Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 130

Jan 03

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Only a year and a half has passed since the Orlando Magic made a crucial decision about J.J. Redick. The team chose to retain Redick by matching the three-year, $19 million offer sheet Redick had signed from the Chicago Bulls as a restricted free agent. It’s tough to believe, but the Magic have another contract-related decision to make about Redick within the next six months. It was not disclosed at the time — the team does release details about player contracts — but the Magic essentially hold a team option for the final year of his deal, the 2012-13 season. In the highly unlikely event the Magic waive him before July 8, Redick would not be owed any of the roughly $6 million he is due for that season, and he would become an unrestricted free agent. […] Team options and player options are relatively common in the NBA, and it would seem that retaining Redick for 2012-13 would be a no-brainer unless he is traded before then.”
  • As the Orlando Magic try to retain Howard long-term and pair him with a star player, trade assets are emerging on the team’s roster.
  • Ryan Anderson is trying to focus more defensively.
  • Now is a perfect time for a Matrix reference in light of Anderson’s hot start this season.
  • Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus pens a thoughtful piece on player evaluation: “In a single game, for example, scouting should get more consideration than the other two factors. As Dean Oliver once aptly noted, ‘Individuals see a basketball game better than the numbers, but the numbers see all the games.’ The crucial takeaway is that none of the evaluation methods is sufficient on its own. Plus-minus statistics are often unreliable, individual statistics are incomplete and we can be fooled by what we see (or don’t see). We’ve long moved past the outdated notion that scouting and statistics are opposed to each other. Instead, at their best, they work together to help us form more robust evaluations that are more likely to prove correct.”
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk on the Magic’s loss last night: “This is a schedule makers win — Orlando was playing their fourth game in five nights and just looked tired. It was a slow, slow game (82 possessions) which added to the feeling of everything dragging.”
  • Britt Robson of Sports Illustrated: “After getting pasted by the Thunder on Christmas, the Magic rebounded with four straight wins before falling in Detroit on Monday. The system is the same: They are taking and making a ton of threes, while daring opponents to try to challenge Dwight Howard inside. While Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson and Glen Davis have struggled, Hedo Turkoglu is compensating for his porous defense with hot outside shooting, Ryan Anderson (19.2 points, NBA-high 22 three-pointers) is producing at power forward and J.J. Redick continues to improve. But the schedule has been pretty soft to this point, and tougher opponents are likely to expose Orlando’s utter lack of depth at center. Before fouling out late against the Pistons, Howard had been whistled for just 13 fouls in his first five games.”

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

Jan 03

Glen Davis and the post-up

Photo by Dan Lippitt/NBAE via Getty Images

For all the menacing things Glen Davis did while he was in Boston, he has not seemed to find his groove in Orlando yet.

I chose that word carefully: menacing. He was kind of a pest. Playing off Garnett and Perkins in the post during the Celtics’ prime, earning hustle points, banging on the boards, and kicking you while you’re down with that soft touch from about 15-18 feet.

But why was he so brutal? It was because as limited as he seemed, he had so many ways that he could beat you offensively. He had the pick-and-roll, the post-up, the spot-up, and ever-obnoxious offensive rebound.

That’s really what the Magic need out of Davis this year, but up until now they haven’t exactly seen it.

Let’s look at what we know about Davis. He’s a decent rebounder; good post defender, good scrap player, and can shoot the ball relatively well when he’s not out too far.

The problem right now for Davis is that he’s become an offensive threat in the past few seasons, but has failed to utilize it thus far in Orlando.

Synergy Sports Technology shows that roughly a quarter of his offensive production has come from the pick-and-pop. Well, he’s also rolled a few times (or aimlessly wandered to the paint, if you will). But by in large his weapon off the pick-and-roll is to pop and get a little fade jumper when the defense closes.

That percentage seemed low, so I took a look at his numbers from last year. To my surprise, Davis worked off the pick-and-roll for less than 17 percent of his offense in his final season in Boston. Over 20 percent of the time he was spotting up (no surprise there), but guess where another huge chunk of his offense came from? Posting up!

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Jan 03

Dealing with an organizational identity crisis

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Through the first six games of the season, the Magic have shown themselves to be a team of poles and contrasts. There have been stretches, like the comeback win over the Raptors or the second quarter in the loss against Detroit, when the Magic seem to have rediscovered the discipline, positional flexibility, and cunning that have been the hallmarks of their most successful recent teams.

At other times, though, the Magic have seemed content to allow games to be dictated to them stylistically, joylessly drifting from one contested twenty-footer to another. Watching the team struggle — both to win games and to forge an identity — it’s impossible not to notice the looming presence of fatigue.

You’re going to hear the “f” word a lot this season, which is a natural function of the compressed season and the media’s inability to use a thesaurus (see: Republican candidates’ “surges,” etc.). Of course, it’s not wrong to point out the effect that this marathon of a sprint of a season will have on players’ physically and emotionally. But in the case of the Magic, the fatigue imposed by the schedule is dwarfed by the fatigue that will come from playing through the Howard media maelstrom, as the franchise faces the risk of buckling under the tremendous weight of scrutiny they will face every night.

As other fan bases have found out all too recently, every win or loss is filtered through the context of the “will he or won’t he” game that will drive the season narrative. In a league like the NBA, where fans spend as much time cataloguing draft picks, trades and pipe dreams as they do box scores, that constant speculation has the potential to render the actual game results meaningless. The Magic are thus confronting fatigue on two different fronts, and their first games have shown how they might combat or succumb to it.

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Jan 02

Recap: Detroit Pistons 89, Orlando Magic 78

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

BOX SCORE

The Palace at Auburn Hills has been the house of horrors for the Orlando Magic in recent memory and tonight was no different. The Pistons defeated the Magic by the score of 89-78. With the victory, Detroit snapped Orlando’s four-game winning streak. The Pistons deserve all the credit in the world for coming away with the win but this is a case where a lockout-shortened schedule finally caught up to the Magic. Playing on their fourth game in five nights and also playing against a team that was rested, Orlando simply had little energy. Detroit was methodical on offense and relentless on defense. Ben Gordon led the way for the Pistons, finishing with a game-high 26 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field (8-of-9 from the free-throw line), six assists, and three rebounds. Rodney Stuckey didn’t shoot the basketball very well but he was aggressive in attacking the basket and he contributed with 14 points (10-of-13 from the free-throw line), four rebounds and two steals. Tayshaun Prince had 14 points and five rebounds, while Greg Monroe had 10 points and nine rebounds. Dwight Howard finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, and five steals. Ryan Anderson had 13 points and six rebounds, while Hedo Turkoglu also had 13 points.

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Jan 02

Reaction: Detroit Pistons 89, Orlando Magic 78

AP Photo/Paul Sancya


Detroit Pistons 89 Final
Recap | Box Score
78 Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
8-14 FG | 3-8 FT | 7 REB | 5 STL | 19 PTS | -9

Howard just didn’t have it against the Detroit Pistons. Oh, sure, he got his dunks and nailed some righty hooks but he never got into a rhythm offensively. Greg Monroe, Ben Wallace, and Jason Maxiell teamed up to frustrate the living daylights out of Howard on offense and used their physicality to get the job done. Howard fouling out was further proof that it wasn’t his night.

Ryan Anderson
5-10 FG | 1-5 3P | 0 AST | 6 REB | 13 PTS | -9

Yes, Anderson is human after all. Matched up against another stretch four in Jonas Jerebko, Anderson didn’t have any trouble scoring, though he didn’t put up 20 or more points as he had in four of the previous five games. But with Howard getting a lot of touches in the post, Anderson’s scoring opportunities were not as plentiful as they had been in previous games.

Hedo Turkoglu
4-7 FG | 4-6 3P | 2 AST | 2 REB | 13 PTS | -18

Turkoglu didn’t play a bad game necessarily. He forced the issue a bit, as exemplified by his team-high four turnovers, but he was efficient shooting the basketball, with all of his field goals coming behind the three-point line. It’s curious, though, that head coach Stan Van Gundy didn’t call for more pick-and-rolls with Turkoglu and Howard as the Orlando Magic stagnated offensively.

Jameer Nelson
1-5 FG | 0-2 3P | 5 AST | 0 REB | 4 PTS | -14

It’s inexcusable for Nelson to play roughly 31 minutes and only attempt five field goals. The Magic are not overflowing with scorers on the roster. Orlando needs Nelson to be a scorer more so than a playmaker. And defensively, Nelson struggled to prevent Rodney Stuckey from penetrating into the lane and drawing fouls. Nelson had a game to forget to put it simply.

Detroit Pistons

Many different players made an impact for the Pistons. Ben Gordon was blistering from mid-range, as he shot 6-of-10 from 16-23 feet. Stuckey, along with Gordon, was aggressive in attacking the rim and getting to the free-throw line. Plus, the big men rotation of Monroe, Wallace, and Maxiell were effective on defense in slowing down Howard. Detroit’s perimeter defense was great, too. A good team victory.

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

Jan 02

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Extremely talented, but extremely troubled center DeMarcus Cousins has told the Sacramento Kings that he wants to be traded. The team has washed their hands of him and will be looking for a suitor. All the Kings’ horses and all the Kings’ men can’t seem to put this situation back together again, to borrow from an old nursery rhyme. The Magic are not afraid to take on difficult players — see Gilbert Arenas — and Cousins has the type of talent that might make Dwight Howard think twice about his own trade request. Cousins makes about $4 million a year, and the Magic could dangle power forward Ryan Anderson and some cash to grab Cousins. Anderson leads the league in 3-pointers made, with 21, and fits perfectly with what the Magic do. And it just so happens that Anderson is from the Sacramento area, too. But while Anderson is a terrific guy and teammate, the immature Cousins is a coach-killer and a chemistry-wrecker.”
  • The Orlando Magic are attacking the rim more often this season.
  • Jason Richardson got blocked by the rim last night.
  • Sean Highkin of Hardwood Paroxysm: “Dwight Howard has been on an absolute tear this season, and there’s not much to indicate he won’t continue against [the Detroit Pistons], whose sole win on the year has come against the lowly Nets.”
  • Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “After his usual Christmas dud, Dwight Howard became the first player since Dennis Rodman in 1997 with back-to-back games with at least 24 boards. No signs yet, then, of DH12 checking out to try to force Orlando to trade him. Yet.”
  • The Magic looked like the 2009 team against the Toronto Raptors.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “The pattern follows — they lost to OKC opening day because they have someone who can single cover Dwight Howard in the post. They consistently beat lesser teams that can’t do that. They are a good offensive squad.”
  • Abe Schwadron of SLAM ONLINE recaps Orlando’s victory yesterday: “After trailing for most of the game by double digits, the Magic mounted a fourth quarter comeback, keyed by a 16-0 run and five three-pointers in the period, to come all the way back against the Raptors. Ryan Andersen, who is tops in the League in three-point attempts and makes, led Orlando with 24 points (his fourth 20+ point performance in the first five games of the season), while Dwight Howard went for 19 points, 15 boards and 3 blocks and JJ Redick added 21 off the bench. Andrea Bargnani led all scorers with 28 points on 10-21 shooting (and the only half-decent highlight from this game), and Jose Calderon had a nice game with 18 points and 13 assists, including the 3,000th dime of his seven-year NBA career. Calderon played 36 minutes with Jerryd Bayless nursing a sprained ankle. The Magic improved to 4-1 despite shooting a measly 67 percent from the free throw line.”
  • Should there be an Offensive Player of the Year award?
  • Ryan Anderson is channeling his inner-Antoine Walker.

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

Jan 02

Preview: Orlando Magic at Detroit Pistons

7:30 ET | Sun Sports
4-1 @ 1-3
Pythagorean Record: 4-1 Pythagorean Record: 1-3
Pace: 89.6 (26th) Pace: 87.4 (30th)
Offensive Rating: 109.2 (4th) Offensive Rating: 99.9 (20th)
Defensive Rating: 99.4 (11th) Defensive Rating: 108.7 (26th)
The Palace at Auburn Hills | First meeting this season

Jan 02

Stan Van Gundy’s tactical genius on display

If there’s one thing that’ll never change for the Orlando Magic under head coach Stan Van Gundy, regardless of the talent on the floor, it’s the coaching. Van Gundy is one of the best coaches in the NBA for many reasons, but one of them is his ability to draw up the perfect play coming out of a timeout. Perhaps Van Gundy’s most infamous play that he drew up came in the 2009 NBA Finals when he was able to create an alley-oop layup opportunity for Courtney Lee out of thin air. Lee missed the layup, yes, but it exemplified Van Gundy’s coaching genius. On Sunday, the Toronto Raptors saw that genius firsthand.

As the Magic propelled themselves to the lead in the fourth quarter thanks to a 20-2 scoring run after trailing by 11 points to begin the period, certain plays were ran to perfection that aided in the surge. One of them is a play called out of a timeout after Orlando began to chip away at their deficit. The score was 89-83 in favor of the Raptors with a little less than six minutes remaining in the game and with Hedo Turkoglu leading the comeback charge, Van Gundy wisely put the basketball in his hands and let him be a playmaker.

SLIDE 1:

What’s fascinating about this particular play is that it’s an amalgamation of certain elements in the Magic’s offensive playbook. Orlando initially sets themselves up in a Horns set, with Turkoglu and Dwight Howard standing at the elbows of the free-throw line. Orlando runs a myriad of play variations in the Horns set. This variation is unique because instead of Ryan Anderson standing at the elbow adjacent to Howard, it’s Turkoglu. And instead of Anderson handing off the ball to a wing player on his half of the court, thus initiating the action on the play, it’s Turkoglu that’s going to run a 3/5 pick-and-roll with Howard.

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Jan 01

Recap: Orlando Magic 102, Toronto Raptors 96

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

BOX SCORE

Playing on New Years Day and ringing in 2012, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Toronto Raptors by the score of 102-96, extending their current winning streak to four games. The Magic played with very little energy for most of the game and trailed by 11 points entering the fourth quarter but they hung in there, grinded it out, and were able to come away with a victory. This is the type of game the 2009 roster would win. Speaking of 2009, Hedo Turkoglu turned back the clock once again, leading the comeback charge for Orlando in the final period and finishing with 15 points (10 in the fourth quarter) and seven assists. It was a stellar outing for Turkoglu and the type of stuff that Magic fans saw with regularity when he guided head coach Stan Van Gundy’s offense in 2008 and 2009. Ryan Anderson finished with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field (5-of-8 from three-point range) and five rebounds. J.J. Redick was brilliant coming off the bench, contributing with 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field (3-of-5 from three-point range), three rebounds, and three assists. Dwight Howard did his usual grunt work with 19 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks.

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Jan 01

Reaction: Orlando Magic 102, Toronto Raptors 96

AP Photo/Reinhold Matay


Orlando Magic 102 Final
Recap | Box Score
96 Toronto Raptors

Dwight Howard
7-11 FG | 5-9 FT | 15 REB | 3 BLK | 19 PTS | +5

Howard has yet to have a dominant game on offense this season but that’ll come in due time. Van Gundy’s decision to employ Howard in pick-and-rolls in the fourth quarter was a game-changer, as it forced the Toronto Raptors to scramble around to account for the big fella while also covering the Orlando Magic’s shooters on the perimeter. That’s what Howard’s presence allows.

Ryan Anderson
9-16 FG | 5-8 3P | 2 AST | 5 REB | 24 PTS | +16

Anderson will look at the stat-sheet and be happy that he produced yet again in a victory for the Magic. But on the flipside, Andrea Bargnani scored 28 points, with most of that coming against Anderson. When Van Gundy says that Anderson can do more aside from scoring, that’s what he means. Anderson did do a better job of containing Bargnani in the fourth quarter though.

J.J. Redick
6-10 FG | 3-5 3P | 3 AST | 3 REB | 21 PTS | +26

Single game plus/minus numbers don’t always depict an accurate picture because of their inherent noisiness. That being said, Redick was a game-high +26 and that number couldn’t have been more accurate. For nearly every minute that he was on the floor, something good was happening for Orlando. That’s the beauty of having a high IQ player on the roster.

Hedo Turkoglu
6-14 FG | 2-5 3P | 7 AST | 2 REB | 15 PTS | +8

It’s still early but Magic fans may need to start dusting off the “Mr. Fourth Quarter” nickname and start using it again. Turkoglu’s fallaway three-pointer, after trying to draw a foul on DeMar DeRozan, was one of the highlights of the game as it gave Orlando a 91-89 lead, which they never relinquished. You can see Turkoglu is playing with confidence right now.

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors should be given credit for playing a well-executed game, thanks to head coach Dwane Casey. One of the keys to Toronto’s loss? Free-throws. The Raptors shot 14-of-14 from the free-throw line in the third quarter to pad a double-digit lead. Toronto only shot four free-throws in the fourth quarter. When the Magic’s defense tightened up, that was all she wrote.

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

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