Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 14

Mar 17

Wisdom for the Magic from the Middle Ages

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

I’ve been reading Dante (Alighieri, not Marchitelli) in my spare time. As you might know, his Divine Comedy is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. Dante writes about himself and his passage through each.

Before I lose you, here’s what I’ve found: that old book from the Middle Ages has a pattern that matches the current Orlando Magic success plan really nicely.

Inferno (Hell): This would reflect the last two years. A .261 winning percentage (39-110), attendance plummeting from ninth in 2011-12 to 23rd this season, and a prolonged dearth of material for journalists to write and fans to talk about. In short, it’s just been hard. Hard to get excited for games. Hard to watch the growing pains of the players. Hard to see an end in sight.

Purgatorio (Purgatory): You could argue this was best represented during Dwight Howard’s last year in Orlando. (“Does he stay?” “Does he go?” “Depends on how the wind blows.”) But for the current team, Purgatory is what comes next. In the minds of most, next year is the time to start the process of winning games again. The Magic will have two high draft picks and money in the bank. The tide is expected to shift for the better, but there could always be more backsliding to be had, depending on the effort of everyone involved.

Paradiso (Heaven): I can’t tell you exactly how this one will look, only that no one should be expecting it for a while. It’s a matter of how high the crest of this era’s wave reaches before it has to crash and rebuild itself again. But to achieve much, you have to dream much, so let’s describe a Magic fan’s paradise: a place where young talent and energy takes the league by storm, a booming Amway Center with standing room only, and Orlando’s first championship. Of course, there would probably have to be a franchise star at the forefront of that team. At this point, not a single person knows exactly who that will be.

And with that, here are the top five Dante applied-out-of-context quotes for all you Magic fans out there:

“Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.” (Inferno, Canto I, lines 1-3)

“Along the solitary plain we went
As one who unto the lost road returns,
And till he finds it seems to go in vain.” (Purgatorio, Canto I, lines 118-120)

“To run o’er better waters hoists its sail
The little vessel of my genius now,
That leaves behind itself a sea so cruel” (Purgatorio, Canto I, lines 1-3)

“… Forth returns whoever looks behind.” (Purgatorio, Canto IX, line 132)

“Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars.” (Inferno, Canto XXXIV, line 139)

Or how about this for a potential halftime speech?

“We’re in the middle of Magic history, and things are pretty dark. In many ways, we’re floundering about and waiting for the path to success to be illuminated again. So we journey.

Hello, better waters; goodbye, cruel sea of losing streaks. Let’s not look behind us; there is nothing now but the future.

And in the end, we will emerge out of this fire to see the stars of greatness that we once new!”

That one was for free, Jacque Vaughn.

Mar 17

Magic sign Dewayne Dedmon for rest of season

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have signed center Dewayne Dedmon for the remainder of the regular season, general manager Rob Hennigan announced today. Dedmon originally signed his first of two 10-day contracts on Feb. 25.

Dedmon (#3, 7’0”, 255, 8/12/89) has appeared in three games with Orlando, averaging 2.3 ppg. and 1.0 rpg. in 2.0 mpg. He has played in 18 combined games this season with Golden State, Philadelphia and Orlando, averaging 2.5 ppg. and 2.9 rpg. in 9.0 mpg. He also appeared in 15 games with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA Development League, averaging 15.2 ppg., 13.1 rpg., 1.3 apg., 2.33 bpg. and 1.53 spg. in 33.7 mpg.

Not drafted by an NBA team in 2013, Dedmon played in 51 games (49 starts) during his two-year career at USC, averaging 7.1 ppg., 6.7 rpg. and 1.67 bpg. In 2012-13 as a redshirt junior, he appeared in 31 games (29 starts), averaging 6.7 ppg., 7.0 rpg., 2.13 bpg. and 1.10 spg. in 22.3 mpg. He led the Trojans in rebounding and blocked shots. Dedmon did not play organized basketball until his senior year of high school due to religious reasons and played one season at Antelope Valley College in his hometown of Lancaster, CA, before transferring to USC.

In addition, the second 10-day contract of guard-forward Adonis Thomas has expired. Thomas appeared in four games with Orlando, averaging 2.3 ppg. and 1.0 rpg. in 7.6 mpg.

Orlando’s roster now stands at 13 players.

Mar 16

Grades: Washington Wizards 105, Orlando Magic 101 (OT)

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AP Photo/John Raoux

 

Washington Wizards 105 Final
Recap | Box Score
101 Orlando Magic

Arron Afflalo
7-21 FG | 2-3 3P | 5 REB | 3 AST | 18 PTS | -8

Nikola Vucevic
4-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -23

Tobias Harris
8-14 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 21 PTS | +10

Jameer Nelson
5-16 FG | 1-8 3P | 6 REB | 8 AST | 13 PTS | -15

Washington Wizards

Mar 16

Video: John Wall hits the clutch 3-pointer

Mar 14

Preview: Washington Wizards at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Washington Wizards at Orlando Magic
  • Date: March 14, 2014
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Wizards: 33-31
  • Magic: 19-47

Probable starters

Wizards:

  • John Wall
  • Bradley Beal
  • Trevor Ariza
  • Trevor Booker
  • Marcin Gortat

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Kyle O’Quinn
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Wizards:

  • Pace: 93.3 (17th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 105.6 (18th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 105.0 (11th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 94.0 (15th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.7 (29th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.2 (17th of 30)

Read about the Wizards

Truth About It

Mar 14

The fall of Andrew Nicholson

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Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

In the Magic’s season opener in Indiana, Andrew Nicholson was a human blowtorch. He lit up the Pacers for 18 points (all in the first half) and set basketball Twitter ablaze with his scoring prowess. Nicholson unleashed his full arsenal of moves — some old, some new. A lefty hook here (old), a corner 3 there (new!), and midrange jump shots (old) everywhere. It appeared that Nicholson was primed to build off his impressive rookie campaign.

Through the first month of the season, Nicholson looked every bit like a player that was naturally progressing in his second year in the NBA. He added a 3-point shot (specifically from the corners) and he was improving as a rebounder. His defense still had a long ways to go, but that’s the case for almost any youngster in the league. Nicholson included.

Then something unexpected happened after that first month. Nicholson regressed.

Badly.

One of the biggest factors is that Nicholson stopped getting steady minutes. For players in a developmental stage, consistent playing time can have transformative effects and can help them reach their potential. And Nicholson was deprived of that.

After missing 21 of the Magic’s first 22 games of the season with a high ankle sprain, Tobias Harris returned from injury on Dec. 13 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Five days later, he was reinserted into the starting lineup at the small forward position.

At first, Nicholson was still coming off the bench as the back-up power forward. But in late December, Harris began soaking up minutes as a stretch four with the second unit. Bit by bit, Nicholson’s playing time waned.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 13

Thursday’s Mini-Magic Word

  • Arron Afflalo wants to win and become an elite player, but is understanding that the Magic are rebuilding and better days are coming.
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “On an Orlando Magic team filled with so much youth and inexperience, practically every scenario of every game can qualify as a teachable moment for head coach Jacque Vaughn. Of issue of late after the Magic squandered 18 and 13-point leads in losses to Milwaukee and Denver: Learning how to play with double-digit leads and maintain them throughout games. The positive of that, of course, is that the Magic are at least starting games well enough to build significant advantages on foes. Now, the Magic’s mission is figuring out how to hold those leads once they jump out ahead.”
  • Darrell Armstrong, who will be honored on Friday by the Magic during “Legends Night,” looks back at his storied career with the franchise.
  • Kenneth Faried (26 points and nine rebounds) was a handful for Kyle O’Quinn and Tobias Harris on Wednesday, as he helped the Denver Nuggets beat Orlando by the score of 120-112.
  • Nikola Vucevic has been on a shooting tear from the perimeter in recent weeks. Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post has more details: “During Vučević’s eight-game hot streak, the Montenegrin has converted 52.8 percent of his mid-range shots, according to NBA.com/stats, making him a threat to score even when pulled away from the basket area, where he’s remained effective. In his first 40 games, NBA.com/stats data indicate Vučević shot a respectable, but not elite, 42.9 percent on such shots.”

Mar 13

A Magic dynasty and what could have been

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Photo by Fernando Medina/Getty Images

By the end of the 1995-96 season, it was clear the Orlando Magic had one of the youngest, most promising cores in the league — of the five guys who logged over 30 minutes per game that season, the average age of them was 26. Their past two seasons included one Finals appearance, two Eastern Conference Finals appearances, and a combined regular season record of 117-47 (.713). They also had two of the most promising young stars in the league on their roster — Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal.

Despite this, over the next four years the Orlando Magic missed the playoffs twice, and in the two seasons they did make it, failed to advance past the first round. To be fair to Orlando, it’s worth mentioning that those four years came after losing one of the most dominant players the game has ever seen.

In July 1996, Shaquille O’Neal had agreed to a seven-year deal with the Lakers, worth over $120 million.

_______

Shaq wasn’t the only player who signed a big deal that summer. Horace Grant had just signed a big extension with the Magic, merely days before O’Neal would sign with L.A.

Horace recently appeared on a Grantland podcast with Bill Simmons where he talked about playing with Jordan, Kobe, and Shaq himself.

Grant spoke of one particular moment from his NBA career that he wished he could re-live: he said that not long before Shaq signed with L.A, he missed a call from him, and didn’t return it until after O’Neal had agreed to the deal. Horace thought that had he answered that call, things might have played out differently, and perhaps he would have been able to convince Shaq to stay in Orlando, where they undoubtedly would have built a dynasty.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 13

Grades: Denver Nuggets 120, Orlando Magic 112

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Denver Nuggets 120 Final
Recap | Box Score
112 Orlando Magic

Arron Afflalo
10-18 FG | 2-5 3P | 1 REB | 2 AST | 24 PTS | -4

There were a few times in the third quarter when the Magic ran 1-2 pick-and-rolls for Nelson and Afflalo. On one possession, Afflalo slipped the screen and made an uncontested jumper. On another possession, Orlando forced a switch, so that Ty Lawson (Nelson’s defender) had to defend Afflalo in the post. That led to a fadeaway jumper for Afflalo over the shorter Lawson. It was an effective set.

Nikola Vucevic
8-17 FG | 4-4 FT | 16 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | -9

It was all Vucevic in the first quarter. who had 16 points (7-for-14 shooting from the floor) and seven rebounds. It was rare to see him get so many touches in a half. Vucevic got a majority of his points on offensive rebound putbacks and midrange jump shots in pick-and-pop sets. Although he finished with 20-16, Vucevic really slowed down offensively after halftime.

Jameer Nelson
7-12 FG | 4-8 3P | 3 REB | 9 AST | 19 PTS | -2

Nelson made a costly mistake in crunch time that thwarted the Magic’s late comeback attempt. With Orlando trailing 115-110, O’Quinn committed a traveling violation with 1:03 left. The turnover occurred because Nelson made a bad decision and threw a home run pass to O’Quinn in transition that almost went out-of-bounds. O’Quinn traveled trying to save the ball. It was a blown chance to make it a one-possession game.

Victor Oladipo
5-12 FG | 5-5 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 15 PTS | -3

For three and a half quarters, Oladipo barely attacked the rim. Then with the Magic trying to erase a 15-point deficit and get another come-from-behind victory at home, Oladipo finally started driving to the basket midway through the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for Oladipo, it was too little, too late. Oladipo’s passive-aggressive nature on offense was reflective of Orlando as a whole.

Denver Nuggets

Because the Magic are owed a 2014 first round pick from either the Nuggets or New York Knicks (the least favorable of the two), surprisingly enough, this matchup had important implications. If Orlando had won, that would have been another game in the loss column for Denver. With the Nuggets and Knicks currently out of the playoff picture, every loss matters for the Magic.

Mar 13

Video: Maurice Harkless goes backdoor for a dunk

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