Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images
There’s been a lot of talk about Dwight Howard‘s improvements on offense and the praise is well-deserved, but there’s another player for the Orlando Magic that has improved this year as well. So far, at least.
His name is Brandon Bass.
Bass received a lot of criticism last season for several reasons.
First, Bass was not a natural fit in the Magic’s 4-out/1-in offensive scheme, given that his game on offense centered around the mid-range jumper. And as efficient as Bass was with his jumpshot, he wasn’t a more potent option offensively than Rashard Lewis or Ryan Anderson because he wasn’t, and still isn’t, a three-point shooter. As such, Bass had to make up for his stunted level of production on offense in another way. Second, and this segues to the next point, Bass’ defense wasn’t very good. Bass made it tough for Van Gundy to utilize him on the floor because Bass would routinely miss rotations, display a lack of awareness with his positioning on the court, and blow pick and roll coverages. There’s more, but that’s a start. Another problem was that Bass was barely above the league-average in total rebound rate. Although Bass had a knack for crashing the offensive glass, that veracity didn’t translate to the other side of the ball. Because of all these factors, Bass didn’t play a lot and that irked a lot of Magic fans that wanted to see him play.
Thing is, the only way that could happen was for Bass to improve on his defending and rebounding responsibilities. Then, and only then, would Bass merit the playing time that he desired. It’s the same thing that J.J. Redick had to deal with a few years ago when he was trying to get off the bench and make an impact.
Van Gundy gave Bass a simple task — improve on defense, rebound the basketball better, and he’ll play more.
Needless to say, Bass has answered the call. Certainly it’s helped, also, that Van Gundy is utilizing Lewis more at the small forward position, which has allowed Bass to get more minutes than he may have gotten last season.
But still, Bass’ improvement defensively is borderline astounding.
That’s not hyperbole.
Photo by Gary Bassing
Via the Orlando Magic:
Magic guard Chris Duhon, Magic players, STUFF The Magic Mascot, Magic Dancers, Magic staff
Chris Duhon Stand Tall Against Hunger Food Delivery
Orlando Magic guard Chris Duhon will deliver the food collected at the Stand Tall Against Hunger food drive. The delivery will include Duhon, STUFF the Magic mascot, Magic Dancers and closes out a 12-day food drive that took place at Magic home games and all Central Florida FAIRWINDS Credit Union locations from November 4-15.
Fans were encouraged to donate non-perishable food items for Central Florida families in need at all Orlando Magic home games at Fan Fest and Central Florida FAIRWINDS locations.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
1918 W. Princeton Street, Orlando, 32804
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic would do themselves a favor if they take mental pictures of what happened Monday night and carry those snapshots the rest of this season. They’d see Mickael Pietrus diving to the floor to bust up an opponent’s fastbreak. They’d envision Marcin Gortat rolling around on the parquet to grab a loose ball. They’d visualize Jameer Nelson taking a charge in garbage time. The Magic will be onto something if they reproduce the intensity they used to smother the Memphis Grizzlies 89-72 at Amway Center. After playing horrid defense for parts of five straight games, Orlando finally overwhelmed another team. [...] Memphis shot just 36 percent from the field, a performance so abysmal that Grizzlies players held a players-only meeting in the visitors’ locker room after the final buzzer. Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph, the team’s top scorers, finished with just nine points apiece. Orlando’s suffocating defensive effort covered up plenty of miscues.”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Magic have been doing things differently to begin a regular season, and even coach Stan Van Gundy concedes it could cause them to “take a step back.” Stan obviously is talking temporarily, maybe a game here or there where experimenting with lineups or rotations costs them a win, unwittingly. The Magic have been lacking in the player-development department. But that doesn’t mean Van Gundy isn’t interested in winning every game. It’s in his DNA. Van Gundy says securing home-court advantage in the playoffs is still huge, maybe not critical, but you’d still rather play more times at Amway Center. [...] Sounds like we’re getting about six months ahead of ourselves. But I bring this up because the Memphis Grizzlies were in town on Monday night, and the Magic couldn’t afford to have a Toronto Raptors flashback. They need to win games like this because they should, for one. And because they all add up at the end of the year to home-court in the playoffs, perhaps.”
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “This morning, Vince Carter said the Orlando Magic had a noticeable focus on defense. It was certainly noticeable in Monday night’s 89-72 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Magic held the Grizzlies to 72 points on 94 possessions, forced 18 turnovers and kept the Grizzlies’ shooting percentage at just 36.3 percent. It was a dominant defensive performance for Orlando, made especially sweet because they’ve struggled so much on defense over the past week-and-a-half. Orlando’s perimeter players were more active with their hands, pressing Memphis’ guards, slapping at the ball and contesting every jumper. That was no accident. That was Orlando’s focus entering the game. The end result: a 76.6 offensive rating for the Grizzlies — almost 30 points lower than their season average of 104.9 — and a dominating victory for the Magic.”
- Dan Savage of OrlandoMagic.com: “Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy challenged his team this week to bring an increased effort on the defensive end and live up to their billing as a shutdown squad. On Monday, the Magic gave their coach the performance he was looking for. The Magic stifled the offensive-minded Grizzlies, limiting them to just 36.3 percent shooting from the field in a hard-nosed 89-72 home victory. [...] Despite continued offensive struggles, the Magic battled against human nature and brought a high level of intensity on the defensive end right from the start. They pressured the ball, forcing Memphis to commit 10 first-quarter turnovers and limiting them to just 12 points in the period, a season-low for a Magic opponent. It was a rude awakening for Grizzlies team that came in to the contest averaging 104.6 points per game, seventh-best in the NBA.”
- Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “To stymie an offense as potent as Memphis’ is quite an achievement, especially considering the rather complex defensive rotations the Magic made. Orlando doubled Randolph from the weak side on each of his post touches, thus putting pressure on Randolph to give the ball up, but also pressuring the remaining defenders on the weak side to make the right reads. And Orlando, which rarely double teams, executed this help-and-recover scheme to near perfection throughout the night. To be fair, Memphis did its part by missing shots. But the point is the Magic disrupted its offense, time and again, and the young team struggled to get quality looks as a result. Defense keyed the Magic’s win tonight, just the way coach Stan Van Gundy prefers, I believe.”
- Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal: “The Memphis Grizzlies arrived here as if they were construction workers contracted to complete Amway Center, the new home of the Orlando Magic. Laying brick after brick after brick, the Griz put on one of the worst displays in the opening quarter and continued their offensive malaise Monday until the clock mercifully ran out on an 89-72 loss to the Magic. From there, they turned into armchair psychologists. The Griz (4-7) tried to connect on what’s ailing them in the form of a players-only meeting that immediately followed their third straight loss. If it seems a bit soon for a meeting of the minds, then the Griz at least made clear that the talk was constructive.”
In a strange game that involved a lot of turnovers (37 of them in total), the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies by the score of 89-72. For the Magic, it was — easily — their best performance defensively of the regular season. Orlando was led by Dwight Howard, who had 18 points, 14 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks, setting the tone on defense but he wasn’t alone in his efforts. Vince Carter finished with 19 points on eight shots, performing with excellent efficiency on offense and was only unable to do more damage on that end of the floor due to foul trouble. Jameer Nelson‘s stat-line was a bit underwhelming, with 11 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and three steals, but he was a disruptive force throughout the game and played with a high amount of energy.
For Magic fans, this was not an aesthetically pleasing game to watch.
Photo by Fernando Medina
It’s early in the regular season, but there’s a few players for the Orlando Magic that have been struggling on offense — Chris Duhon, J.J. Redick (more on him later), and Quentin Richardson to name a few. But there’s one player, in particular, that looks out-of-sync right now offensively and that’s Rashard Lewis.
To be frank, Lewis has been horrawful. Horrible and awful.
Lewis has had his moments of brilliance, particularly in the first half of the Magic’s home opener against the Washington Wizards and against the Charlotte Bobcats on the road a little over a week ago, but that’s about it. Coincidentally (or not), in those games, Lewis played primarily at power forward.
It’s no secret that head coach Stan Van Gundy has made a more concerted effort to find minutes for Lewis at the small forward position, mainly with an eye towards the playoffs when Orlando’s ability to mix-and-match their lineups based on their opponents will matter a great deal. However, it seems like it’s thrown Lewis off-kilter a bit on offense and it’s reflected in his numbers. Granted, that excuse can only go so far before a finger needs to be pointed at Lewis for his inability to produce.
Lewis’ primary objective for the Magic is to stretch the floor offensively and, on occasion, post up on the low block whenever the opportunity presents itself. The problem is that Lewis has been unable to do almost anything on offense for Orlando, whether he’s at small forward or power forward. Heck, in the Magic’s loss against the Toronto Raptors on Friday, Lewis didn’t attempt a three-pointer for the first time since 2006. That’s not a good sign.
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Via the Orlando Magic:
The Orlando Magic Backcourt (the Backcourt is the Magic players, coaches and basketball operation’s wives, girlfriends and family members)
Orlando Magic Backcourt Drop Box
The Magic Backcourt members will be outside Amway Center to collect items for Harbor House. The collection location will be at Fan Fest (located on Church Street next to Amway Center). Fan Fest is open to the public. Harbor House needed items include:
- Liquid laundry detergent
- Cleaning Supplies (Bleach, Fabuloso, Windex)
- Paper Products (Paper towels, toilet paper, tissues)
- Non-perishable food (canned meat and soup)
All items will be delivered to Harbor House on Monday, November 22. Each person that donates item(s) will receive one raffle ticket to enter into a drawing to win a team autographed basketball. The winner will be announced during the second quarter of the Magic vs. Suns matchup.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Stan Van Gundy already has had a heart-to-heart with Rashard Lewis, so he got to him before the rest of us. [...] If you’re wondering whether Van Gundy would bench Lewis, the answer is no. Not now, anyway. If Stan didn’t sit Vince Carter through a horrid January last season, I don’t think he’ll turn Lewis into a sixth man. Every time media and fans plead for a benching, I always ask: OK, who takes his place? The options at power forward without Lewis are Brandon Bass, Ryan Anderson and Marcin Gortat. Anderson is embedded in Van Gundy’s doghouse. The Magic need Gortat to be on red alert, given [Dwight] Howard‘s relationship with the refs. That leaves Bass, undersized at 6-feet-8. Bass’ pet mid-range jumper is finding the net (49.1 percent.) He’s still better suited roaring off the bench. The decline of Lewis’ numbers has been steady, for a couple reasons. Vince Carter arrived last season to rob some shots, making Lewis the third option behind Carter and Howard. This season, Van Gundy has experimented with big lineups and more post-ups, shuttling Lewis from power forward to small forward. Even Stan agrees this may have affected his routine.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Brandon Bass continues to impress Stan Van Gundy. Even in hotel ballrooms. Really. Saturday morning, the Orlando Magic gathered in a ballroom in their New Jersey hotel for a walkthrough to prepare to face the New Jersey Nets. The Magic had played a game just 12 hours earlier, and yet Van Gundy still saw Bass paying attention to tiny details, wanting to know every assignment and understand every play. Bass kept up that intensity Saturday night, contributing 14 points — and, best of all from Van Gundy’s perspective — eight rebounds in only 21 minutes.”
- Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “[J.J.] Redick and Lewis in particular are far too gifted to shoot less than 38 percent on three-pointers over the course of the entire season. But for now, it’s a problem. If we’re pointing out performances from guys who are struggling, it’s only fair to laud the ones making a positive impact. Marcin Gortat has rebounded and defended exceptionally well, and has also made the most of his limited offensive opportunities, making 70 percent of his shots in the early going. Brandon Bass, an afterthought a year ago, worked his way into the rotation with great energy and a better commitment to defense. Though now out of the rotation, Ryan Anderson managed to positively impact the team despite his outside shot not dropping; on a per-minute basis, Anderson ranks second on the team in scoring and third in rebounding.”
- Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal: “The revolving door between the Grizzlies’ bench and the basketball court is spinning fast. Veteran swingman Tony Allen and rookie point guard Greivis Vasquez spun out of nowhere and gave the team a lift last weekend. Just who will dart out of the reserve tank tonight when the Griz play on the road against the Orlando Magic? That’s anyone’s guess. Griz coach Lionel Hollins is still searching to find a collection of bench players he can count on. He contends that his mantra hasn’t changed and he is going to use the first 20 regular-season games to firm up a substitution pattern. Guys will play their way in and out so one game doesn’t necessarily mean anything.”
“The third quarter was ridiculous professional basketball.”
Head coach Stan Van Gundy uttered those words in his press conference following the Orlando Magic‘s loss to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, in which they blew an 18-point lead in the third quarter and lost by 10 points. Against the Toronto Raptors, the Magic — no offense to their opponent — played pathetic basketball for four quarters and were defeated by the score of 110-106. By all means, the Raptors deserved to win the game because they played with excellent energy and effort, and performed as if their lives depended on the end result. Toronto was led by DeMar DeRozan, who had a career-high 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting and seven rebounds. Andrea Bargnani finished with 27 points. Sonny Weems was the hero in the game, hitting a go-ahead three-pointer with 7.1 seconds left to put the Raptors up by three points. The Magic tried to tie the ballgame and after calling a timeout for being unable to put the ball in play, Mickael Pietrus‘ inbounds pass on the second try was stolen by Jose Calderon and that was game, set, match.