Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 111

Feb 20

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Jessica Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel: “To prepare Dwight Howard for his first all-star slam-dunk contest in 2007, Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith demonstrated how to dunk. He didn’t do any jumping, though. Smith instructed with his feet on the ground, which had Howard and Jameer Nelson laughing hard. He may not have dunked in more than a decade, but Smith knew what he was talking about. He competed in two all-star dunk contests. [...] Smith told Howard about one of his more creative dunks, where he threw the ball from one side of the basket, caught it on the other and slammed it with the hand closest to the rim. The contest has since changed. Blake Griffin, the 2011 slam-dunk champion, wowed the crowd at the Staples Center in Los Angeles when he leaped over a car and dunked. [...] Howard was the dunk champion in 2008, the year after Smith gave him tips. Smith didn’t win in either of his appearances, but when he played, he competed against big names. The all-star contest Saturday at the Amway Center will include Chase Budinger of the Houston Rockets, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, Derrick Williams of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Iman Shumpert of the New York Knicks.”
  • Beware of counterfeit All-Star Game tickets.
  • Dwight Howard talks about how the Miami Heat were able to beat the Orlando Magic in yesterday’s game.
  • A look back at the Magic’s loss against the Heat.
  • Jason Richardson sat out of Orlando’s game against Miami due to chest pains but is okay.
  • The field for the 2012 Taco Bell Skills Challenge is set.
  • Gilbert Arenas has yet to find a home this season with a new NBA team.
  • More on Arenas.
  • The Magic struggled to contain LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
  • Ryan Anderson has been a game-changer for Orlando.
  • Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “It has been suggested that a certain young Knicks guard can be counted on to divert some All-Star Weekend spotlight away from a certain local star whose free agency beckons in July. Not so sure about that one. Quite a test for Linsanity to see what sort of dent it can put into the long-awaited ASW frenzy over Dwight’s future.”
  • Matt Moore of ProBasketballTalk: “Miami wreaked havoc on the Magic defensively as well, as expected. 37 percent from the field for Orlando. 14 turnovers. A world of hurt. Was Howard disinterested, or were the Magic not forcing the issue to get him the ball enough? These questions are not answerable. The results are the same. The Magic are a good team. The Heat are better. That’s the lesson of Sunday’s game, regardless of what the season series record says.”
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “They keep on winning mostly, but the Sunday loss to Miami shows how far this team is from elite. As the Dwight Howard rumors ramp up heading into the All-Star Weekend, will it start to weigh on this team?”
  • Arenas: “I [told Dwight], ‘If you’re leaving or you’re not leaving, you’ve got to keep that locker room together. You guys have got to be a family still, because at the end of the day these are the people you fight with, you battle with.’ I check up on him after certain games and make sure the spirit is still high, tell him just stay focused and keep trying to dominate. [...] To be honest, I have no idea [if Dwight will stay], because like any big decision you’re going to go back and forth every day. Like I tried to tell him, it’s going to be hard to just go out there and play basketball.”
  • More on the Magic’s loss against the Heat.
  • John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “The Magic got smoked in Miami on Sunday, but they’ve recovered from their late-January struggles and are once again a top-four seed in the East. Somehow, they’ve been the eighth-best offensive team in February, with just two guys, Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson, who can score consistently.”

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

Feb 20

Preview: Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks

8:00 ET | Sun Sports
20-12 @ 13-18
Pythagorean Record:18-14 Pythagorean Record: 14-17
Pace: 89.4 (26th) Pace: 92.2 (11th)
Offensive Rating: 103.1 (14th) Offensive Rating: 102.5 (18th)
Defensive Rating: 100.9 (12th) Defensive Rating: 104.3 (19th)
Bradley Center | Magic lead season series 2-0

Feb 18

Recap: Orlando Magic 94, Milwaukee Bucks 85

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

BOX SCORE

The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks by the score of 94-85, extending their winning streak to four games. A week after playing the Bucks on the road and needing an extended stretch of dominance in the fourth quarter to pull out the victory, the Magic used the same script at home. Trailing by eight points with 5:56 left to play in regulation and the score at 85-77, Orlando went on a 17-0 run to come back and win the game. The Magic were led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard led the way, finishing with 26 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field (including 10-of-14 from the free-throw line), 20 rebounds, and four blocks. Ryan Anderson finished with 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field (including 4-of-7 from three-point range and 3-of-4 from the free-throw line), nine rebounds, and three assists. Hedo Turkoglu chipped in with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field, seven assists, four rebounds, and two steals. J.J. Redick had 11 points, while Jameer Nelson had 10 points and four rebounds. Four players scored in double-figures for Milwaukee, with Ersan Ilyasova (14 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks in 33 minutes of playing time) being the standout performer.

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Feb 18

Reaction: Orlando Magic 94, Milwaukee Bucks 85

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack


Orlando Magic 94 Final
Recap | Box Score
85 Milwaukee Bucks

Dwight Howard
8-12 FG | 10-14 FT | 4 BLK | 20 REB | 26 PTS | +18

Surprisingly enough, despite playing a Milwaukee Bucks’ frontline that was outmatched, Howard didn’t do a lot of damage in traditional post-ups. Instead it was mostly dunks or free-throws. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, given that dunks and free-throws represent two of the three most efficient shots in basketball (the three-pointer being the other). It was a workmanlike performance for the big fella.

Ryan Anderson
8-15 FG | 4-7 3P | 3 AST | 9 REB | 23 PTS | -4

Playing alongside Duhon, Redick, Quentin Richardson, and Clark in the second quarter, Anderson was the lifeboat for the second unit when it came to putting points on the board. He scored eight points in the span of roughly six minutes before Van Gundy put the starters back into the game. Although that six-minute stretch didn’t seem like much, it kept the Magic within striking distance of the Bucks.

Hedo Turkoglu
6-10 FG | 1-4 3P | 7 AST | 4 REB | 14 PTS | +8

For three quarters, Turkoglu didn’t do much. He had a total of four points, four assists, and three rebounds. Then in the final period, “Mr. Fourth Quarter” came alive. Van Gundy called Turkoglu’s number time and again in the fourth quarter, and he delivered. The 3/5 pick-and-roll with Turkolu and Howard was the driving force that allowed Orlando to go on a 16-0 run to win the game.

J.J. Redick
5-13 FG | 1-5 3P | 3 AST | 1 REB | 11 PTS | +19

If you were looking at the box score, Redick had an unimpressive game. Yet Redick’s plus/minus was a game-high +19. That’s attributable to the little things he does. Like in the fourth quarter when he cut baseline as the Magic ran a 1/5 pick-and-roll with Nelson and Howard, got the pass from Nelson, and fed the basketball to Anderson for a three-pointer in the right corner.

Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee played well for 42 minutes. It’s the last six minutes of the game that doomed the Bucks, as exhibited by the fact that they didn’t score a single point after Shaun Livingston made a layup off an offensive rebound at the 5:56 mark of the fourth quarter. After that, Milwaukee missed 11 shots. Orlando took advantage and won, despite trailing in the game by as many as 15 points.

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

Feb 17

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Milwaukee’s Drew Gooden did not make the trip because of injuries, and the news caught Van Gundy and the Magic by surprise today. The Magic spent a significant portion of their shootaround prepping for Gooden’s pick-and-rolls with Brandon Jennings; then, after shootaround, Van Gundy was informed of Gooden’s absence by the Sentinel’s Brian Schmitz as Brian asked a question. ‘Oh, that’s great,’ Van Gundy said, sarcasm dripping from his voice. ‘We just spent the entire morning on preparing for Drew Gooden’s pick-and-rolls. Yeah, that’s outstanding. No, seriously, we spent the entire morning on the Drew Gooden-Brandon Jennings pick-and-rolls. So we’ll be prepared for Monday night [when the Magic face the Bucks] in Milwaukee. That’s fabulous. We barely ever get a day to work and now you tell me I just wasted my hour,’ Van Gundy continued, a smile on his face.”
  • Jameer Nelson and Dennis Scott will be teaming up with Marie Ferdinand-Harris in the Haier Shooting Stars competition during All-Star Weekend in Orlando.
  • How can the dunk contest be improved upon?
  • The continued saga of Dwight Howard and the New Jersey Nets.
  • Bradford Doolittle of ESPN Insider: “When you’re talking in terms of marginal gains, no team stands to gain more from a Howard acquisition than Chicago, which would vault over Miami as the odds-on favorite to win it all. You’d be asking Howard to paper over the defensive shortcomings of his new frontcourt mates in Carlos Boozer and Turkoglu, but Bulls defensive wizard Tom Thibodeau could make it work. Even more so than Paul in L.A., Derrick Rose would make an ideal running mate for Howard because of his ability to get his own shot. Howard is not a high-volume offensive player and has always needed a high-scoring teammate to open things up in the lane. The Magic get back plenty of future value in this deal and would be one of the league’s better defensive teams right away. However, points would be hard to come by on the offensive end, as Orlando would be woefully short of shot creators. That’s OK — Smith presumably is thinking big-picture with this one.”
  • To entice Nets fans to show up, ticket prices are being slashed when Howard comes to town.
  • Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: “I think the biggest name being discussed will be Steve Nash. A point guard could make all the difference in the world to the Lakers and Magic. For the same reason, Ramon Sessions will be on the radar.”

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

Feb 17

Preview: Milwaukee Bucks at Orlando Magic

7:00 ET | Sun Sports
12-17 @ 19-11
Pythagorean Record: 13-16 Pythagorean Record: 18-12
Pace: 92.2 (11th) Pace: 89.3 (25th)
Offensive Rating: 102.9 (15th) Offensive Rating: 103.6 (13th)
Defensive Rating: 104.7 (20th) Defensive Rating: 101.2 (12th)
Amway Center | Magic lead season series 1-0

Feb 17

Magic Basketball Weekly: Superman I vs. Superman II

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Ugh, Shaq. By now, you’ve almost certainly read his latest stupid attempts to needle Dwight Howard, saying it would be a “travesty” if Howard left Orlando. Which is immediately ridiculous, because, you know … Shaq did that.

I’m not the first person commenting on this story, but this latest little whine has taken my Shaq hate to new levels. I’ve never enjoyed Shaq because I can’t stand his constant insecure posturing, his disingenuous media manipulation or his inability to coexist with anybody taking even a modicum of attention from him. But for some reason, I really think the casual fan is still fooled by Shaq’s act — I find it impossible to believe that anybody in 2012 thinks Shaq is actually an enormous jokester who just can’t help shooting straight, but it seems as if a lot of folks still think that. It’s baffling.

I find Shaq’s fascination with Dwight doubly frustrating because it’s just so obvious how threatened Shaq feels by Dwight, which is ridiculous. Look, I love Dwight, and he’s a more balanced player than Shaq ever was, not to mention an even more incredible athlete than young Shaq, but he’s clearly not currently as effective as Shaq was in his prime. Again, I am definitely NOT saying that Dwight isn’t an historically effective player, but good God, you guys remember what Shaq was capable of, right?

For him to spend his retirement trying to distance himself from every talent who also draws media attention is pathetic, and it makes me wonder what the appeal of Shaq’s persona is. Seriously — what about Shaq as an image or personality has grown his fan base? He doesn’t “just win;” he constantly ran his mouth and was frequently out of shape or clearly not trying. His biggest single advantage — being an enormous human — isn’t something you can seem to cultivate by scheduling post-loss shooting sessions in opponent’s gyms.

In fact, it seems like Shaq is at least as insecurely image conscious as LeBron, as periodically lazy as Rasheed Wallace and as preternaturally gifted as any one ever. Isn’t that the recipe for people seriously hating an athlete? Didn’t he play for like 13 teams in the last 3 years of his career? Isn’t he the single worst and least funny television analyst on an otherwise entertaining and insightful show? What is going on here?

I guess I’m willing to fall back on the standard explanation of the viewing public conflating decency as a human with the ability to win basketball games, but it seems like Shaq would’ve done more than enough to undermine that. I’m actually a little puzzled by this. Why don’t more people hate Shaq?

INTERMISSION

Bonus footage of Magic Shaq stomping on Tokyo, shaping whole worlds in the chaos of his wake.

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Feb 17

It’s not magic, it’s execution

When the Orlando Magic faced off against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 30, they were tired, injured, and playing a losing brand of basketball. The Magic were playing their sixth game in eight nights, the starting backcourt of Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson was out of commission, and the losses started to pile up in a hurry. The Magic scored a franchise-worst 56 points in a loss against the Boston Celtics on January 23, somehow blew a 27-point lead at home against those very same Celtics no less than three days later, then got blown out by the New Orleans Hornets to top it all off. The Hornets are 6-23.

Orlando was a battered and beaten group in a physical and mental sense.

The Sixers aided in the Magic’s continued misery by handing them their fourth straight loss and fifth in six games, winning 74-69. The final score is deceiving because Orlando had 49 points with 3:19 left in the game before going on a 20-6 run to escape putting together another franchise-worst performance on offense a week after doing so against Boston.

But in a lockout-shortened schedule, things can change in a hurry.

Heading into Wednesday, the Magic were playing some of their best basketball of the season, winning six of their last eight games. And both losses, which came against the Los Angeles Clippers and Atlanta Hawks, came in overtime. Needless to say, it was going to be interesting to see how Orlando would fare in their grudge match against Philadelphia.

Unfortunately for the Sixers, they ran into a buzzsaw. The Magic shot 15-of-25 from three-point range, played great team defense for prolonged stretches, and got the win.

What was most impressive about Orlando’s victory was that the offense annihilated the NBA’s best defensive team. Crisp ball movement and flawless execution for the Magic produced excellence.

And Ryan Anderson was in the middle of it all, putting Philadelphia’s defense in a blender and spitting it out. Anderson had already proved against the Miami Heat on February 8 that he was a tough cover, with Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem finding out the hard way. For the Sixers, Lavoy Allen and Thaddeus Young found out for themselves the perils of defending Anderson.

In the first quarter, Orlando jumped out to a 23-6 lead before Philadelphia closed the gap at the end of the period. Anderson spearheaded the assault by scoring 14 points.

SLIDE 1, 2:

This possession is a microcosm of how the night went for the Magic. Hedo Turkoglu and Dwight Howard execute a 3/5 pick-and-roll (a side screen-and-roll on the left side). Andre Iguodala, an elite perimeter defender in the league, decides to go over the screen, while Elton Brand sags off as Howard rolls to the basket. Defensively, everyone for the Sixers is doing their job except for Allen.

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Feb 16

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Were it not for a certain sensation out of New York sweeping the basketball world right now, Orlando Magic power forward Ryan Anderson might be the runaway favorite for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award with the way he’s dramatically boosted his scoring average and become the game’s most impressive 3-point shooter. But since we’re talking about Jeremy Lin – and who isn’t these days after the way he’s taken the NBA by storm – there’s a connection between the New York Knicks’ guard and Anderson. With both hailing from Northern California – Anderson from El Dorado Hills and Lin from Palo Alto – and being born just three months apart, they regularly played against one another in junior circuit leagues and AAU ball. And even though they both led their respective high schools to state titles as high school seniors, Anderson and Lin were told along the way they’d never be very good college players, much less make it to the NBA. So when Anderson and Lin met back when Lin was still a member of the Golden State Warriors, they relived memories of their younger days and how they had defied the odds to get to the NBA.”
  • Is there someone on the roster for the Orlando Magic that can surprise like Jeremy Lin?
  • Dwight Howard will coach in the 2012 Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.
  • The field for NBA All-Star Slam Dunk has been set.
  • Who will win the dunk contest?
  • Linsanity may hit Orlando during All-Star Weekend.
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “It’s unclear whether Smith was being serious, but Magic General Manager Otis Smith indicated to the Orlando Sentinel that his team is not considering the 6-foot-6 guard. The Magic could use their midlevel exception of up to $5 million to sign J.R. Smith, but that would have a drawback. The team’s current salary-cap total for this season is $68.7 million, according to HoopsWorld, and the league’s luxury-tax threshold is set at $70.3 million. The Magic would pay an extra dollar for every dollar they are over the threshold at the end of the season.”
  • Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider with a must-read piece on Howard’s worth as an elite two-way player in the NBA: “Acquiring a two-way talent such as Howard or James is like using a two-for-one deal at the grocery store. Instead of eating up $30 million of cap space by handcuffing a dominant offensive force (say, Anthony) with a dominant defensive force (say, Tyson Chandler), you can pay James or Howard to do both things for you at half the price. Since you can only play five players on the court, having a two-way player to fulfill both jobs (two NBA stars for the price of one!) is among the biggest market inefficiencies a GM can exploit. That’s why every owner was willing to bend over backward and fly to Ohio to make a sales pitch to James. If Howard finishes the season in Orlando, we’ll see GMs do the same for him.”
  • The Magic have one of the best transition defenses in the league.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “This game followed the old axiom “you can’t win a game in the first quarter but you can lose it.” Orlando raced out to a 23-6 lead and never trailed. The Sixers tried, they made some rallies — like when they made push to cut it to nine inside of four minutes. But back-to-back threes by Ryan Anderson and Jason Richardson pushed the lead to 15 and all but sealed it. Anderson finished with a game high 27, Dwight Howard had 17. Lou Williams led Philly with 21. This game was a far cry from the meeting a couple weeks ago where the 76ers held the Magic to 69 points total.”
  • Peter Walsh of SLAM ONLINE raves about Ryan Anderson: “Ryan Anderson has been shooting the lights out this season. The third year pro has hit 80 three’s this year, 19 more than anyone else in the league; he is also one of the few (only?) players to hit more three-point field goals than two-point field goals. The guy is an assassin and in my opinion, for what it’s worth, he should have been an All-Star. Last night Anderson continued his hot shooting with 7 three-pointers (on 10 attempts) against one of the best defensive teams in the L.”
  • Rodger Bohn of SLAM ONLINE conducts a Q/A with Penny Hardaway.
  • Anderson gets an “E” for effort for his performance against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, in which he scored 27 points and made seven three-pointers.
  • Anderson is proving to be more bang for the buck than Rashard Lewis was for Orlando.

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

Feb 16

The Ryan Anderson manifesto

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Dwight Howard is not only the best player on the Orlando Magic but one of the best players in the NBA.

That’s a given.

It’s because Howard is so good and, in many his respects, some of his supporting cast is so bad that there’s chatter of him fleeing the Magic for greener pastures, whether it’s at the trade deadline or in free agency. And the mainstream media as well as the blogosphere have been doing their job in analyzing the situation, trying to figure out which player — whether it’s Kobe Bryant or Deron Williams or Dirk Nowitzki or whoever — would be the ideal fit and complement to Howard as that second star. 

The second star that Orlando supposedly does not possess.

Yet there’s someone for the Magic that’s already a great fit alongside Howard, even though he may not be thought of as a star or an All-Star or whatever label you want to use even though he’s playing at that level

His name is Ryan Anderson.

Although Anderson isn’t a household name yet, more and more people are beginning to recognize not only how good he is but also how unique of a player he is. 

Getting-to-know-you stage
Anderson isn’t much of a ballhandler or shot creator, meaning he doesn’t do much to create for his teammates or himself. But what Anderson lacks in creativity, he makes up for in productivity and efficiency. 

For example, Anderson is an excellent three-point shooter. So far this season, Anderson leads the league in three-point field goals made (87) and attempted (200), while ranking among NBA leaders in three-point shooting percentage (43.5 percent). It’s true that other players shoot at a higher percentage than Anderson, but not many can match his volume while maintaining a high percentage (some can, like Kyle Korver). Anderson’s three-point proficiency allows him to be a perfect complement to Howard. Anderson can spread the floor and maximize spacing on offense both for Howard and Orlando in general. 

Players that shoot three-pointers at a high clip are a dime a dozen in the league.

Players that shoot three-pointers at a high clip listed at 6-foot-10 and are a great offensive rebounder? Those are rare.

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