Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 112

Feb 15

Recap: Orlando Magic 103, Philadelphia 76ers 87

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

BOX SCORE

The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers by the score of 103-87. The Magic avenged one of their worst losses of the regular season, which occurred on January 30 against the Sixers on the road. Orlando lost 74-69 in that game, which upped their losing streak to a season-high four games. The Magic won this time around. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as six players scored in double-figures. Ryan Anderson blitzed Philadelphia, finishing with a game-high 27 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field (including 7-of-10 from three-point range). Dwight Howard finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds, and two blocks. Jameer Nelson had one of his best games of the season, putting up 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field, 14 assists, and four rebounds. Jason Richardson chipped in with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field (including 4-of-5 from three-point range), three assists, and two steals. Hedo Turkoglu had 14 points and seven rebounds, while J.J. Redick had 12 points. Super-cub Lou Williams led the way for the Sixers, amassing 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field (including 2-of-4 from three-point range and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line), seven assists, and four rebounds. Excluding back-to-back three-pointers by Evan Turner and Williams for Philadelphia at the tail end of the first quarter, the entirety of the period was a microcosm of how the rest of the game would go for Orlando.

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Feb 15

Reaction: Orlando Magic 103, Philadelphia 76ers 87

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images


Orlando Magic 103 Final
Recap | Box Score
87 Philadelphia 76ers

Dwight Howard
8-15 FG | 1-3 FT | 2 BLK | 14 REB | 18 PTS | +21

Howard was the conduit by which the Magic systematically destroyed the Philadelphia 76ers’ defense. Offensively, Orlando centered its gameplan around pick-and-rolls with Howard as the anchor, as he aided Nelson and Turkoglu in their quest to drive-and-kick the Sixers to death. When Howard wasn’t too busy setting screens, he was getting his in the post (primarily against Nikola Vucevic).

Ryan Anderson
9-12 FG | 7-10 3P | 1 STL | 2 REB | 27 PTS | +17

Poor Lavoy Allen. Filling in for injured Spencer Hawes and matched up against Anderson, Allen had no chance defensively. Before Allen could blink an eye, Anderson scored 11 points against him in the first quarter. That forced Doug Collins to call upon Thaddeus Young to defend Anderson for the remainder of the game. That didn’t pan out so well either for the Sixers.

Jason Richardson
5-10 FG | 4-5 3P | 2 STL | 3 AST | 14 PTS | +23

Richardson was quiet but efficient on offense. Outside of his layup in the first quarter on a screen-and-curl, with Howard setting a pin-down screen on the right block to free him up on the left side, all of Richardson’s field goals were three-pointers. The last of his three-point shots typified the Magic’s night, with it coming directly from a 1/5 pick-and-roll with Nelson and Howard.

Jameer Nelson
5-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 14 AST | 4 REB | 12 PTS | +19

If Howard was the conduit that allowed Orlando to pick apart Philadelphia with ruthless efficiency offensively, Nelson was the table-setter. Time and again, he executed pick-and-rolls. Time and again, he dribble penetrated into the lane and probed the Sixers’ defense. Time and again, he found the open man on the perimeter. At the end, he accounted for 50 of the Magic’s 103 points.

Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia is considered by some as a contender in the Eastern Conference because their point differential and efficiency differential rank among the elite in the NBA (the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Oklahoma City Thunder just to name the favorites). But as the saying goes, matchups mean everything and the Magic proved to have almost all the advantages in this game.

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

Feb 15

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “There is only one certainty in the Dwight Howard saga. By the NBA trade deadline on March 15, which is now just one month away, the Orlando Magic front office will have made perhaps the most important personnel decision in franchise history. Little has changed in recent weeks. Howard has kept his trade request on the table, and Magic officials continue to sound content to wait until March 1 to reassess their situation. The front office believes there’s no rush to make a decision — that Howard still would be in high demand if General Manager Otis Smith, CEO Alex Martins and Chairman Dan DeVos decide they must trade the six-time All-Star before the deadline. In the meantime, members of the Magic front office hope that they can convince Howard to stay. They figure that winning games, being around teammates and hearing support from fans cannot hurt. Martins is in contact with Howard almost every day. Even the team’s 85-year-old owner, Rich DeVos, has made his sales pitch to Howard. Among other things, DeVos has told Howard that he might never develop as close a connection with a another city’s fans as Howard currently has in Orlando. The Magic have a reason to feel confident. If they keep him beyond the trade deadline, they will be able to offer him one additional year at higher annual raises than any of the other 29 teams. But even that might not be enough.”
  • Shaquille O’Neal: “”Orlando’s come a long way since the ’92 All-Star Game. The nightlife here is fabulous. The real estate has been fabulous. You still have Disney around the corner for you to bring your family. So I think it’s going to be a great event. It’d be good if he could put on a show and get the love and the support from the fans here and win the MVP. Hopefully, he stays, because that arena there is one of the best arenas in the country. If he leaves, it’ll be a travesty.”
  • Head coach Doug Collins talks about tonight’s matchup between the Orlando Magic and the Philadelphia 76ers.
  • The field for the 2012 Foot Locker Three-Point Contest in Orlando for All-Star Weekend is set.
  • Chris Bernucca of SheridanHoops.com tabs Magic-Sixers as “tonight’s best game.”
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie comments on O’Neal’s recent quotes about Howard: “Howard has made his fair share of missteps in how he’s handled his frustrations with Orlando, but we’re really hoping Shaq ends this silly and transparent batch of sly digs. It was unfortunate that O’Neal couldn’t work out with Orlando, or Los Angeles towards the end, or Miami once Pat Riley tired of him, or the Suns once Phoenix figured out he was a terrible fit, or Cleveland. It’s unfortunate that he’s keeping the same tone even after retirement.”
  • Justin Kubatko of Basketball-Reference: “It is with great pleasure that I announce the debut of Basketball-Reference.com’s latest and greatest set of research tools: Play Index+. Play Index+ utilizes over ten years of play-by-play data, allowing the user to sift through and summarize millions of plays with just a few clicks of the mouse.”
  • Five trade ideas involving Howard.
  • Three more trade scenarios pairing Howard with a second star for Orlando.
  • O’Neal’s thoughts on Howard’s future are nothing more than ironic.
  • Are the Magic a leading candidate to acquire J.R. Smith?
  • Eric Pincus of HOOPSWORLD: “While the Magic already have two shooting guards in Jason Richardson and J.J. Redick, they also have the advantage over most suitors with about $4.9 million of their Mid-Level Exception (MLE) still available. Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, a team cannot use their full MLE to climb to $4 million over the luxury tax. Currently the Magic are under; any investment in Smith would put Orlando above the threshold.”
  • Will Howard be traded at the deadline? NBA scribes chime in.
  • Mark Heisler of SheridanHoops.com: “Still win a lot for team with their issues. In latest, Dwight says he wants ball in crunch time (“Just get on my back. That’s why they call me Superman”). Of course, it would help if Supe made more than 56% of his free throws.”
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy argues against the assertion that Howard has checked out of games this season.

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

Feb 15

Preview: Philadelphia 76ers at Orlando Magic

7:00 ET | Sun Sports
20-9 @ 18-11
Pythagorean Record: 23-6 Pythagorean Record: 16-13
Pace: 89.6 (19th) Pace: 89.3 (25th)
Offensive Rating: 106.3 (7th) Offensive Rating: 103.3 (14th)
Defensive Rating: 96.2 (1st) Defensive Rating: 101.3 (12th)
Amway Center | Sixers lead season series 1-0

Feb 14

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “A training camp that practically began with the sudden retirement of their chief executive officer also included a trade request by their franchise player, and the superstar’s long-term future still hasn’t been resolved. And, after a strong start to the season, the team went into a mystifying funk that included two bitter losses to the Boston Celtics. The team seems to be snapping out of it now. The Magic have won six of their last eight games, with the two losses coming in overtime. [...] Monday’s win was a solid, workmanlike performance even though Howard flirted with foul trouble from the middle of the first quarter onward. Five Orlando players in addition to Richardson scored in double figures, including Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick and Hedo Turkoglu, who chipped in with 14 points apiece. Earl Clark came off the bench to provide one of the most energetic performances of his Magic tenure, scoring eight points, grabbing five rebounds and blocking two shots. The team produced just nine turnovers, five of them by Turkoglu.”
  • Dwight Howard and Kevin Love are vying for a rebounding title this season.
  • Howard’s comments about wanting the ball in the fourth quarter, after the Orlando Magic had a come-from-behind win against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, were ill-timed.
  • Howard celebrates “D12 Foundation Day.”
  • The Magic put together a collective effort in last night’s win against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
  • What should Orlando do with Howard as the trade deadline (March 15) nears? Bradford Doolitte of Basketball Prospectus looks back at history as a precursor: “By not gutting the roster when O’Neal left, the Magic delayed their rebuilding for a few years, but they eventually reached the conclusion that bottoming out was the way to go. Bad luck is the only thing that prevented the Magic from being a power in the early part of the last decade. When that happened, Orlando again went into the toilet, but was able to emerge with another elite franchise building block.”
  • A look back at the Magic’s win against the Timberwolves.
  • Who’s the best potential teammate for Howard? The answer, after John Hollinger of ESPN crunched the numbers, is Chris Paul: “I’ve long felt that a Chris Paul-Dwight Howard combo would be the league’s most unstoppable pick-and-roll tandem, and now I have some backing for my theory. Howard wouldn’t need to create offense on post isos with a point guard maestro like Paul running things, while Paul’s ability to create shots and avoid turnovers would dramatically offset Howard’s propensity for miscues. Throw in the obvious synergy of Paul’s ability to throw alley-oops and Howard’s talent to convert them, and putting these two together with the Clips would arguably provide an even more spectacular version of the current Lob City spectacle.”
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalK: “The Magic started to pull away in the second quarter as their defense tightened up and Jameer Nelson began to exploit the fact he was being covered by the even-smaller J.J. Barea. Nelson also did a good job of setting up Ryan Anderson, who had 10 points in the first half and 13 for the game. Then the Magic started the third quarter on a 10-1 run and Jason Richardson got hot (13 in the quarter, 17 for the game). Good win for Orlando on a night Dwight Howard is quiet due to foul trouble (11 points).”
  • Jason Richardson continues his strong play.
  • Zach Harper of HoopSpeak with a Valentines Day gift for Orlando.
  • Howard didn’t play particularly well against Minnesota in yesterday’s game.

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

Feb 14

Jason Richardson goes nova

Since being traded to the Orlando Magic on December 18, 2010, Jason Richardson has had a lot of ups and downs with the team. This season, leading up to the month of February, it had mostly been downs for Richardson, as he struggled to play well offensively for an extended period of time.

But since the start of February, and after resting for two games (against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 30 and Washington Wizards on February 1), Richardson has had his best stretch of games in the regular season so far. In seven games up to this point, Richardson has averaged 18.1 points per game on a True Shooting percentage of 62 percent. That’s despite shooting 47.4 percent from the free-throw line in that same span. Richardson’s excellent efficiency has been buoyed mostly due to his three-point shooting, which is at 52 percent for the month as of today.

It’s been written before that Richardson’s value is tied directly to his shooting. That remains true. When Richardson is shooting the ball well, he’s a net positive on the court for the Magic.

In the case of Richardson’s outing against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, when his shot is on (which is rare to see at this stage in his career), he can single-handedly carry an offense on his back. That’s precisely what occurred for Orlando, as Richardson poured in 31 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field (including 9-of-11 from three-point range).

After a quiet first half, in which he scored three points, Richardson was unconscious in the third and fourth quarters. More importantly for the Magic, though, is that Richardson’s blistering shooting performance aided in the team’s 16-0 run late in the fourth quarter and allowed them to overcome a 10-point deficit with 4:58 left to ultimately win the game.

A look at three of Richardson’s four three-pointers in the final period.

SLIDE 1, 2, 3:

This possession is puzzling for one reason. At this point in the game, Richardson had already made four three-pointers in the third quarter. Yet the Bucks defended Richardson as if they forgot any of that happened. This play is so elementary, it’s a little insulting — quite frankly — that it led to an easy three-point shot for Richardson on the left wing.

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Feb 13

Recap: Orlando Magic 102, Minnesota Timberwolves 89

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

BOX SCORE

The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves by the score of 102-89. This is a game the Magic led from start to finish, with the Timberwolves making the occasional run here and there. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as six players scored in double-figures. Jason Richardson continued his recent stretch of good games in the past few weeks with another good game against Minnesota, finishing with 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field in about 23 minutes of playing time. Hedo Turkoglu finished with 14 points, six rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Jameer Nelson contributed with 14 points and six rebounds. J.J. Redick chipped in with 14 points and four rebounds. Ryan Anderson amassed 13 points, five rebounds, and two steals. Struggling to get into a groove offensively for a second straight game while also dealing with foul trouble, Dwight Howard had 11 points and seven rebounds in roughly 28 minutes of playing time. For the Timberwolves, they also were led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. Kevin Love was the top man for Minnesota, putting up a game-high 19 points, 15 rebounds, and three steals.

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Feb 13

Reaction: Orlando Magic 102, Minnesota Timberwolves 89

AP Photo/John Raoux


Orlando Magic 102 Final
Recap | Box Score
89 Minn. Timberwolves

Dwight Howard
4-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 STL | 7 REB | 11 PTS | +17

For a second straight game, Howard struggled offensively. Matched up primarily against Nikola Pekovic, Howard — like Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks — rushed himself on offense and didn’t exhibit any patience when he was engaging on the low block. Exacerbating the problem for Howard was that he got into foul trouble. As such, he had a meager impact.

Jason Richardson
5-11 FG | 2-6 3P | 2 AST | 3 REB | 17 PTS | +7

How long will Richardson keep this up? No one knows the answer to that question but at the very least, Magic fans should enjoy this version of Richardson right now because it’s not going to last forever. Richardson did most of his damage in the third quarter, where he scored 12 of his 17 points. A majority of his points came in screen-and-curls. Pin-down screens as they’re called.

Hedo Turkoglu
4-12 FG | 2-7 3P | 6 AST | 6 REB | 14 PTS | +17

Turkoglu continues to baffle with his good cop, bad cop routine. Good cop: when he executed 3/5 pick-and-rolls with Howard, Turkoglu either created for himself or others offensively. Anderson, in particular, was a beneficiary of spot-up opportunities behind the three-point line on kick-out passes from Turkoglu. Bad cap: five turnovers. Some of them of the “careless” variety, like stepping along the baseline while dribble penetrating.

Jameer Nelson
6-11 FG | 2-3 3P | 2 AST | 6 REB | 14 PTS | +10

Redick had the slightly more efficient game on offense with the same amount of points as Nelson, taking two less shots to do it. But Nelson deserves to be recognized for one of the plays of the game, in which he took Ricky Rubio to task off the dribble for a layup. Nelson likes that spin move when he’s running pick-and-rolls or pick-and-pops, as Rubio found out.

Minnesota Timberwolves

No one for the Minnesota Timberwolves played that well. Yeah, guys like Pekovic and Kevin Love racked up double-doubles. But Rubio had five turnovers to go with eight assists, J.J Barea had seven turnovers to go with one assist, and Michael Beasley did his best “no pass Bass” impression in Orlando by chucking up shots whenever he got the basketball (13 points on 13 shots).

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

Feb 13

Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves at Orlando Magic

7:00 ET | NBA TV
13-15 @ 17-11
Pythagorean Record: 15-13 Pythagorean Record: 15-13
Pace: 94.1 (2nd) Pace: 89.2 (18th)
Offensive Rating: 102.3 (18th) Offensive Rating: 103.1 (14th)
Defensive Rating: 101.3 (12th) Defensive Rating: 101.6 (13th)
Amway Center | First meeting this season

Feb 13

Blake Griffin starring as “The Halftime Show”

Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

An NBA halftime show is rather predictable. Some joker from the stands will be marched to the three-point line while the public address announcer screams a few rules for the contest that is about to go down.

“A three-pointer is worth $1,000 and a free throw is worth $500!”

The people who didn’t rush to the concourse for halftime refreshments feign excitement even though it is a near lock that both shots attempts will fail miserably. No one is too upset though because the real excitement happens right after when a group of young men trot onto the floor, set up a trampoline, and delight the crowd with acrobatic dunks. No matter how many times you have seen this executed, it is still entertaining. At the conclusion of halftime, everyone has forgotten about the missed shots and talks about the ridiculous dunks.

Does this routine remind you of a certain NBA player?

I now refer to Blake Griffin as “The Halftime Show.” He is a miserable shooter and plays defense like a Washington General, but he consistently amazes NBA fans worldwide with his dunking ability. His dunks are so incredible that fans don’t even bother to mention his poor shooting or lack of defense. And why should they? Even though the league boasts superstars such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kobe Bryant, the second-year forward for the Clippers is one of the most exciting players in the NBA.

Griffin was recently voted into the All-Star Game as the starting power forward for the West. In my opinion, power forward in the Western Conference is the hardest spot among the ten starting positions to secure. No other position has the depth that power forward in the West can boast. Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Dirk Nowitzki will ride the pine for the Western Conference All-Star team, and Tim Duncan will watch from home even though his numbers per 36 minutes aren’t too far from his career averages.

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