Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 130

Apr 24

Preview: Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks, Game 4

7:00 EDT | TNT
52-30 @ 44-38
Pythagorean Record: 56-26 Pythagorean Record: 39-43
Pace: 91.4 (17th) Pace: 89.3 (27th)
Offensive Rating: 107.7 (14th) Offensive Rating: 106.1 (20th)
Defensive Rating: 101.8 (3rd) Defensive Rating: 107.0 (13th)
Philips Arena | Hawks lead series 2-1

Apr 24

Sneak Preview: Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks, Game 4

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “[Orlando] Magic GM Otis Smith will take applications for the backup center position behind Dwight Howard for 2011-12. Can a kid who logged zero minutes and seldom practiced with the team win the job? Is Daniel Orton that guy? ‘I believe I am,’ Orton told me. ‘I believe I am for so many reasons, but I’d rather not say because it would only raise expectations higher. I’m not a sayer. I’m a doer.’ As the Magic’s first-round pick out of Kentucky, Orton, 20, couldn’t do anything this season as a rookie but watch. He didn’t get on the floor after battling a lingering left knee injuries, which eventually required surgery in late December. He partially tore the ACL as a junior in high school, and tore his meniscus as a senior, undergoing more surgery. He underwent arthroscopic surgery after playing his second game of a D-League stint with the New Mexico Thunderbirds. Physically, Orton says his knee is sound, but he won’t go full bore until sometime this summer.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Maybe familiarity really does breed contempt, because the first-round playoff series between the Orlando Magic and the Atlanta Hawks is becoming downright chippy. On a day the NBA handed down one-game suspensions to Orlando’s Jason Richardson and Atlanta’s Zaza Pachulia for fighting each other, both teams escalated their posturing for officials and had increasingly harsh words for each other. Stan Van Gundy complained that Hawks centers Jason Collins and Zaza Pachulia hit superstar Dwight Howard at every opportunity but flop to the court whenever they face minimal contact. Meanwhile, Collins and Pachulia said that Howard dishes out at least as much punishment as he receives. And the Magic stewed that Richardson received the same punishment as Pachulia.”
  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: ” This could be your big chance, Gilbert Arenas. Tonight’s the night. Don’t blow it. Starting shooting guard Jason Richardson has been suspended from tonight’s crucial Game 4 of the Magic’s playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks. This could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for, Gilbert, to get back into the rotation and earn that $18 million salary Magic fans believe is the biggest waste of money since frozen coffee drinks. {…] If ever there was a time for Agent Zero to become a Magic hero, this is it. Call me Mr. Melodrama if you want, but there isn’t just one game riding on tonight’s outcome; the season is riding on it. The future of the franchise could be riding on it. This is as close to must-win as you can without actually being mathematically eliminated from a series completely. Let’s face it, does anybody really think the Magic can afford to go down 3-1 to the Hawks – a talented and athletic team that has beaten the Magic 5-of-7 times this season? If the Magic lose tonight, the chances of them winning this series are about the same as the chances of Van Gundy being invited to be on ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ This could be Gilbert’s grand opportunity to not only save the Magic’s season but to save good friend and Magic GM Otis Smith’s reputation – and perhaps even his job.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick flashed the bright, red wound on the inside of his left arm, offered to show the matching strawberry abrasion on his hip and admitted on Saturday that there are still times when he feels a stabbing pain from an abdominal strain injury. But with his Magic shorthanded because of a suspension, rattled somewhat by a shooting slump and peering out of a 2-1 playoff hole courtesy of the Atlanta Hawks, Redick knows that now is no time for pity. He said his team should be feeling the urgency to deliver its finest performance come Sunday’s Game 4 at Philips Arena in Atlanta. A Magic squad that’s struggled to score in the regular season and playoffs against the Hawks will be playing Sunday night without shooting guard Jason Richardson, Orlando’s second-leading scorer this season. He was suspended a game for Friday’s fourth-quarter fight with Atlanta center Zaza Pachulia. Richardson said the Magic clearly got the worst of that swap.”
  • Steve Hummer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The Magic center, by way of tiny Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, stands as the single largest — 6-foot-11, 265 pounds to be exact — obstacle between the Hawks and Round 2 of these NBA playoffs. Against the Hawks, Howard has been a transcendent force, playing all but five of 144 minutes of the first three games, despite a rotation of Hawks big men hanging from him like anchor chains. His scoring has dropped with each game (46 to 33 to 21), yet within this star-laden postseason, he entered Saturday ranked first in scoring (33.3 per game), rebounding (17.7 per game) and minutes per game (46). Orlando so needs him on the floor that his coach, Stan Van Gundy said, ‘It’s very hard to even let him get a drink of water.’ He is a soloist, the Yo-Yo Ma of post play, while Orlando aches to hear from the rest of the orchestra. Game 4 of the best-of-seven series looms Sunday at Philips — the Hawks up 2-1 and the stage set for further friction. Hawks center Zaza Pachulia came out of Game 3 on Friday looking as if he had spent the evening locked in a cage with an angry wolverine, scratches covering one arm. Howard has banked two postseason technical fouls already, both of them involving Pachulia. He flung the Hawks’ backup big man to the court in Game 1, and on Friday flailed at Pachulia after a hard foul, catching him across the neck.”
  • Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Losing Zaza Pachulia hurts the Hawks. Losing Jason Richardson hurts the Magic more. It’s pretty simple why. Zaza is a sub splitting minutes at center, where the Hawks have other choices: Jason Collins is the starter in this lineup, and Al Horford has had some success at the position, having twice made the All-Star team. Richardson is a starter and was, at least during the regular season, the second-leading scorer on a team starving for options beyond Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson. Howard has averaged 33.3 points in this series, up nearly 10 over his regular-season yield. Of Orlando’s 92 baskets, he has 33. Nelson has 19. That means 56.5 percent of the Magic’s offense is coming from two players. That’s why the Hawks lead 2-1. The rest of the Magic men have been, in a word, lousy.”

Apr 23

Second Look: Atlanta Hawks 88, Orlando Magic 84

P(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic can point to a fortunate 3-point heave by Jamal Crawford as the reason why they lost Game 3 of their playoff series to the Atlanta Hawks 88-84. But as Crawford triumphantly hopped up and down the Philips Arena court, game-in-hand with 5.7 seconds remaining, the Magic only had themselves — and not bad luck — to blame. Jason Richardson lost his cool late. Hedo Turkoglu lost his shooting stroke. For one half, the Magic lost their intensity on the defensive end of the court. And now the team trails the best-of-seven series two games to one. The Magic may confront an additional obstacle when Game 4 arrives Sunday. Richardson could be serving a league-imposed suspension for fighting with Atlanta’s Zaza Pachulia late in Game 3′s fourth quarter. With Atlanta ahead 81-80 with 2:22 remaining, Pachulia fouled [Dwight] Howard hard as Howard shot the ball in the lane. As Howard landed, his right forearm careened into the left side of Pachulia’s face just as Pachulia flung an arm at Howard. Richardson raced into the picture, and as he and Pachulia jawed at each other, Pachulia delivered two or three head butts to Richardson’s forehead. Richardson responded by delivering a slap to Pachulia’s face. Both Richardson and Pachulia were ejected for fighting, and Howard received a technical foul.”

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic are spending money like the New York Yankees, but after yet another loss to the Atlanta Hawks Friday you wonder if they aren’t cooking their books like the New York Mets. Nearly $20 million for Gilbert Arenas, who didn’t even play in Friday night’s 88-84 defeat? Another $10 million for Hedo Turkoglu, who made a triumphant return to Orlando earlier this season but forgot to bring his shooting touch and basketball sense with him? This has to be some sort of Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, doesn’t it? Somebody please call the Securities and Exchange Commission. Rich DeVos has to be robbing Peter to pay Gilbert, right? The reason we bring this up is because of a recent study conducted by ESPN the Magazine that found the Magic have the fifth-highest salary structure in sports. Let me repeat that: The Magic have the fifth-highest salary structure not in the basketball world but in the entire world. The Magic pay their players an average of $6,367,114 per year, a number only exceeded by Real Madrid and Barcelona of Spain’s premier soccer league, the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Lakers. Hey, you think it’s cheap to build the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference?”

  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Of all the ways to get floored Friday night in Game 3, the Orlando Magic couldn’t have ever seen a knockout punch quite like this coming. Jamal Crawford’s questionable shot selection was rewarded when his desperation 3-point shot banked off the glass and gave the Atlanta Hawks an 88-84 defeat of the Magic in Friday’s Game 3 at Philips Arena. Down as many as 14 points in the first half, the Magic came all the way back and took an 84-83 lead with 1 minute to play on Brandon Bass’ clutch jumper from the free throw line. But the Hawks scored the final two baskets of the game – a 15-footer from Al Horford with 46 seconds to play and Crawford’s miracle bank shot from 26 feet out to seal the game. The defeat dropped the Magic into a 2-1 hole in the best-of-seven first-round playoff series. Game 4 is Sunday night in Atlanta, and superstar center Dwight Howard vowed afterward that he still has supreme confidence that his Magic can win the series.”

  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “The Hawks built a 14-point lead in the second period, mostly with Howard on the bench, and the Magic never really recovered. An outstanding defensive third period bought them to within four points, and a top-of-the-circle jumper from Brandon Bass gave them a one-point lead with a minute remaining. On Atlanta’s next possession, the Hawks leveraged the Magic’s defense against itself. Stationing Al Horford on the weak side, the Hawks fed Johnson the ball in the right short-corner, anticipating the help-defense attention he’d draw. The ball swung to Horford just inside the arc, and he drilled the shot–with no Orlando player anywhere near him, due to the over-rotating–to give Atlanta the lead for good. With 46 seconds remaining, the Magic had possession, trailed by one, and had a decent chance to get a good shot up in a two-for-one situation. They failed to execute. Hedo Turkoglu ran a high screen-and-roll with Dwight Howard, the Magic’s go-to play when they absolutely need to score. Turkoglu drove to his right toward the baseline, tiptoed along it, and continued dribbling toward the corner; he completely missed Howard, who dove to the rim and could have had a dunk.”

  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Crawford’s leaning, challenged shot with 5.7 seconds left provided an unlikely ending to Atlanta’s 88-84 victory over the Magic on Friday at Philips Arena. The Hawks lead the best-of-seven series 2-1 with Game 4 on Sunday at home. The Hawks survived to win an intense, physical contest that featured late ejections for Hawks center Zaza Pachulia and Magic guard Jason Richardson. They’ve now won five of seven games against the Magic including the regular season. The lower-seeded Hawks took home-court advantage in the series by winning one of two games in Orlando and kept it with a victory in front of a rowdy, sellout home crowd.”

  • Bret LaGree of Hoopinion: “The Atlanta Hawks are only playing consistently well on one end of the floor (and then only when fielding a five-man unit capable of executing the sound defensive game plan) but, even that limited, consistent success marks them superior to an Orlando Magic team that, Dwight Howard (and for one half of six, Jameer Nelson) excepted, has struggled to score and been just susceptible enough to dribble penetration from Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson that the Atlanta guards have created enough good shots to augment their abilities to make difficult shots and to overcome their own team’s (self-inflicted) defensive lapses. You don’t have to play well to win a playoff series if you make (and let) the other team play worse.”

Apr 23

Recap: Atlanta Hawks 88, Orlando Magic 84

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

BOX SCORE

In a crucial Game 3, which can decide a series (the winner goes on to win the series 82.2 percent of the time), the Atlanta Hawks were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 88-84 to take a 2-1 series lead in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. The game, and possibly the series, came down to two possessions for the Magic and Hawks that has defined their matchup since the start of the season. With 46.6 seconds left in regulation, Orlando was down a point and needed a basket to take the lead. The play that head coach Stan Van Gundy chose to run was a 3/5 pick and roll with Hedo Turkoglu and Dwight Howard at the top of the key — same play that sealed their Game 2 victory. This time, Atlanta defended it well. Turkoglu penetrated into the lane but didn’t have a clear look at the rim or an angle to pass it to Howard, so he passed it to Brandon Bass but he wasn’t open by any means. So Bass gave the basketball back to Turkoglu. With Al Horford defending him, Turkoglu was in the corner and after a few seconds trying to create space to put up a shot, he took a three-pointer that was contested and missed. Given that there was still time for the Magic to get a better look, it’s ironic that Turkoglu decided to take the difficult route in that scenario. Since returning to Orlando, there have been too many times in which Turkoglu passes up an easy shot in favor of a more difficult one and the same thing happened in that late-game sequence. Well, the Hawks retrieved the rebound and all the Magic needed to do was to get a stop on the ensuing possession for another crack at winning the game. However, with the ball in his hands and the shot clock winding down, Jamal Crawford was matched up against Jameer Nelson. Crawford tried to break Nelson down off the dribble as he always tries to do against his defenders, but no dice. As such, Crawford was forced to put up a contested shot like Turkoglu. However, the difference is that Crawford has a height advantage on Nelson. Even though Nelson closes out on the shot and puts his hands up, Crawford is able to elevate higher. And with luck on Atlanta’s side for most of the series, Crawford banks in the three-pointer that pushes the lead to four points with 5.7 seconds left and ends the game.

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Apr 22

Preview: Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks, Game 3

8:00 EDT | ESPN2
52-30 @ 44-38
Pythagorean Record: 56-26 Pythagorean Record: 39-43
Pace: 91.4 (17th) Pace: 89.3 (27th)
Offensive Rating: 107.7 (14th) Offensive Rating: 106.1 (20th)
Defensive Rating: 101.8 (3rd) Defensive Rating: 107.0 (13th)
Philips Arena | Series tied 1-1

Apr 22

Marvel Comics and New Era fitted cap for the Orlando Magic

Via DKC:

Ever wonder what it’d be like if Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic paired up with the likes of Captain America, Wolverine and the Incredible Hulk to dominate the hardwood? Now, with the Magic locked in a tough series with the Hawks, you can do just that.

New Era, in affiliation with Marvel comics, is set to release brand news caps to commemorate six NBA playoff teams. Orlando’s hat has the iconic Magic logo with the comic book characters on the brim. These caps are available for purchase at New Era flagship stores, national and regional sporting goods retailers, specialty stores, additional NBA arena stores, mid-tier channels sports apparel departments, and online at www.neweracap.com.

Apr 22

Dwight Howard lacking hype and a rival

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

If there is one thing we know about Stan Van Gundy, it’s that he’s a pretty quiet guy, reticent to speak his mind to the media, and wholly above speaking publicly in any way that might ruffle fans’ or players’ feathers. That’s why we can be certain that earlier this week, when he made the following comments, Stan had no sort of ulterior motive or objective in mind:

“There’s no matchup for [Dwight Howard] that creates the excitement,” Van Gundy said. “If you got back to when the centers were king, you have Chamberlain-Russell and people say ‘Wow, that’s a match-up you look forward to.’ Now people look forward to Chris Paul against Derrick Rose.”

What Stan was saying, subtext aside, is that the lack of a nemesis is keeping Dwight Howard’s hype factor down. Well, is he right? There are a couple of different ways to approach this. First, let’s look at a crude measure of the league marquee, the 2011 All-Star rosters. Yao Ming aside, there are only three players who were listed either as centers or forward/centers. One of them was Kevin Love. Another was Al Horford. The third was Pau Gasol, who could be seen as a bona fide A-list big man, but I’m not sure that most people think of his battles in the same way they do LeBron/Kobe or Rose/Paul. The other big man on the list who might qualify is Kevin Garnett, and the popular narrative about the Celtics has been that Kendrick Perkins did the heavy lifting when it came to guarding D12. So, on the face of it, taking as limited a sample as I guess you could, it seems like Stan is right: there are currently no direct match-ups for Dwight that seem worthy of the hype that wing or point guard matchups might garner.

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Apr 22

Sneak Preview: Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks, Game 3

AP Photo/John Raoux

  • George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Heart and Hustle is back [Orlando] Magic fans! In case you didn’t get the memo, two exciting plays from Orlando’s playoff victory Tuesday night provide documentation that there’s been a resurrection: J.J. Redick wrestling the ball away from Kirk Hinrich, and, while still on the floor zipping a pass to Jameer Nelson for a breakaway layup. And then, Nelson tugging with Hinrich for possession of the ball, setting up a Hedo Turkoglu layup. [...] Alrighty then, let’s celebrate. Or maybe just ponder a different perspective. Professional basketball players should do the heart and the hustle on every play. They are paid very handsomely to do these things, and many times, all it requires is a little extra effort. Unfortunately, sometimes the egos and the commercial endorsements get in the way, but an occasional floor burn is part of the collateral damage for playing at an elite level. But to a greater point, I’m wondering when the Magic officially transformed themselves into a underdog franchise, a bunch of scrappy guys overachieving, clawing and scratching for every victory?”
  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “Rich DeVos, the 85-year-old owner of the Orlando Magic, gave GM Otis Smith permission to spend as much as he wanted after the team reached the NBA Finals in 2009. Almost two years later, the Magic are now one of the highest-paying teams in all of sports, even out-spending flashy European soccer teams and high-profile Major League Baseball teams with no salary cap restrictions. The Magic pay their players an average of $6,367,114 per year, a number only exceeded by Real Madrid and Barcelona of Spain’s top soccer league, the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Lakers, according to a study by ESPN the Magazine.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “The Orlando Magic have spent the better part of the last eight months together, either practicing, playing or working out almost every day since the voluntary sessions began in September. But still, even to this day, the players and coaches are learning things about one another and the makeup of this team. There was no greater teaching moment than Tuesday’s Game 2 when the Magic started poorly, trailed by as many as 10 points, struggled to make shots and ever so briefly seemed to be staring at a 0-2 hole. But it’s the way they responded – with J.J. Redick and Jameer Nelson diving on the floor for loose balls, with Dwight Howard playing 48 minutes of dominant basketball, with Ryan Anderson giving up his body to take a charge and with Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson shrugging off poor games to make clutch plays late – that spoke volumes about the character of this Magic team. “
  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The Cavaliers dominated both games there while sweeping the Hawks in the second round in 2009. The Magic did the same last year, causing Hawks fans to boo the team and All-Star Joe Johnson, who further inflamed them by telling media the Hawks didn’t care if the fans showed up. Home attendance declined for the second consecutive season in 2010-11. There were more big crowds for marquee opponents, but a high percentage of spectators cheered for the visitors. It didn’t help that the Hawks suffered more blowout home losses than any winning team in NBA history, with three defeats by at least 30 points and three others by 20 or more. The Hawks’ home record slipped from 34-7 to 24-17 this season. Only the Knicks won fewer home games among playoff teams. Horford said some players were disappointed by the small and split crowds because they felt fan support didn’t match the team’s success.”
  • Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The Hawks’ home record during the regular season was 24-17. That ranked 16th in the NBA. Many want to blame the lack of success on poor fan support. The problem with that theory is that the only playoff team with a worse home record than Atlanta this season was the Knicks (23-18), who are one of the best-supported teams in the league. [...] But Drew knows: Empty seats or booing fans or too many folks in the crowd pulling for the other team are not legitimate reasons for losing. Teams lose because they lack talent, or interest, or focus.”

Apr 21

Blue & White Ignite: Magic host Official Playoff Watch Parties for Games 3 & 4 of first round

Via the Orlando Magic:

As Blue and White Ignite for the 2011 NBA Playoffs, the Magic are encouraging the entire Central Florida community to show their spirit and support the Magic at the Official Playoff Watch Parties for Games 3 & 4 of the First Round on Friday, April 22 and Sunday, April 24, respectively.

Official Playoff Watch Party for Game 3: On Friday, April 22, the Magic will host an Official Playoff Watch Party at Waterford Lakes (near Barnie’s) at 8:00 p.m.

Official Playoff Watch Party for Game 4: On Sunday, April 24, the Magic will host an Official Playoff Watch Party at Colonial TownPark in Lake Mary (near Liam Fitzpatrick’s and Dexter’s) at 7:00 p.m.

Highlights of the Official Playoff Watch Parties will include:

  • Large Outdoor Screen
  • Appearances by the Orlando Magic Dancers
  • Giveaways
  • Opportunity to win tickets to Game 5
  • Bring a chair to enjoy the game!

Apr 21

Dwight Howard’s gravitational pull on the court

Photo by Fernando Medina

Dwight Howard is the most valuable player for any team, and if you weren’t convinced in the regular season, take a look at his first two games of the postseason.

Dwight’s game has a gravitational pull to it. We have seen that throughout his career, but he is operating on a whole new level now.

The stats speak for themselves. Through two games, Dwight has posted 79 points and 38 rebounds. Since the merger of the ABA and NBA, he is only the fourth player to accomplish a 75/35 two-game span in the playoffs (the other players were Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). And only Elgin Baylor in 1961 amassed more points and rebounds in his first two playoff games than Dwight.

These dizzying comparisons only get compounded when you consider that this offensive output is coming from not just a “solid defensive player,” but the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Put differently, this means that a defensive specialist is doing an offensive specialist’s work. Sure, that’s what we expect from Dwight, but this is otherworldly.

That’s no surprise to Magic fans. It’s everyday conversation to talk about the way he enforces his will in the paint on both sides of the floor, but take a moment to soak in the excellence that we’re seeing from Dwight.

What we are witnessing is a man on a mission. Dwight is taking every element of his game, every characteristic that defines him, and magnifying it despite the underachieving “support” from the rest of the team.

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