Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 146

Mar 07

Video Analysis: Anatomy of a 40-9 run against the Miami Heat

Despite a disappointing loss to the Chicago Bulls on Friday, which culminated with a one-game suspension for Dwight Howard that’ll be served tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers, last week was fairly successful for the Orlando Magic. After Howard pleaded with his teammates to bring more to the table after losing to the Sacramento Kings on February 23, the Magic were able to respond with wins against the Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks and Miami Heat.

Each victory signified the latent potential Orlando has as they proceed to prepare for the 2011 NBA Playoffs. But of course, the Magic’s win against the Heat reinforced the belief that they’ll almost always go down with a fight.

Even though Orlando was trailing by as many as 24 points in the second half against Miami, they kept at it. The intensity on defense picked up, and the Magic were ruthless not only in their half-court execution on offense but in the fast break where they were able to find numerous open looks from the three-point line. It’s easy to state that the Heat eased up a bit after building a big lead, which is true. But Orlando still had to go out there and make plays.

What proceeds is a run, and comeback, for the ages.

Leading the way for the Magic was the three-headed monster of Jason Richardson, Jameer Nelson, and Gilbert Arenas.

Mar 05

Recap: Chicago Bulls 89, Orlando Magic 81

AP Photo/John Raoux

BOX SCORE

The Chicago Bulls were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 89-81, snapping a four-game winning streak and inducing Dwight Howard to pick up a technical foul — his 16th of the regular season, which means he’ll be suspended for Monday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Even though the scoreboard said it was a close matchup between two of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, from the second quarter on, the Bulls had total control against the Magic and were never in a vulnerable position of giving up the lead. Derrick Rose led the way for Chicago, finishing with 24 points, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Rose got help from his supporting cast, as three players scored in double-figure for the Bulls. Even though Kyle Korver scored only 10 points, he stands out because he was able to put the nail on the coffin late in the fourth quarter by making cold-blooded threes. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Howard played well, putting up 20 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, and four blocks, but it felt like he could have done way more had the Magic made a concerted effort to give him the basketball more. Brandon Bass had an efficient outing, scoring 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Jason Richardson had 16 points, while Jameer Nelson had 14 points.

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Mar 04

The left side is the Orlando Magic’s good side

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Via Peter D. Newmann of ESPN Stats and Information:

The Orlando Magic have their sweet spots from the three-point line on the left side of the court. Orlando shoots a higher percentage from those areas and has more attempts from those areas. The Magic have to hit their three-pointers to win the game. Orlando is just 3-12 when they fail to make at least 29% of their three-pointers in a game.

Magic 3-PT FGA FG FG pct
Left Corner 124-305 40.7
Left Wing 145-389 37.3
Center 82-252 33.3
Right Wing 124-366 33.9
Right Corner 86-247 34.8

Mar 04

Preview: Chicago Bulls at Orlando Magic

7:00 EST | ESPN
41-18 @ 40-22
Pythagorean Record: 42-17 Pythagorean Record: 44-18
Pace: 91.1 (20th) Pace: 92.2 (16th)
Offensive Rating: 106.7 (16th) Offensive Rating: 108.4 (11th)
Defensive Rating: 100.2 (1st) Defensive Rating: 101.9 (3rd)
Amway Center | Season series is tied 1-1

Mar 04

Second Look: Orlando Magic 99, Miami Heat 96

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “When the final buzzer sounded, Jason Richardson clasped both sides of his head. Jameer Nelson pumped his right fist and turned toward Dwight Howard. The two co-captains exchanged high-fives. Coach Stan Van Gundy raised both arms into the air. None of them will forget what their team accomplished Thursday night. Trailing by 24 points several minutes into the third quarter, the Orlando Magic stormed back against the Miami Heat and pulled out a pulse-pounding 99-96 road victory. [...]  The announced crowd of 19,600 inside AmericanAirlines Arena and a national television audience watched the Magic complete the second-largest comeback in franchise history and saw a game that once belonged to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade take an unbelievable turn. The Magic, once seemingly out of hope, closed the game on a 40-9 run.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “When shots incredibly started falling in bunches and the defense on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade dramatically rose to suffocating levels, the Orlando Magic’s belief swelled that they could possibly pull off something historic Thursday night. Remarkably, a Magic team given up for dead when it trailed the rival Miami Heat by 18 points at halftime and by as much as 24 points in the second half awoke from its slumber and pulled off a comeback win for the ages. A second half that started as ‘a playing for pride thing,’ as Ryan Anderson put it, morphed into a monumental night as Orlando registered the second greatest comeback in franchise history and shockingly beat the hated Heat 99-96 at American Airlines Arena. Once down 73-49 early in the third quarter, the Magic used runs of 22-7 (to end the third period) and 18-2 (to start the fourth quarter) – a shocking 40-9 spurt in all – for what very well could be the biggest regular-season victory in franchise history.”
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post:The 24-point comeback is really something else, isn’t it? To pull that off, on the road, against a team of Miami’s caliber? Appreciate it, sure, but don’t lose sight of the fact that the Magic could have had a less exciting, but probably more meaningful, win had they not trailed by such a big margin in the first place. That entails taking better care of the ball, rotating on defense, and (obviously) making shots. Every game is but one of 82 in theory, but in practice–in the narrative terms in which we define our world–games like tonight’s mean more. So it’s worth noting that in the fourth quarter, with his team needing anything he could provide in order to prevent a near-historic collapse, James took just two shots in 9 minutes, missing them both and going scoreless. Howard scored just 4 points (on 4-of-4 free-throw shooting, without any shot attempts from the field), but blocked three shots and pulled in 10 rebounds. Again, that’s three blocks and 10 rebounds in one period of play for Howard.”
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel: “This could have, and perhaps should have, been a night when Erik Spoelstra rested his starters in advance of Friday’s road game against the San Antonio Spurs. When the Miami Heat moved to a 24-point lead early in the third quarter, amid a run of nine consecutive conversions from the field from forward LeBron James, it sure appeared headed that way. Instead, against an opponent capable of making 3-pointers, the Heat not only had to fight to the finish but wound up flailing to the finish of what turned into a disturbing and disheartening 99-96 loss Thursday night to the Orlando Magic at AmericanAirlines Arena, the Heat’s fourth loss in their last eight games. [...] What was a 73-49 Heat lead with 8:47 to play in the third quarter turned into an 82-82 tie with 8:41 to play on a Gilbert Arenas 3-pointer. The Magic completed the comeback on a Ryan Anderson layup with 7:38 to play, for an 84-82 lead, with an Arenas 3-pointer putting Orlando up 87-82 with 7:01 to play, with a cascade of boos following as Spoelstra called time out.”
  • Dave Hyde of the Sun-Sentinel: “Well, Mike Bibby is officially a member of the Heat now. He got the big standing ovation upon first entering. He got the kind of open 3-point shot the Heat supporting cast often gets. Bibby then got a first-hand look at what’s wrong in the Heat’s 99-96 loss to Orlando. The Heat blew a 24-point lead. They were outscored by, take your pick, 18-0 or 40-9 by the Magic. Dwyane Wade missed all six of his shots in the second half. LeBron James didn’t score in the fourth quarter. The Heat missed seven of eight from the free-throw line at one point. And we haven’t even got to the radioactively bad part yet. That was the final play. That was the one that could have saved the night. Instead, it piled on the tough questions. Now, granted, the Heat needed a 3-point shot on that play. That made it easier for Orlando to defend. But down three points with 9.6 seconds left in the NBA represents a decent chance.”
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald: “LeBron James delivered his message very clearly 90 minutes before tipoff Thursday: ‘It’s about time,’ James said, ‘that we turn it on and play at a high level.’ Unfortunately for the Heat, that high level of play during a terrific first half was followed by a collapse of epic proportions, one that ended in a stunning 99-96 loss to Orlando at AmericanAirlines Arena. [...] Ahead by 18 at halftime and by 24 early in the third quarter, Miami was overwhelmed by an avalanche of Magic three-pointers during a devastating 40-9 Orlando run over much of the third quarter and half of the fourth. Included in that stretch was an 18-0 Magic stampede after the Heat scored the first basket of the fourth quarter. By the time the Magic’s blistering barrage was over, Orlando had surged ahead, 89-82. The Heat went 6:13 without scoring in the fourth before Chris Bosh’s layup with 5:12 left.”
  • Israel Gutierrez of The Miami Herald: “Regular season games don’t mean anything. Until they do. This epic Heat collapse means something. You could see it on the face of Erik Spoelstra, who did his best to maintain the calm façade of a coach but couldn’t help but let some of that frustration and aggravation and confusion peek through as he spoke following Thursday’s loss. You could see it and hear it in Chris Bosh, who looked defeated and sounded defiant. What it actually means is yet to be determined. But there are very few games, wins or losses, that resonate like this. Losing a 24-point, second-half lead to the Orlando Magic one game after losing a 15-point lead to the Knicks and three games after losing an 11-point lead to the Bulls — that more than stings. It burns. Bad.”
  • Brian Windhorst of The Heat Index: “Each year the NBA teaches there are no absolutes in the regular season, the “playoffs” sticker affixed to the floor in late April having magical powers to erase so many supposed certainties learned over the first 82 games. It is a fundamental truth, but it can also be a crutch. Right now the Miami Heat are using the crutch. But that isn’t the worst part for the team that owned not just championship hopes, but championship expectations. They know they’re clinging to hope and not belief — and that current reality is going down like bitter medicine. Calling the Heat’s 99-96 loss Thursday to the Orlando Magic — in which they blew a 24-point lead — a collapse isn’t really accurate. For a collapse, there must be something strong and towering that falls. The Heat, now more than three-quarters of a season into their fascinating experiment, can’t honestly say they’ve ever fit that description this season. Proper credit must be given to the Magic, who shot their way back into the game by making nine 3-pointers in the second half. They also showed some of their better defense, relying on Dwight Howard to wall off the paint and rebound while their bombers had a great night. Orlando has scored wins over the Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks and now their in-state rivals in less than a week.”
  • Michael Wallace of The Heat Index: “Move over, Charlie Sheen. When it comes to spiraling out of control before our very eyes these past few days, dude, you’ve got company. Star-studded company. Miami Heat company. To borrow a line from Scottie Pippen, two-and-a-half players company. Meet LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the talent core of a team going through another stretch of turbulence. And that’s never a good thing, especially when this latest post-debacle itinerary included boarding a plane after midnight Thursday to San Antonio to face a Spurs team Friday that is sporting the league’s best record. Just like yours, Charlie, the Heat’s show was once the hottest thing going. After Thursday night’s demoralizing 99-96 loss at home to the Orlando Magic, this Miami cast is only crashing and burning. In blowing a 24-point lead over the game’s final 20 minutes, the Heat continued a destructive set of trends that reveal this team is stumbling backward at a time when it was supposed to be storming down the stretch and peaking on the way toward the playoffs. “

Mar 04

Recap: Orlando Magic 99, Miami Heat 96

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

BOX SCORE

It’s been said that no one should underestimate the heart of a champion. Or in this case, no one should underestimate the heart of an underdog, as the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Miami Heat by the score of 99-96 after being down by as many as 24 points in the game — it’s the second-largest comeback victory in franchise history. Not only did the improbable comeback come against the Heat, a rival for the Magic, but it came in a nationally televised game where almost anyone interested in the NBA had their attention focused on the matchup. On a day where people were wondering whether or not Orlando should be taken seriously as the playoffs steadily approach, that question has been answered. The Magic were led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. There were those that hoped Dwight Howard would put up a monster performance and continue his surge in the MVP race, but they’ll have to be content with a stat-line of 14 points, 18 rebounds, five assists, and five blocks. However, it’s worth mentioning that Howard was a force defensively in the fourth quarter, as he compiled 10 rebounds and three blocks as Orlando made their comeback charge. Jason Richardson was one of the catalysts in the comeback, as he finished with 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field (6-of-8 from three-point range). Jameer Nelson, too, was integral in the process, as he chipped in with 16 points and seven assists. Ryan Anderson had 15 points, while Gilbert Arenas had 11 points including a sequence where he couldn’t “feel his face” after making two three-pointers in the fourth quarter that tied the game for the Magic and subsequently gave them the lead after trailing for most of the contest. For Orlando, these are the types of games that can energize a roster and reinforce the belief they can beat any team on a given night.

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Mar 03

Preview: Orlando Magic at Miami Heat

8:00 EST | TNT
39-22 @ 43-17
Pythagorean Record: 43-18 Pythagorean Record: 45-15
Pace: 92.3 (16th) Pace: 91.8 (18th)
Offensive Rating: 108.3 (11th) Offensive Rating: 110.9 (5th)
Defensive Rating: 101.8 (3rd) Defensive Rating: 102.6 (4th)
AmericanAirlines Arena | Heat lead season series 2-1

Mar 03

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Miami Heat don’t intend to give Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard easy baskets when the two teams play tonight at AmericanAirlines Arena. So what else is new? Howard has averaged 20.0 points on 56.1 percent shooting in three games against the Heat this year. At first glance, those statistics seem to indicate that Howard has steamrolled Miami this season. But, in reality, the Heat have performed better against him that most teams. Howard is averaging 23.5 points per game on 59.9 percent shooting against the rest of the league this season. ‘They do a pretty good job of swarming him with a lot of people,’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said after his team’s shootaround this afternoon. ‘They’re not all out double-teaming him, but as he commits to his move, they come with virtually everybody. So he doesn’t get a lot of room. They’ve got some very athletic guys. [LeBron] James and [Dwyane] Wade both come to block from behind, and they do; they make it difficult on him. And they’ve got size. They’ve got [Erick] Dampier and they’ve got [Zydrunas] Ilgauskas and they’ve got Joel Anthony, who’s a great shot-blocker. So they’ve got size on him and a lot of people coming to help. I think they do a pretty good job of swarming him in the paint.’ ”
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy provides his take on the NBA buyout policy.
  • According to Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, it’s do-or-die for Dwight Howard’s MVP campaign.
  • Who is the Magic’s defensive stopper? Earl Clark or Quentin Richardson?
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Were his percentages on long jumpers down across the board, we might simply say [Jason] Richardson is mired in a shooting slump, out of which he ought to break out soon. But his accuracy on long, two-point jumpers in Orlando is nearly identical to what it was in Phoenix, yet his effectiveness on threes has diminished considerably. His percentages elsewhere are roughly in line with what he put up as a Sun, so we have to wonder about the sorts of three-pointers he’s getting.”
  • John Hollinger of ESPN Insider deciphers if Orlando is still an elite team and championship contender: “Orlando, meanwhile, has Howard, a wild card because of his ability to overwhelm defenses that lack a huge, physical center. With Howard having refined his post game this season and making a real run at James for the league’s PER crown, he’s providing a much more broad-based offensive threat to build the Magic attack around. Combine that with noted Howard stopper Kendrick Perkins’ departure to the Western Conference, and Orlando has to like its odds in the playoffs.”
  • If Howard leaves Orlando in 2012, where would he go?
  • An update on the statistical revolution in the NBA from Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus: “Basketball analysts have had it easier for a variety of reasons. I suspect that the NBA is a little more open to change and new ideas by its very nature than baseball, the sport most rooted in tradition. APBRmetrics also benefited from coming of age right at the same time sabermetrics was breaking through. The publication of Moneyball tipped off both sports to the incentives to using statistics, since Michael Lewis’ bestseller was read by curious owners around the NBA.”

Mar 03

Dwight Howard makes a wish come true for one young fan

Photo by Gary Bassing

Via the Orlando Magic:

If happiness can truly heal, Janet Woody is convinced that her 10-year-old son, J-Lon Woody, is well on the road to recovery after meeting his hero, Dwight Howard, Sunday night (February 27) at the Amway Center.

Janet looked on with tears welling in her eyes as J-Lon and the Orlando Magic’s superstar center chatted, slapped high fives and laughed prior to Sunday’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats. Woody, a native of Geneva, N.Y., was diagnosed with globlastoma, a tumor near the central nervous system in the brain last April. He was in Orlando and at the Magic game as part of the Make-A-Wish program.

And J-Lon’s trip to Orlando wouldn’t have been complete without getting to meet Howard, the player he has studied up on and idolized for years.

“We talked about basketball and funny stuff. I can’t wait to tell all my friends about meeting Dwight. He said some inspirational words to me and some things that I can keep in mind,’’ J-Lon said. “He is a giant, but so nice. When it was time to go he gave me a handshake and a wave and that was so cool.’’

Janet Woody said there have been plenty of tough times since her son’s diagnosis, but she hopes the power of positive thinking will help cure her son, who recently lost some of the use of his legs and is in a wheelchair. Considering the way J-Lon was smiling when Howard autographed a basketball and answered his questions, she thinks that the good vibes will mean the world to her son’s recovery.

Mar 03

The franchise tag and what it would mean for the NBA

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

As people around the NBA try to assess the future of the labor situation, the idea of a franchise tag keeps rearing its head. David Stern floated the idea back in October, and every so often, the notion has come up again in the public eye. Most recently, ESPN’s Rick Reilly, responding to the Carmelo Anthony trade, wrote the following: “Hello, David Stern? Did you leave a wake-up call for the 21st century? Your clubs need to be able to protect their great players with a franchise tag, as the NFL does. If that isn’t priority No. 1 in your lockout talks, you need the Wite-Out.”

Reilly’s assertion that the NBA needs protection from the players is nothing new. In fact, I would venture to say that no other entertainment industry or sports league so suffers from the perception that its very lifeblood–the men on the court, the product–is antithetical to the goals of the league. In the Stern era, concessions like the dress code and the rules about players leaving the bench have been made to quiet worries that players were violent or disrespectful in a way that was threatening to the league. This franchise tag idea, though, is something different. This is not a response to the image crisis that happens after the brawl at the Palace, or an attempt to win over people turned off by Allen Iverson’s brilliant and brash nonchalance. Rather, the hypothetical franchise tag seems to be a measure entirely more odious, and based even more in harmful mythology, than either of those two provisions, and to fully apply the logic of the franchise tag is to fundamentally change the league for the worse.

The seed of the franchise tag, or the idea of it, is without a doubt the pain that recent superstar departures have caused their fan bases. While this is totally understandable–particularly in the case of a high-profile local product like LeBron–I feel as if, in 2011, it hardly needs to be pointed out how one-sided fans’ views about player movement can be. As in, fans root for teams cutting beloved players all the time. Across every sport. Some Lakers fans have been calling for Derek Fisher’s head for years. The Indianapolis Colts just cut Bob Sanders. The Oakland Athletics traded Rickey Henderson and then refused for years to allow him one game–one single game–in an A’s uniform to retire where he belonged. I have heard no major protests about how the Oakland Athletics or the Indianapolis Colts are ruining their leagues, though I would argue that it is much, much more dangerous to sports for a team to cut an often-injured player when they feel like it because they did not perform due diligence with their medical staff before offering him enormous amounts of money. The whole idea of teams moving players is fine with the viewing public–it’s business, they’re professionals, they’re just playing a game anyway. When players flip this narrative, though, that’s when the Rick Reilly’s of the world start to pile on. (If you want to read Tom Scocca’s brilliant takedown of Reilly, who himself moved from the Denver Post to the bright lights, big market rags Sports Illustrated and ESPN.com, it’s here.)

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