Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 109

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

Feb 29

Recap: Orlando Magic 102, Washington Wizards 95

AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari

This game should have been over in the first quarter.

The Orlando Magic jumped out to a 27-11 lead in the period due to a number of factors.

First, the Magic were humming offensively. Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Ryan Anderson, and Dwight Howard were all getting it done on offense, drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line, making three-pointers, and scoring in the paint.

Second, the Washington Wizards struggled to score. Part of it was the Wizards’ inability to convert near or at the basket, with Howard serving as a deterrent. Part of it was Washington’s love for long twos. Wall was the main culprit, as he continued to settle for jumpshots and continued to miss them.

Orlando did try to go for the killshot late in the first quarter with a 16-point lead but were unable to deliver the finishing blow. Richardson missed a wide open three-point shot on the left wing, then on the ensuing possession muffed a reserve dunk on a backdoor cut. Had Richardson been able to score on both possessions, Orlando would have had a 21-point lead. That wouldn’t have been an insurmountable deficit for the Wizards to overcome but it would have made their comeback attempt a lot more difficult.

Instead, the Magic maintained a 16-point lead. Washington hung around, cut into the deficit in the waning moments of the period, and were in a dogfight with Orlando until the very end of the game.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Anderson had 23 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. His 10 defensive rebounds were a season-high. But most importantly, he came through in the fourth quarter for the Magic by making winning plays.

LVP (Least Valuable Player)

Chris Duhon was just dreadful. He routinely sabotaged possessions for Orlando by turning the ball over. None better than when he lost the basketball in the backcourt on one possession.

Defining Moment

With the Magic clinging to a five-point lead lead, Anderson drew a foul on Wall as he went up for a three-pointer in the left corner at the 2:49 mark. Anderson made all three free-throws.

Feb 29

Preview: Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards
  • Date: Feb. 29, 2012
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Sun Sports
  • Arena: Verizon Center

Records

  • Magic: 22-13
  • Wizards: 7-27

Probable starters

Magic:

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

Wizards:

  • John Wall
  • Jordan Crawford
  • Chris Singleton
  • Trevor Booker
  • Kevin Seraphin

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 89.2 (26th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 103.4 (15th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 100.9 (11th of 30)

Wizards:

  • Pace: 93.6 (5th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 98.6 (28th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.9 (26th of 30)

Read about the Wizards

Truth About It

Feb 29

3-on-3 roundtable: Dwight Howard’s future with the Magic and legacy in Orlando

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

From now until March 15 (the date of the NBA trade deadline), all eyes will be on the Orlando Magic as the Dwight Howard saga shifts into its final lap. One of three things will happen: 1.) Dwight will be traded, 2.) the Magic will hold onto Dwight and keep their roster intact, or 3.) the Magic will hold onto Dwight and try to add a piece or two at the deadline.

If Orlando makes the decision to keep Dwight around for a little while longer, then more possibilities will open up. Those scenarios will be discussed if it gets to that point.

Right now, Magic Basketball will discuss what might happen with Dwight in the short- and long-term.

Fact or Fiction: Dwight will be traded by the deadline.

Nate Drexler: Fiction. My thought is that Dwight felt a little overwhelmed by the All-Star festivities and it got him thinking about how to stay here, something akin to Antawn Jamison being the last hope for the Cavs in 2010. Will it work? Who knows, but it probably means Orlando gets to finish the season with Dwight.

Danny Nowell: Fiction. Seems like the Magic really believe that their best bet is to see if Dwight will walk away from their money. The max that Orlando could offer him, considering Florida’s tax structure, would be an enormous amount to walk away from. That may end up mattering just as much as whether Dwight thinks the team will be contending soon.

Matt Scribbins: Fiction. What’s that old saying in the NFL? If you have two quarterbacks, you have zero? Well, the Magic have 1,000 possible trade scenarios and will end up with zero actual trades. Orlando isn’t going to take a bite off the pedestrian platter offered by the other 29 teams, but will instead let Dwight decide his own destination in the summer.

Fact or Fiction: Dwight will be in a Magic uniform next season.

Drexler: Fiction. Even if some pieces come to Orlando soon, it’s going to be on a rental basis. This seems like it’s Dwight’s last stand in Orlando, for better or worse. They will make a run with him in the paint, but there’s nothing that tells me he is going to re-sign a big contract in Orlando.

Nowell: Fiction. I’m as unsure as I’ve ever been with what will happen, but I think it’s slightly more likely that Dwight leaves. With Brooklyn or Dallas looming, Dwight may well be able to choose a team with an elite running mate, high-profile market, and serious cap space.

Scribbins: Fiction. Dwight can pass up the extra money Orlando can offer in a basketball contract and still end up with a fatter wallet. He is enamored with the endorsement deal possibilities in Brooklyn, and his earning potential is nearly unlimited in the Concrete Jungle. If New Jersey doesn’t work out, he will become Mark Cuban’s newest business partner.

Fact or Fiction: Dwight will have his jersey retired by Orlando someday.

Drexler: Fact. How could you not? You would have to be incredibly thick-headed not to put his jersey in the rafters. Whether it is for how dominant he was on the court, how gravitating he was for Orlando, or how much of a boost he gave the city economically, Dwight is a staple in Orlando and his jersey should fly with pride.

Nowell: Fact. This is sort of a toss-up for me, but I think that if Dwight handles this all professionally the franchise will have to realize that the team has returned to legitimacy on his Adonis shoulders. Wherever he plays next year, he’s given the franchise years to be proud about, and that matters.

Scribbins: Fiction. He’s gone after this season, so we only have one path to a retired jersey — winning the NBA title this season in Orlando. Hollinger’s odds has Orlando winning the title 1.5 percent of the time in simulated seasons. So you’re telling me there’s a chance!

Feb 29

All-Star Aftermath Recap

Monday

Tuesday

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