Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 109

Feb 13

Blake Griffin starring as “The Halftime Show”

Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

An NBA halftime show is rather predictable. Some joker from the stands will be marched to the three-point line while the public address announcer screams a few rules for the contest that is about to go down.

“A three-pointer is worth $1,000 and a free throw is worth $500!”

The people who didn’t rush to the concourse for halftime refreshments feign excitement even though it is a near lock that both shots attempts will fail miserably. No one is too upset though because the real excitement happens right after when a group of young men trot onto the floor, set up a trampoline, and delight the crowd with acrobatic dunks. No matter how many times you have seen this executed, it is still entertaining. At the conclusion of halftime, everyone has forgotten about the missed shots and talks about the ridiculous dunks.

Does this routine remind you of a certain NBA player?

I now refer to Blake Griffin as “The Halftime Show.” He is a miserable shooter and plays defense like a Washington General, but he consistently amazes NBA fans worldwide with his dunking ability. His dunks are so incredible that fans don’t even bother to mention his poor shooting or lack of defense. And why should they? Even though the league boasts superstars such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kobe Bryant, the second-year forward for the Clippers is one of the most exciting players in the NBA.

Griffin was recently voted into the All-Star Game as the starting power forward for the West. In my opinion, power forward in the Western Conference is the hardest spot among the ten starting positions to secure. No other position has the depth that power forward in the West can boast. Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Dirk Nowitzki will ride the pine for the Western Conference All-Star team, and Tim Duncan will watch from home even though his numbers per 36 minutes aren’t too far from his career averages.

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Feb 12

Recap: Orlando Magic 99, Milwaukee Bucks 94

AP Photo/Jim Prisching


The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks by the score of 99-94. After a quick start by the Magic in the early stages of the first quarter, the Bucks were able to take control of the game for most of the first half. For a majority of the second half, it was a series of runs for Orlando and Milwaukee, with both teams going back and forth exchanging leads. Eventually, after trailing by double-digits with the score at 88-78 in favor of the Bucks with 4:58 remaining in the game, the Magic went on a 21-6 run to close out the contest. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Jason Richardson had, arguably, his best game with the Magic since joining the team in December 2010, finishing with a game-high 31 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field (including 9-of-11 from three-point range), 4 rebounds, and two steals. Hedo Turkoglu had a bounce-back game of sorts after struggling to play well the past few weeks, putting up 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field, six assists, and five rebounds. J.J. Redick came off the bench and had 14 points as well as three rebounds. Dwight Howard contributed with 11 points, 14 rebounds, and four blocks. For the Bucks, Mike Dunleavy (14 points, three rebounds, and three assists) and Ersan Ilyasova (17 points and 16 rebounds) were bright spots.

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Feb 12

Reaction: Orlando Magic 99, Milwaukee Bucks 94

Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

Orlando Magic 99 Final
Recap | Box Score
94 Milwaukee Bucks

Dwight Howard
5-15 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 BLK | 14 REB | 11 PTS | +5

Matched up against Drew Gooden, Howard surprisingly didn’t play very well on offense. Throughout the game, it never seemed like he was ever comfortable in the post. A lot of times, he didn’t exhibit patience on the low block and in the process, rushed a lot of his hook shots. The rebounds and blocked shots were a bright spot, but the big fella could have played much better offensively.

Jason Richardson
11-18 FG | 9-11 3P | 2 STL | 4 REB | 31 PTS | +19

It can be argued, rather easily, that this was Richardson’s best game in a Magic uniform since joining the team. After scoring three points in the first half, Richardson exploded for 28 points in the third and fourth quarters. That’s 31 points in roughly 26 minutes of playing time. Richardson was in a groove on catch-and-shoot opportunities behind the three-point line, and he made the Milwaukee Bucks pay.

Hedo Turkoglu
7-13 FG | 3-8 3P | 6 AST | 5 REB | 19 PTS | +17

Like Richardson, Turkoglu also got things going in the second half on offense. Most importantly, head coach Stan Van Gundy entrusted Turkoglu with the ball in crunch time to close out the game for the Orlando Magic. Running 3/5 pick-and-rolls with Howard on back-to-back possessions late in the fourth quarter, Turkoglu was able to make things happen and put the game away.

J.J. Redick
4-10 FG | 5-5 FT | 1 AST | 3 REB | 14 PTS | -14

With the Magic’s second unit struggling to score in the second quarter, Redick was willing and able to carry the load offensively. Scoring 10 of his 14 points in the period, he was able to do it mainly by attacking the rim. There’s a lot of aspects of his skill-set that are underrated. Being able to score off the dribble is something he can do.

Milwaukee Bucks

When you think of the Bucks, the first name that probably pops into your head is Brandon Jennings. Well, Jennings had a minimal impact in the game, scoring seven points on 3-of-14 shooting from the field. Instead, it was the combination of Mike Dunleavy and Ersan Ilyasova off the bench for Milwaukee that picked up the slack, both playing with a positive liveliness about them.

Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.

Feb 11

Preview: Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks

9:00 ET | Fox Sports Florida
16-11 @ 12-14
Pythagorean Record:15-12 Pythagorean Record: 12-14
Pace: 89.2 (26th) Pace: 92.6 (10th)
Offensive Rating: 102.8 (T-15th) Offensive Rating: 102.8 (T-15th)
Defensive Rating: 101.4 (12th) Defensive Rating: 103.8 (19th)
Bradley Center | First meeting this season

Feb 11

Recap: Atlanta Hawks 89, Orlando Magic (OT)

AP Photo/John Raoux


The Atlanta Hawks were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 89-87 in overtime. With 8.7 seconds left in overtime and the score at 89-87 in favor of the Hawks, the Magic needed a two-point shot to tie the game and a three-pointer to win it. Orlando chose to try for the latter. Jason Richardson missed a game-winning three-point attempt via a screen-and-curl on a side out-of-bounds play. Shortly thereafter, Ryan Anderson got the offensive rebound and passed it to Jameer Nelson, who then decided to shoot a three-pointer of his own. But Nelson missed the shot and Atlanta was able to escape with a victory. The Hawks were led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Josh Smith led the way for Atlanta with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-22 shooting from the field, 19 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks. Marvin Williams had 13 points, six rebounds, and three assists. Joe Johnson chipped in with 14 points and five assists, while Jeff Teague finished with 13 points and three steals. The Magic were also led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard led the way for Orlando with 18 points and 18 rebounds. Ryan Anderson amassed 21 points and nine rebounds. Jason Richardson had 14 points, five rebounds, and two blocks, while Jameer Nelson contributed with 15 points, five assists, and three rebounds. Hedo Turkoglu put up 10 points and eight rebounds. It should be noted that the Hawks played without Al Horford, as he recovers from a torn pectoral muscle.

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Feb 11

Reaction: Atlanta Hawks 89, Orlando Magic 87 (OT)

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Atlanta Hawks 89 Final
Recap | Box Score
87 Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
8-15 FG | 2-4 FT | 1 BLK | 18 REB | 18 PTS | 0

With no Jason Collins around to try and slow him down, Howard had his way with Zaza Pachulia. Granted, Pachulia was able to frustrate Howard a bit in the third quarter by drawing an offensive foul, which coerced a technical foul out of the big fella for complaining about the call. But when Howard got the ball in 4-out/1-in offensive sets, he had little trouble scoring against Pachulia.

Ryan Anderson
8-13 FG | 2-4 3P | 1 AST | 9 REB | 21 PTS | -2

When the offense for the Orlando Magic bogged down in the third quarter, Anderson decided to take matters into his own hands in the opening stretches of the fourth quarter. With the Magic needing a spark offensively, Anderson gave them one by taking over and scoring 12 points in the period. Even though Orlando lost, the comeback wasn’t possible without Anderson.

Jason Richardson
5-10 FG | 3-6 3P | 2 BLK | 5 REB | 14 PTS | -6

Excluding the Miami Heat game, Richardson has put together a solid stretch of games recently. And it wasn’t so much him doing anything special on offense against the Atlanta Hawks because he was nothing more than ordinary on that side of the ball. Instead, it was Richardson’s work defensively against Joe Johnson that was most impressive. A surprise, given how things went down in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.

Jameer Nelson
7-20 FG | 1-6 3P | 5 AST | 3 REB | 15 PTS | +6

Nelson may have scored 15 points but it took him 20 shots to do it. Inefficiency offensively is never a good thing. That being said, like Anderson, Nelson was critical in the Magic’s comeback bid. It was his ability to take Jeff Teague off the dribble at will on offense late in the fourth quarter that gave Orlando a chance at a win, even though they came up short.

Atlanta Hawks

For all the talk about Josh Smith being an All-Star snub, people are conveniently ignoring that he’s putting up a career-worst True Shooting percentage of 49.5 percent this season. For as amazing of a talent Smith is, particularly on the defensive end, he continuously hurts the Hawks offensively with his questionable shot selection. It almost cost Atlanta the game in the fourth quarter.

Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.

Feb 10

Preview: Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic

7:00 ET | Sun Sports
17-9 @ 16-10
Pythagorean Record: 17-9 Pythagorean Record: 14-12
Pace: 90.0 (21st) Pace: 89.3 (25th)
Offensive Rating: 104.7 (11th) Offensive Rating: 103.2 (15th)
Defensive Rating: 99.4 (8th) Defensive Rating: 101.7 (13th)
Amway Center | First meeting this season

Feb 10

Magic Basketball Weekly: Orlando’s Jekyll and Hyde act

Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Well, that does it, y’all. I’m officially terrified to write anything about this year’s Magic team. Seriously. They win five straight games and I write about how hopeful I am? Time to lose four straight! If I despair over the losses and the obvious roster shortcomings? Let’s beat the best team in the league! At this point, I’m like Cool Hand Luke toward the end of the movie, sobbing at Dwight Howard’s feet and begging him to please not hit me again.

It’s impossible not to be made to look silly about this team. Keeping this in mind, I rewatched the Heat game from Wednesday night, to try and decide whether that win was representative of the season — volatile, highly variant, ultimately winning brand of basketball — or an outlier, the product of guys simply getting hot at the right times.

I gathered the high school debate team that I keep in my basement, posed them this question, and what follows is the transcript. The affirmative side is represented by a likeable multicultural team captained by an attractive and cheerful girl who has gained early entry to Wesleyan for cultural studies. The negative side is a bunch of sneering Aryan Draco types who will be finance majors at Brown.


Affirmative opening statement: No less a poet than Nelson Mandela once observed that Twitter and a 24-hour news cycle have completely warped sports fans’ perspective and expectations. Whereas random variance and occasional losses once were processed semi-rationally (in every market outside of New York), the speed at which commentary moves now demands fans make opinions after every game — thus, every win guarantees a championship and every loss a failure.

The second quarter of the Miami game on Wednesday showed that, even with obvious roster shortcomings, the Magic have assembled enough talent to compete with anyone in the league. They scored their points on either excellent perimeter ball movement or as the product of outworking the other team in the post. They were able to absorb the impact of their recently porous defense, allowing Dwyane Wade 500,000 points on unmolested layups, and still win. Their greatest advantage, Dwight Howard, was both productive in himself and as a means of drawing attention from other players, resulting in excellent spacing and a metric ton of rebounds.

The above stated facts have led me to conclude that the Orlando Magic are not basically crappy, and that their victory over the Miami Heat was representative of their team quality.

Negative opening statement: I think it was Abraham Lincoln who said that even a broken clock is wrong twice a day.

We have long known the Magic can shoot well enough on any given night to beat a good team, but their method is simply not sustainable without more talent. Magic fans’ hopes rest on Ryan Anderson, who looks like a waterlogged Ben Affleck. Even if the team can occasionally catch lightning in a bottle, it’s foolish to have any long-term hopes for this team, because Dwight Howard is an enormous fickle infant, and unless the Magic reconciles itself to its essential crappiness, it will not rebuild enough to make up for the inevitable loss of Dwight Howard.

Affirmative rebuttal: People who refer to the Magic with singular possessives are intellectualy insecure twits. Ryan Anderson does not look like Ben Affleck.

Negative rebuttal: He does. He really does. If you made a moon bounce version of Ben Affleck or one of those sponge creations that children add water to to make enormous superhero-type deals, but if it was Ben Affleck. It should also be said that Otis Smith is still the general manager in Orlando, for whatever that’s worth.

Negative closing statement: Jason Richardson starts for the Orlando Magic. Chris Duhon plays for the Orlando Magic. There is no backup center, except for occasional minutes from Glen Davis. Anderson, the team’s second-best player, might actually be slower than most spry cater-waiters. It is obvious the Magic are sort of crappy.

Affirmative closing statement: We are forced to basically concede that the Magic, as presently constructed, are sort of crappy. We understand that Jason Richardson plays as if he literally does not have knees, but rather straight and frail rods for legs, like fluorescent tubes. We understand that Chris Duhon, during the start of the Magic’s run on Wednesday, literally dribbled into a crowd of three Heat players seemingly out of sheer will, before unaccountably hurling the ball straight into the backcourt. We are forced to confront that Hedo Turkoglu alternately looks like a genius or a lazy uncle who will not put down his Po Boy to hand you the remote.

However, they do still have enough talent which is used uniquely enough to win against anybody when they catch a ton of breaks. The Magic are a good team. Or, at least, to actually quote actual Ernest Hemingway: “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

VERDICT: Those kids in the negative are SO POMPOUS! Affirmative wins, though it be added to the resolution that Ryan Anderson does look like a very meaty Ben Affleck.

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Feb 10

Ryan Anderson torture racks the Heat

There were two players who were mainly responsible for the Orlando Magic’s win against the Miami Heat on Wednesday. One of them was Dwight Howard. The other was Ryan Anderson.

Seeing Howard put up 25 points and 24 rebounds against the Heat came as no surprise, given that he’s one of the best players in the NBA and head coach Erik Spoelstra had no one to slow him down. Plus, Howard had already amassed five 20-20 games in the regular season so far prior to facing off against Miami. Howard is expected to be great against any team and was versus the Heat.

Anderson, on the other hand, doesn’t have that same expectation. Yet time and again this season, Anderson has been just that — great.

Miami found out the hard way, as they had no answer for Anderson. Especially in the first half, when Anderson reeled off 24 points (including 17 in the second quarter) in blitzkrieg-like fashion. Anderson was making three-pointers with aplomb, drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line, and wreaking havoc with his offensive rebounding.

It was a dominant performance from Anderson in the first and second quarters, primarily against Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem no less. In fact, Anderson was imposing his will so much offensively that Spoelstra assigned LeBron James (the Heat’s best defender and one of the best defenders in the NBA) to guard him for the remainder of the second quarter. Granted, Spoelstra also chose to play James at power forward because it’s a matchup advantage for Miami.

The point remains. If that doesn’t signify respect for Anderson’s skills, not sure what does.

It’s worth taking a look at what made Anderson’s second quarter surge possible. Two possessions in particular will be examined.

It’s no secret that the Magic like to run pick-and-rolls. As such, for Van Gundy to avoid predictability at times, he injects variety into the pick-and-roll sets that Orlando executes on offense.

SLIDE 1, 2:

In this case, the Magic run a side screen-and-roll but with a twist. With J.J. Redick as the ball handler, Orlando executes a 2/5 staggered pick-and-roll with Anderson and Glen Davis setting the screens. This play is a beauty to watch unfold because there’s a lot of chaos going on. Mike Miller is trying to stay on Redick. Haslem feels the wrath of Davis’ body as he runs into a monster screen.

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Feb 09

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dwight Howard hears the sales pitch all the time. Team owner Rich DeVos has spoken with Howard to explain why he thinks Howard should remain with the Orlando Magic. Chief Executive Officer Alex Martins talks or texts with Howard almost every day, though not always about Howard’s future. And many of the 18,000 people who pack Amway Center during home games shout at Howard or wave signs or do both. But perhaps few things carry as much weight as the kind of victory that occurred Wednesday night. Fueled by an avalanche of 3-pointers and Howard’s power game near the basket, the Magic beat the Miami Heat 102-89. [...] Howard sounded unswayed and, to be sure, he hasn’t said anything publicly that would indicate he has moved off his trade request. And, remember: The Magic split their regular-season series with the Heat last season, but Howard still decided he wants to move on to a larger market.”
  • Dwight Howard is chasing LeBron James when it comes to rings.
  • The Orlando Sentinel make their picks for the All-Star reserves in the Eastern and Western Conference. I disagree with the selections of Luol Deng and Tim Duncan, given that there are more deserving players (Joe Johnson in the East, Paul Millsap in the West, among many others) that should be chosen, but the remainder of the two lists are spot-on.
  • The Orlando Magic have revenge on their mind against the Atlanta Hawks as the two familiar foes prepare to play each other on Friday.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “At his age, DeVos is not a guy who wants to start over with anything. That includes trading Howard for picks and young players and rebuilding the Magic. Even in talks of trade other teams have suggested what the Magic want back are veterans so that the team can continue to win. But what the Magic really want is to keep Howard, for him to look around and see the grass is not always s greener and remain with the Magic. Things like a win over the Heat — which the Magic had Wednesday — can help. But in the end if he really wants out, he can get out. He can opt out and bcome a free agent.”
  • A look back at the Magic’s win against the Miami Heat.
  • Matt Moore of “Orlando did not stomp the Heat. But they did throw them up against the lockers, shook their lunch money out, and bloodied their clothes a bit. The Magic essentially had a two step process. Challenge the Heat at mid-range in face-up and passing situations defensively, and hit a metric ton of threes. It’s nothing we haven’t seen from Orlando before, just against a very good team. The occasional lapse to let the Heat back in it, even as good as Miami is, keeps them from an A, but a very solid performance for Orlando and a huge win.”
  • Chris Sheridan of “It is very rare to see the Miami Heat lose. It is even more rare to hear Rich DeVos speak. Both happened last night in Orlando, where the Dwight Howard trade situation again took center stage in what has been a circus of a season for the Magic.”
  • Howard elbow-chopped LeBron James in the throat last night.

Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.

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