The Orlando Magic celebrates February as Black History Month with a variety of activities, highlighted by the Magic’s African-American Chamber Business After Hours reception on February 22 at Amway Center for more than 200 African-American community leaders. Also, “Young Blacks in Action” and “Revelation Acappella” will perform during home games on February 8 and 23, respectively.
The Magic is also proud sponsors of numerous community events including: the Mayors’ Black History Month Luncheon benefiting United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Orange County Black History Month Celebration & Gala, supporters of the Wells’Built Museum’s Trailblazers Recognition luncheon, the Zora Neale Hurston Festival and the City of Orlando’s Celebrate Black History Committee Scholarship given to one local high school senior.
During this month, the Magic reflect on the rich heritage and many contributions made by African-Americans. The Magic is committed to creating an environment in which employees, community partners and fans feel welcome, valued and appreciated. The team celebrates diversity and embraces its many characteristics and the value it brings to both business and community—understanding what can be accomplished when everyone works together to achieve legendary moments.
The Boston Celtics were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 91-80, further proving the notion that there’s a team from the state of Florida that doesn’t deserve to be considered an elite team and championship contender. And it’s not the Miami Heat. Buoyed by Rajon Rondo’s excellent play and a stifling defense that didn’t allow many open shots on the perimeter, the Celtics smothered the Magic in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicates. Rondo led the way for Boston with 26 points and seven assists, aggressively attacking Orlando’s defense and dismembering a unit led by Dwight Howard. Paul Pierce contributed with 18 points, five assists, and four rebounds. Kevin Garnett chipped in with 16 points and nine rebounds. For the Magic, it was a lot of Howard and little else. Howard was dominant, putting up 28 points, 13 rebounds, and three steals. There was little that Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis could do to contain Howard, even though they did an admirable job of making him work offensively. Unfortunately for Howard, a scrap with Perkins in the second quarter that saw him throw an elbow after he was fouled on a play earned him his 14th technical of the season. The elbow wasn’t needed and it didn’t help that Howard threw it in front of an official, but it’s easy to sympathize with the big fella’s frustration when he’s getting fouled continuously on plays and sometimes not getting calls go his way.
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In a battle between two titans from the state of Florida, the Miami Heat were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 104-100. This was a game in which the Heat led from start to finish, but not without some theatrics in between. Miami led by as many as 23 points, in the fourth quarter no less, yet Orlando was able to go on a furious run thanks in large part to their three-point shooting. As a result, the Magic — improbably — had a chance to tie the game at 103 apiece with a three-pointer but Ryan Anderson was unable to capitalize on Mike Miller’s turnover and the Heat were able to dodge a bullet, holding on for the victory. For Miami, it was the LeBron James show as he erupted for 51 points (on 17-of-25 shooting from the field), 11 rebounds, and eight assists. For James, it was his first 50-point game of the season and he was five points short of his career-high. It’s worth mentioning, as well, that James started the game off by making his first 11 shots. Crazy. James said before stepping on the court that he never forgot the criticisms that were directed towards him by general manager Otis Smith during the offseason and needless to say, he made Orlando pay with a performance that could effectively be described in a few words — ruthless, methodical, dominant. James wasn’t alone, though. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh chipped in with 14 and 13 points, respectively. The Magic were led by a balanced attack as five players scored in double-figures. Jameer Nelson finished with 22 points, six rebounds, and six assists, paving the way for the comeback charge that surprised the Heat it seemed like. Dwight Howard had 17 points, 16 rebounds, but missed free-throws (10 of them, to be exact) doomed the Magic in the grand scheme of things. Jason Richardson had 18 points, while Hedo Turkoglu contributed with 13 points. Gilbert Arenas finished with 10 points. So what did Orlando learn from this loss?
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Later tonight, the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat will square off in a game that has a chance to be special. Or not. Right now, the Magic are a team struggling to right the ship.
Brandon Bass, the starting power forward for Orlando, is sidelined for the foreseeable future and the defense — predictably so — has fallen off a cliff quite a bit, even though head coach Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard oversee a unit that ranks fourth in defensive efficiency.
The Magic’s perimeter defense has been dreadful, at times, and when Howard is sitting on the bench, opponents have been more than happy to attack the basket because they know the big fella isn’t there to stop them. Ryan Anderson and, before his injury, Bass aren’t intimidating presences in the paint. This is an issue that needs to be resolved.
Not only that but after a hot start, Hedo Turkoglu has begun to slow down and he’s one of the reasons that Orlando has lost their way in recent weeks. During the Magic’s nine-game winning streak, Turkoglu was playing good-to-great basketball but recently, he’s been little better than average. If Jameer Nelson is seen as the heart of Orlando, then Turkoglu is the soul.
And right now, the Magic have been soulless lately.
The bright side is that Orlando still has time to fix their problems. A win against the Heat would be a good start, even if the Magic will have some troubles since they’ll be without the services of Bass.
To preview tonight’s proceedings, Surya Fernandez (writer at Hot Hot Hoops and contributor at NBA FanHouse) was kind enough to give his perspective on the latest happenings in Miami.
Fernandez provided his opinion where Udonis Haslem fits in with the Heat in crunch-time when he returns from injury, head coach Erik Spoelstra’s ability to get the most out of his players, and more.
It’s a trick question, of sorts, but who’s more valuable to the Miami Heat — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, or Chris Bosh?
With the way the roster has been constructed, the Heat need steady contributions from all three to win. Yes, they’ve shown they can sometimes win when one or even two are out but if the Heat want to make a deep run in the playoffs all three must be healthy and at the top of their games, period. So it’s almost impossible to identify which of the three is the most valuable. Admittedly the Heat looked positively lost on offense when Bosh was recently out. Wade and LeBron can somewhat duplicate what each other can bring to the offense but their defensive contributions in tandem are also critical to team success. Wade is the sentimental favorite but if push comes to shove and I have to pick one of them, I’d go with LeBron by a hair because of his versatility.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “NBA disciplinary officials have reviewed the technical foul Dwight Howard received Monday night against the Memphis Grizzlies and have determined that the technical will stand as called, a league spokesman told the Orlando Sentinel. Howard’s latest technical leaves him with 13 this season, three shy of a one-game league suspension. Howard received the tech in the closing seconds of the loss to the Grizzlies, and the infraction proved costly. Memphis was leading Orlando 98-97 with 5.5 seconds remaining in regulation, and Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley was standing at the free-throw line to shoot the first of two foul shots. Howard was speaking with referee Tony Brothers, and while it is not clear exactly what was said, Brothers whistled Howard for the technical just after the ball was bounced to Conley. The call caught many players by surprise. In the Sun Sports television broadcast, Memphis’ Rudy Gay could be seen over Conley’s left shoulder with a quizzical look on his face in the seconds after Brothers called the technical. Gay apparently didn’t know who had committed the infraction. Howard didn’t think the call should have been made.”
- Brandon Bass might miss more than five games with a sprained right ankle.
- Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com answers questions for Magic fans.
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Jameer Nelson had just gotten to the rim for a nifty layup in traffic and before he turned to run back up the court he shot a glance and a wave over at Tamari Walker, who was sitting courtside. And for the first time all night, Walker took his hands off the autographed basketball given to him and waved back. For one night at least, the 16-year-old Daytona Beach native was literally living out his dreams. Tamari, who has battled cancerous tumors in his body for the better part of the past four years, had dreamed forever about getting the chance to meet his hero, Dwight Howard, and also several members of the [Orlando] Magic team that he watched so closely on television. So when the cheerful teenager actually got to do just that, Tamari was nearly speechless that those he looked up to took time out before a recent game to wish him well.”
- Who should be in the Three-Point Shootout for Orlando?
- Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider: “As a member of the Magic, [Gilbert] Arenas hasn’t found his former self. Almost impossibly, his shooting has gotten worse. He was at a below-average 50.5 true shooting percentage in Washington and has dipped to a subterranean 46 percent in Orlando. And despite shooting just 30 percent on 3-pointers in a Magic uniform, he’s still chucking up six longballs every 36 minutes. There have been only four instances in NBA history in which a regular has shot that poorly and that often over a full season.”
An awkward landing has made the Orlando Magic‘s month of February more difficult than they initially anticipated.
Team officials don’t know exactly how many games starting power forward Brandon Bass will miss because of a left-ankle injury. But it’s clear that the limited depth at the power forward and center spots will become an issue in the days ahead.
One by one, Magic players walked past Bass inside the visitors’ locker room at FedEx Forum following their 100-97 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night. Most marveled at how badly Bass’ ankle had swollen. It looked as if a golf ball had been planted underneath the skin on the outside of the joint.
Bass, who averages 11.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, hurt his ankle when he took a jumper and came down on the foot of Memphis power forward Zach Randolph. The Magic are calling the injury a sprain, and preliminary X-rays showed no fractures.
“I don’t know how bad it is,” Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. “But, obviously, we’re hoping it won’t be too long. We’re not loaded with a number of big guys, so that would be a tough loss.”
If anything, Van Gundy was understating the potential problem, particularly with a home game against the Miami Heat ahead on Thursday and road games looming against the Washington Wizards on Friday and the Boston Celtics on Sunday.
Bass and Ryan Anderson not only rotate at power forward, but they also serve as Dwight Howard‘s backups at center.
Now, Anderson and Howard will be counted on even more than they had been before.