Taking advantage of the absences of Dwight Howard and Quentin Richardson, the Chicago Bulls were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 102-99. The Magic, which were short-handed, played with energy and effort consistently throughout the day but it wasn’t enough against the Bulls. With Chicago leading by one point at 98-97, Orlando fouled Taj Gibson with 14.2 seconds left and put him on the free-throw line. Gibson split the free-throws, but Luol Deng was able to retrieve the offensive rebound after the second free-throw came up short. It was a bad bounce for the Magic and the Bulls were able to take advantage, as Derrick Rose made two free throws to extend the lead to four points. On the ensuing possession, Jason Richardson, after tripping on the original out-of-bounds play drawn up by head coach Stan Van Gundy, recovered and made a three-pointer with 2.7 seconds left to cut the deficit to one point. This was only after Ryan Anderson was able to feed Richardson with the basketball on a offensive rebound following a missed three-point shot by Jameer Nelson in the corner. Rose made two more free-throws to give Chicago a three-point lead. On the final possession of the game, Nelson got the ball at the top of the key, pump-faked Rose to get him in the air and create an open look, then put up a three-pointer which he made but it was too late. The Bulls escaped with the win. Three players led the way for Orlando. Anderson, playing in place of Howard, put up a career-high 28 points and 10 rebounds. Richardson finished with 24 points, while Nelson contributed with 17 points, 11 assists, five rebounds, and three steals.
Jason J (NYC): How do you respond to the contention that a player like Dwight, whose inability to shoot free throws limits his effectiveness as scoring option late in close games and throws his whole team offense out of whack, has too big a whole in his skill set to be MVP? I’m not sure I buy that argument, but I’d like your take.
John Hollinger: Two reasons. First, I don’t understand why everyone assumes their team is the one with the ball in these situations. When the other team has it, you’d take Dwight over every other player in the league except possibly Tony Allen.
Second, I don’t think people understand that getting to the line — almost regardless of how bad a foul shooter somebody is — is a hugely positive play. Howard shoots 59; that’s an expected return of 1.18 points even if he never gets an and-one and none of his misses are ever rebounded. Nobody in the league gets 1.18 points per possessions on anything, with the exception of a couple recent Suns teams on 3-pointers.
People focus on the fact that he shoots worse than most other players, and that’s true. But he doesn’t shoot 0; he shoots 59. This is the same argument I’d get into all the time when Shaq was in his prime. Bad foul shooting doesn’t equal a bad outcome unless you’re in Andris Biedrins territory.
Blake (Chicago): I think the issue with Dwight’s foul shooting at the end of games has less to do with points per possession, and more to do with the way it changes his game — he’s scared to get fouled and is therefore less aggressive, resulting in him just passing to a team mate and not getting fouled at all.
John Hollinger: I agree that Howard is less offensively aggressive at the end of games. The funny thing is he’s shot really well in clutch situations this year, both on FGs and FTs; he just hasn’t shot that often. By the way, Howard leads the NBA in rebound rate in late/close, according to 82games.com.
As is the case in general, things like rebounding and defending the basketball get overlooked for scoring. And when it comes to crunch-time scenarios, Dwight Howard‘s numbers don’t compare favorably to players like LeBron James and Derrick Rose.
But let’s consider this — Howard improves his free-throw percentage to 64 percent in the fourth quarter. Granted, that’s not great but it’s an improvement nonetheless from his percentage overall, which hovers around 59 percent.
Likewise, it doesn’t take too long to notice that Rose is second in scoring per 48 minutes of clutch time according to 82games. It takes a minute to scroll down and find Howard on the list. However, per 48 minutes, Rose accumulates 37.0 field goal attempts per game with an effective field goal percentage of 40.7 percent in the clutch. That’s nearly a shot every minute. As for Howard, in the same category, he puts up 10.1 field goal attempts per game with an effective field goal percentage of 70.1 percent. That’s a staggering difference, especially when noting that Howard is off-the-charts efficient. Granted, with more shots, Howard’s percentages would likely drop but he’d still be a much more efficient option than players like Rose because of the type of looks he’d get.
Part of the discrepancy can be explained by Howard’s lack of aggressiveness late in games, but its also worth mentioning that — at times — his teammates fail to get him the basketball and head coach Stan Van Gundy neglects to call plays for him.
A problem that needs to be rectified.
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “With J.J. Redick injured, Jason Richardson battling some minor knee tendinitis and Quentin Richardson suspended for the next two games, the Orlando Magic will be forced to play Gilbert Arenas significant minutes at shooting guard over the last three games of the regular season. That’s a good thing, because the Magic and Arenas need all the practice they can get with Arenas at the two. Despite Arenas’ 25-point outburst while starting alongside Jameer Nelson at Charlotte on Wednesday, Arenas has been largely unproductive playing shooting guard with the Magic this season. He’s far more comfortable and effective – relatively speaking, anyway – with the ball in his hands early in possessions, when he can probe the defense and really be aggressive in trying to score the basketball. This season, according to 82games.com, Arenas’ PER while playing shooting guard is 1.9, compared to his overall Magic PER of 8.9. Both of those numbers are bad, but a PER of 1.9 is almost unfathomably awful. That poor number is mostly explained by Arenas’ absurd effective field goal percentage (.298) while playing the two, a shooting percentage so mind-numbingly low that it makes you question if Arenas can really be effective playing that position.”
- Praise for Gilbert Arenas.
- Evan Dunlap of SB Nation chimes in on the ever-growing MVP debate: “As it applies to the focus of this article, there are statheads and there are, well, anti-statheads. These folks, in my experience, distrust any data that refute conclusions they drew with their own eyes. The truth is more complicated than that. Basketball, like nearly everything else in life, is too complex for us to understand if we apply only one doctrine, so to speak, to our evaluation of it. If we rely too heavily on statistics, no matter how advanced or refined, we are bound to miss something; we run the same risk if we rely too heavily on what we observe. Call me naive, but I think we can all coexist as hoops fans, without calling names or inventing straw men, if we merely blend the statistical with empirical observation.”
- Marc Stein of ESPN.com chooses Dwight Howard as the Defensive Player of the Year in his awards ballot: “Howard is the runaway DPOY no matter where you have him in your MVP thinking. His ability to keep the Magic in the top three in defensive efficiency despite the fact that he’s surrounded by suspect defenders makes this no less a rout than Blake Griffin’s ROY coronation. Doesn’t matter how long ago it was you leapt off Orlando’s bandwagon. The reasonable question now is how many times in a row Howard — who’s about to claim his third successive DPOY — plans to win this award?”
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus joins John Hollinger as well as many others in the online writing and NBA analytics community in choosing Howard as the MVP this season: “Beyond that, the Magic’s issues can hardly be blamed on Howard. The question of whether he can lead a successful team should have been answered to our satisfaction with Orlando’s run to the 2009 NBA Finals and last year’s second-best record in the league during the regular season. Howard is a better player now than he was then, but with a weaker supporting cast around him. While Otis Smith‘s midseason deals for [Hedo] Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas haven’t failed per se, nor have they managed to revitalize a team that no longer has a second All-Star capable of helping Howard shoulder the load. The fleet of shooters that once feasted on the open looks created by Howard double-teams now shoots barely better than league average from beyond the arc. None of this points to Howard shortcomings.”
- Is there a conspiracy theory with Howard’s technical fouls?
- Writers of the TrueHoop Network submit their choices for MVP.
- Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook previews the first round matchup in the 2011 NBA Playoffs between the Magic and the Atlanta Hawks. Needless to say, this preview is a must-read.
- Noah Schiller of Hardwood Paroxysm says that Howard is the MVP.
- Zach Lowe of The Point Forward: “I agree with both of these guys in that reducing the Rose/Howard/LeBron James discussion to “stat-heads versus people who watch games” is ridiculous. People would probably lump me in the stat-head boat, since I cite things like points per possession, pace and rebounding rate often, including in my reasoning for why Howard should be the MVP. Three things would be wrong with that characterization: 1) I watch and re-watch a ton of games; 2) Those stats everyone calls “advanced” are not all that advanced. Counting possessions is about as basic as math gets. Rebounding rate is a simple percentage, the sort of thing we learn before middle school. Basic on-court/off-court plus/minus is so simple an elementary school student could understand it with a few minutes of teaching. There are certainly more advanced stats out there, but few trickle that far into mainstream NBA writing; 3) If you actually read (asking a lot, I know) the cases most alleged “stat-heads”make for Howard, you’ll see they are based as much on observation as on stats.”
- Kevin Arnovitz of The Heat Index: “An exchange of ideas generally makes the world a better place, but some of the Rose-James and Rose-Howard debates I’ve overheard and read in recent days aren’t so much a contrast of the players’ attributes as a condemnation of those doing the arguing: Do you stat geeks even watch the games and observe the results, or do you just consult your spreadsheet to draw conclusions? Meanwhile, if you listen to the extremes on the other side, you’d think Rose was putting up Arenasian numbers this season. What are we really arguing about here? If I support LeBron James for the MVP Award, what I’m essentially saying is that Rose is a dynamic talent who just happens to be the second, third or fourth best player in the world. How insulting. Rose-over-James offers the same construction. These disagreements might be contrasts in methodology, but at their very heart, they’re about taste, and taste is a very personal quality.”
- Howard is, by far and large, the best center in the league.
Photo by ESPN
WHO: The “NBA on ESPN RV Tour,” an experiential marketing promotion for ABC and ESPN’s NBA coverage, will be on-site at more than 15 NBA games this season, including the Chicago Bulls at the Orlando Magic game on April 10, 2011.
WHAT: The RV will be located just outside of the main entrance of the Amway Center, from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM ET on April 10. The RV will open its doors at 10:00 AM, allowing fans to tour the RV, as well as participate in activities such as free throw contests, vertical jump challenges, souvenir photo stations, and more. NBA on ESPN branded premiums, such as mini-basketballs, T-shirts, backpacks and rally towels will also be given away at the RV.
New activities for fans include playing EA’s NBA Jam for the PS3 and experiencing ESPN’s new 3D programming firsthand. Also, at each Tour stop, fans will have the opportunity to participate in the Hanes Comfort Zone 3-Point Contest to test their shooting skills against other local contestants. Winners of each stop will be entered into a national pool. At the end of the season, one lucky grand prize winner will receive an all expenses paid trip for two to game one of the 2011 NBA Finals.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
10:00 AM – 1:00 PM ET (Game Tips Off at 1:00 PM ET on ABC)
Chicago Bulls vs. Orlando Magic
Amway Center Arena
400 West Church Street
Orlando, FL 32801
Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic
Via the Orlando Magic:
Earlier today at a special announcement with the Orlando Magic, City of Orlando and OUC–The Reliable One, the Amway Center got its golden ticket when the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) awarded the arena LEED Gold certification for its sustainable design and construction methods. The announcement was commemorated with a monument dedication and garden planting in the Amway Center plaza.
“Amway Center is to be commended for their achievement of LEED Gold certification,” said U.S. Green Building Council President, CEO & Founding Chair Rick Fedrizzi. “It’s a team that started with the City of Orlando as owners, the Orlando Magic as the developers, and the community of fans and Orlando residents who will look to Amway Center as a source of civic pride and great entertainment.”
The arena’s designer, Populous; along with program manager, Turner Construction Company; construction manager, Hunt Construction Group; developer, the Orlando Magic; and owner/operator, the City of Orlando worked together to implement 39 points toward the arena’s certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the nationally-accepted benchmark for the design, construction, maintenance and operation of green buildings. LEED ratings are based on a point system that measures the impact on the environment and those who use the building.
“Amway Center is living up to its expectations,” said Orlando Magic President Alex Martins. “We promised to create an arena that was civic-oriented, pedestrian friendly and added to downtown development. We promised a sustainable arena, and are proud to say that with today’s announcement and with great teamwork, we have surpassed our goal for LEED certification.”
“Through our Green Works Orlando program we have encouraged our community to develop environmentally friendly business practices and lifestyles,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “The Amway Center is one of our most visible examples of how the City and our partners are embracing sustainable practices and will allow us to further engage the community in the effort to “go green.”’
[Orlando] Magic center Dwight Howard was suspended one game by the NBA for receiving his 18th technical foul of the season and Orlando guard Quentin Richardson received a two-game suspension for shoving Charlotte’s Gerald Henderson in the face.
Howard received a technical Wednesday night in the second quarter against the Bobcats and it was upheld by the league Thursday. [...]
Richardson and Henderson got into an altercation with 8:30 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Magic’s 111-102 victory in Charlotte.
- Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “At the risk of sounding obvious, [Dwight] Howard can avoid 10-second violations by shooting faster. His opponents have the right to call attention to how long he takes before shooting, just as the Magic have the right to tell officials if one of their opponents is taking too long to shoot. He can avoid technical fouls by simply passing the ball to an official instead of rolling it away. Doing so shows up the officials in front of both teams, the paying fans in attendance, and the folks watching on TV. I understand the technical call, instead of the delay-of-game one, in this instance. He’s not merely delaying the game, but expressing his frustration with the referees in an unbecoming way. The NBA can avoid, or perhaps curtail, the frustration fans and players have with the rule by enforcing it strictly or not at all. The selective enforcement of the rulebook in professional sports–not just in basketball-rankles fans because rules are meant to be rules no matter the situation. Thus, violations like the NBA’s 10-second count arouse suspicion when they’re called.”
- Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie: “After stepping to the charity stripe with the Bobcats holding a 50-41 lead, Howard missed the first of his two freebies. After receiving the ball from the official for his second attempt, Howard launched into his extraordinarily deliberate free-throw routine. Take a deep breath. (Beat.) Shrug the shoulders. (Beat.) Spin the ball in your left hand. (Beat.) Slow dribble. (Beat.) Slow dribble. (Beat.) Slow dribble. (Beat.) Raise your eyes to the basket. (Beat.) Bend at the knees, and then … whistle.”
- The Orlando Magic made quick work of the Charlotte Bobcats in overtime.
- John Hollinger of ESPN Insider cites Howard’s improvements on offense this season: “It’s truly impressive when a superstar-level player can still take his game to another level, and Howard did that this season by developing what had been a rudimentary post-up game. By adding a face-up jumper off the window and getting more comfortable taking a couple of short dribbles for a hook shot, he’s become more than just a physically dominant dunker — he added 3.3 points to his 40-minute average with virtually no loss in efficiency.”
- Also, Hollinger awards Howard with his pseudo-vote for Defensive Player of the Year: “Orlando is third in the NBA in defensive efficiency. Think about this for a second. They have one good defensive player in their top eight. One. Of the top eight players for Orlando by minutes, the other seven are Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, Brandon Bass, J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson and Gilbert Arenas; two of them are average, two aspire to be average on their good days and the other three are just flat-out awful. For that group, somehow, to be better defensively than the Lakers, Heat, Spurs and Mavs, among others, defies all common sense. Yet it’s happening, partly because Stan Van Gundy has a strong team concept, but mostly because they have a flyswatter in the middle who is the first guy back in transition, totally dominates the glass and lets everyone else on his team play half a step closer to their man. Howard backs up his case with more traditional stats — the blocks and rebounds, the solid differential — but the greatest case he has comes from scrolling through the other names on the roster, and pondering how on earth that adds up to an elite defensive team.”
- Did you hear? Howard takes too long at the free-throw line.
Against the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday, Dwight Howard picked up his 18th technical foul of the regular season after he got whistled for a 10-second violation at the free-throw line. Henry Abbott of TrueHoop chimes in on the circumstances surrounding the tech.
In a wild and crazy game, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Charlotte Bobcats by the score of 111-102 in overtime. With the win, the Magic notched their 50th win of the regular season — the fourth consecutive year with 50 wins or more for the franchise in the Van Gundy era. The victory also sealed the Bobcats’ slim fate of returning to the playoffs. With five games left before the postseason begins, it seemed as if Orlando and Charlotte would go through the motions and play the game just for the sake of playing it. However, the Magic paid a price when Dwight Howard stepped to the free-throw line in the second quarter. Gerald Henderson counted out the seconds as Howard was going through his routine at the charity stripe. Once Henderson reached 10 seconds, Howard was whistled for a violation by Bennett Salvatore and quite frankly, it’s something that should happen more often but referees turn a blind eye more often than not. However, on this occasion, because Henderson was counting out loud, there was no choice but to blow the whistle. Howard did not approve of the call and made it known by throwing the basketball to the baseline away from one of the refs. Immediately, Howard was called for a technical foul by Salvatore, his 18th of the season.
With it, Howard will be suspended for Sunday’s matinee against the Chicago Bulls unless the tech is rescinded. Surprisingly enough, that’s not all for drama. In the fourth quarter, Quentin Richardson got into a scuffle with Henderson after he was called for a foul. Richardson and Henderson exchanged words. Suddenly, something must have been said because Richardson immediately shoved his hands in Henderson’s face, prompting both teams to shove each other. Following the shoving match, Richardson was ejected, while Henderson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Kwame Brown were called for technicals since they were in the middle of the altercation. So a game that meant very little for Orlando turned into a matchup against an enemy.
The Magic were led by a balanced attack, as six players scored in double-figures. Taking the place of Jason Richardson in the starting lineup, Gilbert Arenas was excellent, putting up 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field, including making six three-pointers. Brandon Bass had 19 points and eight rebounds, Jameer Nelson had 18 points and nine assists, Turkoglu had 17 points and seven rebounds, while Howard had 15 points, seven rebounds, and six blocks. Coming off the bench, Ryan Anderson finished with 10 points.