- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic may have found their teachable moment Wednesday night. After a first half in which the New York Knicks’ Chauncey Billups, Toney Douglas and Roger Mason Jr. drained 3-pointer after 3-pointer, the Magic returned to the visitors’ locker room inside Madison Square Garden and received a not-so-gentle reminder from their coach. Stan Van Gundy pointed to a dry-erase board that listed what the team wanted to accomplish on defense. Then he asked his players if they had achieved those goals. Nobody answered “yes.” Point made. The Magic ramped up their defense and rode an MVP-caliber offensive performance from center Dwight Howard to recover from an eight-point deficit and beat the slumping Knicks 111-99 at Madison Square Garden. [...] Orlando limited New York to 40 points and 31.8 percent shooting in the second half, prompting what remained of the sellout crowd to boo the Knicks as the final minute ticked off the clock. ‘We didn’t give up a ton of easy shots,’ Van Gundy said. ‘That was the key to the game.’ Superb effort on defense likely will be the key to their rapidly approaching postseason. The Magic have won four consecutive games largely because of their defense.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Prior to Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden, Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy asked the New York media to hold their votes for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award and consider superstar center Dwight Howard. Howard then went out and backed up his coach’s bold talk with a dominant, do-everything effort that proved worthy of the media not yet awarding the honor to heavy favorite, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose. Howard demolished New York inside to the tune of 33 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots to lift the Magic to an impressive 111-99 victory and possibly lift himself back into the race to win the league’s MVP honor. Howard was unstoppable on the offensive end, making 11 of 15 shots and a jaw-dropping 11 of 13 attempts from the free throw line. And the two-time Defensive Player of the Year also did solid work on the defensive end, limiting Amar’e Stoudemire to a 2 of 16 shooting start and a pedestrian 13 points in the game.”
- Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “In Jared Jeffries and Ronny Turiaf, the Knicks have two players who can handle Howard better than most in the post, but with New York trailing, coach Mike D’Antoni elected to play Stoudemire at center in order to get more offense. His idea, a sound one in theory, backfired. Howard managed to get deep position and gave the Knicks no choice but to foul him. Due to all the foul shots, the fourth quarter won’t exactly make Howard’s season highlight reel, but perhaps his work earlier will. 11-of-15 shooting from the floor for Howard as he chewed up the Knicks with a series of back-to-basket moves. There ought to be no argument anymore about his offensive game: he is well nigh unstoppable on that end most nights.”
- Jonathan Abrams of the New York Times: “Amar’e Stoudemire slowly unwrapped the ice from his knees and unraveled the tape from his ankles before exhaling loudly. He logged more heavy minutes, lost another game, and still assumed the burden of explaining exactly what went wrong. Stoudemire is the model of consistency in this rickety Knicks season, supplying points and filling a leadership void. Those commendable assets were missing Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Stoudemire scored 13 points — his fewest as a Knick — under a blur of missed shots and opportunities. The Knicks otherwise remained the same. They played capably for three quarters, collapsed badly and rallied late against the Orlando Magic in a 111-99 loss. The outcome dropped the Knicks (35-36) below .500 for the first time in four months, long before the addition of Carmelo Anthony turned from fantasy to reality. On Wednesday, the ‘Me-lo’ chants that greeted Anthony melted into boos that cemented another loss.”
- Howard Beck of the New York Times: “The advice probably sounds strange coming from the N.B.A.’s most famously stressed-out superstar. Jerry West — Lakers legend and Hall of Fame worrier — believes Knicks fans need to relax. Few people have explored the extreme highs and lows of competition as thoroughly as West did over four decades as a player and executive. He took defeat harder than most, tortured himself with unreasonably high expectations and pushed his health to the brink. So West is speaking from a unique place when he counsels Knicks fans fretting over the Carmelo Anthony trade to chill out. The statement is particularly poignant coming from West, the architect of two Laker dynasties (in the 1980s and 2000s), and a star player on another (in the 1960s). Patience was never his strength. West’s teams lost in the finals seven times — an experience that — ‘scarred me even to this day’ — before finally winning a title.”
- Chris Sheridan of ESPN New York: “One month from now, the New York Knicks will be sitting in their locker room, preparing to play Game 3 of their first-round playoff series. And if they are sitting there tied 1-1 in that series, nobody is going to remember what’s been happening this March. So climb off the ledge and get back inside. Knock off the panic. Cool it on the doomsday hysteria. The Knicks might seem like they are in a world of trouble, but they aren’t. And if you don’t want to hear that from a sportswriter, consider this: That message is exactly the message Chauncey Billups delivered to the rest of the team in the wake of their 111-99 loss to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night, their seventh defeat in the past eight games as they dropped one game below .500 (35-36).”
- Ian Begley of ESPN New York: “The Knicks are just 7-10 since Carmelo Anthony’s arrival, but you can’t put their latest loss all on Anthony’s shoulders. That’s because Amare Stoudemire, the other half of New York’s All-Star tandem, had his worst night as a Knick on Wednesday. Stoudemire missed 15 of 20 shots to finish with a season-low 13 points as New York lost 111-99 to the Orlando Magic. The Knicks have lost four straight and seven of eight, falling under .500 for the first time since Nov. 27. Afterward, Stoudemire blamed fatigue for his subpar night.”
The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the New York Knicks by the score of 111-99 to extend their winning streak to four games. This was a game that went back-and-forth for three quarters before the Magic were able to take control in the fourth quarter, and come away with a double-digit victory. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, with five players scoring in double-figures. Dwight Howard continues his race towards the MVP award, even if he’s seen by many as a longshot to win it, as he finished with 33 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks. The most impressive thing when looking at Howard’s box score wasn’t his point total or even shooting percentage, but his ability to go 11-for-13 from the free-throw line. Howard is already an efficient player by the nature of the types of shots he gets but when he’s making his free-throws, he becomes impossible to contain. The Knicks, especially Amar’e Stoudemire (committed three personal fouls in the fourth quarter trying to defend Howard), found out the hard way. Jameer Nelson had a strong performance with 19 points. Hedo Turkoglu contributed with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists. Brandon Bass had 15 points and seven rebounds, while Jason Richardson chipped in with 12 points and six rebounds. With the win, the Magic inch closer to winning their 50th game of the regular season.
Via Fox Sports Florida:
Friday night’s (3/25) Orlando Magic game telecast vs. the Nets on FOX Sports Florida will be our final theme night of the season and will give viewers an inside look into how the Orlando Magic Dancers are selected, their game night activities and their outreach into the community on behalf of the team. The Magic Dancers are not only talented entertainers, but many are mothers, wives and have full-time careers outside their role with the team. Former Magic dancer, now one of our Magic TV reporters, Megan Clementi, will give viewers the inside scoop.
Also, our all-new, half-hour “Inside the Magic: The Magic Dancers” television special premieres Friday at 10:00pm ET immediately following the game on FOX Sports Florida.
The Magic Dancers have been a part of the team since the franchise was founded in 1989 and becoming a dancer is a prestigious honor that requires hard work and dedication. FOX Sports Florida’s sixth episode of “Inside the Magic” profiles the Orlando Magic Dancers and gives viewers behind-the-scene access of the road from auditions to game days.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Just as March Madness means a three-week period of sofa bound bliss every year, so too does it mean a rash of annoying by-products. Endless tournament-themed promotions from stupid businesses, harsh bleating from people who watch three basketball games a year–I mean, it is a joyful time, and I welcome the festivities, but they do not come without some price. Potentially the most irksome thing that happens this time of year, though, are the endless comparisons between the NBA and the college game. I don’t mean to tar any discussion of how the two sports are related; I mean that I cannot abide one more person who does not watch the NBA bloviating about the passion of the college game–those kids just play so much harder– or one more person who does not really watch college basketball talk about how much poorer the execution is.
Over the course of college, despite being at the perennial basketball mecca of UNC (I was in a coma for all of ’09-’10), I have found myself drifting away from college ball. I had gotten older than the athletes, by and large, which was a pretty unsettling transition. I had taken a shine to the pro-game, and had sort of become one of those zealots who talk about how inferior the basketball is to the pro level. I was beginning to think that I had left college basketball behind a little bit. It was a good run, and me and the Heels had some fond memories, but it had sort of stopped making sense to me why I would follow the team too hard. And then this year’s UNC team happened, and I got sucked back in.
Last season–which I have only heard about, because I was in that aforementioned coma which started on exactly the first day of UNC’s season and ended shortly after the NIT, thus preventing me from having any memories of any game we lost–was a tough one here in Chapel Hill. We had some highly touted prospects brought in, same as always, but something about the team, be it shaky guard play or a lack of chemistry, prevented the talented parts from ever looking like a substantial whole. Even worse, the players seemed to be having a pretty angsty, miserable time with each loss. It got to the point where the Tar Heels were sort of painful to watch.
Photo by Flickr/mcdonaldsallamericangames
Part III will explore two different one-and-done scenarios, and the NCAA Tournament history of players on top NBA teams. We will also see the “good ol’ days” are aptly named.
One-and-done and one-and-done
Before the NBA outlawed entering the draft right after high school, many players made the leap from prep-to-pro. The only March Madness footage you’ll see of Dwight Howard and LeBron James is during their McDonald’s commercial. We won’t hear highlights of Gus Johnson screaming “rise and fire!” before Kobe Bryant nailed a game winner. It’s sad these players were never part of March Madness. Fortunately, the restrictions on draft eligibility have led some NBA stars to the Big Dance.
The NBA’s leading scorer, Kevin Durant, steered Texas to the tournament in 2007, but that was about it. The Longhorns beat New Mexico State in round one, and lost their next game. In the 2008 Final Four, Derrick Rose and Memphis toppled the UCLA Bruins, who featured Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook. Rose came close to a title, but his team lost a late lead two days later in the championship game. Highlight machine Blake Griffin reached the Elite Eight in his final collegiate season before falling to North Carolina.
Other NBA greats went to college before the restrictions were in place, but they didn’t cut down the nets either. Dwyane Wade led the Marquette Golden Eagles to the 2003 Final Four, but was knocked out by Kansas. Tim Duncan reached the Elite Eight at Wake Forest, but Chris Paul never made it past the Sweet 16 as a Demon Deacon. Shaquille O’Neal, one of the most intimidating players of all time, met kryptonite in three straight NCAA Tournaments and never advanced past the second round.
Failing to stand on stage with Jim Nantz wasn’t the end of the world for these guys. Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal both boast four NBA rings and will be remembered as two of the best players ever. Dwyane Wade won a ring with Miami, and Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose are positioning themselves for some jewelry.
The basic structure of the tournament is the simplest explanation for these all-time greats never winning an NCAA championship. The one-and-done format essentially caters to underdogs, as the randomness of single elimination allows many inferior teams to advance. Sustaining tremendous performance throughout a series is much more difficult and is a major reason the best NBA teams usually meet in June.
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Nothing against [Gilbert] Arenas personally, but he is damaged goods. He’s been trying to play on creaky damaged knees for three years, and there obviously appears to be no miracle cure short of Santeria to make Gilbert all better. But enough shots at Arenas. I am here to defend Nelson. The much-maligned Jameer Nelson. The guy who is as much a team leader as Dwight Howard. Dwight Howard is the imposing, great superstar. Jameer Nelson is the heart and soul of this team. Has been for years. Yet fans, media, and even his GM don’t seem to appreciate Jameer all that much. Everybody went gaga when rumors of a trade for Chris Paul surfaced during last year’s NBA Draft. Everybody like to rip Jameer because he is too short and vulnerable on defense and isn’t a ‘true point guard.’ But he’s also the guy who is most clutch at crunch time. He killed the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day when he scored 10 of his 12 points in the game’s final three minutes and recently took out the Denver Nuggets with a buzzer-beating 3-point shot. What more do you want from this guy?”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Here’s Magic General Manager Otis Smith‘s dream, which initially sounds like a nightmare: Smith hopes Gilbert Arenas causes a major controversy. That’s right. Gilbert’s no stranger to dark headlines, of course, but Smith is talking about him stirring things up on the court, not the gun range. Smith wants to see Arenas create waves in Orlando by challenging Jameer Nelson for the starting point-guard job next season — or even seizing it from Nelson. This scenario sounds far-fetched now, given Gilbert’s struggles since arriving in a mid-December trade. [...] Smith’s response came when I asked him about the clouds hovering over Arenas’ future with the Magic. He hasn’t been healthy, bothered by a troublesome left leg. And — as a career starter — Arenas is not happy as Nelson’s back-up, even though he’s showed little progress with his downsized minutes. [...] Smith feels Arenas needs more time, especially with [Stan] Van Gundy. But at some point, as his mentor/father figure since their Golden State days 10 years ago, Smith needs Arenas to justify why he risked making the deal.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Stan Van Gundy originally tried to solve the Orlando Magic’s turnover problem by talking about the issue and showing pertinent video clips to his players. Didn’t work. His team still committed 20 turnovers in its win Monday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers — the sixth time in their last eight games that the Magic had at least 18 turnovers. So, Van Gundy tried something novel during practice Tuesday at Baruch College in Manhattan. He didn’t use the word ‘turnover.’ The closest he came to discussing it? He urged his players to be sharp in one drill. [...] Before every game, he writes down the keys to that game on a dry-erase board in the Magic locker room. But Van Gundy said he won’t even mention the word ‘turnover’ on the board prior to tonight’s matchup against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.”
- Jonathan Abrams of the New York Times: “The Knicks are on the wrong side of a list of worrisome numbers. They blew a 15-point lead and lost to the Boston Celtics on Monday, their sixth defeat in seven games, and fell to .500 for the first time in more than a month. And who could predict the team’s scoring famine with the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups? Coach Mike D’Antoni pinpointed the team’s most glaring issues at Tuesday’s practice, especially in the fourth quarter. Against the Celtics, Anthony did not score a basket in the second half, during which he was bloodied by a Rajon Rondo elbow near his left eye and left in the final seconds of the 96-86 loss. Amar’e Stoudemire did not score in the fourth quarter as Boston raced away from the Knicks, finishing on a 23-5 run, including the last 10 points of the game. The Knicks have not scored 100 points since Toney Douglas poured in nine 3-pointers last week against Memphis.”
- Howard Beck of the New York Times: “After one loss, Carmelo Anthony blamed a lack of defensive strategy. The next day, he blamed an overabundance of defensive schemes. In Indiana, Anthony upbraided Jared Jeffries for failing to get him the ball on a last-second play. In Detroit, he badgered Toney Douglas for failing to get him the ball in the second half. After his worst game of the season, he walked straight to the team bus, leaving others to explain the loss. Anthony is probably not as petulant, moody or selfish as he projected. But the hand-wringing over his demeanor obscured the Knicks’ broader deficiencies — most of which stem from the trade that brought him here. Their defense is worse. Their ball movement has suffered. And their roster is in shambles.”
- Ian Begley of ESPN New York: “The Knicks are 7-9 since Anthony’s arrival. They fell to 35-35 after Monday night’s loss to the Boston Celtics. The last time New York was .500 was Feb. 11, 11 days before the Knicks finalized the three-team, 13-player deal to acquire Anthony. They enter play on Tuesday in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, a game behind the Philadelphia 76ers. According to some associated with the team, the Knicks players may be pressing. Coach Mike D’Antoni said on Monday night that the team panicked late in the fourth quarter of its loss to the Celtics. He said on Tuesday that the offense was stagnant at times in the final stanza, a common theme in its recent struggles. D’Antoni has observed that the new-look Knicks are ‘not quite sure’ of what they want to do on offense late in games. The Celtics outscored the Knicks 23-4 in the final 7:26 on Monday.”
- Stephen A. Smith of ESPN New York: “Monday night started with the New York Knicks introducing the Boston Celtics to a team we hadn’t seen since the days of Pat Riley, Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason. It continued with blood splattered on the Madison Square Garden floor, punctuated with near fisticuffs from Amar’e Stoudemire — and teammates surprisingly eager to come to his aid. But once the final buzzer sounded and it was time to exhale, seconds removed from evident demoralization of a 96-86 defeat, it was clear these latest representatives of Gotham City didn’t warrant any comparisons at all. Just pity! There are no Oakleys or Masons, just Ronny Turiaf and Jared Jeffries. There isn’t a Riley on the bench, just Mike D’Antoni, who appears to detest everything Riley represented when he was with the Knicks — meaning rigidity and toughness. By now we’ve also learned, excruciatingly, that there is no defense, very little toughness or offensive efficiency, no team in any sense that really matters. Just a collection of NBA-caliber talent paid to wear blue-and-orange uniforms. [...] A season is not made in a week or two any more than a stellar game epitomizes greatness. But if what we’ve witnessed in the past nine days symbolizes anything, it is that the Knicks are falling apart before our very eyes. They’ve lost to sub-.500 teams. They’ve made marginal opposing players look like All-Stars. They’ve appeared disoriented in running plays, at getting to key spots on the floor and forcing misses, transforming themselves into laughingstocks. Privately, as a result, they have lost faith in one another. But especially in their coach.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Stan Van Gundy and his players knew next to nothing about Baruch College, the school in Manhattan where their team practiced Tuesday afternoon. But Baruch College students knew all about the Orlando Magic. Word that the Magic were inside the school’s main gym swept across the compact campus of about 15,500 students. The news spread via cell-phone text messages and word of mouth, and a crowd of kids waited in the hallway outside the gym to catch any glimpse of the players. ‘Yo,’ one student yelled. ‘Dwight Howard is here!’ Those students peered into the gym through small, rectangular windows on the metal doors. Many of those students held their cell phones up to those windows and took photos or recorded portions of the practice.”
- Noah Sharfman of OrlandoMagic.com: “Attention NBA head coaches: do you want the secret of how to slow down the Orlando Magic’s high-powered offense? Listen closely because the answer may be surprising. To shut the Magic down offensively, you must slow down and limit Jameer Nelson. Nelson’s on-court production is often a tell-tale sign for the Magic as it relates to the team’s success. On a recent telecast between the Magic and Phoenix Suns, analyst Jeff Van Gundy said the key to the Magic’s success is in the hands of its point guards, specifically Nelson. Simply put, when Nelson is playing well, the Magic win. This season, Nelson is having a very productive offensive year, averaging 13 points and over six assists a game, the highest assist mark of his seven-year NBA career. Nelson has already scored in double figures more times this season than he did all of last season, while also leading the team in assists in more games than he did in 2009-10. This season, when Nelson dishes out seven or more assists in a game, the Magic are 20-8. In addition to sparking the Magic’s offense with his scoring and passing, Nelson has delivered late in games for the Magic. Nelson’s most memorable moment this season came at the end of the Magic’s recent matchup against the Denver Nuggets. With 5.7 seconds remaining in a tie game, Nelson collected an inbounds pass near midcourt, took three dribbles and pulled up for a shot well beyond the arc. Hitting nothing but net, Nelson drained the game-winning 3-pointer over Denver’s Ty Lawson as time expired, securing an 85-82 victory for the Magic.”
- Dwight Howard is optimistic about the Orlando Magic’s playoff chances.
- For head coach Stan Van Gundy, a win is a win.
- Even though the Magic won last night, they clearly were disinterested in the fourth quarter.
- Britt Robson of Sports Illustrated with a poignant observation: “The Magic rank third in defensive efficiency, the same as last season, and are actually yielding 1.4 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did in 2009-10. They are five wins behind last year’s pace because their offensive efficiency has plummeted from fourth to 12th. Don’t blame MVP candidate Dwight Howard, who is averaging 23 points on 60 percent shooting, although his usual struggles at the free-throw line and paucity of assists haven’t helped. The reality is that GM Otis Smith‘s blockbuster deals in December have pretty much been a wash. Jason Richardson hasn’t been that much better or worse than Vince Carter, and Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas have been mild and major disappointments, respectively. But the real cost was losing ace backup center Marcin Gortat. As well as Brandon Bass has played, he can’t patrol the paint with the same authority as Gortat.”
- Note to Van Gundy: learn to text Gilbert Arenas on BBM.
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie with some words of wisdom concerning Howard: “All the “where would they be without him?” crap you hear about Derrick Rose? It’s meant for Dwight Howard. Because without this man’s dominant 28-point, 14-rebound, four-block, four-steal night, Orlando loses by 25 to the freakin’ Cavaliers. Derrick Rose may lead my favorite team to a championship this year, but I’m not daft enough to overlook Howard’s MVP season.”
StubHub Ticket Giveaway: Enter for a chance to watch the Orlando Magic and New Jersey Nets at Amway Center on March 25
Magic Basketball will occasionally give away free tickets to upcoming Orlando Magic home games with StubHub serving as the provider. How do you enter for a chance to win Magic tickets?
Answer a trivia question.
The rules are simple:
- If you’re able to attend the game, you’re more than welcome to submit your answer in the comments section.
- Please do not answer more than once or add irrelevant commentary to your submission.
- Two tickets will be given away, which means you can bring a second person.
- Readers will be given 24 hours to submit their answers before a winner is announced. The winner will be determined by random drawing and contacted by e-mail (please make sure to submit a valid e-mail address).
Everyone has until 12:00 PM EDT tomorrow to post a response. That’s 24 hours from now.
Which team will win in tomorrow’s contest between the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks?