Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 120

Feb 21

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Mar. 15: It’s the NBA trade deadline, and it either could be the worse day for Magic fans since Shaq left in 1996 or the best, depending if Howard reverses field as the saga plays out this summer. Or Magic fans might be welcoming a new player or two. Mar. 16: Call it karma or fate, whatever. But if Howard is traded to New Jersey, guess what? The Magic’s first game after the trade deadline is against…. the Nets. How cruel. It could be Howard’s first game against his former team — and at Amway Center, of all places. You couldn’t make this stuff up. Magic boo-birds surely would let him have it, a night that might require extra security at the arena. Imagine Bynum wearing a Magic jersey. Or Howard could still be with the Magic, meaning he could be playing out the string until he becomes a free agent, possibly leaving the Magic with no compensation.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “While the weekly and sometimes daily conversations between Howard and Williams might concern some Magic fans because of their desire to play together – possibly with the Nets – Howard insists that the two are just friends. They became confidants in 2008 while playing for Team USA in the Summer Olympics and have talked basketball, life and other issues regularly. But the two friends will be enemies Wednesday night when the Magic (21-12) face the Nets (10-24) at 7:30 p.m. It will be the first time that Howard has played in New Jersey since issuing an early-season trade request that included the Nets as one of his preferred destinations.”
  • The odds that the Los Angeles Lakers trade for Dwight Howard at the deadline are “slim and none” according to a source that spoke with Ken Berger of CBSSports.com for a story.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “It seems odd to criticize Dwight Howard after a 28 point, 16 rebound performance — which included him stealing the ball from Brandon Jennings and scoring on the one-man fast break at one point — but we can’t help ourselves. His defensive effort is inconsistent. He is so talented he puts up numbers, but it’s hard to watch him and think he is fully invested. Ryan Anderson had the go-ahead three for the Magic in what was a close game. Jennings had 22 for the Bucks.”
  • Britt Robson of Sports Illustrated with midseason grades for all 30 NBA teams. The Orlando Magic get a B+ from Robson: “Orlando has made the best of a bad situation. The pivotal moment came after a 1-5 stretch in late January, which included an 87-56 loss at Boston, a 93-67 defeat at lowly New Orleans and blowing a 27-point lead at home against the Celtics. At 12-9 and in the midst of what coach Stan Van Gundy called the worst stretch of his five-year tenure, the team could have packed it in and waited for the trading deadline to resolve Dwight Howard’s lame-duck status. Instead, the Magic have won nine of 12 to thrust themselves back into position for home-court advantage in the playoffs. It is still possible that Orlando, knowing it needs to get something in return for its superstar center, will deal Howard by March 15. But both the player and the franchise can feel good about the way they are potentially closing out his legacy in Orlando.”
  • Dwight Howard is among the favorites to win the Defensive Player of the Year award.
  • Abe Schwadron of SLAM ONLINE: “In every single Orlando win over the Bucks over the past two weeks, the Magic have overcome fourth quarter deficits, and they now sit at 21-12 on the year, with a potentially awkward matchup at New Jersey up next.”
  • Which player that has played for the Magic has the best chance of having his jersey retired by the franchise? The list may surprise you.
  • John Hollinger of ESPN Insider is quite fond of Ryan Anderson: “For all the flak we give Otis Smith, let’s point out one thing he absolutely did right: getting Anderson as a throw-in in the Vince Carter trade with New Jersey. After two seasons as a reserve, he’s emerging as a star this season — in fact, he’s sixth in the East in PER and pushing Dwight Howard for the Orlando team lead in that category, helping keep the Magic afloat at 21-12 despite the fact that their guards can barely get the ball across the time line. Anderson’s long ball is so deadly when paired with Howard’s interior dominance that he has the second-best plus/minus difference in the NBA, exceeded only by that of the Clippers’ Blake Griffin. Orlando is plus-9.41 points per 100 possessions with Anderson on the court but a ghastly minus-10.11 points per 100 possessions once he checks out.”

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

Feb 20

Recap: Orlando Magic 93, Milwaukee Bucks 90

AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps

BOX SCORE

With both teams playing for the third time in 10 days, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks by the score of 93-90. Ryan Anderson made a go-ahead three-pointer with 18.1 seconds left in the game, Brandon Jennings turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, Jameer Nelson made two free-throws shortly thereafter, the Bucks failed to tie things up after that, and that was your ballgame. The Magic were led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard played relatively well, finishing with a game-high 28 points on 9-of-20 shooting from the field (including 10-of-14 from the free-throw line), 16 rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Jameer Nelson chipped in with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field, five assists, and three rebounds. Hedo Turkoglu contributed with 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field, four rebounds, and three assists. Glen Davis had 12 points and six rebounds, while J.J. Redick had 11 points and three rebounds. Milwaukee was also led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. Ersan Ilyasova (15 points and 15 rebounds) and Larry Sanders (13 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks, and two steals) were the bright spots for the Bucks.

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Feb 20

Reaction: Orlando Magic 93, Milwaukee Bucks 90

Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images


Orlando Magic 93 Final
Recap | Box Score
90 Milwaukee Bucks

Dwight Howard
9-20 FG | 10-14 FT | 3 STL | 16 REB | 28 PTS | +6

Howard had some extremely impressive plays on defense against the Milwaukee Bucks. Perhaps the most notable one is when Howard stole a pass from Brandon Jennings, raced down the floor while dribbling the basketball, and getting a dunk on a one-man fast break. The problem was that his effort defensively was inconsistent at times. For the Magic to win games, that can’t happen.

Jameer Nelson
6-11 FG | 1-4 3P | 5 AST | 3 REB | 15 PTS | +1

Nelson made his mark in the game in the last 20 seconds or so. It was his pass that led to Anderson’s go-ahead three-pointer. It was his defense (with Turkoglu’s help) that jarred the ball loose from Jennings as he dribble penetrated into the lane, which forced a turnover. It was his two free-throws which gave Orlando a three-point lead, which ended up being the final margin of victory.

Hedo Turkoglu
5-10 FG | 3-4 3P | 3 AST | 4 REB | 13 PTS | +1

For his standards, Turkoglu was relatively quiet in crunch time as the Magic made their comeback bid against the Bucks in the late stages of the game. Though it’s worth pointing out that Turkoglu did make a big shot with the fourth quarter winding down, hitting a fallaway jumper off the dribble near the left corner. That kept Orlando within striking distance of Milwaukee before making their final push.

Glen Davis
5-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 AST | 6 REB | 12 PTS | -8

Davis had one of his better games of the regular season. The reason, to be frank, was that his midrange jumpshot was falling. On his jumpers, there was a noticeable arc on his shot. When he struggles with his jumper, usually his shots come out flat but that wasn’t the case against the Bucks. With Redick starting, the Magic needed scoring off the bench. Davis provided that.

Milwaukee Bucks

What must Milwaukee be thinking at this point? In three games this season, the Bucks have had the lead in crunch time. That hasn’t stopped Orlando from coming back and winning each game down the stretch. This time around, the Magic didn’t need a 16-0 run or a 17-0 run like in the previous two games. All it took was a three-pointer from Anderson.

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

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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