Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 142

Apr 06

Recap: Orlando Magic 111, Charlotte Bobcats 102 (OT)

AP Photo/Chuck Burton

BOX SCORE

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With it, Howard will be suspended for Sunday’s matinee against the Chicago Bulls unless the tech is rescinded.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.

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Apr 06

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Even now, some eight months later, Orlando Magic superstar center Dwight Howard has flashbacks to July and August when he would spend two to three hours a day in gymnasiums all over the world shooting jumpers and perfecting his hook shot with both hands. Howard was a man in demand last summer, twice traveling to China for promotional appearances, making a third trip to India for the NBA and also spending time in New York and Los Angeles furthering his acting and musical aspirations. But regardless of where he was, Howard would always seek out a gymnasium – usually at U.S. army bases – to perfect his craft and prove that he was far more than just the NBA’s premier defender and rebounder. Howard and the rest of the basketball world see the fruits of all of that work now on a nightly basis as he has boosted his scoring average to easily the best mark of his career (23.2 points per game) while also carrying his Orlando Magic across those broad shoulders of his. “
  • How many wins have the Orlando Magic lost due to injuries and illnesses?
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “When the Magic do stumble in the playoffs, know that it’s not your fault. It may be the midseason trades that didn’t provide much useful debt, especially at point guard (but did tie up future cap space). It might have something to do with inconsistent three point shooting. It might have something to do with teams being able to slow the Magic because they can single-cover Howard.”
  • Ironically enough, following the Kendrick Perkins trade and Dwight Howard’s continued development on offense, the Orlando Magic have become the Boston Celtics’ kryptonite according to Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider: “The Celtics had an answer for Dwight Howard, but now he plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Perkins was pivotal in neutralizing Howard in the Eastern Conference finals last season, but the Celtics don’t have that weapon in their arsenal anymore. In the two games the Magic played against the Celtics with Perkins in street clothes, Howard and the Magic held the Celtics to 78 points in an eight-point win on Christmas and lost by just three on Boston’s home court in January. Luckily for the Celtics, the playoff seedings likely will keep Howard far, far away from TD Bank Garden, because the earliest the two teams could possibly meet is in the Eastern Conference finals, a would-be rematch of last season’s East title bout.”
  • Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: “Magic coach Stan Van Gundy might be right: Some in the media may have already made up their minds that Derrick Rose is the MVP, all evidence be damned. Personally, I haven’t. Even if you’re like me and have been leaning that way for a few weeks, there is plenty of time for careful, thoughtful, and informed analysis before the ballots are due in the NBA office April 14 at 3 p.m. ET.”
  • Howard implores Magic fans to believe in the team.

Apr 06

Preview: Orlando Magic at Charlotte Bobcats

7:00 EDT | Fox Sports Florida
49-29 @ 32-45
Pythagorean Record: 53-25 Pythagorean Record: 27-50
Pace: 91.6 (17th) Pace: 89.8 (25th)
Offensive Rating: 107.6 (14th) Offensive Rating: 102.7 (26th)
Defensive Rating: 101.9 (3rd) Defensive Rating: 107.2 (17th)
Time Warner Cable Arena | Magic lead season series 3-0

Apr 06

A reminder of Tracy McGrady’s greatness

Apr 06

An imperfect NCAA Tournament

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Now that the national championship game has been played, is it okay to admit that this year’s NCAA Tournament, including the championship, wasn’t really all that great?

Whenever I throw accusations around about “March Madness,” all my friends who call themselves “purists”—and who are convinced that the NCAA Tournament is perfect—chastise me and quickly explain how this latest tournament has been the best tournament ever.

I’m going to take a few moments to address the most common arguments for “why this year’s tournament proves March Madness is the best!”

Not a single number-one-seed is in the Final Four
This is by far the biggest “selling point” for anyone defending this year’s tournament, and is by far the most ridiculous. How does eliminating the best teams in the tournament make it better?  Similarly, how is it possibly more enjoyable to watch VCU play against Butler than it would be to watch Duke play Ohio State?

For me, a good tournament ends with the most elite and skilled players going head-to-head, not mediocre mid-major squads looking sheepish and trying their hardest to appear as if they somehow belong at the big dance. Yes, Butler and VCU proved that on any given day, a good team can get beat. So what? If I want to figure out who the best NBA team is, I don’t force the Lakers to play a one-game neutral-site playoff against the Nuggets to figure out who’s better. I play them off in a series, and the battle reveals the winner, and the “best team.”

Upsets are always fun to watch, but when it comes down to it, a big part of what was missing in the Final Four, and more specifically in the championship game, was the presence of an elite team. Ugly basketball isn’t fun to watch.

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Apr 05

Recap: Orlando Magic 78, Milwaukee Bucks 72

AP Photo/John Raoux

BOX SCORE

The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks by the score of 78-72, putting themselves in position to win their 50th game of the regular season when they play again on Wednesday. Also, the victory ensures that the Magic will be facing off against the Atlanta Hawks at the No. 4 seed, meaning they’ll have home-court advantage for the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard had a quiet night for his standards, finishing with 18 points, 17 rebounds, and three steals while simultaneously shutting down Andrew Bogut to two points. Jameer Nelson had 17 points and five steals. Brandon Bass finished with 13 points. Hedo Turkoglu notched a double-double, putting up 12 points and 10 rebounds. Gilbert Arenas and Chris Duhon were able to make their respective returns to head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s rotation, though their collective impacts were minimal. For those that witnessed the championship game in the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Monday, this game was not much better when it came to two teams scoring points. The Bucks have the worst unit offensively in the NBA, thus it’s no surprise that they were held to 72 points.

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Apr 05

In the eyes of many, the Orlando Magic are free-falling

To be honest, NBA power rankings mean very little. At the most, they represent a snapshot of the league at a respective moment in time. But it says something that the Orlando Magic continue to fall down the ranks. This is merely one example.

Apr 05

Preview: Milwaukee Bucks at Orlando Magic

7:00 EDT | Fox Sports Florida
31-45 @ 48-29
Pythagorean Record: 35-41 Pythagorean Record: 53-24
Pace: 89.6 (26th) Pace: 91.6 (17th)
Offensive Rating: 101.5 (30th) Offensive Rating: 107.9 (14th)
Defensive Rating: 102.6 (4th) Defensive Rating: 102.2 (3rd)
Amway Center | Magic lead season series 2-1

Apr 05

Dwight Howard’s improved jumpshooting

Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post:

Dwight Howard‘s tremendous offensive improvement might be one of the underreported stories of the 2010/11 NBA season. In his seventh professional season, Howard has set career highs in usage rate (27.4 percent of the Orlando Magic‘s possessions end with a Howard shot attempt, trip to the foul line, or turnover) and per-game scoring (22.1, tenth in the league) without seeing a meaningful drop-off in efficiency. His 61.8 percent True Shooting mark ranks him sixth in the league, and Paul Pierce is the only one of those players who approaches Howard’s scoring volume. He’s also trimmed his turnover rate despite the increased offensive responsibilities. Anyone still criticizing him for lacking a refined offensive game simply isn’t paying attention. [...]

Despite these improvements, opposing defenses will continue to concede the jumper to Howard, given that he connects on all other two-point shots at 58.7 percent. The issue for the rest of the league is that few players can consistently muscle Howard out of the painted area.

I believe Howard’s gone about refining his jumper the right way: he’s improved it to a reasonable degree without compromising his volume of higher-percentage shots closer to the goal. The jumper is simply a tool he can use when he absolutely has to.

There’s been a lot of chatter surrounding Dwight Howard’s improvements on offense.

If there’s anything that’s stood out the most from Howard’s expanded repertoire this season, it’s his ability to make mid-range jumpers with regularity.

Apr 05

The Orlando Magic supports NBA Green Week 2011

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Orlando Magic announces their participation in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Green Week 2011, which tipped-off April 3 and will run through April 10. The Orlando Magic Green Week 2011 is presented by OUC—The Reliable One, Waste Management and O,R&L.

To kick off Green Week 2011, the Orlando Magic will be hosting a “Green Night” on Tuesday, April 5 during the Magic vs. Milwaukee matchup. The Magic’s other Green Week activities to include:

  • “Green Tips ” promoting energy and water efficiency, recycling, reusing and more. Along with other related features displayed on the videoboard throughout the April 5 and 10 games.
  • Honorary ball captains, in-arena emcees and Magic Dancers to wear NBA Green Week T-shirts during April 5 and 10 games.
  • To raise awareness, Magic players to wear adidas 100 percent organic cotton shooting shirts featuring the NBA Green logo for all Green Week games (April 3-10).
  • On “Green Night” at the April 5 Magic vs. Milwaukee game, Waste Management’s (WM) 2011 Think Green Art Contest Winner, Natalia Cubero from South Creek Middle School will be recognized on-court with Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson, Bo Outlaw, STUFF and a WM representative. Cubero’s winning artwork will also be unveiled during the game.
  • On April 7, the Magic will partner with the City of Orlando and OUC for a special Amway Center announcement presented by OUC. To commemorate this announcement the Magic, city officials and Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida will plant an herb garden in the plaza area of Amway Center. The garden will be maintained by the members of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida (Parramore branch) and utilized by them for special projects throughout the year.
  • On April 8, the entire Orlando Magic staff will partner with KaBoom! and the Orlando Neighborhood Improvement Corporation (ONIC) to build a playground in one day for local youth in the Maitland Oaks Apartments. The playground will have several green components and side projects including flower gardens, landscaping, birdhouses and Waste Management will place recyclable containers/dumpsters around the area. Leftover food from the build will also be picked up and delivered to shelters and food banks through the Magic’s partnership with the “Rock and Wrap it Up” program.
  • On April 10, when the Magic host the Bulls, Fan Fest will feature an OUC booth where fans can learn how to be green and save green. OUC also will announce a special promotion that will encourage and reward green behaviors.
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