Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 120

Jan 18

Keeping Dwight Howard around

AP Photo/John Raoux

Well, here we are. The Magic are winning, and there is no end in sight to the Dwight Howard saga. In some ways, this was the least likely scenario, as it sure seemed as if Orlando’s roster and Dwight’s disposition would make this season like getting a root canal. Such was my prediction, anyway. And yet, the Magic have continued — in some ways, rediscovered — their proficiency as a regular season team, and that is going to raise the question.

Should they keep Dwight no matter what this season?

Let me say, first off, that I’m not wondering whether Dwight Howard should choose to stay. I’m wondering whether it makes any kind of decent sense to hold on to Dwight and use the team’s current success as their best argument for keeping him. I know it’s the route a lot of fans would like to see the team go, but so far, the Magic as constructed with Dwight Howard on the team do not seem to have a compelling enough argument to risk trying this approach.

Going forward, the team’s approach with Dwight is all about risk management. Any of the popular choices — trading Howard for young players and picks, trading Howard for Andrew Bynum, holding on to him through the season — carry some risk and some reward. And of those three options, I think holding onto Howard is still the highest risk/lowest reward proposition.

With a trade for young players, the risk of a terrible team, which is high, is mitigated by the almost certain reward of stocking Orlando’s talent pool with players who will learn the game from Stan Van Gundy. With a player like Bynum, the medium risk of a bad team is offset by the reward of having gotten something back for your franchise-sized void while having the Lakers absorb a bad contract (Turkoglu). In the final scenario, the unknowable risk of Dwight’s leaving is offset, or not, by the potential reward of the team staying at its present level. Of course, the team’s present level, while enjoyable to watch on a nightly basis, is hardly worth risking having nothing to show for Howard’s departure.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 18

Stan Van Gundy: Lucky, brilliant, or both?

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

With injuries to both stars and role players plaguing the league, I wonder if Orlando is lucky to be close to full strength 13 games into the season. I mean everyone has injuries, right? So what gives? Is Orlando lucky, or are they well coached?

Stan Van Gundy, though working with a less-than-lethal roster, is doing some clever coaching this season. We know all about Van Gundy’s defensive schemes, his offensive genius, and his ability to inspire — but another layer of the Van Gundy onion is seen in his ability to manage minutes on this sub-standard roster.

In this season, more than others in recent history, minute distribution is of the utmost importance, because unless you are named Dwight Howard (or Superman or Captain America), you’ll be hard pressed to log 37-40 minutes per game in this bang-bang season and not pull a hammy (or get trench toe).

So it’s not so surprising that an astute veteran like SVG would make adjustments for the shortened season. In fact, the lowering of minutes is not uncommon league-wide. But what SVG is getting, and perhaps better than other coaches in the league thus far, is productivity and efficiency from unpredictable guys in the context of minute shaving.

Look at Ryan Anderson as a great example. Anderson’s minutes are up from his previous year (he’s close to 30 minutes per game as opposed to 22 or 23) as a starter. Guess what else went up for Anderson? His points, rebounds, and virtually every other stat.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 17

Recap: Orlando Magic 96, Charlotte Bobcats 89

AP Photo/John Raoux

BOX SCORE

The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Charlotte Bobcats by the score of 96-89, extending their winning streak to a season-high five games. Despite playing one of their worst games of the regular season, the Magic were able to get their act together in the late stages of the fourth quarter, pulling away from the Bobcats after being tied at 67 apiece entering the period. Orlando played with little energy and effort in the first three quarters, which made for some unsightly basketball at times but with Charlotte being a bad team, it didn’t matter. The Magic made enough plays in the final period and got the win. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard put up a game-high 25 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, and four blocks. Jameer Nelson finished with 17 points and four assists. Hedo Turkoglu chipped in with 15 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Ryan Anderson had 13 points and three steals. Von Wafer came off the bench and gave the Magic a lift, finishing with 13 points. Let’s get right to business because, to be honest, describing the first 42 minutes of the game would be insulting. After sleepwalking for most of the night, Orlando put together a five minute stretch (from the 5:37 mark in the fourth quarter up until there were 42 seconds left in regulation) that won them the ballgame.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 17

Reaction: Orlando Magic 96, Charlotte Bobcats 89

AP Photo/John Raoux


Orlando Magic 96 Final
Recap | Box Score
89 Charlotte Bobcats

Dwight Howard
11-18 FG | 3-8 FT | 4 BLK | 17 REB | 25 PTS | +21

After receiving one technical foul in the first 11 games, Howard has racked up two in as many games, earning one in tonight’s game. That trend needs to stop. Aside from that, Howard didn’t have too many troubles when matched up against Byron Mullens at center. Bismack Biyombo made things interesting, though, making Howard earn his points by being active defensively.

Hedo Turkoglu
5-8 FG | 2-5 3P | 3 AST | 5 REB | 15 PTS | +11

Turkoglu dealt with foul trouble in the first half and also earned a technical foul, like Howard, after disagreeing with his third foul in the second quarter. Despite a lack of playing time and facing off against one of the better perimeter defenders in the NBA (Gerald Henderson), Turkoglu made his impact felt in the fourth quarter once again for the Magic.

Von Wafer
5-8 FG | 1-2 3P | 1 AST | 3 REB | 13 PTS | +9

With Redick struggling to get anything going offensively, Wafer stepped up for Orlando and was able to score 13 points on eight shots. As such, Van Gundy chose to roll with Wafer during crunch time in the fourth quarter. But before Magic fans get crazy, just remember that Wafer scored four quick points in the second quarter as he was defended by Matt Carroll.

Jameer Nelson
5-8 FG | 6-7 FT | 4 AST | 2 REB | 17 PTS | +10

Nelson’s box score is deceiving because six of his points came near the end of regulation as the Bobcats were fouling to try to extend the game. In reality, when the game was still being decided, Nelson had 11 points. That said, Van Gundy went with the 1/5 pick-and-roll with Nelson and Howard in crunch time and the move paid off for the Magic.

Charlotte Bobcats

Only Henderson made much of an impact, getting Turkoglu in foul trouble in the first and second quarters, then making shots in the latter stages of the fourth quarter for the Bobcats. Among Charlotte’s reserves, Biyombo stood out with a stellar performance — 10 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks in roughly 21 minutes of playing time. Biyombo is an impressive rookie.

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

Jan 17

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Hey, Magic fans, you might want to show up at the Amway Center tonight just to say a potential goodbye to the Big Fella. Chances are he’s not going to be around much longer. When they announce his name, give him a standing ovation. Show him how much he is appreciated for what he has done. Thank him for loading a small-market team and a devoted town onto his broad shoulders and uplifting them and making them feel good about themselves and showing them that love and loyalty really do mean something in today’s self-indulgent sports world. I wish I were talking about Dwight Howard, but I’m not. I’m talking about Tim Duncan, who will be in town tonight with his San Antonio Spurs — a non-glitzy, unglamorous team he elevated into a champion. He is what Magic fans always hoped Dwight would be — the rock-solid foundation of a franchise and the enduring cornerstone of a community. That’s apparently not going to happen now. You know the story. Dwight told the Magic long ago he wants outta here. Wants a bigger market, a more glamorous lifestyle. Wants to make movies and records and reality TV shows.”
  • General manager Otis Smith has not been informed by Dwight Howard about his interest in the Los Angeles Clippers.
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Dwight Howard trade-me saga is playing out exactly as expected. Another day, another report. This time, it’s Chris Sheridan, a former ESPN NBA writer who reported on his website that that Howard is adding the L.A. Clippers to his list of teams he’d agree to join, along with the Nets, Mavs and Lakers. Hours later, ESPN.com came back with a rebuttal, saying that there have been no “serious” discussions between the Magic and Clips. And so it goes.”
  • Will a player for the Orlando Magic compete in the Three-Point Shootout on NBA All-Star Weekend?
  • A look at Ryan Anderson’s career-high 30-point performance against the New York Knicks.
  • Teams should probably stop leaving Ryan Anderson open behind the three-point line.
  • Orlando is enjoying a relatively clean bill of health in the early stages of the regular season.
  • Howard has added the Clippers to his wish list.
  • The Magic used a zone to beat the Knicks in yesterday’s game.
  • With the trade rumors swirling, Howard is keeping his cool — for now.
  • Another recap of Orlando’s win against New York.
  • Royce Young of CBSSports.com: “Orlando might’ve picked up its best win of the season Monday in New York and the Magic did it behind Ryan Anderson’s scoring barrage. Anderson has emerged as a legit option for the Magic and with Dwight Howard inside, Anderson, a finesse power forward, can afford to play on the perimeter. It’s really a pretty perfect pairing, much in the way Rashard Lewis worked well playing alongside Howard. Anderson went for 30 against the Knicks and did it with seven 3-pointers.”
  • The Magic are handling the uncertainty surrounding Howard’s future about as good as they can.
  • Britt Robson of Sports Illustrated: “Neil Paine had an excellent post at Basketball Prospectus on Friday comparing stretch power forward Ryan Anderson’s season to those of the great outside shooter Peja Stojakovic in his prime. Even before he erupted for a career-high 30 points and went 7-of-13 from three-point range in Monday’s victory at New York, Anderson was improving the Magic offense by more than 17 points per 100 possessions when he was on the court compared to when he sat, according to Basketball Value. He is also spearheading the NBA’s most efficient offense and prolific long-range game, with Hedo Turkoglu likewise shooting better than 44 percent and J.J. Redick hitting 38.6 percent from beyond the arc.”
  • Is Howard putting forth a full effort defensively? John Hollinger of ESPN Insider isn’t so sure: “Orlando has historically been a top-five defensive team with just OK offensive output, but not this year: The Magic lead the NBA in offensive efficiency thus far. To an extent, roster moves have aided that push — Orlando began to play more offensively when it traded Rashard Lewis a year ago, and moving The Grenade Launcher into the starting lineup this year doubled down on that decision. The concern in Orlando, however, is that its previous success was built mostly on the defensive dominance of Dwight Howard, and he hasn’t been as impactful this season. He’s also been noticeably more reticent to contest shots when he has fouls, which may be a tactical decision. However, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect the other dots — at times he looks like a guy who is playing just hard enough to avoid being compared to Vince Carter. Howard is so good that he can get away with it most of the time, but the stat sheet shows he’s not impacting the game defensively as he did a year ago.”
  • Howard is sour on joining the New Jersey Nets.
  • Is it possible that Howard’s trade demand is affecting Orlando from an emotional standpoint?

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

Jan 17

Preview: Charlotte Bobcats at Orlando Magic

7:00 ET | Fox Sports Florida
3-11 @ 9-3
Pythagorean Record: 2-12 Pythagorean Record: 8-4
Pace: 93.0 (8th) Pace: 89.9 (23rd)
Offensive Rating: 97.4 (27th) Offensive Rating: 109.7 (1st)
Defensive Rating: 109.0 (29th) Defensive Rating: 103.8 (19th)
Amway Center | Magic lead season series 1-0

Jan 17

Hedo Turkoglu in crunch time

An emerging storyline this season for the Orlando Magic so far has been Hedo Turkoglu’s renaissance on offense. In 12 games, Turkoglu’s True Shooting percentage is 61.6 percent, which is a career-high. Likewise, Turkgolu’s usage rate is 20.4 percent, which is important to note because it means that he’s been more involved on offense for the Magic, which is a stark contrast from his disappearing act last season (his usage rate in 2011 was the lowest percentage he put up since his rookie year with the Sacramento Kings in 2001). With Turkoglu scoring with efficiency and becoming more of a threat with the basketball once again, he’s aided Orlando to an 9-3 start to the regular season.

In some of those wins, Turkoglu stepped up in crunch time during the fourth quarter, reminding Magic fans that he can still be “Mr. Fourth Quarter” like he was in 2008 and 2009. During the Magic’s four-game road trip, the Portland Trail Blazers Golden State Warriors, and New York Knicks got a stark reminder of Turkoglu’s effectiveness in the final period of games. And the beauty of it, from Orlando’s perspective, is that Turkoglu did damage both by scoring and passing. In essence, Turkoglu was being the go-to guy in fourth quarters by doing what he does best — being a playmaker and making sound basketball decisions on the court. This is the Turkoglu that the Magic need.

Against the Blazers on Wednesday, Turkoglu stepped up as a safety valve for Orlando with his scoring. To set the stage, the Magic led by as many as 23 points in the third quarter. However, Portland put together a spirited rally in the fourth quarter and were able to cut Orlando’s lead down to three. With the Magic trying to hang on for dear life, head coach Stan Van Gundy entrusted Turkoglu during crunch time to help the team weather the storm. Which means that Turkoglu will run Orlando’s best play in the playbook and that’s the 3/5 pick-and-roll. That’s the play that Van Gundy wants to use with the Magic up by three points and needing a bucket.

SLIDE 1, 2, 3:

On this possession, Turkoglu waits for Howard to set the screen. Turkoglu quickly surveys the manner in which Gerald Wallace is defending him. Turkoglu disregards Howard’s screen and chooses to go to his left. For whatever reason, Wallace is allowing Turkoglu to go to his left uninhibited. Turkoglu takes the opening and begins to dribble penetrate into the lane. At this point, Wallace is behind Turkoglu and LaMarcus Aldridge is cheating towards Howard, perhaps anticipating a lob pass attempt. That doesn’t happen. Instead, Turkoglu — with Aldridge not providing much resistance defensively — makes the layup off the dribble.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 17

Stan Van Gundy uses a zone defense

For head coach Stan Van Gundy, his defense-first philosophy is one of the main reasons that the Orlando Magic have won 52 games or more in four seasons under his watch. With Dwight Howard manning the middle, some of the Magic’s defensive tenets are as followed: limit shot opportunities at the rim, don’t foul as to prevent free-throw opportunities, and coerce as many jumpshots as possible. Also, rebounding the basketball and getting back in transition (thus sacrificing chances for offensive rebounds) are things that matter a great deal to Van Gundy. Rarely will you see Orlando try and go for steals, for example, because Van Gundy would rather rely on fundamentals on defense than gamble and be out of position.

Which is why witnessing Van Gundy rely on a zone defense to win a game for the Magic is plain shocking. It just doesn’t happen. Van Gundy doesn’t use a zone because he doesn’t want to nor does he need to. Given that Orlando has finished sixth or better in Defensive Rating since 2008 and has a three-time Defensive Player of the Year at his disposal, can you blame Van Gundy? Yet with the Magic ranked 18th in Defensive Rating entering their contest with the New York Knicks on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Van Gundy decided to go into his bag of tricks and use a rarely-used defensive scheme. With the Knicks attacking the rim, drawing fouls, and racking up points in the paint, Van Gundy went with a zone.

It’s not so much that Van Gundy utilized a zone. With Howard in foul trouble with five fouls and Orlando going neck-and-neck with New York in crunch time, it’s that Van Gundy threw the zone out there at the perfect time. It served as the Magic’s trump card and the Knicks had no answer for it.

And it wasn’t like Orlando’s zone defense was spectacular. New York just generally did a poor job of attacking it. There’s a lot of ways to attack a zone and strategies can vary, whether it’s high school, college, whatever, but some of the basic things that players are taught is to attack the middle and keep the ball moving.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 16

Recap: Orlando Magic 102, New York Knicks 93

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

BOX SCORE

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the New York Knicks by the score of 102-93, extending their winning streak to a season-high four games and sweeping a four-game road trip that started on the West Coast. In a rare matinee game, the Magic started off slow but battled back and forth with the Knicks for a majority of the day. However, in the fourth quarter, Orlando was able to turn on the jets and come away with a victory. The Magic were led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Ryan Anderson finished with a career-high 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the field (including 7-of-13 from three-point range) and seven rebounds. Anderson torched New York, surprisingly outplaying Amar’e Stoudemire in the process. J.J. Redick, filling in at the shooting guard position for an injured Jason Richardson, had 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. Hedo Turkoglu chipped in with 15 points and four assists, while Glen Davis came off the bench to put up 12 points and six rebounds. Carmelo Anthony led the way for the Knicks, finishing with a game-high 33 points (albeit on 27 shot attempts), eight rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Saddled with foul trouble up until the fourth quarter, Stoudemire had 10 points in roughly 22 minutes of playing time.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 16

Reaction: Orlando Magic 102, New York Knicks 93

AP Photo/Seth Wenig


Orlando Magic 102 Final
Recap | Box Score
93 New York Knicks

Dwight Howard
3-6 FG | 2-9 FT | 3 BLK | 10 REB | 8 PTS | +2

Howard has had better days. Tyson Chandler toed the line with his post defense, utilizing tactics that generally aren’t allowed (outstretching his arms and using both hands to push Howard from behind) but getting the benefit of the doubt. Howard earned a technical foul after airing out his grievances to official J.T. Orr. All in all, Chandler deserves most of the credit for containing Howard.

Hedo Turkoglu
11-19 FG | 7-13 3P | 1 STL | 7 REB | 30 PTS | +15

With Howard kept in check offensively, Anderson stepped up to the occasion in the Mecca of basketball and put on a shooting clinic. Anderson made seven three-pointers, with most of his looks being generated from staggered pick-and-rolls or in catch-and-shoot situations. When the damage was done, Anderson found himself with a career-high 30 points and Knicks fans were left shaking their heads.

Hedo Turkoglu
5-9 FG | 4-7 3P | 4 AST | 2 REB | 15 PTS | 0

Seven fourth-quarter points for Turkoglu, including a banked-in three-point shot that gave the Magic an 87-85 lead, one that they’d never relinquish. Turkoglu’s other three-pointer in the period came when Orlando was trying to shut the door on the New York Knicks. It’s safe to say that Turkoglu has become Van Gundy’s go-to guy in fourth quarters once again. Turkoglu has earned that right.

J.J. Redick
8-12 FG | 3-6 FT | 1 AST | 3 REB | 21 PTS | +10

Redick got off to a quick start with 11 consecutive points at one point in the first quarter, giving the Magic a much-needed boost on offense when the team needed it. Redick was generally quiet the rest of the way until the fourth quarter, when he made back-to-back layups in transition and two free-throws after that to ice the game for Orlando.

New York Knicks

The Knicks are for real on defense. With Chandler anchoring the paint, a more engaged Carmelo Anthony, and lengthy wing players like Iman Shumpert, it’s easy to see the improvements defensively for New York. With Stoudemire in foul trouble until the fourth quarter, Anthony carried the load on offense. It worked out at first, but Anthony got cold in crunch time despite getting good looks.

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

Page 120 of 256« First...102030...118119120121122...130140150...Last »