- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Rich DeVos, 85, recently fell in his Grand Rapids, Mi. home. Despite breaking bones in his wrist and ankle, he is determined to get back on his feet so he can travel to Orlando and see his team start its playoff run later this month. Pat Williams, a few weeks short of his 71st birthday, is fighting an aggressive bone cancer called multiple myeloma. He is determined to fight this insidious thing. He calls his peril an ‘adventure.’ In other news, the Orlando Magic lost to the Toronto Raptors, one of the worst teams in the NBA, Sunday night. It’s easy enough to connect the dots. The two veterans in this organization — the man who owns the club and the guy who brought pro basketball to Central Florida — are hanging tough, swinging back with all the strength they can muster. The young guys in the organization made like puppies wanting to get their belly scratched against the Raptors. And here we thought dinosaurs were extinct and could do no harm. Leadership comes in many shapes, sizes and demographic groups. Perhaps the Magic should downplay this “fear the beard” deal and go old-school to find their playoff mojo. Dedicate your playoff run to the AARP guys. Win it for DeVos. Win it for Williams. You won’t find a better inspirational push than the tag-team of DeVos and Williams. They are beat up, but still determined to be there at crunch time. Can the younger generation say the same thing?”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “As hard as it is for him to do, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy needs to treat the last five games like the preseason. The Magic have to gear up, mentally and physically, for the playoffs. I think his players, Dwight Howard included, have told him as much. The Magic are hurt and they need rest, and frankly, these games won’t make a difference, given they are stuck at No. 4 in the East.”
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy is frustrated.
- After the Orlando Magic lost to the Toronto Raptors last night, Van Gundy declared “we didn’t care.”
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “How the heck do the Toronto Raptors grab 15 offensive rebounds — they got a second chance on nearly 40 percent of their missed shots — against Dwight Howard? This was a terrible display by Orlando. Credit the Raptor trio of Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, and Leandro Barbosa for shredding Orlando’s defense to the tune of 61 combined points.”
- The Magic are on a crash course towards playing the Atlanta Hawks in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
- Nada Taha of SLAM ONLINE: “Standing on the sidelines, I was amazed. This guy just came home from a west coast road trip and put up 31 points and 22 rebounds the night before in Milwaukee. There he was, playing a round of “Knock Out” with a group of kids who he and adidas just outfitted in new sneaks and gear. He joked around with them, gave them high fives and then stayed an extra hour after the event to sign autographs. This, I thought, is what makes Dwight, Dwight.”
- Dwight Howard with another Van Gundy impersonation.
- Zach Lowe of The Point Forward: “Back to that simple explanation: Howard is an elite offensive player. Fine. So is every MVP candidate. But none of the realistic candidates do what he does on defense. Only James is in the same league, but even his blur of arms and speed and strength doesn’t approach Howard’s level of total dominance on that end. The Magic have built an elite defense with only one player universally regarded as an above-average defender. Stan Van Gundy’s system has a lot to do with Orlando’s excellence, but that system — stay at home, let Howard disrupt pick-and-rolls, don’t gamble, seal the defensive glass — is based on Howard. The fact that the defense remains successful with Howard on the bench is a tribute to the team’s commitment to it and the ease with which a cohesive bench unit can defend other bench units. And if we’re going to take points away from Howard for his lack of clutch shot attempts, we should add some for the fact that he leads the league in clutch rebounds per minute and is near the top in blocks. Defense matters at the end of games, too. Also: If Rose gets credit for lifting an injury-riddled roster for parts of this season, then Howard should get some for keeping Orlando afloat despite a mid-December overhaul that completely disrupted the team’s rotation and handicapped its defense.”
Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images
Via the Orlando Magic:
Single game tickets for the first round of the 2011 Orlando Magic playoffs will go on sale to the general public Tuesday, April 5 at 10 a.m. Orlando’s playoff schedule will be announced following the conclusion of the regular season.
Tickets are available for purchase:
- Online at www.orlandomagic.com
- At the Amway Center box office (cash, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
- At all TicketMaster outlets (cash only)
- By calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
Playoff tickets start at $12.
Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images
Dwight Howard is in relentless pursuit of perfection. No matter how tired he is, no matter what the gravity of the game, he comes out to dominate.
The guy does all the little things, but quite frankly, the rest of the Orlando Magic do very little to reward him.
When I looked critically at Dwight’s game against Charlotte on Friday, it became clear why the man’s frustrations have led to technical fouls and him calling out his teammates.
In short, the technical fouls and team bashing stems from two things: the times when he does everything right and still gets whistled, and the times when he does everything right and his team drops the ball.
It was not until he took his 17th technical foul that I started asking questions about his character. Part of me wanted to make him a victim. After all, the guy gets beat up on every night, and quite honestly gets called for stupid fouls which, if you watch carefully, are occasionally mind boggling considering the torment that he goes through in the post during a game.
The other part of me thought that Dwight should be used to the beatings and the bad calls by now. So what gives? Is he a big baby? I surveyed closely.
The first thing I noticed was how Dwight got from one end of the court to the other. He fills lanes properly, adjusts his speed and times his runs, and never fails to flash to the ball in transition. This is crucial. You will see big men all over the league take transition plays off and leave to the high flyers to finish on the fast break. Dwight is meticulous, though, and when you make and time those runs so many times throughout the course of a game, it’s going to start to kill you when, instead of getting you the ball on the block, your squad misses a transition three and you have to turn around and get back on defense before you get set.
The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Charlotte Bobcats by the score of 89-77 to snap their two-game losing streak. This was, admittedly, a boring game to watch and it seemed the fans at the Amway Center agreed because there was absolutely no life in the building. Given that the Magic played the Bobcats in April, in a game that meant nothing, that’s no surprise. Orlando will be entering the 2011 NBA Playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, so at this point they’re just trying to stay healthy and develop momentum entering the postseason. The Magic were led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard was his usual dominant self, finishing with 26 points, 14 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. Jameer Nelson played relatively well, contributing with 15 points, six assists, and two steals. Quentin Richardson, returning from back spasms that didn’t allow him to participate in the last several games, came back and put up 14 points and five rebounds. Hedo Turkoglu and Brandon Bass finished with 12 points each. With Gilbert Arenas, Chris Duhon, and J.J. Redick sidelined with injuries, head coach Stan Van Gundy was forced to play with a seven-man rotation that featured odd lineups. Clearly Orlando would like to have rest heading into the playoffs but with injuries piled up, that doesn’t seem possible.
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic received some good news and bad news today at shootaround. The bad news is that Gilbert Arenas likely won’t play tonight because he’s sick. He woke up with the chills and a fever, and he felt so bad he couldn’t even drive himself to the doctor. There’s some good news, though. One, Arenas will miss tonight’s game because of sickness and not because of his knee — that’s, strangely, a good sign in itself. Two, Chris Duhon’s thumb injury may not be as serious as originally thought. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said Duhon’s MRI results came back negative and he could return before the end of the regular season. And three, Quentin Richardson will play tonight after missing the last three games with back spasms. But tonight the Magic will be without a true backup point guard, leaving Hedo Turkoglu to employ the 10-12 minutes when Jameer Nelson isn’t on the floor. “
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy is proud of his players.
- Gilbert Arenas is out for tonight’s game with the flu.
- Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com: “I think just about every Magic fan hopes the Chicago Bulls secure the No. 1 seed, which would then set up a likely Orlando-Chicago series in the second round. I talked briefly about this on a recent webcast here on OrlandoMagic.com, but to restate my thoughts I think the Bulls’ lack of postseason experience and the fact that compared to the Celtics and Heat, Chicago just simply don’t have as much talent are two primary reasons why it would be most beneficial for the Magic to clash with the Bulls. I recognize how extraordinary Derrick Rose has been this season and I think the signing of Carlos Boozer – in spite of him dealing with injuries throughout the year – was one of the more intelligent acquisitions this past summer. I also think Chicago’s front office made an astute decision to withstand temptations to trade Joakim Noah in a Carmelo Anthony proposed deal. But ultimately when you examine the rosters and analyze the assortment of facts, the Bulls don’t seem to have the makeup of a club that would advance far into the playoffs. They have a first year head coach, they lack supreme quality at the shooting guard position and they don’t have enough size to contend with Dwight Howard for an entire seven game series.”
- Royce Young of CBSSports.com notes that the Orlando Magic’s matchup with the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs is set in stone.
- Is there an upset winner for Defensive Player of the Year?
- Dennis Scott, a former Magic player, was a pretty terrible rapper.
Via the Orlando Magic:
- As of Mar. 31, Dwight Howard, the NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week an NBA-high six times this season, ranks in the NBA’s top 10 in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots and FG percentage. If he finishes the season the same way, he would become just the 10th player in NBA history to finish in the top 10 in each of those categories, joining the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Bob McAdoo, David Robinson, Bob Lanier, Artis Gilmore, Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon.
- On Mar. 1 vs. New York, Dwight Howard, at 25 years and 83 days old, became the youngest player in NBA history to amass 7,000 career rebounds. He passed Wilt Chamberlain, who was 26 years and 128 days old when he passed the 7,000 rebound plateau.
- On Mar. 13 @ Phoenix, Dwight Howard, at 25 years and 95 days old, became the fifth-youngest player in NBA history to reach 10,000 career points.
- Dwight Howard has now recorded at least 1,000 rebounds and 100 blocked shots in each of the last six seasons. Since blocked shots were officially tracked in 1973-74, only Moses Malone has done it more (seven seasons).
- On Nov. 18 vs. Phoenix, Orlando’s Dwight Howard played in his 500th career NBA regular season game. According to ESPN.com, Howard became one of only five players in NBA history since blocked shots became an official statistic in 1973-74 to record at least 6,000 rebounds and 1,000 blocked shots (6,310 rebounds/1,071 blocks) at his 500th career outing.
- Dwight Howard recorded a season-high eight blocked shots (Uincluding six in the third quarter, setting a new franchise record for blocks in a quarter) on Nov. 3 vs. Minnesota. That marks the fourth time since the start of the 2008-09 season that Howard has recorded eight-or-more blocked shots in a gameU, including his career-high of 10 blocks on Nov. 12, 2008 @ Oklahoma City. No other player in the NBA has had multiple games of eight-or-more blocks during that same spanU. The team record for most blocks in a game is 15, set by Shaquille O’Neal on Nov. 20, 1993 @ New Jersey.
- Since joining the Magic in 2004-05, Dwight Howard has recorded three-or-more blocks in a game 189 times (27 this season). Orlando is 132-57 (.698) in those outings, including 19-8 this season. The Magic are 194-178 (.522) when he blocks two-or-fewer shots.
- Since 2006-07, Dwight Howard has recorded at least 10 rebounds and two blocked shots in the same game 231 times (including 48 times this season), by far the most in the NBA during that span. Taking it a step further, since 2008-09, Dwight Howard has recorded at least 15 rebounds and five blocked shots in the same game 22 times (six this season). The next closest players are Marcus Camby and Andrew Bogut with six each.
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Let’s imagine you are a casual NBA fan. Instead of watching every minute of each game, you flip through the channels, and mix in some action with American Idol. As the fourth quarter winds down, you check a few scores to find watchable games.
On Wednesday, the late run by Orlando made their game watchable, and fans tuned in to see the MVP candidate fight for a victory. Let’s take a look at Orlando’s final plays:
- 1:10 remaining in 4th quarter – Jameer Nelson makes driving layup (82-82)
- 0:39 remaining in 4th quarter - Jameer Nelson misses 21-foot jumper (82-84)
- 0:06 remaining in 4th quarter – Jameer Nelson misses 5-foot two point shot (82-84)
- 0:00 remaining in 4th quarter – Hedo Turkoglu misses 28-foot three pointer (82-85)
There it is. Jameer Nelson’s MVP candidacy goes down in flames. He missed two game-tying shots, and his teammate Hedo Turkoglu misfired at the buzzer.
In reality, the actual MVP candidate’s impact near the end wasn’t easy to identify on offense. Dwight Howard only touched the ball once in the closing moments. Seriously.
Stan Van Gundy deserves credit, though, for trying to get his best player the ball in crunch time. With 13.0 seconds left, the Magic ran a pick-and-roll with Nelson and Howard. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Dwight is the best roll man in the NBA, averaging 1.45 points per possession. The plan was great, but Jameer kept the ball, and lofted a floater over Jason Collins.
Derrick Rose and LeBron James are Dwight Howard’s main competition in the MVP race. Is there any chance those players don’t attempt a shot at the end a close game?
In fairness, there are plenty of reasons this transpired in Atlanta. First, Howard was in foul trouble, and one more whistle would have ended his night. Maybe the Magic didn’t want to force the ball to Dwight, and potentially lose him for overtime? Second, Dwight wasn’t playing great, and even if he was, it is impossible to find your best player all the time.
Furthermore, basketball is a beautiful combination of offense and defense, and one could argue Dwight could have made his final impact on the defensive end.
However, the final minutes of Wednesday’s game shed a different light on the MVP race. On offense, Dwight Howard is more dependent on external factors than other candidates, and it is no fault of his own. His position demands his presence down low, and his teammates are responsible for passing him the ball.
Derrick Rose and LeBron James can hold the rock in tight games, and guarantee themselves the final shot. Tom Thibodeau and Erik Spoelstra have some say, but players make the final decision. The ball is in their hands. The ball is in Dwight’s hands if his teammates pass him the ball, or if he works his tail off and secures an offensive rebound.
Many people watch the closing minutes and witness the important shots. If they don’t catch the games live, they tune in to the post-game shows and see the final seconds replayed.
A common belief is the best player gets the last look on offense. On the final play versus the Hawks, Dwight Howard set screens. A great screen could be the most impactful action on the floor, but they don’t garner the same attention as a buzzer beater.
What should fans think about Dwight Howard if they only saw the final moments in Atlanta? Is he the third of fourth option for Orlando?
In a first round playoff preview between rivals from the Southeast Division, the Atlanta Hawks were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 85-82. With the victory, the Hawks win the season series 3-1 — a complete reversal of fortune from the previous season when the Magic had their way against them in the regular season and the postseason. Like Orlando’s game against the New York Knicks, this game went down to the wire. With less than a minute to go in the fourth quarter, Jameer Nelson was able to make a layup in the lane to tie things up at 82. On the ensuing possession, Atlanta ran a 1/2 pick and roll with Kirk Hinrich and Joe Johnson, an excellent play-call by head coach Larry Drew, and Johnson was able to exploit the confusion in pick and roll coverage by Nelson and Jason Richardson, waltzing his way into the paint for a floater. The shot gave the Hawks a two-point lead, but the Magic still had a chance to tie or take the lead depending on preference. Head coach Stan Van Gundy drew up a play during Orlando’s timeout for Nelson, given that he had success throughout the evening in exploiting Atlanta’s perimeter defense off the dribble. The Magic ran a 1/5 pick and roll with Nelson and Dwight Howard, with Nelson attacking the basket and putting up a floater. But Nelson missed the shot and Jason Collins retrieved the rebound for the Hawks. It’s blind luck for Orlando that Collins rebounded the basketball because he was immediately fouled and given that he’s a poor free-throw shooter, the percentages were not in his favor to make both free-throws and ice the game. Collins badly missed the first free-throw, but made the second to give Atlanta a three-point lead with 5.7 seconds left in regulation. Van Gundy called another timeout, drawing up a play for Hedo Turkoglu. Some questioned whether or not the Hawks were going to foul, given that they were up by three points with roughly five seconds left in the fourth quarter. Usually that’s the time to foul, but Atlanta chose not to. Richardson got the ball at the top of the key and almost hesitated, seemingly as if he was waiting for the Hawks to foul but they didn’t. Richardson let a few seconds go by, then passed the basketball to Turkoglu as he was coming around a screen at the three-point line. Turkoglu caught the ball, but missed the shot and the Hawks won. It was poor execution by the Magic and it’s hard to believe they couldn’t have gotten a better look at a three-pointer.