Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 111

Jan 13

Reaction: Orlando Magic 117, Golden State Warriors 109

Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Orlando Magic 117 Final
Recap | Box Score
109 Golden State Warriors

Dwight Howard
12-12 FG | 21-39 FT | 2 BLK | 23 REB | 45 PTS | +12

With Andris Biedrins, David Lee, and Ekpe Udoh matched up on Howard, you had to figure the Golden State Warriors were going to be in for a long night. No one thought head coach Mark Jackson was going to make it longer with his Hack-a-Dwight strategy. What’s crazier? That Howard had 39 free-throw attempts or that he almost had 50 points and 25 rebounds? Take your pick.

Hedo Turkoglu
5-12 FG | 3-7 3P | 9 AST | 4 REB | 20 PTS | +4

Lost in all the hoopla is the fact that Turkoglu played a brilliant game in the fourth quarter for the Magic, as has been the norm this season. When head coach Stan Van Gundy needed someone to make a play, he turned to Turkoglu and wasn’t disappointed. Wafer’s three-pointer generated from a 4/5 pick-and-roll with Turkoglu (at power forward) and Howard proved to be the dagger.

Ryan Anderson
3-4 FG | 3-3 3P | 1 AST | 5 REB | 11 PTS | +13

For a second straight game, with Orlando going small in the final period to matchup better with an opponent, Anderson spent crunch time sitting on the bench. The decision by Van Gundy has little to do with Anderson and more to do with the personnel on the court. That said, Anderson’s defense against David Lee left a lot to be desired.

J.J. Redick
3-7 FG | 6-6 FT | 3 AST | 3 REB | 13 PTS | +10

The Magic were forced to rely heavily on Redick after Jason Richardson injured himself after spraining his left knee in the third quarter. Normally that isn’t a bad thing. Yet Monta Ellis took advantage of Redick, scoring almost at will against him in the second half. Redick isn’t a bad defender but when he’s left on an island, there’s only so much he can do.

Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors may not be a very good team this season but as the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat found out, they can still beat you. With players like Ellis, Lee, Stephen Curry (when healthy), and even Nate Robinson that can pop off at any time, the Warriors are going to be a handful to deal with for a lot of teams in the NBA.

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

Jan 12

Preview: Orlando Magic at Golden State Warriors

10:30 ET | TNT
7-3 @ 3-6
Pythagorean Record: 7-3 Pythagorean Record: 3-6
Pace: 89.2 (26th) Pace: 91.5 (14th)
Offensive Rating: 108.0 (3rd) Offensive Rating: 99.6 (23rd)
Defensive Rating: 102.8 (17th) Defensive Rating: 105.0 (24th)
Oracle Arena | First meeting this season

Jan 12

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Brendan Malone never wanted his children to follow his career path. But his son Michael wanted to become a basketball coach more than anything else. And because of that, they will reunite when the Orlando Magic face the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night in Oakland, Calif. Brendan Malone, 69, is the Magic’s lead assistant coach. Michael Malone, 41, is the Warriors’ lead assistant coach. [...] They share more than that. They have the same build, the same gravelly voice and the same accent developed from childhoods spent in the New York borough of Queens. And they both have a strong admiration for each other. To outsiders, Brendan Malone seems gruff and stern. But he gushes with a father’s pride when he lists his six kids’ accomplishments. That’s the case when he talks about how Michael Malone worked his way up the coaching ladder from a job as a volunteer assistant at Oakland University in Michigan to assistant-coaching jobs with the New York Knicks, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New Orleans Hornets and, now, the Warriors. Brendan Malone never wanted Michael or any of his kids to become coaches partly because of the sacrifices his wife, Maureen, and their children made.”
  • Dwight Howard is struggling with his free-throw shooting.
  • The Orlando Magic finally earned a signature win against the Portland Trail Blazers.
  • Howard and adidas have something big planned for All-Star Weekend.
  • A look back at some memorable interviews in recent NBA history.
  • Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus: “While we often talk about balanced scoring, Orlando has a slightly different concept–balanced ballhanding and passing. The Magic are above average in terms of assisted field goals despite lacking a pure playmaker. Turkoglu hands out nearly as many assists as point guard Jameer Nelson (including a team-high six on Wednesday), and six Orlando players (Nelson, Turkoglu, Chris Duhon, Jason Richardson, J.J. Redick and Howard) average at least two assists per game–a claim just two other teams (the Dallas Mavericks and the Milwaukee Bucks) can match. Pair that with the Magic’s outside shooting and opposing defenses can struggle to keep up. When Orlando needs a score, however, Turkoglu is the man. He is a difficult matchup for defenses in the pick-and-roll because he is a triple threat, capable of driving, shooting and passing. At 6-10, Turkoglu almost always has a height advantage against his defender, giving him the opportunity to survey the defense and see passing lanes even when he is trapped. That doesn’t make him worth $50 million, but that does make him a valuable piece of what remains a contending team.”
  • A preview of tonight’s game between the Orlando Magic and Golden State Warriors.
  • A recap the Magic’s win against the Blazers.
  • Chris Bernucca of “Among others, the following point guards have better numbers than Nelson’s paltry 7.8 points and 5.3 assists: Ricky Rubio and Andre Miller, who don’t start for their teams, and Jarrett Jack, D.J. Augustin and Jeff Teague, who are in their first full seasons as starters. An All-Star in 2009, Nelson also is shooting 42 percent from the field and isn’t providing his usual spark to Orlando’s offense.”

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

Jan 12

The thing about Jameer Nelson

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

If you’ve followed Orlando’s season to this point, it’s been impossible to miss the coverage of Jameer Nelson’s slump. Certainly his poor play has been noticeable on the court, but even more striking has been the differences in reaction he inspires. Some observers look at Jameer and see a solid player mired in the valley of statistical inevitability — he’s just missing shots. Other observers watch him and swear there’s something off, that he needs to attack more and look for his own shot. He’s the basketball version of that rock teachers in movies keep on their desks. You know the one that Feeney types from Boy Meets World-esque shows always have: it’s black on one side and white on the other, so two people can be adamant about seeing different colors until we ALL LEARN A LESSON ABOUT PERSPECTIVE. Or something.

This isn’t really a new phenomenon with Nelson. Magic fans have long been divided about him; one subset of fans see him as a frustrating potential engine of the team, a guy who simply needs to focus to regain his All-Star form, while another set of fans has seen him as just better than average, a solid starter but by no means somebody to carry the team. It’s unclear who is right, or whether anybody is. Is there a good Jameer or a bad Jameer? Exactly how much can we expect?

For starters, I looked a few of the numbers from Hoopdata (I would prefer to say I “crunched” some numbers, but Hoopdata pretty much just lays ‘em all out for you). I looked at his 2008-2009 pre-injury numbers and his current season numbers, using these two as his respective peak and valley. Take these with the usual sample size disclaimer, since even the ’08-’09 season was cut short for Nelson by his labrum injury. The first time I looked at the stats, it seemed like Nelson was more or less doing the same things during his best and worst times, that he was just missing shots, per Rob Mahoney’s argument. A closer look, however, reveals some telling things about the aggression of Nelson’s play.

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Jan 12

Recap: Orlando Magic 107, Portland Trail Blazers 104

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer


In a highly entertaining game that went down to the wire, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers by the score of 107-104. For the Blazers, it was their first home loss of the regular season. The Magic were up by as many as 23 points in the third quarter but bad defense, turnovers, and missed free-throws almost did them in. Fortunately for Orlando, they were able to escape with a victory against Portland — an impressive win in a boisterous environment against a squad some consider an elite team and championship contender. The Magic were led by a balanced attack, as seven players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard chipped in 13 points, 13 rebounds, and four assists but his struggles at the free-throw line continued, as he only shot 3-of-12 from the charity stripe. Hedo Turkoglu finished with 16 points, six assists, and three rebounds, making a layup and three-pointer late in the fourth quarter to fend off the Blazers’ rally. Jameer Nelson contributed with 16 points, five assists, and four rebounds. Ryan Anderson played well, finishing with 16 points and nine rebounds. J.J. Redick had 17 points, Jason Richardson had 15 points, and Glen Davis had 11 points and six rebounds. For Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge led the way with 23 points, eight rebounds, and two steals while Jamal Crawford (a notorious Magic killer) had a game-high 24 points as well as five assists and three rebounds.

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Jan 12

Reaction: Orlando Magic 107, Portland Trail Blazers 104

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Orlando Magic 107 Final
Recap | Box Score
104 Portland Trail Blazers

Dwight Howard
5-9 FG | 3-12 FT | 4 AST | 13 REB | 13 PTS | +6

With the Magic getting plenty of scoring from the supporting cast, Howard didn’t have to carry a heavy load offensively. Orlando ran a heavy dose of 4-out/1-in offensive sets for the big fella throughout the game, either allowing him to create for himself or his teammates. Some of his assists were direct results of kick-out passes from the post for spot-up threes.

Ryan Anderson
6-11 FG | 4-7 3P | 1 STL | 9 REB | 16 PTS | +13

In the fourth quarter, the Portland Trail Blazers elected to go small with a 5-man unit of Jamal Crawford, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Gerald Wallace, and LaMarcus Aldridge. As a result, Anderson didn’t play in the period but when he was in the game, he was productive. He rebounded well and led Orlando with four three-pointers, though his defense on Aldridge could have been better.

Hedo Turkoglu
6-11 FG | 4-6 3P | 6 AST | 3 REB | 16 PTS | +2

Turkoglu was huge for the Magic in the fourth quarter as the Blazers made a furious run. Turkoglu ran a 3/5 pick-and-roll with Howard on consecutive possessions late in the period, making a layup and three-pointer. Those five points allowed Orlando to increase their lead from three to eight with less than two minutes remaining in the game. Turkoglu is fortunate his brilliance wasn’t undermined.

Jameer Nelson
7-9 FG | 2-2 3P | 5 AST | 4 REB | 16 PTS | +4

This is going to sound like a broken record but when Nelson goes, so go the Magic. He was aggressive on offense, looking for his shot throughout the game and aiding Orlando in their scoring barrage in the first three quarters. However, he made two mental errors late in the fourth quarter, turning the basketball over twice and almost costing the Magic the game.

Portland Trail Blazers

Yes, Orlando was playing on two days rest and yes, Portland was playing on a back-to-back. That being said, the Blazers didn’t look like a team with weary legs, as exhibited by their comeback in the fourth quarter. Crawford seems to enjoy tormenting the Magic, as he was excellent coming off the bench. Aldridge was equally superb. If only Portland had a healthy Greg Oden.

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

Jan 11

Preview: Orlando Magic at Portland Trail Blazers

10:00 ET | Sun Sports
6-3 @ 7-2
Pythagorean Record: 6-3 Pythagorean Record: 6-3
Pace: 89.0 (24th) Pace: 94.8 (3rd)
Offensive Rating: 107.0 (8th) Offensive Rating: 105.2 (9th)
Defensive Rating: 101.5 (9th) Defensive Rating: 98.8 (6th)
Rose Garden | First meeting this season

Jan 11

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic have finished prepping for the game tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Magic just completed their shootaround and some film work at the Rose Garden. Coach Stan Van Gundy said Quentin Richardson (ankle sprain/foot irritation) will not play tonight. Van Gundy said he has liked what swingman Von Wafer did in Sunday’s win in Sacramento, but Wafer is the Magic’s third shooting guard. Given the Blazers’ height advantages, it might be difficult for Wafer to get much playing time tonight. ‘He’s probably our best guy on our roster at being able to create his own shot of the perimeter guys, and he’s bringing us good energy,’ Van Gundy said. ‘He’s still got a long ways to go defensively, but what I’m seeing is a guy who really wants to do it and is making a great effort to do it. So, yeah, we’d like to keep playing him.’ ”
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy is a worrier.
  • John Hollinger of ESPN Insider cites Ryan Anderson as one of the NBA’s most improved players so far this season: “Quick, guess who leads the Orlando Magic in PER? No, it’s not Dwight Howard — it’s the grenade launcher, who at 25.17 is a few hundredths ahead of Superman. Anderson averages 23.5 points per 40 minutes by splashing his shoulder-fired missiles — he’s taking more than eight 3s a game — and you realize how effective it is once you notice that he has two turnovers in nine games this season. Anderson also can rebound, using the offensive glass as a secondary weapon to generate layups and free throw attempts, but his main weapon is the long ball. His release is quick and accurate, and at 6-foot-10 he can get it off over closing defenders.”
  • A haiku previewing tonight’s game between the Orlando Magic and Portland Trail Blazers.
  • Charles Barkley chimes in on Dwight Howard being apprehensive about teaming up with Derrick Rose and playing with the Chicago Bulls.
  • Rachelle Jean-Louis of SLAM ONLINE: “Dwight Howard isn’t the only Orlando Magic player creating a buzz lately. Forward Justin Harper is a new addition to the Magic roster—and a welcomed one. The 6-10 rookie, selected with the 32nd pick in the 2011 Draft, flew under the radar for quite some time. Now, he enjoys his home with the Magic (despite some rookie pranks) and proves he has much more to contribute than people think. After sitting most of his freshman season at University of Richmond, Harper worked his way to a starting position his sophomore year. But no one really knew exactly who Justin Harper was until he really made a name for himself senior year. [...] Harper finished an impressive senior season, earning First-Team All-Atlantic 10 honors after finishing second in the league in three-point percentage, fourth in scoring, fourth in field-goal percentage, and fifth in three-pointers per game. Though impressive, it seemed that no one could foresee what team would jump at the opportunity to grab the Virginia native.”
  • For those that are into power rankings, here you go.

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

Jan 11

Driving the Timberwolves bandwagon

Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

I bet a few of you reading this just graduated from college and live at home with your parents. Well played! You probably eat breakfast right after waking up at 11:00 AM and then eat lunch at noon. I can tell you from personal experience it’s a great deal. And I can also tell you from personal experience that after reading enough of these articles you will decide to become an NBA blogger.

I’m not discouraging that idea, but I have a job that will probably generate more profit. All you need to do is head to your local Department of Transportation and obtain a Commercial Driver’s License. You’re about to become the official driver of the Minnesota Timberwolves bandwagon. You’ll be able to fit all of your passengers in a smart car for the next week or so, but in a few years, your fleet will include fifty Greyhounds.

After obtaining your CDL, you will need to go hard on an advertising campaign. These should be your selling points:

Ricky Rubio
People will call you crazy, but assure them Ricky Rubio will be one of the best point guards in the NBA in the next few seasons. He is a junkyard dog on defense, and his offense is considerably better than advertised. Heck, LeBron James guarded him when the Heat played the Timberwolves in Rubio’s third NBA game. Rubio’s biggest downfall before heading to the United States was his shooting ability, but he actually has one of the highest True Shooting percentages on his team through the first chunk of games. Sure, it’s a small sample size, but you’re selling seats on a bandwagon!

Kevin Love
You can put this one in terms that Orlando Magic fans will relate to easily: the power forward for the Timberwolves averages more rebounds per game than Dwight Howard and has a better three point percentage than Ryan Anderson. Hard to believe, right? Your potential clients won’t think you’re too crazy for this claim, but guarantee them that Kevin Love will be the best power forward in the NBA post-haste. They will argue in favor of Blake Griffin and Dirk, but just remind them that Griffin doesn’t play any defense or make shots outside the lane, and Dirk is already in his 14th NBA season. Trust me, Kevin Love will not let you down. If they need one more nudge to get on the Love Boat, you can bring in Sir Charles to offer his point of view.

There is virtually no way the Timberwolves can spend their money any worse over the next few seasons. Their five highest paid players, in order, are Michael Beasley, Martell Webster, Darko Milicic, Brad Miller, and J.J. Barea. For those scoring at home, that is a ton of money to two ridiculously bad second overall picks, two players who haven’t played a minute this season, and an offseason acquisition who has only played four games due to a hamstring issue. I know David Kahn doesn’t make many people confident, but the salary issues in Minnesota can only improve.

Rick Adelman
Rick Adelman has led his teams to a winning percentage greater than .500 in seventeen of his twenty seasons as the head man on an NBA bench. Additionally, he made it twice to the NBA Finals as the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, and his long relationship with Kevin Love might be enough to entice the star to stay in Minnesota. If that’s doesn’t sell someone on the new head man for the Wolves, you can always remind them that Adelman led the 2008 Rockets to a 22-game winning streak and cultivated another flashy point guard to a first team All-Rookie honor in 1999.

There you have it. You’re now in a working relationship with the best power forward in the NBA, a rising star at point guard, an excellent leader on the bench and a ton of terrible contracts. What else do you need to sell seats on a bandwagon? Just do me a favor and always save me a seat.

Shotgun, please.

Matt Scribbins is a contributing writer for Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.

Jan 10

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Stan Van Gundy is a self-described worrywart, but he insists he isn’t concerned with what will happen with Dwight Howard’s trade request. Why? Because, for Van Gundy, focusing on it just isn’t productive. ‘People don’t totally believe this, but I really don’t spend one minute concerned about the whole thing with Dwight. [...] I’m like probably the biggest worrier in the world, but I generally worry about things that I have some control over. Am I playing the right guys? Am I running the right offense? What’s my rotation? Should we do more in practice or do less? I mean, I’m an incessant worrier. But what I don’t worry about is Ryan Anderson going to make shots? Or is Dwight Howard going to stay? Or is Quentin Richardson going to be able to play tonight? Or Glen Davis? What am I going to do about any of those things? I just am going to come and do my job, and I’ll worry like hell about those things more than I should. I can tell you, that’s just not anything that really concerns me. Otis has got decisions to make. Dwight’s got decisions to make. It’s really in their hands. Not mine.’ ”
  • Jameer Nelson needs to step his game up.
  • Rob Mahoney of the New York Times’ Off the Dribble blog isn’t too concerned with Nelson’s slow start to the regular season: “Nelson still positions himself well in both of those situations, and his release looks neither rushed nor noticeably slowed. His shooting form and release remain unchanged. He is not getting blocked (any more than usual; bad things happen sometimes when a guard generously listed at six foot ventures into the paint), and conditioning does not seem to be too much of an issue based on Nelson’s drives and lack of front-rimmed jumpers. He’s not recovering from a significant injury, not adjusting to the offensive climate of a new team, and not overpassing to negate his own offense. Sometimes when a strong-shooting 29-year-old on a static roster starts missing shots, he is merely missing shots.”
  • Zach Harper of HoopSpeak: “In all of the hoopla surrounding Dwight Howard’s possible trade demands, we forgot that this is still a very good regular season team. Stan Van Gundy is one of the most underappreciated coaches we’ve had in a long time. His system and discipline should be dipped in bronze and places outside the Amway Center. He gets everybody where they’re supposed to be and has built an extremely smart attack around his soon-to-be-gone/re-signed superstar.”
  • Danny Nowell is contributing at HoopSpeak. Give his debut piece on the Philadelphia 76ers a whirl. It’s a must-read, as is the case for anything he writes.
  • Britt Robson of Sports Illustrated: “While scoring across the NBA is down rather significantly, the Magic’s points-per-possession efficiency remains almost exactly the same on both offense and defense compared to last season. That gives Orlando a higher offensive ranking (from 14th to seventh) and a lower defensive ranking (from third to an uncharacteristically medicore 14th). As for that offense, Jason Richardson is 15-of-29 (51.7 percent) in his last two games after making 5-for-22 (22.7 percent) in his previous three, while Jameer Nelson and Glen Davis are shooting below 37 percent overall.”

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

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