Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 112

Jan 10

Circumventing a lack of consistent shot creators

It’s no secret that the Orlando Magic lack a consistent shot creator on the perimeter. This has been the case since Vince Carter was traded last season, though it was an issue at times even when he was around. The Magic don’t have a LeBron James on the roster, someone that can get them a bucket on offense at any time. Instead, head coach Stan Van Gundy — as stated elsewhere — has to make up for it offensively by creating a lot of pick-and-roll, post-up, or spot-up opportunities. Very rarely will you see Van Gundy call for an isolation play.

Put it this way. Hedo Turkoglu, the likeliest candidate for Orlando to run an isolation play, given that he’s 6-foot-10 and can get his shot off without much resistance from the defense, has been involved in 12 such possessions this season. And that number is a team-high! In isolation, Turkoglu is averaging 0.67 points per possession according to Synergy Sports Technology, which isn’t very good. To compare, James has run 50 isolation plays for himself and has averaged 0.90 points per possession, which ranks eighth in the NBA.

It’s a night-and-day comparison and worth illustrating how the Magic don’t rely on isolation plays, as the Sacramento Kings were the latest team to find out.


Orlando runs so many pick-and-roll variations, it’s hard to keep track of them, but a lot of their plays come out of staggered pick-and-rolls. A staggered pick-and-roll is when an offense sets two screens, instead of one, for the ballhandler to create for either himself, one of the screeners, or someone else. It’s a great pick-and-roll variation to run because it creates extra space for the ballhander to wreak havoc on a defense. On this possession, Glen Davis and Ryan Anderson are the two screeners while Jameer Nelson is the ballhander.

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Jan 10

Magic Basketball TV: The Dwight Howard effect

ORLANDO — You hear guys say that Dwight Howard is a game changer. When he’s in the game, you have to literally change the way you play, change the things you do, and change your approach to the game. I always wondered if this was just something that people say for the sake of saying it. So I took it to the locker room to find out specifically how players think when Dwight is on the court.

Nate Drexler is a contributing writer for Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.

Jan 10

Magic Basketball TV: Adjectives to describe Derrick Rose

ORLANDO — People have tagged Derrick Rose with dozens of adjectives in his short career thus far. Some call him explosive, some call him exciting, fast, quick, deadly, incredible. The list goes on. I was curious what his teammates call him. How do they view him? What adjectives do they use to describe him? How about the guys he plays against? How do they view him? How does he view himself? I took it to the locker room to find out.

Nate Drexler is a contributing writer for Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.

Jan 09

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dwight Howard says he doesn’t think he’ll be traded before the all-star game in Orlando on Feb. 26, adding the Magic might not even deal him before the March 15 deadline. Howard needs new sources. Owner Rich DeVos and family have given the order: Unless Howard changes his mind, the Magic will deal Dwight and not let him walk like Shaq did 15 years ago. The Magic must receive compensation, and the best compensation now — as always — is Lakers center Andrew Bynum. And if GM Otis Smith gets an offer he can’t refuse before the All-Star Game comes to town, I expect him to act on it. While it would be uncomfortable for Magic fans to see Howard in another uniform, the Magic have to look out for their future, just as Dwight is looking out for his. Besides, there won’t be that many Magic fans attending the all-star game, anyway, not with those prices and the amount of tickets available. Having Howard in another uniform will be just as much a black eye for the league during its showcase event. (David Stern and owners bickered for months, and did nothing to help the smaller markets). As I’ve said several times, Bynum is the best compensation any team would have received in exchange for a player who is forcing his way out of town.”
  • Amin Vafa of Hardwood Paroxysm with a touch of logic after the Orlando Magic were able to beat the Sacramento Kings on Sunday largely without Dwight Howard in the game: “The Magic still won, but Howard’s fouls kept him out of most of the game. Worst part about his performance? Laker fanboys rationalizing never wanting to trade Bynum for Howard (+ an extension) if they had the chance. Yes, Bynum has been a monster lately. But come on, folks. Come on.”
  • Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports: “Yet while the Magic still hope to convince Howard to stay with them, sources close to the All-Star center said he’d have to be convinced the team is a legitimate championship contender. The six teams the Magic have beaten this season have a combined record of 12-37. Even after waiving of guard Gilbert Arenas’ big contract with the amnesty clause, the Magic don’t have the financial flexibility to make a big run at a major free agent this summer. The Magic also don’t have many tradeable assets that could help them improve their roster. If Howard were to try to depart via free agency, the Magic would have the advantage of being able to offer him a fifth year on a new contract worth about $28 million. Howard could even decide to postpone his free agency by a year and utilize the final-season option of his contract (worth $19.3 million) and then leave the Magic in the summer of 2013 if they haven’t already traded him, sources close to him said.”
  • General manager Otis Smith lets it all out in an interview with Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel in Sacramento, and Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie finds some of his answers odd.
  • Marc Stein of “Dwight Howard was probably due for the sort of foul-trouble nightmare he endured in Sunday’s stroll past Sacramento. In the season’s first five games, by contrast, Dwight racked up only 13 fouls. Better yet: DH12′s been hit with only one T in nine games.”
  • A quick recap on the Magic’s win against the Kings.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk with his latest take on the Howard saga: “Orlando is taking its time waiting for a better offer to come up. The Nets looked like the front runner but Magic GM Otis Smith never seemed warm to the idea of Brook Lopez as a centerpiece, and that was before Lopez broke a bone in his foot. The Lakers are not giving up both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. The Mavericks don’t have the pieces for a trade. So, Orlando waits, seeing if a good rental offer comes through or if the pressure on those teams will improve the offers.”
  • Orlando is not an elite team.
  • Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated: “Howard still wants out of Orlando, a point that he reiterated Sunday night when he said “nothing has changed” in terms of his desire to get out and his hope to land with Dallas, New Jersey or the Lakers. But with the Magic taking the slow approach on the trade front and Howard having settled the mood around this team that was justifiably jarred by his stance, this is the in-between existence that they must continue to deal with for now.”
  • Howard laid an egg against the Kings.
  • For the Magic and Howard, it’s a wait and see approach for now.
  • If Orlando does indeed trade Howard before the trade deadline, it appears that Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers is an asset being targeted.
  • Should the Magic hold onto Howard no matter what even if he walks?
  • Zach Lowe of The Point Forward wonders aloud if Orlando’s offense (sixth in Offensive Rating this season) is for real: “We’re going to find out soon, because Orlando’s schedule is about to get tougher, starting with a road game Wednesday against the Trail Blazers, a top-five defensive team so far this season. Orlando has 12 games in the final 20 days of January, including two against both Boston and Indiana; one each against the Lakers, Spurs, Knicks and Sixers; six back-to-backs; and its only back-to-back-to-back of the season. The trade deadline isn’t for another two months, but three weeks from now, we will have a much better idea of the Magic’s place in the league’s hierarchy. Those three weeks will test Orlando’s offense, which has shifted even more to the extreme edges of Van Gundy’s system — a system he has chosen in part to make up for Orlando’s well-known lack of a stud perimeter player. The Magic are a test case of an interesting question: Is there actually such a thing as too few isolation plays in the NBA? Everyone (and especially their fathers) hates isolation plays, symbols of the NBA’s alleged one-on-one selfishness and obsession with scoring. But they are a necessity when you have 24 seconds to score against great defenses bent on destroying your preferred options.”
  • Another recap on Orlando’s victory against Sacramento.
  • David Thorpe of ESPN Insider with a must-read piece on a blueprint to stop Howard.

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

Jan 08

Recap: Orlando Magic 104, Sacramento Kings 97

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli


Despite having Dwight Howard deal with foul trouble for three quarters, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Sacramento Kings by the score of 104-97 to kick off a three-game West Coast road trip. Howard picked up four fouls in the first three quarters, which forced him to sit on the bench and watch as the Magic battled against the Kings without him for a majority of the game. As a result, Howard’s stat-line wasn’t impressive at all — five points, four rebounds, and one block. However, Orlando got solid contributions from other players and it was enough to overcome a forgettable night for Howard. Five players scored in double-figures for the Magic, with Jason Richardson leading the charge. Richardson finished with 22 points, five assists, and four rebounds. Glen Davis had his best game with Orlando yet, putting up 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and eight rebounds. Ryan Anderson had 19 points, 11 rebounds, and four steals, as he was able to put together a good game in his hometown in front of family and friends. Von Wafer chipped in with 12 points off the bench. Hedo Turkoglu had 11 points. For the Magic fans that are curious what the team may look like without Howard in the advent that he leaves, they got a good look in this game.

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Jan 08

Reaction: Orlando Magic 104, Sacramento Kings 97

Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Orlando Magic 104 Final
Recap | Box Score
97 Sacramento Kings

Dwight Howard
1-2 FG | 3-5 FT | 4 REB | 1 BLK | 5 PTS | +10

You know it’s a strange game when Howard had zero points and zero rebounds in the first half against the Sacramento Kings. In fact, that’s the first time that had ever occurred in his career, which now spans eight seasons. He made a mild impact in the fourth quarter as the Magic pulled away from the Kings, including banking in a free-throw, but that was about it.

Jason Richardson
9-16 FG | 3-6 3P | 5 AST | 4 REB | 22 PTS | 0

This was Richardson’s best game of the season so far. It was refreshing to see him attack the basket off the dribble and generate some easy baskets for himself on top of his usual antics behind the three-point line. Perhaps what was most impressive about Richardson was his defense on Marcus Thornton. Richardson didn’t make it easy for Thornton, contesting many of his jumpshots on the perimeter.

Glen Davis
8-13 FG | 4-7 FT | 2 AST | 8 REB | 20 PTS | -9

Davis had his best game of the season as well. He’s not going to provide the interior defense that Howard does and DeMarcus Cousins got the better of him in the post a few times but he still competed. Davis’ impact came with his rebounding (five offensive rebounds) and scoring. It’s clear that Davis is a far better midrange jumpshooter when he keeps his range within 18 feet.

Ryan Anderson
5-16 FG | 3-11 3P | 4 STL | 11 REB | 19 PTS | +10

Anderson started off slowly. He missed his first seven shots but he grinded away and was able to make an impact as the game wore on. Case in point: he made a three-pointer at the 1:30 mark in the fourth quarter to seal the deal for Orlando. Surely head coach Stan Van Gundy will be pleased with Anderson’s work on the glass as well (11 rebounds).

Sacramento Kings

With head coach Keith Smart at the helm following Paul Westphal’s firing, Sacramento played relatively well. Tyreke Evans was stellar, as nobody for the Magic could stop him from scoring at will on offense. Heck, a lot of players for the Kings played well. But when push came to shove, Orlando made some key plays late in the fourth quarter and that was the difference in the ballgame.

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

Jan 08

Preview: Orlando Magic at Sacramento Kings

6:00 ET | Sun Sports
5-3 @ 3-5
Pythagorean Record: 5-3 Pythagorean Record: 2-6
Pace: 88.8 (25th) Pace: 94.0 (5th)
Offensive Rating: 106.0 (9th) Offensive Rating: 99.4 (21st)
Defensive Rating: 100.8 (11th) Defensive Rating: 108.7 (27th)
Power Balance Pavilion | First meeting this season

Jan 07

Recap: Chicago Bulls 97, Orlando Magic 83

AP Photo/John Raoux


The Chicago Bulls were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 97-83 in a game that featured last season’s MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. That MVP, of course, was Derrick Rose and he was stellar against the Magic, finishing with 21 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds, and two steals. Rose wasn’t alone, either, as he got plenty of support from his teammates. Luol Deng finished with 21 points, five assisst, and four rebounds. Carlos Boozer compiled a double-double, putting up 20 points and 13 rebounds. Kyle Korver came off the bench and provided the hot sauce for the Bulls one might say, chipping in with 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field (including 5-of-7 from three-point range). On the flipside, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, none other than Dwight Howard, was sharp against Chicago, finishing with a game-high 28 points, 15 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. But unlike Rose, Howard got little help from his supporting cast. Jason Richardson had with 17 points, Hedo Turkoglu had 12 points, and that was about it. No one else for Orlando stepped up. After seven games against a relatively easy slate, aside from a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Magic got to measure up against the Bulls — an elite team and championship contender. Needless to say, Chicago is the real deal while Orlando wishes they were.

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Jan 07

Reaction: Chicago Bulls 97, Orlando Magic 83

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Chicago Bulls 97 Final
Recap | Box Score
83 Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
11-18 FG | 6-10 FT | 15 REB | 2 BLK | 28 PTS | -13

Howard was the table setter and finisher, helping the Orlando Magic get off to a good start (12 points in the first quarter) and finish (10 points in the fourth quarter) before the Chicago Bulls firmly shut the door in the late stages of the game. The big fella’s defense was palpable too, as he directly affected Derrick Rose’s effectiveness at the rim. A great all-around effort.

Jason Richardson
6-13 FG | 3-6 3P | 2 AST | 3 REB | 17 PTS | -16

If it hasn’t been already, it’s clear that Jason Richardson is not the player the Magic need. He had an empty 17 points. He’s not a shot creator. Most importantly, though, is that he’s not a good defender. One of Richardson’s bugaboos is his inability to chase players around screens, which was made evident once again against the Bulls. This time by Kyle Korver.

Hedo Turkoglu
5-11 FG | 2-4 3P | 3 AST | 1 REB | 12 PTS | -15

Luol Deng thoroughly outplayed Turkoglu. There’s no other way to put it. What was most impressive was Deng’s defense on Turkoglu. Deng made it a very tough night for Turkoglu and that directly affected Orlando’s offense, as head coach Stan Van Gundy was unable to run many pick-and-rolls with Turkoglu and Howard as he may have liked because of Deng and Chicago’s excellent pick-and-roll defense.

Glen Davis
2-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 STL | 10 REB | 8 PTS | -2

This is the first game where it truly felt like Davis made a positive impact for the Magic despite his shortcomings offensively. He’s never going to wow you with his offense but his value comes from his defense, energy, rebounding, and the type of hustle plays that Magic fans were accustomed to seeing when Davis played for the Boston Celtics. That player was on display on Friday.

Chicago Bulls

Not enough good things can be said about Chicago. This is an elite team and championship contender for a reason. The Bulls’ level of execution and head coach Tom Thibodeau’s attention to detail is reminiscent of Orlando in 2009. Chicago may not overwhelm with you talent, even though they’re a talented team, but they will almost always play a smart brand of basketball.

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

Jan 06

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “It seems that Glen Davis and Stan Van Gundy are closer to being on the same page than they were a couple of days ago. With an abbreviated preseason, Davis certainly needs more time to adjust to his new team. He probably also needs to adjust to the realization that he is not in the Magic’s starting lineup. And Van Gundy wants him to focus more on the so-called dirty-work play, such as setting screens and taking charges, that doesn’t show up on a stat sheet. But there also has been, at the minimum, some disconnect between Davis and Van Gundy about what Davis’ place in the offense should be. That became obvious from Van Gundy’s comments and from Davis declining to comment after that 103-85 victory over the Wiz. Van Gundy said Davis was not playing well on offense and that Davis was taking far too many jumpers. [...] But Davis said Thursday that he will change his approach. To be sure, he has not had much time to practice with the team since being acquired last month.”
  • Lots of notes worth sifting through for both the Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls.
  • The Magic shouldn’t consider the Golden State Warriors’ offer for Dwight Howard.
  • Curtis Harris of Hardwood Paroxysm: “I can’t help but wonder how much better off the Bulls would be right now if they had just offered J.J. Redick enough money to ward off the Magic a couple of offseasons ago. Rip Hamilton’s still ok, however his basketball skills are diminishing especially when he’s not leading mutinies. Redick is shooting it lights out this year and will only get better. Furthermore, JJ is easy on the eyes while Hamilton is a milkdud head with a face mask.”
  • Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago: “Hours before a battle between the two stars, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose reiterated that he hasn’t spoken to Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard about the possibility of the pair teaming up in Chicago later this season. Howard, who has asked the Magic to trade him, listed the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and New Jersey Nets as teams he would like to be traded to. There’s been speculation throughout the league that Howard doesn’t want to come to Chicago, in part, because he and Rose are both sponsored by adidas and the shoe company doesn’t want both of their big stars in the same market. Howard told local reporters on Friday that he and Rose were ‘adidas brothers.’ ”
  • Kyle Stack of SLAM ONLINE on Howard’s rebounding prowess this season: “Howard had accumulated 20-plus ‘boards in at least two straight contests six times previously in his regular season career. None were as impressive as the consecutive 24-rebound efforts. It was such a rare accomplishment that the following players have gone—or went, past tense for the retired guys—their entire careers, regular season and postseason, without getting at least 24 rebounds in back-to-back games: Kevin Love, Marcus Camby, Ben Wallace, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett.”
  • No matter how well Andrew Bynum is playing, the Los Angeles Lakers should still target Howard.

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

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