches. You want to fire Van Gundy? Go ahead. The Magic might actually be doing him a favor. If it happened, Van Gundy would get the multimillion-dollar buyout remaining on his contract and then would either (A) go make a bunch more money as a colorful and controversial NBA commentator like his brother or (B) get another coaching job offer almost immediately. Believe me, there would be wayward franchises (see Knicks) who actually might fire their current coach just so they could hire Van Gundy.”
- The Orlando Magic are ready to do battle with the Miami Heat.
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy has been resting players on off-days.
- Glen Davis, recently suspended by the Magic, and Van Gundy are on good terms.
- Ryan Anderson is adjusting to life as a starter in the NBA.
- According to the numbers, Anderson is deserving of being named an All-Star reserve this season. However, the odds of that actually happening are low.
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk recaps Orlando’s loss last night: “The Clippers led by nine in the second half but it was Orlando’s turn to fight back. However, in the overtime Los Angeles secured the lead with a Caron Butler three off a Glen Davis turnover, then next trip down Paul hit a baseline step back rainbow over Howard — how anyone gets that shot off over D-12 is beyond me, let alone a PG. Clippers got a hard-fought win.”
- Chris Paul has advice for Dwight Howard.
- Howard played well against the Los Angeles Clippers in defeat.
- Howard’s big night wasn’t enough against the Clippers.
- Yesterday’s game between Orlando and Los Angeles was a thriller.
- Zach Harper of HoopSpeak: “Dwight is a monster on both ends of the floor, but I still feel the same way about this Orlando team that I have for the past four years. They need to be perimeter-oriented in order to beat teams. Dwight’s presence definitely gives you the old school feel of winning from inside-out and punishing your opponents, but the fact still remains that when this team makes eight or more 3-pointers in a game, they’re 14-4 this season. They need to attack you from the outside to win, and finding the balance between getting his team to keep the big man happy while keeping their offense firing from outside is SVG’s biggest task.”
- Britt Robson of Sports Illustrated: “So why have the Magic fallen from third to 12th in defensive efficiency this season? According to Basketball Value, the biggest culprits are Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, Glen Davis and Jason Richardson. Unfortunately, quality help is not on the way. Among Orlando’s top 10 in minutes played, only one, sharpshooting forward Ryan Anderson (who is having a breakout year), is under 26.”
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
I like the idea of an underdog team beating all odds, standing in the face of the giant and winning an unprecedented victory. I like teams that share the ball, make the extra pass, aren’t concerned with stats — or anything — but the win. I also love the idea of a team with a few guys you haven’t heard of making a run in the playoffs. It’s why most of us, whether college basketball fans or not, will always watch March Madness. It’s sort of a place where anything could happen.
Now, as an NBA guy, part of me wants to carry over that “anything could happen” mentality to the next level. Part of me wants to know if Philadelphia is possibly for real.
But then reality sets in, and I’m wondering why it hasn’t set in for more people. Folks are going crazy for the Sixers right now, but what is the end game? Will they realistically go further than the second round of the playoffs? Are there those out there who think they will go to the Finals? Maybe I have no earnestness left in my bones, but when it comes down to it, I only care about who can win a championship. It’s why I have such a hard time even watching Magic games this year. It’s not because I hate them, it’s because I have to have the glimmer of hope that a team could make a serious run at a ring. Without that glimmer, it’s pretty hard to enjoy myself.
So when I hear the rabble-rousers stirring things up about how good Philly is, how deep their bench is, how they have the best 6-7-8 guys in the league, and how amazing that is, I tend to think, “Cool. They still probably can’t win a championship.”
Now, for those of you who might still be in “anything could happen” mode. It’s possible but unlikely. I defer to Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim, authors of Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports are Played and Games are Won, to show you what I mean.
A team with no starting all-star on the roster has virtually no chance — precisely, it’s 0.9 percent — of winning the NBA championship. More than 85 percent of NBA finals involve a superstar player and more than 90 percent of NBA titles belong to a team with a superstar. [...]
One first-team all-star on the roster yields a 7.1 percent chance of winning a championship and a 16 percent chance of making it to the finals. A team fortunate to have two first-team all-star players stands a 25 percent chance of winning a championship and a 37 percent chance of making the finals. On the rare occasion when a team was somehow able to attract three first-team all-stars, it won a championship 39 percent of the time and made the finals 77 percent of the time.
The authors aren’t talking about “general” All-Star considerations either. They are talking about first team All-Stars (the book interprets this as a starter), top five MVP picks, or top five salaries. Put differently, the authors aren’t allowing for just any of our favorite players to be labeled All-Stars. This is so you can’t sit back and say, “wait, Iguodola is an All-Star! He’s so good!” He wouldn’t make the cut according to this rubric since he can only be selected as a reserve and wouldn’t be considered a first team All-Star.
So what does all of this mean? Not a whole lot, to be honest. It’s interesting, though, to consider why we get so excited when a team starts playing really well. I for one always look at the end game. When a team starts to heat up, I wonder if they are really championship contenders. For that, we use stats and look to history. In the case of Chicago — they indeed have a first-team All-Star in Derrick Rose. Miami? They have two first-team All-Stars in LeBron and Wade (likely should have been three with Bosh). Hell, even Orlando would have a better chance of winning the championship if they could get into the playoffs.
So forgive me if I don’t jump up and down with you in praise of the Sixers. They are fun to watch, they are young, they are exciting, but their odds of winning a championship are extremely low. You might disagree, but I go by the numbers when I say that, especially when I’m dealing with a team that does not have a first-team All-Star.
Nate Drexler is a contributing writer for Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.
In a thrilling game that went down to the wire, the Los Angeles Clippers were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 107-102 in overtime. Jason Richardson missed a game-tying three-pointer, when the score was 105-102 in favor of the Clippers, with seven seconds left that would have extended the game for the Magic. Instead Los Angeles was able to escape with a victory and Orlando’s three-game winning streak was snapped. The Clippers were led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Chris Paul was Chris Paul, finishing with 29 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field (including 3-of-3 from three-point range and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line), eight assists, seven rebounds, and two steals. Blake Griffin finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists. Chauncey Billups chipped in with 18 points and three assists, while also suffering an injury late in the fourth quarter. Caron Butler had 14 points, three rebounds, and three steals but more importantly, he performed in crunch-time (five points) during overtime as Los Angeles finished on a 11-2 run to win the game. Dwight Howard led the way for the Magic, putting up a game-high 33 points on 15-of-21 shooting from the field, 14 points, two blocks, and two steals. Jason Richardson contributed with 20 points and three assists. Jameer Nelson returned to the starting lineup after missing five games due to a concussion and performed well, amassing 15 points, 12 assists, and three rebounds. Ryan Anderson had 10 points and nine rebounds, missing a pair of offensive putbacks following Richardson’s game-tying three that would have given Orlando a chance to keep the game going.
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
15-21 FG | 3-8 FT | 2 BLK | 14 REB | 33 PTS | +8
Howard came to play against the Los Angeles Clippers. Which meant that DeAndre Jordan, Reggie Evans, and Blake Griffin had no chance of stopping him on offense. Howard got the righty hook going for him in 4-out/1-in offensive sets for three quarters before aiding Jameer Nelson by setting screens in pick-and-rolls, terrorizing the Clippers’ defense in the fourth quarter. Howard was a beast.
8-15 FG | 3-8 3P | 3 AST | 1 REB | 20 PTS | +2
Even though the Orlando Magic lost, it has to be encouraging for them to see Richardson play well for a third straight game. The Magic jumped out to a 15-point lead in the first quarter thanks in large part to Richardson. He had 12 points in the period. In overtime, he had about as good of a look as you can get at a game-tying three-pointer but it rimmed out.
5-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 12 AST | 3 REB | 15 PTS | -3
After missing five games due to a concussion suffered against the New Orleans Hornets on January 27, Jameer Nelson looked as good as he’s ever been this season. With Hedo Turkoglu struggling, Van Gundy turned to Nelson to run pick-and-rolls for Orlando in crunch time during the fourth quarter and in overtime. Nelson didn’t disappoint, proving he’s still a capable player when engaged.
3-10 FG | 2-5 FT | 1 AST | 9 REB | 10 PTS | +2
Considering Anderson had to deal with defending Griffin for most of the game until late in the fourth quarter and most of overtime when Van Gundy elected to utilize Glen Davis defensively, it was an admirable performance. Anderson doesn’t have the athleticism or strength to contain Griffin. But, with Howard’s help in the middle, Anderson held his ground for the most part.
|Los Angeles Clippers
It’s a shame for Los Angeles that Billups got hurt because with the addition of Kenyon Martin, this team was going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference. It remains to be seen how long Billups is out but in the meantime, rejoice in a fully healthy Chris Paul because he’s a joy to watch and a killer on the court.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.