Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 142

Mar 18

Preview: Denver Nuggets at Orlando Magic

7:00 EDT | Sun Sports
41-27 @ 43-26
Pythagorean Record: 43-25 Pythagorean Record: 47-22
Pace: 95.5 (3rd) Pace: 92.0 (16th)
Offensive Rating: 112.6 (1st) Offensive Rating: 108.0 (13th)
Defensive Rating: 108.2 (17th) Defensive Rating: 102.1 (3rd)
Amway Center | Nuggets lead season series 1-0

Mar 18

Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and SIFMA Foundation celebrate youth financial literacy with the Slam Dunk for Financial Education Program

Via the Orlando Magic:

Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and the SIFMA Foundation will recognize the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida winners of the Slam Dunk for Financial Education program tonight during the Orlando Magic versus Denver Nuggets game. The youth will be treated to game tickets, a pregame warm-up viewing, an awards ceremony and an on-court halftime presentation for the First Place team.

The innovative Slam Dunk for Financial Education program kicked off on February 14 at the Parramore Boys & Girls Club in Orlando with a visit by basketball great J.J. Redick initiating nearly 60 youth and 20 Bank of America Merrill Lynch associate volunteers in the SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game™ competition. The Stock Market Game, which is widely used by 600,000 students each year, introduces youngsters to the financial markets as they learn math, economics and the importance of long-term saving and investing. As a part of the program, teams of 3-5 participants work together to invest a hypothetical $100,000 in real stocks, bonds and mutual funds, learning cooperation, communication and leadership as they manage their portfolios.

Bank of America and Merrill Lynch associate volunteers brought the content to life for Slam Dunk’s youth participants during the 10-week program, coaching and supporting the youth teams at each of the three selected Boys & Girls Club sites – the Parramore, Universal Orlando Foundation and Walt Disney World Branches. Redick offered his star power to the program, encouraging participants to develop life skills through this experience, including how to set goals and work towards them, how to be a team player and most of all, to always plan for the future.

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Mar 18

What do The Strokes and Jameer Nelson have in common?

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

A few weeks ago I read a headline that all but sent me running through my neighborhood chanting, “they’re back!” The Strokes were releasing a new single, the first music from them since 2005. I first heard about them in 2002 while I was at prom and a buddy popped in their debut record “Is This It.” From there I was hooked, and spent the better half of the next few years selling my soul to Julian Casablancas, trying to argue they were one of the best five bands of all time.

After that monumental album, The Strokes dropped a pair of marginal records that left a bittersweet taste in the mouths of fans and critics. Yes, it was decent music, and yes there were good moments, but it was not a complete package. It wasn’t that perfect record that came out of nowhere in 2001.

I bet Stan Van Gundy has fond memories of the Jameer Nelson of 2009. Granted, Nelson only played 42 games that season, but his output was the best in his career. It’s been hard for Magic fans to figure out why he can’t replicate the magic of those 42 games for more than a game or two at a time.

What is clear, though, is that SVG not only remembers, but also demands the type of play he thinks Nelson is capable of. That kind of play is what we saw last week at Sacramento and Golden State. Nelson posted 24 and 26 points in those games. And a few weeks back he dropped 26 against New York. But there are too many marginal “games between the games” where Jameer underperforms, like in Portland a week ago where he had two points in 21 minutes and shot 14 percent from the field. That was not the case in 2009.

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Mar 17

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic waited several weeks for Hedo Turkoglu to regain an attacking mentality on offense. He found it on the Magic’s recently completed five-game road trip. Turkoglu averaged 16.2 points on 51.8 percent shooting — a significant improvement for a player who had been reluctant to look for his own shot. Turkoglu concluded the road swing on a high note, scoring eight of the Magic’s 14 overtime points in a 93-89 win Wednesday over the Milwaukee Bucks. He also hit the final go-ahead basket, a 20-footer from in front of the Bucks’ bench with a minute remaining in the extra period. ‘I’ve always been in this situation in my career, especially with the Magic,’ Turkoglu said. ‘They just have confidence in me. I just keep myself ready until that time and when the time comes, I just try to make a play.’ Coach Stan Van Gundy and center Dwight Howard want Turkoglu to continue to look for his own shot.”
  • The chemistry is developing for the Orlando Magic.
  • Dwight Howard warned his teammates of the Milwaukee Bucks.
  • Turnovers are a problem for the Magic.
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy doesn’t seem to mind being labeled annoying during games.
  • Howard’s game face.
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Turnovers, and the fluidity of his team’s offense in general, have worried Van Gundy since training camp. The midseason acquisitions of Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas were meant in part to boost the Magic’s passing and playmaking, which in theory would mean reduced turnovers. On a season-long level, it’s worked, as the Magic have trimmed their turnover rate by one percentage point since the deals. But in their last nine games, in which they own a 5-4 record, the Magic have committed 150 turnovers in just 824 possessions, which equals a turnover rate of 18.2, astronomical by NBA standards. For perspective, consider they could have two full games’ worth of possessions, commit no turnovers, and still be in rough shape as far as turnover rate is concerned.”
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: “Seven of 27 three-point shooting did Orlando in, and Jameer Nelson‘s foul on Brandon Jennings late in regulation as he attempted to tie the game with a three-pointer allowed for the free five minutes tacked on in the end. Howard was too much, though. Very fluid to start, disappeared for a while (that’s on the Bucks, to me, more than Dwight), and was omnipresent at the end. Scored when the ball met him, made plays on the other end. Omnipresent.”
  • St. Patrick Day shoes for Howard.
  • Adam Figman of SLAM ONLINE recaps the Magic’s win succinctly: “Beyond Dwight Howard’s beastly 31 and 22 effort, the Magic did little right, but they pulled enough good fortune to grab the win in overtime (yeah, a 93-89 game that included an OT session) and earned Orlando an official spot in the Playoffs. Brandon Jennings scored 23 for Milwaukee, a team that’s simply not playing with the edge it needs to make a postseason push. Unfortunate. The Magic are back in Orlando tomorrow night to take on the Nuggets.”
  • Howard doesn’t regret skipping college.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “Put him second, put him third. I’m not going to argue over how one should define MVP with you. But if Dwight Howard is not on your list, then I wonder how much hoop you watch and how much you understand what you do see. Because he is flat out ballin’.”
  • Orlando is lucky to win their game last night.

Mar 17

Dwight Howard to host fourth annual youth basketball camp

Via the Orlando Magic:

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard announces details for his fourth annual youth basketball camp. The Dwight Howard Basketball Camp presented by Fifth Third Bank is scheduled for August 1st – 3rd, at University of Central Florida Arena.

Dwight will be on site the entire camp to direct activities and provide instruction. He will be joined by several of the top prep and collegiate coaches from the Orlando area. The camp is open to boys and girls ages 7 to 18.

Campers experience various stations, specializing in fundamental skills and the team concept of basketball. Individual groups are small to assure each camper gets maximum personalized instruction.

Campers receive an autographed camp team photo with Dwight, an Adidas camp T-shirt, camp goodie bag and the opportunity to win additional contests and prizes. Cost of the camp is $199.

Additional camp partners include Dex, Ignition, WFTV-9, Star 94.5, Power 95.3, Lake Mary Life, and Southwest Orlando Bulletin.

Spots are limited, campers are encouraged to register early.

Additional information and registration is available at www.DwightHowardCamp.com or call 513-793-CAMP(2267).

Mar 16

Recap: Orlando Magic 93, Milwaukee Bucks 89 (OT)

AP Photo/Morry Gash

BOX SCORE

Concluding their five-game road trip that started on the West Coast and finished in the Midwest, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks by the score of 93-89 in overtime. The game could have ended in regulation, as the Magic were up by three points with 6.1 seconds left. Typically, this is a gray area when it comes to figuring out if it’s a good idea to foul up three, with the sole purpose of preventing a chance for the opposing team to tie with a three-pointer. In this case, Orlando played out that scenario. The Bucks inbounded the basketball and Jameer Nelson frantically tried to foul Brandon Jennings before he could shoot. Jennings realized this and eluded Nelson, giving himself enough space and time to put up a shot behind the three-point line. As Jennings attempted the three, Nelson finally drew contact and was whistled for a foul. Poor execution by Nelson. Jennings did his job, made all three free-throws, and sent the game into an extra period before the Magic were able to walk away with a victory. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard finished with 31 points, 22 rebounds, two steals, and three blocks — his fifth 20-20 game of the regular season. Hedo Turkoglu contributed with 19 points, while Jason Richardson had 13 points and Nelson had 10 points.

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Mar 16

Preview: Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks

8:00 EDT | Sun Sports
42-26 @ 26-40
Pythagorean Record: 47-21 Pythagorean Record: 29-37
Pace: 92.1 (16th) Pace: 90.0 (25th)
Offensive Rating: 108.1 (11th) Offensive Rating: 100.8 (30th)
Defensive Rating: 102.2 (3rd) Defensive Rating: 102.3 (4th)
Bradley Center | Season series tied 1-1

Mar 16

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “[Dwight] Howard was in a good mood, joining Jameer Nelson in heckling Brandon Bass about his pants size even after Monday night’s loss in L.A., which seemingly should have hurt a little more. Howard summoned rookie Daniel Orton to carry his jacket, headphones and tote bag to the bus as is his right as a veteran. The Magic didn’t look or sound like a team with a care in the world, much less in the East postseason race. If they’re concerned, they don’t show it. They’ll let the worry lines occupy coach Stan Van Gundy‘s face. One thing that’s clear to me about the Magic: They aren’t taking much stock in these regular-season results. They are veterans, some who have been to the ’09 Finals, and this 82-game stuff to them is a formality, practically a nuisance. I think players realize the season hasn’t gone as planned, that Otis Smith’s trades don’t figure to run down the Celtics, Bulls and Heat. They’ve fallen short of expectations, so their focus already has shifted to the playoffs and the repairs they can make there to stun their doubters. The Magic know they probably are stuck with the No. 4 seed and simply need to catch fire. Their maddening inconsistency? The turnovers and defensive lapses? The rebounding woes? Run along, naysayers. We’ll get that all straightened out in the playoffs. Hard to buy what the Magic are selling, isn’t it?”
  • George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “[Otis] Smith has handicapped the Magic for years because he believed in [Gilbert] Arenas when no one else did. It’s an admirable thing to do as a compassionate human being. It’s a horrible thing to do from a business standpoint. The Magic and Arenas appear to be stuck with each other. It will be this city’s burden to have to watch and wince.”
  • Tracy McGrady didn’t always try hard in practice. Is that necessarily bad?
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy warns the Orlando Magic about the Milwaukee Bucks.
  • J.J. Redick will not play in tonight’s game against the Bucks.
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “All jokes aside, Howard has been attempting to look into the future quite a bit these days what with the playoffs beginning in almost a month. At 42-26 with 14 regular-season games left before the postseason free-for-all begins, Howard is attempting to project positives where some only see darkness. His Magic are most likely locked into the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, and unlike some Howard doesn’t see that as being the end of the world. [...] If the playoffs started today, the Magic would open in the first round against an Atlanta team that it has dominated much of the past three seasons and swept last spring in the most lopsided postseason series in history. Win that, and the Magic could be in position to face Chicago, a blossoming team that has yet to prove itself in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the East’s other two top teams, Boston and Miami, could be forced to beat up on one another in the other side of the playoff bracket.”
  • I think it’s foolish to underestimate the Chicago Bulls “lack of playoff experience.”
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie has more on McGrady’s practice habits: “Here’s the part where we tell you that McGrady really is a sweet, intelligent, and thoughtful guy. And here’s the part where we remind you that, holy crap, he averaged 32 points, a combined 12 rebounds/assists, and just 2.6 turnovers in 2002-03 with the Orlando Magic. And here’s where we remind that though McGrady never made it out of the first round as an active player, there wasn’t one time in that first-round losing streak where I thought McGrady’s squad lost to an inferior opponent.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “The middle of the East looks pretty set. Look for another Orlando vs. Atlanta playoff series, although this time in the first round as the four and five seeds (the Magic swept that series last year).”
  • Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports: “Van Gundy tried to make sense of 593 foul calls without so much as a flagrant foul on Dwight Howard. And after speaking the truest words of the season – saying that Stern doesn’t allow dissenting opinions in the NBA, that free speech is a scarce commodity on league issues – the commissioner reacted in a most predictable, childish way on state-run NBA radio. After refusing to confront Van Gundy directly and promising to take the matter to Magic ownership, Stern sounded like a power-drunk small-town mayor saying ‘… We won’t be hearing from him for the rest of the season.’ ”

Mar 16

The importance of the three-point shot

Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Remember back in 2009 when the Magic knocked off the seemingly unbeatable Cavs in the Conference Finals by shooting 41 percent from deep for the entire series? Sometimes I wonder if this year’s squad is the same type of team as that NBA Finals team. That is, I wonder if this team lives and dies by the three-point shot like they did in the days of Lewis and Pietrus. Jeff Van Gundy seems to think so. He never fails to point that out when the Magic go on a big run. The reliance on the three-ball was evident this year when the Magic shot over 50 percent from deep en route to a 20 point win over the Spurs. So I gave it a look. I checked out some season splits from Orlando against the best teams in the East and West to find out if three-point shooting was really the key for this Orlando team. The results pointed to just that, and even taking into account the ever-important role of Dwight Howard in the post, the bottom line is that the Magic will need to shoot the ball, and shoot the ball well from the outside if they are going to be a factor in the playoffs this year.

It is important to understand that the East flat out plays better defense than the West based on defensive efficiency. Five of the top six defensive teams in the league are East Coast teams and the first contending West Coast team that appears on that list is San Antonio in the seventh slot. It should be no wonder that Orlando is able to dominate against the West, but struggles against the East (and they do, as we will see).

Defensive efficiency is a result of several variables, and it isn’t groundbreaking news that an East Coast team plays tougher games against other East Coast teams. Familiarity and predictability certainly come into play. The simple fact that Orlando gets more exposure to the East means that teams come more readily equipped (and fired up) to handle Dwight and company, even if that means hammering Dwight in the post. But more importantly, the Stan Van Gundy/Dwight centered offense is by now extremely familiar. There just aren’t a lot of ways to mask what you’re trying to do if you’re SVG.

The Magic, more so than most other teams, have a particular brand of basketball, making them even more predictable than others.

Just look at the figures. Against the top four teams in the East, the Magic are 5-7 and as a team, shoot the ball at a lower percentage than their season average. Against the top four teams in the West it’s a totally different story. Dwight shoots close 70 percent from the field, and three-point shooters are knocking down well over 40 percent, which, as we’ve seen before, are championship-run numbers.  So there is obviously something at work here.

The compelling factor in all of this is not that the Magic struggle against defenses that are more familiar or competitive with them. What is intriguing is that a closer look at the numbers shows that there is one stat that takes a considerable hit when Orlando loses to Eastern Conference teams — three-point shooting.

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Mar 16

Get your 2011-2012 Orlando Magic season tickets now

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