Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 15

Jan 30

Arron Afflalo not selected to East All-Star team

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Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

The Orlando Magic worried this would happen.

Arron Afflalo, their best and most consistent player this season, was snubbed tonight when the reserves were announced for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 16 at New Orleans Arena.

The Eastern Conference reserves are Chris Bosh, DeMar DeRozan, Roy Hibbert, Joe Johnson, Paul Millsap, Joakim Noah.

The reserves were selected through a vote of league head coaches. Each coach was required to vote for seven players within his conference: two guards, three frontcourt players and two players regardless of position. Coaches were not permitted to vote for someone from his own team.

Jan 30

Grades: Toronto Raptors 98, Orlando Magic 83

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Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Toronto Raptors 98 Final
Recap | Box Score
83 Orlando Magic

Arron Afflalo
4-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | -12

Terrence Ross did yeoman’s work defensively against Afflalo. He hounded him everywhere and used his length to disrupt Afflalo on offense. The one possession that showcased Ross’ long arms being put to good use came early in the first quarter. Afflalo received a handoff pass from Vucevic on the left wing, then curled around Vucevic’s screen to shoot an elbow jumper, only to get blocked by Ross.

Nikola Vucevic
6-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 STL | 10 REB | 16 PTS | -8

It had been 12 games since Vucevic last played after suffering a concussion in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers on January 6. Yet despite playing just 20 minutes, Vucevic picked up a double-double in limited playing time and didn’t miss a beat. His jump shot looked fluid and he attacked the offensive glass. Not bad for Vucevic’s first game back.

Jameer Nelson
5-15 FG | 3-6 3P | 2 REB | 4 AST | 13 PTS | -15

Medical examiners were able to identify the charred remains of Nelson’s body after he got torched by Kyle Lowry at Air Canada Centre. Lowry was ruthless in the first quarter, scoring 17 points (shooting 6-for-8 from the floor, including 5-for-5 from 3-point range) in the period and finishing the game with a near-triple double (33 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds). Nelson didn’t stand a chance.

Victor Oladipo
3-14 FG | 5-8 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | -17

The bright side for Oladipo is that, unlike some of his Magic counterparts, he didn’t get thoroughly outplayed by Greivis Vasquez. The downside is that Oladipo was defended by Lowry in a cross-match and struggled on offense as a result. Kudos to head coach Dwane Casey for recognizing that Lowry, a bulldog of a defender, could handle the explosive Oladipo.

Toronto Raptors

Needless to say, things got out of hand in a hurry. The Raptors, led by Lowry, went on a 3-point barrage in the first quarter, shooting 8-for-8 beyond the arc and building a double digit lead in the first quarter. Coupled with the fact that Toronto has a top 10 defense and the game was over before it really began for Orlando.

Jan 29

Preview: Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors
  • Date: January 29, 2014
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Air Canada Centre

Records

  • Magic: 12-34
  • Raptors: 23-21

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Victor Oladipo
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Raptors:

  • Kyle Lowry
  • Greivis Vasquez
  • Terrence Ross
  • Amir Johnson
  • Jonas Valanciunas

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 94.2 (16th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 100.7 (26th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.8 (18th of 30)

Raptors:

  • Pace: 92.2 (24th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 106.4 (14th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.0 (7th of 30)

Read about the Raptors

Raptors Republic

Jan 29

Victor Oladipo selected to Rising Stars Challenge

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Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo has been selected to participate in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge as part of 2014 NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, LA. The Rising Stars Challenge will take place on Friday, February 14 at 9 pm ET at New Orleans Arena and will be nationally televised by TNT.

The participants for the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge consist of both NBA rookies and sophomores selected by the NBA’s assistant coaches. The rosters will be finalized following a draft by TNT personalities. Fans will have the opportunity to vote online for who should be in the starting lineup for each team.

Oladipo has appeared in all 46 games (27 starts) this season for Orlando, averaging 13.9 ppg., 4.5 rpg., 3.8 apg. and a team-high 1.57 spg. in 32.0 mpg. As of January 29, he ranks 19th in the NBA in steals. Oladipo also ranks among all NBA rookies in scoring (2nd), rebounding (4th), assists (3rd), field goal percentage (5th), three-point field goal percentage (T-9th), free throw percentage (8th), steals (2nd), blocked shots (5th) and minutes played (2nd).

Selected in the first round (second overall) of the 2013 NBA Draft by Orlando, Oladipo was named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in December. He has led (or tied) the Magic in scoring six times, in rebounding twice and in assists nine times. Oladipo has scored in double figures 36 times and had 20+ points six times, including a career-high 35 points on January 15 vs. Chicago. He tallied his first career triple-double with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists on December 3 at Philadelphia.

Jan 29

Grades: Detroit Pistons 103, Orlando Magic 87

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Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Detroit Pistons 103 Final
Recap | Box Score
87 Orlando Magic

Arron Afflalo
6-12 FG | 1-3 3P | 1 STL | 3 REB | 14 PTS | -15

After a relatively quiet first half, Afflalo was finally able to make his presence felt offensively in the third quarter. He making several midrange jump shots early in the period and helped the Magic cut a 10-point halftime deficit to 61-55 midway through the third. But the Pistons responded by going on a big run and Afflalo sat the entire fourth quarter with the game out of reach.

Victor Oladipo
7-14 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 19 PTS | -10

Stat of the night: Oladipo scored or assisted on Orlando’s final 20 points. Even though the game turned into a blowout in the fourth quarter and head coach Jacque Vaughn emptied the bench, Oladipo (who was replaced by Jason Maxiell in the starting lineup to better match up with Detroit) kept playing hard. That’s been his modus operandi all season long.

Tobias Harris
4-13 FG | 6-8 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -17

After having an easy time against Ryan Kelly on Friday, culminating in his first career 20-20 game, Harris’ individual matchups have gotten a lot harder in the Magic’s last two games. First it was Anthony Davis, then it was Josh Smith. Like with Davis, Harris had difficulty at times trying to score over the outstretched arms of Smith on the perimeter.

Jameer Nelson
3-9 FG | 3-6 3P | 2 REB | 7 AST | 11 PTS | -8

Nelson didn’t have much of an impact in this game. He had six points and five assists in the first quarter, doing a good job of scoring and distributing the basketball. But Nelson’s level of play flatlined in the second and third quarters (he even picked up a technical foul along the way), and like Afflalo, he didn’t play in the fourth quarter.

Detroit Pistons

This was a bad matchup for the Magic and Vaughn knew it. Which is why, with Nikola Vucevic out (concussion), he swapped out Oladipo for Maxiell in the starting lineup to try to combat the Pistons’ size advantage. It didn’t work. Detroit lorded over the paint, dominating the rebounding battle and making it difficult for Orlando to score at the rim.

Jan 28

Preview: Orlando Magic at Detroit Pistons

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Detroit Pistons
  • Date: January 28, 2014
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: The Palace of Auburn Hills

Records

  • Magic: 12-33
  • Pistons: 17-27

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Tobias Harris
  • Jason Maxiell
  • Glen Davis

Pistons:

  • Brandon Jennings
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • Josh Smith
  • Greg Monroe
  • Andre Drummond

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 94.2 (16th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 100.9 (26th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.8 (18th of 30)

Pistons:

  • Pace: 94.8 (13th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 104.4 (20th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 108.1 (22nd of 30)

Read about the Pistons

Piston Powered

Jan 27

Monday’s Magic Word

  • John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “To add more pain to the Bucks’ train wreck of a season, Tobias Harris is starting to put up big numbers again. He had 28 points and 20 rebounds in Friday’s win over the Lakers and has averaged 17.7 points (on 50 percent shooting) and 9.7 boards over his last 10 games. In the Rookie of the Year race, Michael Carter-Williams may have Victor Oladipo on numbers, but Oladipo’s still got him on highlights.”
  • Arron Afflalo will find out if he makes the All-Star team in the Eastern Conference as a reserve on Thursday.
  • As the games go by, Oladipo continues to show glimpses of star potential.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “After missing the start of the season with an ankle injury Tobias Harris has found his groove again — he’s averaged 17.7 points and 9.7 rebounds his last 10 games. That includes dropping 28 and 20 on the Lakers’ “defense” last week.”
  • Slowly but surely, Tobias Harris is returning to form after a slow start to the season.
  • Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “The only NBA game on the Super Bowl Sunday schedule sends the Magic into Boston. The same Magic who have lost eight straight road games … and whose 11-52 road record since the start of the 2012-13 season is the league’s worst. Dare I say, it’ll still trump any Super Bowl pregame show.”
  • The Orlando Magic could not stop Anthony Davis, who had a monster game and led the New Orleans Pelicans to a 100-92 victory on Sunday.
  • Could a backcourt pairing of Marcus Smart-Victor Oladipo be in the Magic’s future?

Jan 27

In praise of Arron Afflalo

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Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

Before the season, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Arron Afflalo’s long-term impact on the Magic would be through the assets he’d net in a trade. He was one of the players constantly brought up in the “perfect role player for a good team” conversation.

He could spread the floor for the shooting-starved Grizzlies, or replace Thabo Sefalosha in the starting lineup and provide an offensive upgrade for the Thunder. On the right team, the thinking among NBA experts was that Afflalo could do serious damage as a secondary scorer.

These conversations were entirely fair, given everything Afflalo had shown in the past. He had a well-defined role in his three seasons with Denver. He played around 30 minutes a game, shot 3s at a 40 percent clip, used less than 20 percent of his team’s possessions, and generally played solid wing defense. At the time, a player of his caliber being the centerpiece of the Dwight Howard mega-deal was rather laughable.

It became even more laughable last season, as Afflalo struggled to keep his head above water as one of the Magic’s primary scoring options in his first season with the team. His True Shooting percentage fell below the league average, his turnover rate skyrocketed, and his free throw rate fell off a cliff. He was overwhelmed trying to replace Howard as the first option on offense. Affalo’s role was pushed over the limit.

Just when it seemed like he was incapable of shouldering a heavy load offensively, Afflalo’s 2013-14 season has flipped that assumption on its head. His 24.0 usage rate is a career-high and, miraculously, his .589 True Shooting percentage is the second-highest mark of his career. His 18.3 assist rate is also a career-high, and he’s become a player the offense can legitimately be run through — breaking free from his assumed complementary role.

Most Magic fans haven’t thought of Afflalo as a piece for the future. When Orlando acquired him, the assumption was that he would eventually be flipped for a younger piece (ala the Redick-for-Harris swap). Now, I’m not so sure. At this point, the Magic seem better off keeping him as a steady veteran presence on this young team. Especially since his contract ($7.5 million through 2014-15 with a player option in 2015-16) has now become a bargain, considering he’s putting up a career-best 17.9 PER while averaging 20-4-4.

He’s 28, and likely at the peak of his career, but Afflalo deserves a lot of credit for working to become a better player after last season, even though he’s playing on a team not meant to win. Life may have been easier had he rejected the role thrust on him and simply went through the motions until being traded to a contender.

But instead, he’s been a spark of rejuvenation during a dismal season and has embraced his role of being “the guy.” He’s transformed into the Magic’s best player and having an All-Star caliber season.

Jan 26

Grades: New Orleans Pelicans 100, Orlando Magic 92

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Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images

 

New Orleans Pelicans 100 Final
Recap | Box Score
92 Orlando Magic

Arron Afflalo
9-14 FG | 6-8 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 25 PTS | -1

Victor Oladipo
6-12 FG | 6-6 FT | 5 STL | 3 REB | 18 PTS | -8

Tobias Harris
7-14 FG | 3-3 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 17 PTS | -8

Jameer Nelson
6-14 FG | 2-6 3P | 3 REB | 8 AST | 15 PTS | -1

New Orleans Pelicans

Jan 26

Video: Victor Oladipo with the steal and slam

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