Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 112

Feb 04

Reaction: Orlando Magic 102, Cleveland Cavaliers 94

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images


Orlando Magic 102 Final
Recap | Box Score
94 Cleveland Cavaliers

Dwight Howard
5-12 FG | 9-16 FT | 8 BLK | 16 REB | 19 PTS | +9

He’ll never admit it publicly, but Howard has been taking off plays and coasting in games this season on defense. That was never more evident than against the Cleveland Cavaliers, where Howard suddenly played like the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in the second half after going half-speed in the first and second quarters. He’s at his best when he’s dominating on the weak-side defensively.

Ryan Anderson
5-14 FG | 2-6 3P | 1 AST | 8 REB | 17 PTS | +14

It says a lot about Anderson’s skill-set at this point that him putting up 17 points and eight rebounds comes as no surprise. He did what he does well. He made three-pointers, he got to the free-throw line, and he attacked the offensive glass (perhaps his most underrated skill). It’s unlikely he’ll get any consideration for the All-Star Game but that’s the level he’s been playing at after 22 games.

Jason Richardson
7-12 FG | 3-4 3P | 1 AST | 4 REB | 19 PTS | +19

Taking two games off to rest his sore knee did wonders for Richardson. He looked as lively as he’s ever been during the regular season, and it’s no coincidence that he has one of his best games so far this season. His greatest asset is his three-point shooting and when that shot is falling, as it did against the Cavaliers, he makes a positive impact for the Magic.

Hedo Turkoglu
7-12 FG | 2-5 3P | 4 AST | 7 REB | 18 PTS | +12

Turkoglu had that patented step-back jumper going for him all night against Cleveland. In that regard, Turkoglu’s game is very predictable because you know what he’s going to do with the basketball in his hands. He likes to that take dribble to his left, then fire away. He also got things going in 3/5 pick-and-roll sets with Howard in crunch time. Also very predictable.

Cleveland Cavaliers

For three quarters, the Cavaliers couldn’t do much of anything. With Howard patrolling the paint, it made it especially difficult for Cleveland to attack the rim with any consistent success. For the game, the Cavaliers went 18-of-39 at the rim (46.2 percent). But Ramon Sessions and Alonzo Gee caught fire for Cleveland in the fourth quarter and made things interesting at the end.

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

Feb 03

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic have suspended power forward Glen Davis for tonight’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Saturday’s game against the Indiana Pacers because of what team officials are labeling ‘conduct detrimental to the team.’ Davis had an outburst during the team’s shootaround this morning at Amway Center as the team went through some of the Cavaliers’ plays on the team’s practice court. Davis and coach Stan Van Gundy ultimately got into an argument. Van Gundy would not discuss many of the details of what happened, but Van Gundy and a witness said the disagreement never turned physical. [...] That said, Davis has developed a reputation within the Magic organization as an intensely emotional player. In December, the Magic and Davis agreed to a four-year deal worth about $26 million, and the Magic acquired Davis and swingman Von Wafer in a sign-and-trade deal with the Boston Celtics for power forward Brandon Bass. Davis’ play so far this season has been up and down. At times, he has provided the bone-crunching screens, the hustle plays and the rebounding the team coveted when it acquired him. But at other times, Davis has migrated too far from the basket and attempted jumpers that are out of his range.”
  • Ish Smith is looking forward to playing in his first game with the Orlando Magic.
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Magic still believe Howard leaves the door open to staying at times, and felt good about the possibility…. until the team lost six of eight games in a recent stretch. The Magic are still banking on the fact that Howard’s ability to make $30 million more in Orlando (bigger raises for a player who re-signs with his own team) plays a major role in his decision.”
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy is complimentary of Kyrie Irving.
  • Jason Richardson will play against the Cleveland Cavaliers after sitting out the last two games.
  • Should the Magic call Dwight Howard’s bluff of leaving money on the table? Jerry West, a consultant for the Golden State Warriors, thinks so.
  • More on Glen Davis’ two-game suspension.
  • Jared Dubin of Hardwood Paroxysm: “While the Magic attempt to stave off a Dwight-induced self-destruction, Cleveland is looking to prove that they belong in the playoff conversation in the East. Kyrie Irving is having one of the best rookie seasons in NBA history, Anderson Varejao is off to the best start of his career and the Cavs are winning much more than anyone had any right to expect.”
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie on Howard’s appearance in the All-Star Game: “By all accounts, he’ll still be with the Magic by the time the All-Star game tips off on Feb. 26. And Magic fans, mindful of the nationally televised audience and their own team’s dodgy future, will no doubt give Howard the biggest standing ovation he’s ever heard as he’s introduced. That’s how fans work. They’ll save the boos and hisses for when Howard eventually leaves the team this summer. And he will leave this team. Which will make the ovation — as a recruiting tool — a needless exercise. Sad.”
  • More from Dwyer: “We were in favor of Smith trying to get something, anything, for Howard last fall. But after needlessly re-signing Jason Richardson and Glen Davis to two too-big deals, the Magic have to drag Howard along as long as they can and either hope for that slim chance that he’ll return, or take whatever cap freedom they’ll get with a clean break. This team could get a “clean break” by offering Howard up later this month for all expiring deals, but why waste the income and run of a potential play into May just for what you’re about to get for Howard anyway plus some potential draft picks in the low first round?”
  • Davis has been strange this season for the Magic.

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

Feb 03

Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers at Orlando Magic

7:00 ET | Sun Sports
8-12 @ 13-9
Pythagorean Record: 8-12 Pythagorean Record: 12-10
Pace: 92.3 (11th) Pace: 89.4 (26th)
Offensive Rating: 100.8 (23rd) Offensive Rating: 102.5 (19th)
Defensive Rating: 111.2 (30th) Defensive Rating: 101.7 (14th)
Amway Center | First meeting this season

Feb 03

Magic Basketball Weekly: Regrettably watching the Super Bowl

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

I’m sure you guys care an awful lot, but after weeks of deliberation I have decided that I am in fact going to watch the Super Bowl. It’s not merely that two of my four least favorite teams are playing, it’s just that over the past year, I’ve lost most of my love for any football game in which the Packers don’t play.

The NFL has become such a bloated procession of hypocrites and idiots that I sort of feel forced to stop watching. If you’re going to just troll the bejeezus out of me with continuing excessive idiocy, at some point, I have to stop proving you right about how much viewers will tolerate garbage being stuffed down their throat, you know?

I’ve always hated the announcers, but John Gruden constant referring to every player with a preceding “this” (“This Jason Pierre-Paul is really special” or “If you’re coaching Joe Flacco, you have to tell him to explain that facial hair”) has taken my rage to new levels.

The video replays are maddening; there is no more intellectually stultifying way to spend three minutes than staring at a referee’s butt while former professional idiots on the other side of the split screen spend four minutes going over a touchdown catch like a crime scene.

I hate how the football media so relentlessly drums up faux masculine outrage — I know we’re all “warriors” or whatever, but not even a literal bantam rooster would be so insecure as to care what fat Rex Ryan said about them for the 374th straight week.

Finally, the league’s hypocrisy over player health has become too much for me. They care so much about player safety that they want to add regular season games! And it’s not that football is systemically violent as a product, it’s just that a few angry dudes break rules at a faster rate than we can fine them! I will stick to basketball, thank you very much, where we are blessedly free of racially driven policy controversies and commissioner fans accuse of rigging the outcome of league events.

So basically, I’m watching because the people in my life already think I’m enough of a tendentious prick. I heard on the radio today that not only will Kelly Clarkson be singing the national anthem, but that something called a Blake Shelton will be singing “America the Beautiful” and I thought to myself “Thank God I won’t be watching.” And then the face of everybody I’ve known since high school appeared in my vision and said “Dude, it’s the Super Bowl. You really are always like this, aren’t you?”

So I will watch and hope that everybody on the field but Hakeem Nicks is killed in a fan riot over a forty minute replay review.

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Feb 02

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Smith, 23, signed with the Magic on Thursday as a free agent and is expected to provide immediate help at point guard. Coach Stan Van Gundy said Smith will “definitely” play Friday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Smith is by no means ready, but Van Gundy has little choice. Starting point guard Jameer Nelson will miss the game against the Cavs because of concussion symptoms. Nelson is not expected to play until Monday at the earliest. The Magic released veteran combo guard Larry Hughes after Wednesday night’s win against the Washington Wizards to make room for Smith, a true guard. Van Gundy hopes Smith, 6-foot, 175 pounds, can help the Magic advance the ball up the floor. Teams have been pressuring the ball lately, forcing turnovers and causing the Magic to get into their offense late.”
  • More from Robbins: “As tipoff approached Wednesday night, Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said he had no doubt his players would begin their game against the Washington Wizards with plenty of energy. Something concerned him, though. He worried what would happen if the Wizards went on a run. Would the Magic’s fragile confidence shatter? Would everything snowball out of control, just as it had several times within the last week? Would the Magic lose a fifth consecutive game for the first time in Van Gundy’s tenure? The Magic wound up passing the test. But not without a struggle. Fueled by their 3-point shooting, Orlando overcame a turnover-filled first half to beat Washington 109-103 at Amway Center.”
  • Jameer Nelson is recovering well from a concussion.
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy is trying to persevere as the Orlando Magic try to snap out of their losing ways. To say it’s been a struggle for Van Gundy is putting it kindly.
  • Ish Smith is eager to make an impact with the Magic.
  • Tom Ziller of SB Nation states that Dwight Howard is a volatile scorer: “Howard, surprisingly, is right behind ‘Melo. Seeing a big man so high on the list fights conventional wisdom, which is that since big men tend to have higher shooting percentages, their production is more reliable. While Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge all seem to bolster that hypothesis with relatively low volatility marks, Howard — a regular near the top of field goal percentage rankings — is a blinking signal of doubt. One possible explanation: Dwight earns so many free throw attempts and shoots them so poorly that if he has a bad day at the stripe, he’s likely to have a bad day in the scoring column. (That the season has been short and that he had a monster scoring game against Golden State could affect things too, though the game didn’t throw his average too far away from expectations.)”
  • Orlando is a roster filled with volatile scorers.
  • Noam Schiller of Hardwood Paroxysm blames the Magic’s slow descent into irrelevance due to the decline of aging veterans like Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson: “If you add these two and a half improving youngsters to what used to be a solid array of role players and semi-stars, this should be a far better Magic team than last season. Maybe not Chicago or Miami level, but as close as it gets out East. Of course, that’s contingent on the non-youngsters as well. And that’s where, umm, sad.”
  • Recapping Orlando’s win last night.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “After four straight losses Magic will take the win, even if they let the team with the worst offense in the NBA put up 103 on them. The Magic’s defense was bad (except on John Wall who hit just 1-of-12 shots but did have 10 assists). Their offense was good enough to counter it — Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson each had 23, J.J. Redick had 21.”

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

Feb 01

Recap: Orlando Magic 109, Washington Wizards 103

AP Photo/John Raoux

BOX SCORE

The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Washington Wizards by the score of 109-103, snapping a four-game losing streak. The Magic have been losing a lot lately, dropping six of their last eight games, so a win — even if it was against one of the worst teams in the NBA — was a welcome sight for them. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard led the way for the Magic, finishing with 23 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field (including 11-of-16 from the free-throw line), 18 rebounds, three assists, and four steals. Ryan Anderson finished with 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field (including 6-of-9 from three-point range) and seven rebounds. J.J. Redick chipped in with 21 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field (including 3-of-4 from three-point range and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line). Hedo Turkoglu had 16 points, five assists, and four rebounds. Nick Young led the way for the Wizards with a game-high 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field in roughly 21 minutes of playing time. Rashard Lewis had 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field (including 3-of-4 from three-point range), eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals, playing one of his better games since leaving Orlando. Three other players for Washington scored in double-figures.

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Feb 01

Reaction: Orlando Magic 109, Washington Wizards 103

AP Photo/John Raoux


Orlando Magic 109 Final
Recap | Box Score
103 Washington Wizards

Dwight Howard
6-10 FG | 11-16 FT | 4 STL | 18 REB | 23 PTS | +16

It says a lot about Howard’s greatness as a player that he put up 23 points, 18 rebounds, three assists, and four steals, and it never felt like he made a big impact in the game. A good free-throw shooting performance was a sight for sore eyes, but he should have done more offensively. Ditto on defense. Howard’s effort defensively left a lot to be desired.

Ryan Anderson
7-12 FG | 6-9 3P | 1 AST | 7 REB | 23 PTS | +14

During the broadcast on Sun Sports, there was a poll that asked who was the best power forward in Magic franchise history? The choices were Terry Catledge, Horace Grant, Rashard Lewis, and Anderson. Grant was the fan’s choice but if Anderson plays long enough in a uniform for Orlando, he has a chance to be the best. Anderson is that good of a player.

J.J. Redick
5-7 FG | 8-8 FT | 2 AST | 2 REB | 21 PTS | +15

This is about as good as Redick can play on offense. If you’ve ever been curious what is Redick’s peak as a player offensively, even though it was against the Washington Wizards, this game is a perfect example. His jumpshooting was on point (3-of-4 from three-point range) and he got to the free-throw line (8-of-8 from the free-throw line). His defense could have been a lot better though.

Hedo Turkoglu
5-16 FG | 2-6 3P | 5 AST | 4 REB | 16 PTS | +5

For three quarters, Turkoglu was chucking up bad shots and playing porous defense. But in the fourth quarter, Turkoglu got his act together and ran 3/5 pick-and-rolls with Howard to perfection as the Magic were trying to put the game out of reach against the Wizards. When Turkoglu is engaged, as he was in the final period (scoring nine points), he can be quite good.

Washington Wizards

Despite being ranked 30th in Offensive Rating (dead last in the NBA), Washington had little trouble scoring against Orlando. That says a lot about the Magic’s energy and effort defensively — or lack thereof. In any case, the Wizards’ unsung heroes was the second unit consisting of Shelvin Mack, Jordan Crawford, Chris Singleton, Trevor Booker, and Kevin Seraphin. They played extremely well together.

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

Feb 01

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Jason Richardson and Jameer Nelson will not play for the Orlando Magic tonight against the Washington Wizards. That’s the word from coach Stan Van Gundy, who spoke to the press moments ago following the Magic’s shootaround. Richardson will sit out his second straight game. Richardson originally suffered what team officials are calling a bone bruise on Jan. 12, missed several games and then returned to the lineup on Jan. 20. But Richardson continues to experience some weakness in the knee, and it’s difficult for him to get the knee loose after he goes to the bench in a game and after halftime. Magic officials don’t want his injury to linger. Nelson suffered two hits to his head on Orlando’s loss Friday night in New Orleans, and he has suffered from concussion-like symptoms since then. His return will be subject to the NBA’s new concussion policy, which was adopted in December and is being overseen by neurologist Jeffrey Kutcher. Van Gundy said Nelson’s symptoms have started to subside and that Nelson appears to be on track to play Monday.
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy is curious to see how the Orlando Magic respond to adversity.
  • Chris Broussard of ESPN Insider: “If left up to Howard’s camp, the Magic would have been informed about Howard’s clear desire to leave before the new year. His representatives want him to force his way out of Orlando now. But Howard has kept them at bay. He’s refused to rescind his trade request, but he’s also refused to upgrade it to a trade demand. The Magic view that as hope they can keep him. But it’s more likely Howard doesn’t want to hurt the city’s feelings and turn all of Orlando against him. And as long as Howard leaves even an inkling of doubt about his intentions, he’ll remain on the team.”
  • The Magic have slumped offensively as of late. Why?
  • Three trade ideas involving Howard and the Chicago Bulls.
  • Nate Drexler makes an appearance on TrueHoop TV to talk about Orlando.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “There is a Howard trade rumor void because the Magic are not looking to move him right now, they are trying to convince him to stay. Which seemed a lot easier a couple of weeks ago when the Magic were playing well. But Orlando has lost four in a row and is playing without energy or execution. Normally this is where a team leader like Howard steps up and holds teammates accountable, but is anyone going to listen to a guy with one foot out the door?”
  • After an 11-4 start to the regular season, the Magic are now pretenders.
  • What should Orlando do with Howard?
  • Mark Heisler of SheridanHoops.com: “At 12-5, press says Dwight should finish season there. At 0-4 since, with Dwight ripping teammates for not handling his situation better, will press say Magic should: a) Trade him now, b) Waive him, or c) Suspend him for season?”

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

Feb 01

Preview: Washington Wizards at Orlando Magic

7:00 ET | Sun Sports
4-17 @ 12-9
Pythagorean Record: 0-5 Pythagorean Record: 11-10
Pace: 93.7 (4th) Pace: 89.2 (26th)
Offensive Rating: 94.8 (30th) Offensive Rating: 101.7 (19th)
Defensive Rating: 104.9 (23rd) Defensive Rating: 101.3 (12th)
Amway Center | Magic lead season series 1-0

Feb 01

Stan Van Gundy is coaching bad players

Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

On Monday in the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers, head coach Stan Van Gundy was forced to use a second unit that consisted of Larry Hughes, Von Wafer, Quentin Richardson, Earl Clark, and Glen Davis. Van Gundy briefly utilized that 5-man unit in the fourth quarter as well.

If it hasn’t become clear by now why Dwight Howard wants out or why the Magic aren’t very good at the moment, witnessing Hughes, Wafer, Richardson, Clark, and Davis play on the court at the same time should put things into focus. Orlando is bad because there’s a lot of bad players on the roster right now.

The funny thing is that it wasn’t too long ago when the Magic were one of the deepest teams in the NBA, if not the deepest.

During the 2009-2010 season, Orlando trotted out — by all accounts when looking at the numbers — the best team in franchise history. Literally from top to bottom, the Magic had quality players at each position. The point guards were Jameer Nelson, Jason Williams, and Anthony Johnson. The wing players were Vince Carter, Matt Barnes, J.J. Redick, and Mickael Pietrus. The bigs were Rashard Lewis, Ryan Anderson, Brandon Bass, Dwight Howard, and Marcin Gortat. For Van Gundy, this was Noah’s Ark on steroids — he didn’t have everything in twos, but in threes and fours.

And give general manager Otis Smith credit at the time. With a savvy trade and ownership’s blessing to spend, Orlando was setup nicely that year until they ran into the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Unfortunately for Smith, what he built he also destroyed (with some help from guity parties like the Celtics).

Out went Williams, Johnson, Carter, Barnes, Pietrus, Lewis, Bass, and Gortat. In came Chris Duhon, Hughes, Jason Richardson, Wafer, Hedo Turkoglu, Quentin Richardson, Clark, and Davis. And let’s not forget the Gilbert Arenas experiment either.

In case you’re keeping score, this has what the Magic have become.

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