- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Stan Van Gundy doesn’t expect the Orlando Magic to rank near the top of the league in fastbreak points, but the current state of affairs is, in his words, “absurd.” And that’s being charitable. Orlando entered Monday ranked dead last in the NBA in fastbreak points by a shocking margin. The Magic average only 7.6 fastbreak points per game, almost 2.5 fewer than the 29th-ranked team. […] The Magic never will be among the league leaders in fastbreak points because of Van Gundy’s scheme. The coach insists that all five of his players who are on the court, even the guards, hit the defensive boards hard. Some other teams leave the bulk of their defensive rebounding to their frontcourt players, who, in turn, can throw a deep outlet pass to a streaking point guard. Van Gundy knows, therefore, that his team almost certainly won’t be in the top third of the league in fastbreak points. But he still thinks the Magic should be “in the middle of the pack somewhere” and can average 12 to 14 fastbreak points a game. The lack of easy baskets in transition puts pressure on the entire offense. It can relegate the Magic to playing a halfcourt game exclusively, after opponents set their defense and become more difficult to break down.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Possibly coming to a sideline someday sooner rather than later: A tattooed, twang-talking point guard-turned-coach who is able to command respect both because of the way he visualizes and verbalizes the game and also for the way that he plays it. Clearly, at 35 years old and 12 years into his NBA career, Orlando Magic point guard Jason Williams has hit the twilight of his playing days. That thought has already hit Williams and those around him think that he would someday make a great coach because of his ability to see the game and verbalize it even if it’s often peppered with the aforementioned twang and some blue language. Just imagine — the flashy player once known as `White Chocolate’ could be viewed someday soon as `Old Faithful’ the coach. […] While Williams has admittedly pondered a future in coaching, he’s not ready to let go of his playing days just yet. Back in the mix as Jameer Nelson’s backup at point guard, Williams has given the Magic a spark recently because of his ability to push the ball on the break and get the Magic (15-7) in a good rhythm. He’ll be in that backup spot again Tuesday night when the Magic face the Denver Nuggets (14-9) because of Chris Duhon’s struggles on the court and his lingering lower back pain.”
- Ryan Casey of The Denver Post: “Back in Denver, away from the New York microscope — origin of the latest round of trade rumors — Carmelo Anthony let out a sigh today in the tunnels of the Pepsi Center. He was welcomed with more questions about a possible trade. The forward was the center of trade talk when the Nuggets were in New York to play the Knicks, withESPN.com reporting that Anthony would only sign a three-year, $65 million contract extension if he was traded to the Knicks. Sunday afternoon, multiple sources refuted that report to The Denver Post.”
- Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: “The intoxicating anthem wafted inside Madison Square Garden before and after Sunday’s Nuggets-Knicks game: the new “New York, New York.” […] It’s a song, frankly, that makes you rather be nowhere else. Which, of course, made Carmelo Anthony’s presence that much more eerie. The Nuggets all-star is likely headed to New York (or New Jersey, which soon means Brooklyn, where Melo lived until he was 8). A source told ESPN.com that Anthony will sign a three-year, $65 million contract extension only if he’s traded to the Knicks. But on Sunday afternoon, multiple sources refuted this alleged ultimatum to The Denver Post. All fall, sources have routinely said that Anthony will likely sign the deal and then be traded, by the trade deadline, to either New York or New Jersey. Anthony, meanwhile, has been coy in public. But Sunday, after scoring 31 points in Denver’s defenseless 129-125 loss, Anthony admitted in regard to the extension that “whatever decision that I make, that’s the first thing I get done” is to sign the deal.”
- Dave Krieger of The Denver Post: “Melo in Manhattan on Sunday was a predictable romantic comedy with a happy ending for the home folks. Unfortunately, it appears that ending is only just now dawning on the Nuggets’ latest brain trust. Even without Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks have a better record than the Nuggets after their entertaining but defenseless win at Madison Square Garden. For Melo, who professes to be all about winning, playing alongside Amar’e Stoudemire is looking better and better. Playing for the Nets, who made the best trade offer from the Nuggets’ standpoint, is looking worse and worse. They’re terrible again. They’re also playing in Newark, N.J., for another year and a half. The Nuggets hoped that waiting to make a deal would help their bargaining position, perhaps by making the Nets appear more attractive than they did a year ago. Instead, it’s had the opposite effect. More and more it’s looking like their only trade option is the Knicks.”
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “Orlando Magic forward Mickael Pietrus is shooting 39.1 percent from three-point range this season, the second-highest percentage on the team and the best of his career. On a team where myriad players have struggled with deep shooting – J.J. Redick, Rashard Lewis, Quentin Richardson and Vince Carter are all shooting below their career three-point percentages – Pietrus’ consistency from the outside has been much-needed. The problem is, that’s all he’s contributing on offense. An absurd 75.6 percent of his field-goal attempts have been three-pointers this season, and out of 115 field-goal attempts, only nine of those shots have come at the rim.”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Yeah, the Magic’s four-game losing streak was hard for fans and not kind to Stan Van Gundy’s blood pressure. But fans better buckle in and brace themselves: The turbulence is far from over. Up ahead next week, and all in succession: Atlanta, Dallas, San Antonio and, on Christmas Day, Boston. The Spurs (20-3), Mavs (19-4) and Celtics (19-4) are the hottest teams in the league. You can look at it two ways, of course: 1) The Magic can continue to stagger or 2) they can regain some traction they lost during this recent slide by beating some of the best. Van Gundy said that this was the team’s toughest stretch of the year, beginning with the West trip. The Magic didn’t respond like he envisioned, and not just because they lost —but it was how they lost.”
- Dwight Howard provides some words of wisdom: “This is a long season. We’re going to have months where we don’t play well, and there’s no needing everybody, especially the captain of the team, after everybody’s yelling and going back and forth, trying to figure out what we need to do. We’ve just got to play. The more you talk, the more everybody’s just talking about what you’ve got to do, all the frustration just continues to build up. We’re gonna have bad games. I don’t think people understand that. You’re never gonna go 82-0. You’re going to have losing streaks. You’re going to have winning streaks. All that stuff is a part of playing in the NBA.”
- Howard has more to say on his official blog: “As the captain of this team, I’ve been looking for ways to get our team out of this little slump. We had a meeting the other night after the Portland lost, but I’ve found that it´s better to do less talking and lead with actions in times like these. I actually talked to a really good player on another team who I consider a mentor and he gave me that advice.“
- I wonder who he is?
- ‘O’ is for Orlando’s offensive woes. Rohan of Hardwood Paroxysm explains: “The primary culprits have actually been an increased tendency to turn the ball over and the slightly lower frequency with which they’ve gotten to the line. So far this year, the Magic have turned the ball over on 15.3% of their possessions, which is the second worst mark in the East and third in the league. And while Jameer Nelson has been turning it over a touch more than we’re used to, the real issue is the ball handling of Chris Duhon. Duhon has turned it over almost once every three possessions; toss in the fact that he’s playing more than 20 minutes a night, and the impact is readily noticeable. Of his 37 turnovers, 26 have come via stolen or bad passes.”
Via the Orlando Magic:
The Orlando Magic and the citizens of Central Florida have a shiny, sparkling new arena, packed with amenities at every turn. The fans undoubtedly love the new spaces in the Amway Center such as the Budweiser Baseline Bar, the Gentleman Jack Terrace and STUFF’s Magic Castle kid’s zone presented by Club Wyndham. The Magic players and coaches love their new digs as well, from the new underwater treadmill (even though Jameer [Nelson] recently lamented that he actually hated it because it was too hard) to the state-of-the-art equipment in the weight room and the spacious new locker room area.
But of all the new amenities in the building, there is one in particular that a certain Magic player finds the most fascinating. That one player would be Ryan Anderson, and that one amenity would be… a ball rack.
But you see, this isn’t any ordinary ball rack. No, this ball rack is possibly the only one of its kind in America. It is actually made into the wall, such as a built-in bookshelf would be.
Anderson doesn’t find it fascinating just because of its architecture, however – he instead is fascinated by trying to bounce a ball on the ground and actually make it in the ball rack; which, like trying to get three superstars to play together on one team, is easier said than done.
These days, it’s not uncommon to find Anderson finish a two-hour grueling practice, and immediately look around for Basketball Operations Coordinator Brad Jones and say, with a smile on his face, “Snoggle?”
Click here to check out the video.
Via the Orlando Magic:
In celebration of the holiday season, the Orlando Magic will host four holiday basketball camps throughout the Central Florida community from December 20–23 and December 27–30, 2010. The camps are open to kids ages 7–16, and all skill levels are welcome. To register, or for more information on Orlando Magic basketball camps, visit www.OrlandoMagicCamps.com or call 216-378-0932.
Highlights of the holiday basketball camps, which make a great holiday gift, will include:
- Four days of expert instruction from the National Basketball Academy (consisting of former college standouts, semi-professional players and top individual trainers).
- Stations, drills, skills contests and live games.
- Every participant receives an official camp T-shirt as well as various giveaways and prizes, and will be recognized during the Orlando Magic Camp awards ceremony on the last day.
- Select locations will feature guest appearances by Orlando Magic Dancers and celebrities.
- All campers receive a ticket to an Orlando Magic home game at the new Amway Center.
If you’ve noticed that things have been quiet around here, I figured I’d offer an explanation for that. For the past year, I’ve been a graduate student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism working towards earning a master’s degree and on Thursday, I completed my education.
As such, life has been busy for me the last few days trying to tie up loose ends with different stuff (hence no recaps and what not). This week will be just as crazy for myself but I’ll do my best to continue my work here during this hectic time.
I apologize for the inconvenience.
The Portland Trail Blazers were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 97-83. For the Magic, they’re now on a three-game losing streak. An item of note is that this is the first time, in the Stan Van Gundy era, that Orlando has lost three games in a row without scoring more than 85 points in each game. Not sure if that anecdote carries any significance, but it’s something worth pointing out. The Blazers were led by Andre Miller, who flirted with a triple-double and finished with 22 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, and two steals. Wesley Matthews continues his strong play in the starting lineup for Portland, finishing with 20 points and three steals. Nicolas Batum chipped in with 15 points and 10 rebounds. For the Magic, it was all Dwight Howard — 39 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks. Yes, four other players for Orlando scored in double-figures but they got their points when the game was no longer in contest.
Photo by Fernando Medina
Via the Orlando Magic:
The Orlando Magic always make an extra effort to increase their immense number of off-the-court endeavors around the holiday season.
This year is no different.
Prior to heading on his team’s west coast trip, the Magic’s Brandon Bass paid a visit to pediatric patients at Florida Hospital for Children to spread some holiday cheer.
The 6’8” power forward did his best impersonation of Kris Kringle, donning a Magic-themed Santa cap as he popped into the rooms of countless children throughout the evening.
“It’s a blessing for me to be able to do something like this,” he explained. “Coming from where I come from, it’s very humbling for me to be able to come to a hospital like this and be able to give kids a moment to forget their current situations and put a smile on their face.”
Along with spending time with a number of the patients, Bass walked through the halls pulling a wagon filled with goody bags that he delivered to kids upon each visit.
He also took time to take photographs, sing Christmas carols and hand out autographs.
“It was great,” said Brian Gribben, one of the kids touched by Bass’ tour. “It helps me forget what I am going through.”
But Bass wasn’t the only one doing the giving.
Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
It’s been a tough time for fans of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Before the season began, if there was a team that was expected to battle the Los Angeles Lakers for supremacy in the Western Conference, it was the Blazers. The respective projection systems of John Hollinger and Kevin Pelton were bullish on Portland’s chances of winning the West. Why? The Blazers had a rash of injuries last year, yet were able to win 50 games. If Portland could avoid the injury bug, there was enough talent and depth for them to make a run at a championship.
In other words, the expectation was that the Blazers would experience a regression to the mean with injuries. Fast-forward to today and the outlook for Portland in the present and future is getting bleaker as time moves on.
Aside from losing Greg Oden for the season as he undergoes microfracture surgery again, Brandon Roy — the Blazers’ franchise player — is suffering slow deterioration in his left knee that is not deemed fixable and as a result, no longer allows him to perform at an All-Star level. The kicker is that Portland was aware of Roy’s condition when they offered him a max contract in 2009, yet former general manager Kevin Pritchard acquiesced to public pressure and contract demands.
It should also be noted that Roy dealt with surgery on his right knee leading up to the 2010 NBA Playoffs. Needless to say, the Blazers are in a precarious position right now as a franchise.
To gain more insight on the beat in Portland, I enlisted the opinion of Ben Golliver of Blazersedge and gathered his take on a variety of topics — Roy’s injury and its significance to the Blazers, Oden’s future, and more.
What does Brandon Roy’s fall from grace mean for the franchise?
I’m not sure we should call it a fall from grace, perhaps a fall from graceful drives to the hoop. It’s not yet clear what the long-term ramifications of Roy’s bad knees will be, but expectations are significantly lowered in the short term, and hopes for competing for a title in the mid-term are slowly slipping away. A lot depends on how effective Roy can become in his limited state, and how well he adjusts mentally to the physical changes. If he is a productive and efficient (but limited) player this time next year, it will make life significantly easier for new GM Rich Cho. If not, his five-year contract is a huge weight on the team’s salary cap.
Photo by Fernando Medina
Via the Orlando Magic:
Starting December 10, 2010, Orlando Magic fans will have the exclusive opportunity to get an autographed mini basketball from Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick in participating SUBWAY® Restaurants through the ‘J.J. Giveaway’ Promotion. Each person who purchases a SUBWAY® gift card for the amount of $50, or gift cards that add up to $50 in value, will receive one limited edition mini basketball signed by Redick, along with a Certificate of Authenticity, until December 31 or while supplies last.
“This ‘gift with purchase’ opportunity is very exciting, especially this time of year. Shoppers can maximize their gift-buying budgets by getting a Subway card and an amazing piece of sports memorabilia at the same time,” said Peter DiPasqua, Subway Owner and President of DiPasqua Enterprises. “We’re thrilled to be able to partner with the Orlando Magic and J.J. Redick to bring something like this to our customers.”