- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic are averaging 7.9 fastbreak points per game, which is, by far, worst in the NBA. That statistic is mostly with Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter on the wings. With Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson, the Magic have a trio of wing players who can push the tempo and really get out into transition. The new players bring new talents and more offensive power, and they also should significantly change the style in which the team plays. The Magic are ranked 19th in pace at 91.3 possessions per game, but they should move up in the league rankings in that category. […] With Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis on the wings, the Magic played a slow brand of basketball and preferred to size up the defense before creating. Neither of those players are particularly fast, and they did most of their transitional work by shooting trailing three-pointers. Additionally, the only players that would bring the ball up the floor in fast-break situations were Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Chris Duhon and Jason Williams. If Lewis got a rebound, he’d look for one of the guards to pass off to. When Turkoglu gets a rebound, he’s comfortable dribbling the ball and pushing it himself. Same goes for J-Rich and Arenas. And all of those guys can receive an outlet pass from one of the big men if the situation is right.”
- Ryan Anderson is happy to be back from injury.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic will start Jameer Nelson at point guard, Jason Richardson at shooting guard, Hedo Turkoglu at small forward, Brandon Bass at power forward and Dwight Howard at center against the San Antonio Spurs tonight at Amway Center. Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy said he’ll likely use that same starting lineup for the ‘foreseeable future.’ ”
- Daniel Orton‘s knee surgery was successful.
- Evan Dunlap of SBNation.com chronicles the Orlando Magic’s sharp decline: “The Magic’s record will worsen before it improves. They host the Spurs tonight and the Celtics on Christmas Day and have only held one practice to go with two walkthroughs since their Saturday trades. The five other elites, as well as the second-tier teams such as Chicago, Atlanta and Utah, figure to keep distancing themselves from Orlando as the season wears on. But if the team manages to make gradual improvements, it’s likely to “peak at the right time,” as analysts and fans love to say, heading into the playoffs. In that regard, the risky deals may prove worthwhile for the Magic, who weren’t headed anywhere fast with the group they had prior to the trades.”
- Dwight Howard is keeping his hopes up: “We play San Antonio tonight and then the Celtics on Christmas Day. It will be tough beating them because they have the best two records in the league, but I feel like we’re going to get our chemistry down pretty quickly with our new guys. I’ve been telling the guys to hang in there and be patient and and that things will turn for the better.”
- Should the Magic tried harder to acquire Andray Blatche in the Rashard Lewis trade? M. Haubs of The Painted Area thinks so: “Acquiring Blatche would have made the Arenas acquisition more palatable to me. I feel like the Magic needed to take a gamble on young guys with potential as part of their bounty.”
- A look back at Gilbert Arenas’ legacy with the Washington Wizards.
Photo by Gary Bassing
Via the Orlando Magic:
On Wednesday, December 22, Orlando Magic players Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass “decked the halls” of Central Florida providing youth and families with gift cards for shopping sprees, coats, toys and holiday cheer. The day began with Howard distributing gift cards to 100 kids from Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida for a holiday shopping spree with the All-Star center at Toys “R” Us. Howard then provided 100 children from Community Concept Services, Inc. (CCSI) with the opportunity to select a new coat, courtesy of Burlington Coat Factory. Following that, Nelson distributed gifts to two local families. Nelson, along with the help of his family, went shopping for the gifts on December 15 from wish lists the children provided. To close out the day, Redick, Anderson and Bass took 75 youth from Boys Town to Target for a personal holiday shopping excursion with the three teammates.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The person who now wears No. 15 for the Orlando Magic looks and sounds just like the guy who wore No. 15 during the team’s run to the 2009 NBA Finals. Same goatee. Same smile. Same accent. But which Hedo Turkoglu did the Magic receive in their recent blockbuster trade with the Phoenix Suns? Is he the same playmaker, deft ball-handler and clutch shooter who helped spark Orlando to the Eastern Conference title a year-and-a-half ago? Or is he the guy who has struggled since then with the Toronto Raptors and the Suns? […] So far, though, the jury’s out. On one hand, he reeled off eight assists in the Magic’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks the other night. On the other hand, in that same game, he also botched a fastbreak dunk attempt when he didn’t elevate high enough and he jammed the ball on the front of the rim. Turkoglu is 31 years old now, an age when many players’ physical skills begin a steady decline. But his game has never been predicated on jumping ability, quickness or sheer strength. Instead, he flourished under coach Stan Van Gundy because Van Gundy utilized Turkoglu’s height advantage and Turkoglu’s ability to make smart decisions on the fly. Magic officials hope that the 6-foot-10 Turkoglu can recapture that old form.”
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “On Wednesday, for the first time in the Stan Van Gundy era, the Orlando Magic practiced on the day after a back-to-back. Usually when the Magic play games on consecutive days, they take the next day off to allow the players to rest their bodies. Not with the team’s current situation, though. As the Magic continue to integrate newcomers Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark into the system, Van Gundy felt his team needed the practice. It was the first practice the new guys participated in — they played games against Atlanta on Monday and Dallas on Tuesday without even going through as much as a three-man weave together.The new guys were grateful for the practice time.”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Magic power forward Brandon Bass would love to receive a phone call on Christmas Day. The past, though, tells him not to count on hearing a ring. If Brandon has to pick up his cell and dial the number and be the one to say, “Merry Christmas,” then he will. He’ll do what it takes to reach out and connect with his dad. He’ll stay at it. He’ll work on it. It’s who Brandon is. It’s how he has survived sorrow and mean streets and long odds to make it to the NBA. He can power his way toward the basket, taking two, sometimes three, defenders with him for a dunk and earn the nickname, ‘Little Darryl Dawkins, Dark Chocolate Thunder,’ from teammate Dwight Howard. But when it comes to establishing a relationship with his father, Charles Joseph, he is powerless. A bond with his dad would complete an improbable life’s journey. He’s the missing piece. Bass has gone from living with eight kids in his aunt’s small house in a high-crime Louisiana neighborhood to becoming a multi-millionaire. He finally has found his footing with the Magic after stints in New Orleans and Dallas.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Hedo Turkoglu rested in his own bed Tuesday, met up later with old friends, hung out at his favorite lunch spot and then played before the fans who revered him once upon a time, booed him for a brief period and then showered him again with cheers. Back in Orlando a year-and-a-half after leaving to sign a $50 million free-agent contract with the Toronto Raptors, Turkoglu found out an important life lesson: Change isn’t always a good thing. He hopes that’s something the Magic, his former team and his new team again, believes as well. Turkoglu, who went through his first practice with the Magic on Wednesday following Saturday’s blockbuster trade and games against the Hawks and Mavericks, stressed that he never really wanted to leave Orlando in the first place. Now that he’s back, he couldn’t be happier.”
- Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “In his first game with the Washington Wizards since the Orlando Magic traded him for Gilbert Arenas, forward Rashard Lewis struggled. The two-time All-Star shot 4-of-10 from the field, including 0-of-5 on three-pointers, for 8 points in 22 minutes off Washington’s bench. He also added 3 rebounds, an assist, and a blocked shot. Lewis asked to be excused from the Wizards’ first game with him available, a 108-75 win over the Charlotte Bobcats, because he was not mentally prepared to play. Thus, he debuted tonight against the Chicago Bulls instead. As Michael Lee of the Washington Post writes, Wizards coach Flip Saunders says he intends to use Lewis at both forward positions, depending on matchups–something the Magic tried this season to mixed results.”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Remember all those lofty goals the [Orlando] Magic always had high on their wish list to start a season? Best regular-season record, playoff seeding, home-court advantage. Well, the mission statement has changed dramatically. It’s not that the Magic won’t want to win every game, but there’s truly a bigger picture to evaluate now in the [Stan] Van Gundy era. Right now, after making two blockbuster trades, they are basically in a training-camp mode, just trying to find some cohesion with four new players. And more could be on the way as Orlando desperately needs another big man. The Magic might not have this thing totally squared away until, oh, the February all-star break.”
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “Between the gun incident, the injuries, the injury faking and everything else that happened in Washington, Gilbert Arenas makes it no secret that he’s happy to no longer be with the Wizards. But it’s not just the off-the-court incidents that make him happy to be part of the Orlando Magic. It’s basketball, too. He’s surrounded by a collection of talent he’s never played with before in the NBA, but it’s even more than that. It’s the way the Magic play.”
- For the most part, Magic fans are energized with the trades that occurred on Saturday.
- Kevin McHale and Chris Webber, analysts on NBA TV, like the new-look Orlando Magic.
- Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post has locker room notes and commentary after the Magic’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks in last night’s game. Check it out.
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: “The Orlando Magic clearly need time, space, maybe fewer back-to-backs, and a chance at not playing two pretty good teams before they can get things right again.”
- Hedo Turkoglu gets blocked by the rim on a dunk attempt.
- Eric Freeman and Bethlehem Shoals at NBA FanHouse debate the merits of whether or not it makes sense for Gilbert Arenas to pay tribute to Penny Hardaway by wearing No. 1 on his uniform. An excerpt from Shoals: “I don’t think there’s any risk here of Arenas becoming so great in Orlando that he’s the No. 1 retired — and at one point, that seemed the risk with McGrady. But I agree that this doesn’t really do much to keep Penny’s memory out there in public. When players wear No. 23 because of Jordan, they’re referencing a player who everyone still recalls vividly. There are players entering the league now who don’t know how ridiculous pre-surgery Penny was.”
- Will Arenas honor Hardaway’s number?
- NBA.com writers debate the Magic’s trades. John Schuhmann chimes in: “As someone who picked them to win the championship, I hope they’re better! There’s no clear explanation for why a team that was so good last season was playing so mediocre this year. If the trade invigorates Gilbert and Hedo, the Magic should be improved offensively, and that’s the area where they’ve really fallen off. The defense will likely suffer, but with Dwight [Howard] in the middle and Stan on the bench, they’re still going to be good on that end. So as long as the new guys play well, they will be better overall.”
Via the Orlando Magic
Photo by Fernando Medina
Two games since the Orlando Magic acquired Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, and Hedo Turkoglu. Two losses.
Losing to the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks is nothing the Magic should be ashamed of, considering head coach Stan Van Gundy is trying to integrate three players on the fly in the middle of the regular season. In fact, Van Gundy is referring to the timeframe right now as training camp. But it’s easy to see why the frustration level is rising for Orlando — losses are piling up. After a 15-4 start to the year, a stomach virus, injuries, and trades have contributed to the Magic losing eight of their last nine games. Now Orlando is 16-12 and tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference with the New York Knicks.
Needless to say, no one saw this coming.
And with the Magic still having to face off against the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics in the next four days, it’s safe to say that things are going to get worse before they get better.
Orlando is dealing with a murderer’s row schedule at a bad time. It’s not the worst time because the playoffs aren’t here yet. The Magic do have 54 games to right the ship and rest assured, they’re going to need each and every one of them to figure things out.
What once was a stout defense with Dwight Howard as the anchor is in shambles right now as Orlando waits for reinforcements to arrive and rebuild a frontline that is depleted at the moment. Not only that but the Magic are lacking for great, let alone elite, perimeter defenders with the departure of Mickael Pietrus.
General manager Otis Smith is gambling that Van Gundy and Howard are enough to rebuild a top five defense with Arenas, Richardson, and Turkoglu, along with any other newcomers that may be on their way before the trade deadline. If Turkoglu’s stifling defense on Dirk Nowitzki in last night’s game against the Mavericks is any indication, the gamble may pay off but it remains to be seen what happens in that department.
It’s a work in progress, but it’s clear that Orlando is going to be a handful offensively when things are clicking on all cylinders. Turkoglu’s synergy with Howard in the pick and roll remains intact, Richardson — as he gets acclimated in the Magic’s offense — poses a dynamic threat on the perimeter, and then there’s Arenas.
Well, Arenas is the wild card. Let’s put it that way. Arenas’ spirits are high, as he seems to be enjoying his new surroundings. But Smith traded for Arenas to produce, and that’s something he expects from him sooner than later. It’ll take some time, though, for Arenas to not only know the right moments to be aggressive on the offensive side of the ball but also how to effectively play with Howard, the type of dominant center he’s never played with before in his career.
That being said, the playmaking is there, the scoring is there, but the defense has some catching up to do. A lot of catching up to do, actually.
With the upcoming schedule, things aren’t going to be easy.
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “While ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy, the brother of [Orlando] Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, admits he’s still a bit undecided on the Orlando Magic’s recent overhaul, he’s confident about one thing: this new Magic team ain’t winning it all. ‘I still don’t think they’re a candidate to reach the finals,’ Van Gundy said. ‘Clearly, Boston and Miami are better with their old team and with their new team. It’ll be interesting to see how it works out, though.’ Orlando’s acquisition of Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson was certainly bold and ambitious, he said. But there are too many question marks for him to really get behind this team. Does Hedo Turkoglu have anything left? Does the have enough on the perimeter defensively? And Gilbert Arenas? He’s worthy of his own paragraph.”
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The left ankle sprain to Malik Allen only accelerates the need to swing a deal for a solid backup big man. They Magic are going to get killed in some games because they don’t match-up well size-wise, especially when [Dwight] Howard isn’t around to clean up any mistakes. General Manager Otis Smith was in Atlanta Monday night to watch the game. Maybe he shouldn’t come back until he has signed a 7-footer.”
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy has his work cut out for him to integrate Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, and Hedo Turkoglu seamlessly into the roster for the Orlando Magic.
- The Magic are learning on the fly.
- Orlando has an interest in acquiring Ronny Turiaf from the New York Knicks. Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post explains the appeal: “Turiaf, seven years Battie’s junior, has more upside. His high energy and boundless enthusiasm make him a fan-favorite wherever he goes, but understand he’s more than simply a hustle player: he’s productive, too, converting 59.3 percent of his extremely limited shot attempts–he only uses 9.7 percent of the Knicks’ possessions when on the court–and blocking a shot every 14.7 minutes. Further, he’s an exceptional passer out of the high post and consistently ranks among the league’s best big men in that area.”
- Don’t expect the Knicks to trade Turiaf, however.
- Gilbert Arenas is a new man. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports has the story: ”Not even a 91-81 loss to the Atlanta Hawks could temper Arenas’ enthusiasm about his trade to the Magic. He leaves behind a franchise in Washington that’s in the throes of a rebuilding project, as well as the memories of a firearms violation that stained his career, not to mention his legal record. In return, he joins a team still intent on challenging for a championship – one that is also run by a general manager whom Arenas considers to be the ‘the only person that actually believed in me.’ ”
- Orlando will need time to figure everything out when it comes to their new acquisitions and current players jelling together. Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated breaks it down: “Orlando needs practice time. Badly. But with four games this week they won’t get much of it and will have to contend with a murderers’ row of games through Christmas. The Magic will host Dallas (Tuesday), San Antonio (Thursday) and Boston (Saturday). Along with Atlanta that’s four talented, cohesive teams Orlando will be up against as they try to incorporate the new players into the system. Each game will undoubtedly draw a lot of attention, but expectations should be ratcheted down; this Magic team will look markedly different than the one playing in March.”
- Dwight Howard is optimistic about the new-look Magic.
- General manager Otis Smith is on the lookout for a back-up center.
- Matt Moore of CBSSports.com: “It should be noted that the Magic didn’t have time for a practice with the new guys before last night’s game. In reality, not even a walk-through. They simply walked out on the floor and tried to play together. When you consider that, it’s a wonder they were even in this game, much less lost by only ten.”
- Four NBA scouts talked to Sam Amick of NBA FanHouse before Orlando played last night and gave their opinions on Arenas, Turkoglu, and Richardson joining the team. Three of them gave the move a thumbs up in terms of whether or not the Magic improved their championship chances, while one didn’t. Here’s what one scout had to say: “The first thing that struck me is how it’s so rare, maybe unprecedented, that you get three guys of that quality in a trade. That’s what’s so earth-shattering about it, is the level of talent — all of whom have some issues. […] But just the level of talent acquired is what’s so astonishing to me. I think they came out like bandits. I really do.”
- A look at Turkoglu traveling with the basketball.
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie points out the Magic’s issues in their loss to the Atlanta Hawks: “Jason Richardson had no idea where to go, the screen and roll defense stunk, and Gilbert Arenas shot 2-11.”
StubHub Ticket Giveaway: Enter for a chance to watch the Orlando Magic and San Antonio Spurs at Amway Center on December 23
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.
- In future instances, 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).
Due to extenuating circumstances for today’s contest, everyone has until 6:00 PM EST to post a response. That’s six hours from now.
Which player for the Orlando Magic will score the most points in tonight’s game against the Dallas Mavericks?