Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 146

Mar 23

Preview: Orlando Magic at New York Knicks

8:00 EST | ESPN
45-26 @ 35-35
Pythagorean Record: 49-22 Pythagorean Record: 36-34
Pace: 92.0 (16th) Pace: 95.7 (2nd)
Offensive Rating: 107.8 (12th) Offensive Rating: 110.4 (7th)
Defensive Rating: 101.9 (3rd) Defensive Rating: 109.8 (22nd)
Madison Square Garden | Magic lead season series 2-0

Mar 23

NBA 411: Orlando Magic’s first round matchup

Mar 23

Orlando Magic dancers in TV spotlight

Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel

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.

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Mar 23

On not comparing the NCAA Tournament to the NBA

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.

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Mar 23

Linking the NCAA Tournament and NBA together, Part III

Photo by Flickr/mcdonaldsallamericangames

In Part I, we discussed the idea of teams drafting winners. Part II looked at the teams who drafted winners, and how the players performed in the NBA.

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.

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Mar 23

Sneak Preview: Orlando Magic at New York Knicks

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

  • 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.”

Mar 22

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • 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 “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.”

Mar 22

StubHub Ticket Giveaway: Enter for a chance to watch the Orlando Magic and New Jersey Nets at Amway Center on March 25

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

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?


Mar 22

Linking the NCAA Tournament and the NBA together, Part II

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Part I of this mini-series looked at the draft position of players who have recently appeared in the NCAA National Finals. Today, we will look at the teams who pursued these players, and how these players performed in the NBA. Tomorrow, 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.

Winnersville, U.S.A.
Say what you want about the Minnesota Timberwolves, but they are a bunch of winners (at least on draft night). Since 2005, four of Minnesota’s eleven first round picks have played on NCAA Championship teams. They also picked champions in the second round, netting Mario Chalmers and Chris Richard. These players have not helped Minnesota become a #winning team so far. Actually, Wayne Ellington is the only player among the six still with the Wolves. Two different luminaries, Kevin McHale and David Kahn, have made draft picks for the team during this time.

Ironically, Jerry Sloan and the Utah Jazz welcomed three members of the runner-up 2005 Illinois team to town. They used the third overall pick of the 2005 draft on Deron Williams, and he eventually assisted Sloan’s exit from Salt Lake City. They drafted Dee Brown in the second round of 2006, and Roger Powell signed with the Jazz after his Illinois career.

The Bulls ended up with three members of the 2001 Duke team at various stages of their careers. They drafted Jay Williams second overall in 2002. Two years later, they used a second round pick on Chris Duhon. In the summer of 2010, their decision was signing Carlos Boozer to a five year contract. In total, the Bulls have had eight players from the last eleven champions wear their jersey (Williams, Duhon, Boozer, Joakim Noah, Hakim Warrick, Lonny Baxter, Chris Richard, Ben Gordon).

Five teams (Dallas, San Antonio, Boston, Sacramento, Phoenix) haven’t selected a player who appeared in the National Finals since the turn of the century. It is worth pointing out some of these teams are major players in basketball analytics.

The dichotomy between the Timberwolves draft results and some of the analytical squads’ results leads to an obvious question: do the more analytical teams ignore winners, while teams like Minnesota think winners will bring them out of the basement?

We at least know the Mavericks philosophy. I e-mailed Mavericks owner Mark Cuban yesterday and asked him why his team hasn’t drafted a player from the National Finals since he took over. He just chalked it up to happenstance. He went on to say it is “not intentional at all. We don’t care who they play for.”

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Mar 21

Recap: Orlando Magic 97, Cleveland Cavaliers 86

Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images


The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers by the score of 97-86 to extend their winning streak to four games. Even after the Magic decided to concede the fourth quarter on a case of boredom, this was a game that was never in doubt the moment both teams stepped on the floor. The Cavaliers, lacking a healthy dose of NBA talent with the absences of Baron Davis, Anderson Varejao, and others, didn’t have the players to pose a serious threat. It might explain the reason that Orlando decided to much around after leading by as many as 26 points in the game. The Magic were led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard was nearly perfect, finishing with 28 points, 18 rebounds, four steals, four blocks, and four assists. Howard was one steal, block, and assist away from accomplishing a rare 5×5 feat (when a player records five categories with at least five things in each category). Brandon Bass contributed with 22 points (9-of-10 shooting), six rebounds, and two steals. Ryan Anderson had 12 points, while Jason Richardson had 11 points. Aside from random moments in the game, there was a lack of competitive basketball being played.

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