Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 140

Apr 26

Recap: Orlando Magic 101, Atlanta Hawks 76

Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

BOX SCORE

Able to stave off elimination and avoid ending their season on their home court, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Atlanta Hawks by the score of 101-76 and force a Game 6 on Thursday on the road. One of the running narratives in the series has centered on the Magic’s three-point shooting, and how awful it’s been. Heading into Game 5, Orlando was shooting 21.8 percent from three-point range. Even though the Hawks deserve credit for being able to stymie the Magic’s army of three-point shooters, that’s still an abnormally low percentage and more of a statistical anomaly than anything else. During the regular season, Orlando shot 36.6 percent on threes and sooner or later, the odds of them regressing to the mean were high. The question was whether or not it’d be too late. Well, if the Game 5 result is any indication, the answer is no. The Magic shot 11-of-26 (42.3 percent) from three-point range and finally played up to their potential on both ends of the floor. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as nine players scored seven points or more. Jason Richardson paced the starters with 17 points, returning from his Game 4 suspension and making a positive impact offensively. J.J. Redick stood out among the reserves with 14 points on eight shots in less than 20 minutes of playing time. It speaks volumes that the Magic were able to crush the Hawks by 25 points, given that Dwight Howard only had eight points and eight rebounds, but it says more so that the supporting cast was able to step up.

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Apr 26

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy inadvertently disclosed his master plan for slowing the Atlanta Hawks tonight in Game 5 of the teams’ first-round playoff series. It involves Dwight Howard. ‘I don’t want to give away a big secret here before the game,’ Van Gundy told the media, ‘but he’s not going to get a lot of rest.’ Hey, at least Van Gundy has a sense of humor even with his team trailing three games to one and facing elimination. At the top of the Magic’s to-do list tonight: Shoot the ball better, defend the perimeter better and start much better than they have recently. ‘If we get one win, we’re gonna win the whole thing,’ Howard said. ‘We just need one win, stay confident, keep believing, just play hard for the 48 minutes. Usually when you do that great things happen.’ ”
  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “Gilbert Arenas put together his most memorable game as a member of the Orlando Magic Sunday night, scoring 20 points off the bench in the Magic’s 88-85 Game 4 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. He did the majority of his damage running high pick-and-rolls with Dwight Howard, scoring 15 points (7-of-13 shooting) in such situations. And a majority of those points came when attacking the hoop after using the screen. For Magic fans, it was a welcome sight to see someone besides Dwight Howard attacking the rim. He still lacks the explosiveness and jumping ability from early in his career, but at least he’s willing to go strong at the hoop to score or draw a foul. That’s a big reason why many fans are hoping to see more from Arenas tonight, even though they’ve been dogging the guy for the past five months. But things won’t be so easy for Arenas in tonight’s Game 5.”
  • Jason Richardson vows to be smarter on the court.
  • Eight teams in NBA history have recovered from a 3-1 series deficit and won.
  • Zach Lowe of The Point Forward: “A win Tuesday might not change the long-term picture for Howard, and it doesn’t necessarily mean GM Otis Smith was wrong to think the Jason Richardson/[Hedo] Turkgolu/Arenas combination might give the Magic a better chance to win it all this season. Marcin Gortat was always going to be a role player in Orlando, Vince Carter hasn’t exactly killed it in Phoenix, and Rashard Lewis was an injury-prone non-factor in Washington. They might have fit Stan Van Gundy’s system a little better than the guys the Magic received — Vince Carter can still work a pick-and-roll, and a healthy Lewis is probably better all around than his power forward replacements — but Orlando’s current situation might not be much different today had Smith declined the trades.”
  • John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “This isn’t the first time Collins has had success in defending Howard. In 591 career games in which he’s played at least 25 minutes (including postseason), his two lowest scoring games came against Collins and the Nets. Collins held Howard to two points on 1-for-5 shooting on March 13, 2005 and to one point on 0-for-6 shooting on Jan. 20, 2007. The Collins Effect goes beyond Howard’s numbers. By defending Howard one-on-one, Collins allows his teammates to stay at home on the perimeter. The Magic are shooting a league-low 29.1 percent from five feet or beyond in the postseason, and just 26.5 percent when Collins is on the floor. If the Magic are going to extend the series with a win tonight in Game 5 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV), they’ll need to start making some shots. But that’s proven to be difficult with the Hawks’ no-stats MVP on the floor.”
  • Head coach Larry Drew is confident.
  • Austin Link of ESPN Insider: “Based off of their regular season shooting prowess, there was only about a 1-in-300 chance of the Magic shooting that poorly from 3-point land so far. Put another way, if Orlando had simply matched its regular season long ball form so far, it would be 42 points better in a series in which its overall scoring margin is only -11 points across all four games to date. If they can turn the shooting around and Howard continues to exert his influence, the Magic can not only get through the first round, but could even challenge the Chicago Bulls in the second. Right now we give the Magic only about 25 percent odds of a comeback, however, so the chances that they’ll get the opportunity to face the Bulls aren’t good.”
  • Jemele Hill of ESPN.com thinks Doc Rivers should replace Stan Van Gundy as head coach of the Orlando Magic: “As good a tactician as Van Gundy is, the Magic play like a team that can’t go any further under his direction. When Orlando traded for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas this season, the hope was that the new faces would spark a return run to the NBA Finals, where Orlando lost in five games to the Lakers two years ago. Instead, the Magic have flat-lined. Orlando’s flashes of brilliance have been undermined by even larger stretches of underachievement.”
  • John Hollinger of ESPN Insider: “You’d be excused for thinking Atlanta was the one with the better scoring margin based on the first four games of this series. The Hawks would already be prepping for the second round if not for some bizarre coaching choices in the second quarter of Game 2, thanks to a shockingly good defensive effort against the league’s 10th-best regular-season offense.”
  • Nate Drexler makes an appearance in ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 writer roundup.
  • The Magic and San Antonio Spurs share a lot of similar philosophies on both ends of the floor, which has allowed both franchises to be successful, but they’re close to reaching the end of the road in the 2011 NBA Playoffs much earlier than expected.

Apr 26

Preview: Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic, Game 5

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

Apr 26

Will this Gilbert Arenas show up in Game 5?

Apr 26

Sneak Preview: Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic, Game 5

AP Photo/John Bazemore

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “At some point Jamal Crawford has to cool off, right? The Atlanta Hawks shooting guard has torched the Orlando Magic in the first four games of this playoff series, averaging 24 points and shooting 56.5 percent from three-point range. In a series defined by ugly offense and hard-nosed defense, Crawford’s finesse and efficiency shooting the basketball have stood out. And the frustrating part for the Magic is they’re keeping a defender nearby and in his face — he’s just connecting on the jumpers, anyway. [...] Crawford’s remarkable consistency — he’s scored 25, 23, 25 and 23 points in the four games — has carried the Hawks. The Magic assumed the law of averages might help limit Crawford, but that hasn’t worked. His shooting percentage (47.1 in the playoffs compared to 42.1 in the regular season), three-point percentage (56.5 to 34.1) and points per game (24 to 14.2) are far above his usual performance. He’s not going to just start missing on his own, as the Magic may have hoped. So on Monday at practice, the Magic focused on stopping Crawford (and Joe Johnson, who’s averaging 20 points per game this series).”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The doors to Amway Center’s practice court opened around 3:45 Monday afternoon, and visitors looking to interview coach Stan Van Gundy witnessed something that’s been absent this postseason. Orlando Magic players made shots. Lots of them. Ryan Anderson, Chris Duhon, J.J. Redick and, later, Brandon Bass attempted shot after shot after shot — and made most of them. Staccato bursts of the sport’s prettiest sound filled the air. Basketballs fell through hoops and touched only the nets. Swish! Swish! Swish! The Magic need to duplicate that success when they host the Atlanta Hawks tonight in Game 5 of their playoff series. Trailing three games to one, Orlando must win to avoid elimination. [...] In Sunday’s Game 4 loss, the Magic went 2-for-23 from 3-point range. Van Gundy and his assistant coaches analyzed those attempts, and they found that if they excluded tries that came at the end of a quarter or just as the shotclock expired or were simply bad shots, the Magic went 2-for-15 from beyond the arc. Of those 15, eight were wide-open. The Magic made just one of those eight wide-open attempts.”
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “About seven months ago, the Magic were star tenants in the spectacularly giddy grand opening of Amway Center. They certainly don’t want their season to close at their hoops palace Tuesday night with a final, farewell performance. Trailing the Atlanta Hawks three games to one in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series, the Magic look to avoid curtain-closing elimination. This could either be the start of an historic run for the Magic or the stunning end to a disappointing season, with repercussions possibly resonating through the summer. The futures of coach Stan Van Gundy, General Manager Otis Smith and superstar Dwight Howard could be affected. An early ouster obviously wouldn’t sit well with Howard, a five-time all star who can leave the Magic after next season as a free agent. He has had to carry the club this postseason, desperate for help from his lackluster supporting cast. Smith’s reputation as a front-office executive who built a contender has taken a hit. His two blockbuster trades in mid-December dramatically changed the team, but not necessarily for the better, and improving the already expensive roster will be difficult. And Van Gundy will be under scrutiny if the Magic are dispatched in the opening round. They tumbled to a 52-30 record this season after back-to-back 59-win seasons under the fiery coach. He has seen his offense, which relies heavily on the 3-point shot, fizzle against the Hawks.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was his usual load and vocal self after Sunday night’s Game 4 to the Atlanta Hawks as he searched for positives to encourage his frustrated basketball team. The gist of message was this: Nothing about the Magic’s plight – other than being in a must-win situation – has changed despite being in a 3-1 hole. The Magic still hope to protect their homecourt against the Hawks in Tuesday’s Game 5 at Amway Center. If they can force a Game 6 on Thursday, they still have to find a way to win in Atlanta, something that has been a reality since losing Game 1 in Orlando last week. And to do both of those things they still must figure how to get some sort of offensive flow going in a series where points and made shots have been tough to come by. And, oh yeah, the fourth-seeded Magic have to do it right away come Tuesday night or a season filled with so much promise could be over at the hands of the fifth-seeded Hawks.”
  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Now that his sizzling scoring has helped put the Hawks on the verge of advancing past the Magic into the Eastern Conference semifinals, the praise is flowing for Jamal Crawford. But Crawford remembers the tags critics not so long ago used to hang on him. He was a scorer but needed a lot of shots to get his points. He put up big numbers but he did so while playing for bad teams. His one-on-one style was good for highlights, bad for winning. [...] Most of those criticisms fell by the wayside last season, when Crawford joined the Hawks via trade and had the most efficient scoring season of his career. Atlanta won 53 games and Crawford was voted the NBA’s Sixth Man Award. He further bolstered his credentials last spring when he was Atlanta’s most consistent scorer in his first postseason appearance. That hardly gained notice, though, because the Hawks wheezed past Milwaukee in the first round before getting summarily swept by Orlando. Now Crawford is doing it again and more people are taking notice, especially Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.”

Apr 25

Blue & White Ignite: Magic fans have opportunity to win playoff tickets for Game 5

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Amway Center has turned into the Blue Zoo, presented by MetroPCS, with the Magic offering fans the opportunity to win home game playoff tickets for Round 1. The Blue Zoo was designed to engage the Magic’s most passionate fans during the playoffs. The only way fans can obtain tickets to be part of the Blue Zoo presented by MetroPCS is to demonstrate how much they love the Orlando Magic at Fan Fest (located on Church St. outside Amway Center) prior to select Magic home games. Fans should be geared up with their best Orlando Magic outfits, face paint, hair dye and other fun items ready for their chance to earn their way into the Blue Zoo. Fans can get up-to-date information on how to get into the Blue Zoo through the Magic social media outlets (twitter.com/orlando_magic; facebook.com/orlandomagic).

Apr 25

Recapping Games 3 and 4 for the Orlando Magic with Synergy

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Before the playoffs started, I previewed Orlando’s first round matchup using data from Synergy Sports Technology. Last week, we looked at the playoff games in Orlando. Today, let’s examine the results from the contests in Atlanta.

Game 3

PPP = Points Per Possession

Orlando offense
Orlando’s spot-up game finally produced in Game 3. In Games 1 and 2, Orlando never cracked 0.5 PPP in spot-up. In Game 3, it was Orlando’s best play and they obtained 1.4 PPP. The performance far exceeded their season average of 1.05 PPP, which ranked as the 5th best in the NBA.

The ball handler’s in the pick-and-roll were used extensively Game 3, but their production was the worst among their playoff games. Through three post-season games, Orlando’s pick-and-roll PPP hasn’t matched their lofty production in the regular season.

The Magic utilized roll men four times in Game 2 but reverted to little use in Game 3. Orlando only used their most potent play on one occasion, a Hedo Turkoglu lob to Dwight Howard in the 1st quarter.

The post-up game for Orlando was successful for the third straight game. The indomitable force, Dwight Howard, was responsible for all seven of Orlando’s post-up buckets. He made four hook shots over Jason Collins, two with each hand. Brandon Bass and Jason Richardson used the other three attempts.

Orlando only managed a single And 1 attempt for the second straight game. Dwight Howard was fouled by 2003 Magic draft pick Zaza Pachulia with two minutes left in the first half.

Orlando was the best team in the NBA after they secured an offensive rebound in the regular season and they have continued this trend through three playoff games. Orlando averaged 1.25 PPP after offensive rebounds in the first game in Atlanta.

One particularly bad area for Orlando was their percentage on transition three-pointers. The team went 1-6, and Quentin Richardson’s make over Pachulia was the only successful attempt.

Hedo shot 3-11 overall and went 1-6 beyond the arc. Among players with 600 or more attempts, only three active players (Ron Artest, Jason Kidd, Stephen Jackson) have a lower career FG% than Hedo does in the playoffs.

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Apr 25

Second Look: Atlanta Hawks 88, Orlando Magic 85

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “In the Orlando Magic‘s postgame locker room Sunday night, Stan Van Gundy turned to his assistant coaches and asked a question. Should they take their players directly from Orlando International Airport to Amway Center upon arrival in Florida and shoot baskets until their teamwide shooting woes disappear? Van Gundy was only half-joking. An atrocious shooting slump, poor perimeter defense and a tendency to start games slowly has the Magic one loss away from elimination after they dropped Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks 88-85 Sunday night at Philips Arena. Only eight teams in NBA history have accomplished what the Magic will try to do now: win a best-of-seven series after trailing three games to one. Dwight Howard boiled down the talk ahead to a simple message to his teammates. [...] Appropriately enough, Game 4 ended on a missed 3-pointer. The Magic inbounded the ball to Gilbert Arenas with 10.5 seconds left, and Arenas swung the ball to Hedo Turkoglu. The Hawks’ Al Horford knocked the ball away, and although Turkoglu recovered it, he had no choice but to take a desperation shot. It clanged off the back left side of the rim, sending the announced crowd of 19,490 and the Hawks into a frenzy.”
  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Hate to say it, but it might just be time for the most dreaded four words in the Magic playoff vernacular: Gentlemen, start your razors. Before the Magic began the 2011 NBA playoffs, players vowed not to shave until the postseason was over and fans throughout Central Florida began the rallying cry … “Fear the Beard!” Now, after yet another nail-biting, heart-breaking loss to the Atlanta Hawks that has put the Magic in a nearly hopeless 3-1 hole, it’s getting closer and closer to a time when “Fear the Beer” might be a more appropriate mantra. After all, it probably won’t be long now before Magic fans everywhere are drowning their sorrows following what is quickly turning into an depressingly disappointing season. But there is one positive. Hey, Magic fans, did you see Gilbert Arenas Sunday night? What’s it tell you about this series when the Magic can’t beat the Hawks when Dwight Howard scores 46 points in Game 1 and when Arenas rises from the ashes to score to score 20 in Game 4? Maybe it’s just not meant to be. Maybe just maybe the Hawks, who have now beaten the Magic six of eight times this season, are just the better team.”
  • George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Atlanta Hawks are programmed to beat the Orlando Magic. Three out of four in the regular season. Now three out of four in the playoffs after Atlanta took a commanding 3-1 Sunday night. Magic fans can scream all they want about the clank-clank perimeter shooting of Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson, Ryan Anderson and J.J. Redick (at least he has a doctor’s excuse — he’s been hurt). The problem is that the Magic are very beatable when no one doubles down on Dwight Howard. The Magic aren’t very good about creating their own shots or driving to the basket. They are very good in working the ball around and getting good spacing on the floor to set up their perimeter game. But that’s not happening because the Hawks aren’t double-teaming Dwight Howard. The Hawks are bigger and squeezing the Magic out of their comfort zone. They are still getting jump shots, just not where they want them.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Much like in this increasingly frustrating series, the Orlando Magic could never get over the hump on Sunday night against the Atlanta Hawks. Now, trailing 3-1, the Magic are faced with overcoming a mountain of odds to save their playoff lives. The Magic dug their way out of an early hole and twice got Game 4 tied in the fourth quarter on Sunday night, but they could never take the lead and had to stomach a crushing 88-85 loss to the Hawks that dropped them into a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series. To get out of the first round of the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season, the fourth-seeded Magic must now beat the fifth-seeded Hawks three straight games. Game 5 is Tuesday night in the Amway Center. Counting regular-season play, the Hawks have now defeated the Magic in six of eight games this season, including all four times at Atlanta’s Philips Arena.”
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “About all that’s changed is the sudden emergence of Arenas, who had, at least on this night, the look of a useful NBA player again. Arenas earned a Did Not Play-Coach’s Decision in Game Three as coach Stan Van Gundy called on Turkoglu to play point forward, but he elected to give Arenas a go tonight. The Magic’s big-name midseason acquisition delivered, to a degree, pouring in 20 points in 22 minutes, the sort of high-pressure outing Magic fans had hoped for. Only he and Dwight Howard (a game-high 29 points) could score consistently.”
  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “It took a lot of hard work for the Hawks to take homecourt advantage away from the Magic in their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series. They nearly gave it back with several mistakes in the final moments of Game 4 on Sunday night before finally putting away the Magic. Guard Joe Johnson made four free throws in the final 20.2 seconds to secure Atlanta’s 88-85 victory over Orlando at Philips Arena. The Hawks can win the best-of-seven series with a victory at Orlando on Tuesday. Jamal Crawford scored a team-high 25 points and Johnson had 20 for the Hawks.”
  • Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Say what you will about these Hawks, and by now we’ve said it all, usually with a few choice words interspersed. That they’re sloppy with a lead. That they often act as if basketball was a sport scored on degree of difficulty. That they lead the world in keeping both teams in the game. But here’s something we haven’t been able to say about any Hawks team since 1970: That it leads a best-of-seven series 3-1. Also this: That it’s one game from winning a playoff series in which it didn’t hold the homecourt edge for the first time since 1996.”
  • Bret LaGree of Hoopinion: “Either prolonged exposure to this series is creating an illusion of coherence or Game 4 was the most Hawks/Magic game of this Hawks/Magic series. There were the requisite 88 points scored by the winning team, the terrible shot selection (both teams), the terrible shot-making (Orlando only), the improbably great yet perfectly representative, in kind if not frequency, shot-making of Jamal Crawford, a routine 29 and 17 from Dwight Howard, Jason Collins fouling, 19 unproductive minutes from hideously unqualified Hawk frontcourt reserves, the Hawks building a significant lead despite not playing very good offense, the Magic erasing that lead despite not playing very good offense, and the Hawks prevailing through some combination of the aforementioned Crawford and Collins plus an inefficient but impressive Al Horford, Joe Johnson being efficient but unimpressive for long stretches, Kirk Hinrich making Hawks fans so happy Mike Bibby’s gone, and Josh Smith being inexplicable but not completely useless. “

Apr 24

Recap: Atlanta Hawks 88, Orlando Magic 85

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

BOX SCORE

The Atlanta Hawks were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 88-85 to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. The Hawks are one win away from ending the Magic’s season, and exacting revenge from last year’s sweep in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. Four free-throws from Joe Johnson helped seal the deal for Atlanta, as they helped to stave off Orlando from coming back and stealing Game 4 on the road. With 10.5 seconds left in regulation and the Magic trailing by three points, the basketball was put in Hedo Turkoglu‘s hands but he was unable to deliver with a game-tying shot to extend the game into overtime. It was a scenario in which Orlando sorely missed Jason Richardson, given that he’s been able to come through in crunch-time situations time and again. The Hawks were led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Jamal Crawford finished with 25 points and six assists, continuing his onslaught in the series as Atlanta’s sixth man. Johnson had 20 points and nine rebounds. Al Horford chipped in with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists, while Kirk Hinrich contributed with 14 points. Dwight Howard had another dominant game, finishing with 29 points, 17 rebounds, and two blocks but a lack of support from his teammates has been the Magic’s downfall. Gilbert Arenas redeemed himself after poor performances in Games 1 and 2, as well as a no-show in Game 3, by putting up 20 points and five rebounds, giving Orlando a much-needed boost on offense even though it was in vain.

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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
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