Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 186

Jan 13

Recap: New Orleans Hornets 92, Orlando Magic 89 (OT)

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

BOX SCORE

No 10-game winning streak.

The New Orleans Hornets were able to defeat the Orlando Magic in overtime by the score of 92-89 in a defensive slugfest that saw both teams struggle to generate offense consistently throughout the game. The Hornets were led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. The players that stood out the most for New Orleans were Marcus Thornton and Chris Paul. Thornton was able to provide a spark off the bench for the Hornets, hitting big shots in crunch-time while finishing with 22 points and nine rebounds. Paul was a magician in the pick and roll for New Orleans, causing headaches for the Magic’s defense all night long as he piled up 12 points, 13 rebounds, and five rebounds. Dwight Howard led the way for Orlando with 29 points, 20 rebounds, and two blocks — it was the third 20-20 game for the big fella this season. Jason Richardson contributed with 21 points and seven rebounds but more importantly, displayed his affinity for the dramatic as he connected on two three-pointers late in the fourth quarter that allowed the Magic to force the game into overtime courtesy of Hedo Turkoglu‘s game-tying three-point shot with 6.9 seconds remaining in the period. Yes, Turkoglu was clutch with the game on the line for Orlando but it wasn’t enough.

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Jan 12

Preview: Orlando Magic at New Orleans Hornets

8:00 EST | Fox Sports Florida
25-12 @ 22-16
Pythagorean Record: 26-11 Pythagorean Record: 21-17
Pace: 92.2 (18th) Pace: 89.5 (28th)
Offensive Rating: 107.3 (13th) Offensive Rating: 104.7 (22nd)
Defensive Rating: 101.3 (4th) Defensive Rating: 102.7 (6th)
New Orleans Arena | Magic lead season series 1-0

Jan 12

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “When the Orlando Magic traded for Gilbert Arenas, many wondered how long it would be until Arenas took the starting point guard position away from Jameer Nelson. Turns out, Nelson’s play is putting that debate to rest. Nelson is quietly putting together the best all-around season of his career, meshing with the Magic newcomers and making few mistakes. He’s averaging eight assists per 36 minutes and posting an assist rate of 37.6 percent, which are both – by far – the best numbers of his career. Nelson’s ability to penetrate, find Dwight Howard, coexist with Hedo Turkoglu and make long-range shots has been valuable to the Magic. He’s playing efficiently and effectively, and despite the backlash he gets from fans, his play is a big reason the Magic are as good as any team in the NBA right now.”
  • Improved passing and three-point shooting have sparked the Orlando Magic’s winning streak.
  • Not many NBA players think highly of the Magic’s chances of winning a title this season.
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel asks an interesting question.
  • Orlando has gotten better as of late, but Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post points out that some concerns remain: “Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass are producing in their increased minutes due to Rashard Lewis’ departure, and Howard remains the league’s best big man. The ubiquitous question is if the Magic can cope with Howard in foul trouble, or otherwise unavailable, during a playoff series. The Magic aren’t high on any of the free-agent bigs, so we may not see a resolution immediately, if ever. But Howard’s foul-prone ways–as a lane-clogging defender who has to erase his teammates’ defensive mistakes, and as an offensive player who doesn’t always keep his hands to himself–make this issue a particularly pressing one.”
  • Dwight Howard is an untouchable NBA player when it comes to trades.
  • Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider: “Is this version better than the 2008-09 team that reached the Finals? From the looks of it, the answer appears to be a resounding ‘yes.’ When the Magic dealt Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat for Hedo Turkoglu, Jason RichardsonEarl Clark and Gilbert Arenas, the consensus was that Magic general manager Otis Smith had swung for the fences in an effort to catapult the team back into the title chase. And early returns show that he’s crushed it out of the park. The Magic have scored 108.8 points every 100 possessions since the trade, which is about a four-point improvement in offensive efficiency compared to the disbanded 2010-11 squad according to numbers from Hoopdata.com. And surprisingly they’ve sharpened their defensive efforts as well, allowing just 98.5 points every 100 possessions over the past 11 games after surrendering 100.6 points before the deal. The new crew’s 10.3 point efficiency differential outperforms the Eastern Conference champion team’s resume by a full two points.”
  • Are the Magic for real when it comes to being a championship contender?

Jan 12

Orlando Magic’s winning streak revisited

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

Tonight, on the road against the New Orleans Hornets, the Orlando Magic seek out their 10th straight win of the regular season. The last time the Magic had a double-digit winning streak in the franchise’s 22 years of existence? Never.

Needless to say, a little history is at stake.

Before Orlando plays later this evening, it’s only fair to put into perspective what they’ve been able to accomplish the last few weeks.

Fortunately for those interested in the numbers, Daniel — a frequent contributor of the APBRmetrics discussion board — crunched some numbers and revealed that the Magic have been playing a lot of above-average basketball lately, sans their performance against the Milwaukee Bucks a week ago.

In fact, despite jettisoning noted defenders like Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus, the defense has remained static thanks in large part to the combined powers of Dwight Howard and head coach Stan Van Gundy. The most important part, and the primary reason that general manager Otis Smith made the trades, is that Orlando’s offense has improved dramatically in recent weeks. Smith made the gamble that Howard, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year, would be enough to anchor the Magic’s defense and so far his decision has been paying off in spades.

Orlando has a tough road ahead — literally — with four games left away from home, including a rematch with the Boston Celtics on January 17. Still, even if the Magic drop a game, whether it’s tonight or another night, it’s been fascinating to note the improvements on offense.

It’s been a season-saver.

Jan 12

Interview with Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak

Photo by Fernando Medina

Two blockbuster trades.

Nine wins in a row.

For people that are wondering why there’s been a lot of attention surrounding the Orlando Magic lately, those are a few reasons. Every writer in the mainstream media and blogosphere has an opinion on the new-look Magic.

Like Beckley Mason, one of the rising stars in the NBA blogging universe.

Mason is the proprietor of HoopSpeak, a general basketball blog which joined the TrueHoop Network in October 2010 and is a must-read for hardcore fans. Mason and his colleague — Ethan Sherwood Strauss — aren’t afraid to touch on topics ranging from the ongoing saga involving Carmelo Anthony’s future with the Denver Nuggets, the confusing brilliance of Chris Paul, or even James Harden and his beard. As a result, it only seemed appropriate to tab Mason and gather his insight on one of the most popular storylines in the league. That other team in Florida.

Mason provides his opinion on how Orlando stacks up against the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference, the player (or players) that intrigue him the most on the Magic, and more.

For more wisdom from Mason, make sure to follow him on Twitter — @BeckleyMason

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It’s been 11 games since general manager Otis Smith pulled the trigger and made two blockbuster trades to shake up the roster for the Orlando Magic. In the meantime, the team has gone 9-2 — winning the last nine in a row. What are your thoughts on the moves?

When I read about these moves on Twitter, my initial reaction was “this makes the Magic incrementally better but this isn’t an earth shaking move.” I think that sentiment has been proven wrong.

Evaluating the trade today, I’d argue it’s gone a long ways toward solving the Magic’s greatest deficiencies over the first half of the season, which were that they didn’t push the ball enough for easy offense and didn’t have enough play makers on the court. [Jason] Richardson is, I think, the best transition shooting guard in the league. He’s great at shooting the spot up three and seems to beat his man down court a handful of times each game. He has this nuanced skill that I never noticed before he played in Phoenix, which is the ability to catch the ball over his shoulder/head like a wide receiver on a fly pattern then finish under control. He also loves oops, and Jameer [Nelson] throws a mean oop.

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Jan 11

Orlando Magic bring home three major awards from NBA Sales & Marketing Meetings

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Orlando Magic received three major awards at the 2010 NBA Sales and Marketing Meetings held in Brooklyn, New York on January 11. The organization was awarded:

  • A “10,000 Season Tickets Sold Award” – awarded for selling more than 10,000 full season tickets
  • A “2,000 New Season Tickets Sold Award” – awarded for selling more than 2,000 new full season tickets this season
  • A sponsorship Performance Award for having more than 40 sponsors in the Top 50 corporate partnership categories that exceed the league average. This is the first time in club history that the team has been recognized with this award.

The Magic currently have more than 14,000 season ticket holders, the most in franchise history. Orlando’s corporate partnership roster – anchored by its “Champions of the Community” platform – is also a franchise record. Throughout the meetings the Magic was used in best practice examples in everything from digital media to orlandomagic.com original content to sponsor activation to customer service practices.

In moving in the new Amway Center this season, the Magic continued its efforts in regard to affordable tickets. Entering the 2010-11 season, Orlando had 2,500 seats priced $15 or less, 7,000 seats priced $25 or less, and 10,000 seats priced $50 or under per game. Also, for the first time ever, the Magic introduced a $5 per game ticket with more than 600 available per game.

Jan 11

Playbook: The 3/5 Pick and Roll

Photo by Fernando Medina

The 3/5 pick and roll.

At its core, the 3/5 pick and roll with Hedo Turkoglu and Dwight Howard is one of the most devastating plays in the NBA. On Saturday, the Dallas Mavericks’ defense found out the hard way as Turkoglu ripped them apart in the pick and roll, totaling up 17 assists en route to the Orlando Magic‘s ninth consecutive win.

And in 2009, it was the Turkoglu-Howard pick and roll that led the Magic to the NBA Finals. What makes it a potent play?

It starts with Turkoglu.

At 6-foot-10, Turkoglu is a small forward that has the court vision and playmaking ability of a point guard, which puts a lot of strain on defenders that aren’t accustomed playing against an individual with that skill-set. Additionally, because Turkoglu has a height advantage against virtually every opposing small forward, that makes it easy for him to create off the dribble in the pick and roll. Turkoglu can look over his defender, literally, which allows him to find either Howard or Orlando’s shooters around the perimeter. Also, it can’t be understated the chemistry that Turkoglu has with Howard. That adds to the potency of the pick and roll because of that aforementioned synergy.

People talk about Jameer Nelson‘s chemistry with Howard, but it doesn’t compare to Turkoglu’s relationship with the big fella. Ever since Turkoglu and Howard linked up for a game-winning alley-oop against the San Antonio Spurs in 2007, they’ve been communicating in a telepathic manner for the last few seasons.

Turkoglu’s willingness to be a dual-threat in the pick and roll, whether it’s to be a facilitator or scorer, makes it go-to play for the Magic in crunch time. Why? Because opponents can’t hone in one specific option. That’s the difference between the pick and roll with Turkoglu and Howard, as opposed to Vince Carter.

Carter, more often than not, looked to score in pick and rolls. That made Orlando a predictable team down the stretch in games. But with Turkoglu, the unpredictability on offense is back to where it used to be. There are many reasons why the Magic are enjoying a nine game winning streak.

Turkoglu’s return and the revival of the 3/5 pick and roll is one of them.

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Jan 10

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “The good news? The Orlando Magic have now won nine consecutive games, one win away from the first double-digit winning streak in franchise history. The better news? This team can get a whole lot better. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, always a difficult man to please, spoke highly of the team’s ball movement, pace and efficiency on offense since the trades. He also noted the team’s defensive numbers are slightly better after the trade. But he still sees all sorts of holes on defense. […] Van Gundy also wants his players to keep opponents out of the paint, as the newcomers may be relying on Dwight Howard to clean up the mess a bit too often. Additionally, the Magic are allowing opponents to shoot 36.8 percent from three-point range since the trade, giving up 7.2 three-pointers per game. Both of those numbers are higher than pre-trade.”
  • The Orlando Magic are not thinking about the winning streak.
  • Jason Richardson on Gilbert Arenas‘ rejuvenation: “I’ve known him for 10 years. I saw him when he was with Washington and he came out to Phoenix, and he just didn’t look like the same person out there. He just looked miserable. There was a lot of pressure on him and you could just tell he just wanted out. Now, when you look at him, he’s doing interviews and he’s smiling. So, I’m just glad he’s just happy to be a part of this.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “A mischievous smile crossed Gilbert Arenas’ face as the American Airlines Center public-address announcer introduced the Dallas Mavericks’ starting lineup Saturday night. In Gil’s world, the guy on the PA was calling out the names of the Orlando Magic’s reserve point guards, not the home-team Mavericks. Arenas sprung up from the Magic bench, ran onto the court and — with his teammates laughing — ripped off his warm-up pants in a grand gesture. Arenas’ trade last month from the Washington Wizards has rejuvenated the eccentric sense of humor that once made him one of the NBA’s most charismatic players. Some observers initially questioned whether Arenas would fit in with the Magic, but it seems like he meshes perfectly in a locker room policed by Dwight Howard.”
  • General manager Otis Smith is not looking for another big man.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “Nine consecutive wins. What the trade has done is made them a much more balanced offensive team, and Hedo Turkoglu is back to being effective.”
  • Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “Most interesting element of the Magic’s nine straight wins by eight points or more? They’ve averaged 16.1 fast-break points in those wins. In its first 28 games, Orlando was the league’s worst running team at 7.9 ppg.”
  • Rohan Cruyff of Hardwood Paroxysm: “Stan Van Gundy’s lack of patience with the national media’s insistence on attributing every Dwight Howard shot ever to a few hours spent with Hakeem Olajuwon is understandable. And Van Gundy’s “outburst” is another reminder as to why he’s one of the league’s most entertaining coaches. How many coaches go on the record like that on an issue that doesn’t really matter? Van Gundy wanted to get that off his mind and so he did.”
  • The Magic’s blockbuster trades was one of the top NBA stories in 2010.
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie spreads some knowledge on Hedo Turkoglu’s return to Orlando: “Raw talent, and comfort with a system, is the reason Turkoglu is playing so well in Orlando. And sometimes unorthodoxy (like paying an eight-figure yearly salary to a 29-year-old who shot 41 percent that year) helps, but I’m not going to kill Otis Smith for this. There are so many other things to criticize Smith for, but not this. He made the right move, it didn’t work, and somehow (as has been the case quite a few times in Smith’s Orlando tenure), he’s backed into the right move gone wrong and working out. Or the wrong move, gone right, and working out. Like Billy Donovan turning Orlando down and Stan Van Gundy stepping in. Or Rashard Lewis’ ridiculous contract that still allows him to run circles around the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009 Conference finals. Where Hedo fits in all this remains to be seen, but the early returns are encouraging, to say the absolute least.”
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider breaks down the Magic’s nine-game winning streak.
  • Dwight Howard is happy to have Turkoglu back.

Jan 10

Video Analysis: Orlando’s offensive explosion in Dallas

On Saturday, the Orlando Magic and Dallas Mavericks engaged in one of the more entertaining regular season games in the NBA this year. For those a fan of offense, the Magic and Mavericks did not disappoint — much to the dismay of head coach Stan Van Gundy, who preaches a defense-first mentality every minute of every hour of every day.

Orlando and Dallas entered the fourth quarter separated by one point. But in the blink of an eye, the Magic went on a furious 26-3 run highlighted by Hedo Turkoglu‘s playmaking prowess in the 3/5 pick and roll with Dwight Howard. In total, Turkoglu was able to pile up 17 assists in the game (five coming in the final period).

Turkoglu’s 17 assists were a career-high and the most by an Orlando player since Penny Hardaway in 1995. Not bad, eh? And when Turkoglu got a triple-double against the Golden State Warriors last week, he surpassed Hardaway and Tracy McGrady as the most players with a triple-double in Magic franchise history.

Maybe Turkoglu should be nicknamed the “Penny Hardaway of Turkey” instead.

Jan 09

Recap: Orlando Magic 117, Dallas Mavericks 107

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

BOX SCORE

Playing on a back-to-back, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Dallas Mavericks by the score of 117-107, winning their ninth consecutive game of the regular season — tying a franchise record. It was the Hedo Turkoglu show for the Magic, as he finished the game with 13 points, 17 assists, and five steals. Turkoglu sliced and diced the Mavericks’ defense in the 3/5 pick and roll with Dwight Howard throughout the evening. It was a ruthless display of execution offensively. Howard finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks. Jason Richardson continues to play well offensively, contributing with 20 points on 12 shots. Jameer Nelson and Gilbert Arenas had 16 points and 14 points respectively, while Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson each had 11 points. Had J.J. Redick scored one more point, every player in the rotation would have been in double-figures. As it has been since Orlando began their streak of wins, balance on offense has been the name of the game. The Magic have been dizzying opponents by attacking offensively from a variety of angles, with Turkoglu acting as the maestro of the concerto. For Turkoglu, Dallas was the latest to be victimized by his precise and intuitive passing ability.

Let’s fast-forward to the fourth quarter.

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