- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “No Orlando Magic player has come under more scrutiny this year than Rashard Lewis. While bouncing between small forward and power forward, Lewis is shooting just 29 percent from three-point range and averaging 10.7 points, and he’s only surpassed 13 points in a game once this year. And because of his monstrous contract ($118 million over seven years), he finds himself under constant probing from Magic fans on message boards, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, talk radio and every other form of media fans now have access to voicing their views on. After scoring four points against Atlanta last night, Lewis is trying to stay patient and not worry too much about six-game slump.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Jameer Nelson practiced fully with his Orlando Magic teammates on Tuesday, and it’s increasingly likely that he’ll be able to play Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz despite his sprained left ankle.”
- Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post has more on Jameer Nelson’s possible return.
- Check out Rashard Lewis’ exclusive Nike Hyperdunks. Very nice.
- Dwight Howard posts on his official blog: “I was really happy to see Marcin [Gortat] play the way that he did. He was playing with a lot energy and hustling and I just told him after the game that that’s the kind of energy that we need from him every night. I don’t think people understand how hard it is for a 7-footer like me and Marcin to be on the floor and get to the ground before a little guard gets it. But him doing that got us all pumped up.”
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk talks about Howard’s growth on offense.
In a back-and-forth affair between two familiar foes from the Southeast Division, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Atlanta Hawks by the score of 93-89 to push their winning streak to four games. With 15 seconds left in the game, Vince Carter‘s layup in a 2/5 pick and roll with Dwight Howard sealed the deal for the Magic. Even though Carter missed the ensuing free throw after he was fouled, the bucket put Orlando up by four points at 91-87 and that was all she wrote. Leading the way for the Magic was Howard, who had 27 points and 11 rebounds, continuing his onslaught on offense early in the regular season. Carter finished with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting, an efficient performance that was needed from one-half of the starting backcourt since Jameer Nelson sat out with an ankle injury. And the bench for Orlando stepped up huge due to foul trouble for Carter and Howard, as well as lackluster performances from Chris Duhon, Rashard Lewis, and Ryan Anderson – each of them in the starting lineup.
Kudos to Marcin Gortat, J.J. Redick, and Jason Williams for answering the call with excellent hustle and timely buckets in crunch-time.
Via the Orlando Magic:
The Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, Nov. 1, through Sunday, Nov. 7. It marks the 12th time that Howard has earned the league’s top weekly honor.
Howard’s Magic finished the week 3-0 and had an average margin of victory of 16.7 ppg. over Minnesota, New Jersey and Charlotte. Howard averaged 23.3 points, 13.4 rebounds and tallied 11 blocks on the week. On Tuesday versus the Timberwolves, Howard set a Magic franchise record for most blocked shots in a quarter with six, breaking his previous record of five in a quarter, while his eight blocks in the game stands as a season-high for the NBA this year. Howard also led the NBA in rebounds per game during the week, ranked second in the league in blocks per game and was third in the Eastern Conference in points per game.
Here is a recap of the week for Howard:
Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Nov. 3 vs. Minnesota: Posted 18 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocks in a 128-86 win over the Timberwolves.
Nov. 5 vs. New Jersey: Tallied 30 points and 16 rebounds in a 105-90 win over the Nets.
Nov. 6 @ Charlotte: Scored 22 points and added eight rebounds in a 91-88 win over the Bobcats.
New Orleans’ Chris Paul took home the weekly award for the Western Conference.
Photo by Fernando Medina
While Chris Paul is reminding everyone why he’s the best point guard in the NBA, there’s another player that’s doing similar conversion tactics.
His name is Dwight Howard.
Mind you, Howard doesn’t need to remind many people that he’s the best center in the league but for those that like to insert Yao Ming’s name in the discussion when he’s healthy or Pau Gasol if they want to bend the positional rules a little bit, the first five games of the regular season have provided a refresher course for them. Yes, small sample size needs to be accounted for but it’s not too early to say that Howard is playing the best basketball of his career right now. Howard has taken his game to another stratosphere and even though he hasn’t faced some of his toughest challenges yet, namely the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, he’s been a dominant force against nearly everything that he’s crossed paths with.
Howard has been so dominant, the unthinkable is now a complete thought — he could be emerging as the best player in the NBA according to one linear metric.
This is not to suggest that Howard has reached that threshold because it’s early in the year and things can change in a hurry. Plus, even though he’s seen a dip in his numbers with the Miami Heat, there’s plenty of empirical evidence from years past to assert that LeBron James remains the top dog. Yet if James was still a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers and still putting up the type of eye-popping statistics in which everyone has grown accustomed to, Howard is inching himself closer to rivaling that type of production. Again, it’s early but Howard is playing like a man possessed and it’s hard not to notice the change with eyes and numbers.
And all of these changes are coming on offense.
In an exciting game that went down to the wire, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Charlotte Bobcats by the score of 91-88 to win their third consecutive game of the regular season. After Quentin Richardson made a lefty layup in a 2/5 pick and roll with Dwight Howard to put the Magic up by three points with 9.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, excellent individual defense by Mickael Pietrus on Stephen Jackson forced the Bobcats to rely on Boris Diaw to come up with a game-tying three-point shot. Unfortunately for Diaw, Howard was there to contest the three-pointer, which hit the front of the rim, and Orlando was able to come away with victory. The Magic were led by Howard, who had 22 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and two blocks, and set the tone early with 13 of his points coming in the first quarter. Rashard Lewis finally emerged for Orlando, finishing with 22 points and six rebounds while hitting clutch shots in the final stanza.
Lewis and clutch — two words meant for each other.
Despite the pace being low and it being a low-scoring affair, this was a fun game.
After a competitive half of basketball, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the New Jersey Nets by the score of 105-90. The Magic trailed by three points at halftime but were able to take control of the game in the third quarter, leading by as much as 20 points before coasting to a victory. Orlando was led by three of their four All-Stars — Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, and Vince Carter. Howard was dominant, finishing with 30 points, 16 rebounds, two steals, and one block. Nelson had 20 points and six assists, while Carter had 19 points, five rebounds, and three assists. Rashard Lewis chipped in with 12 points, though it came at the price of inefficiency (5-of-15 shooting from the field).
This was an interesting game.
Lewis and Ryan Anderson started at the forward positions for the Magic, but that alignment didn’t last long. At the 5-minute mark of the first quarter, head coach Stan Van Gundy replaced Anderson with Quentin Richardson and eventually Mickael Pietrus to play not only the 4-out/1-in offensive scheme that everyone is accustomed to seeing but also to matchup better with Travis Outlaw, who torched Orlando. It seems a little absurd that the Magic needed to tweak their defensive assignments for a player of Outlaw’s caliber, but he was playing extremely well on offense and the necessary changes needed to be made. Still, Outlaw finished with 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting so it’s not like he was contained.