- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “Rashard Lewis has always said his favorite type of shot is the dunk, which is surprising since he’s known for his feathery jump-shot and finesse game around the basket. A dunk boosts a player’s adrenaline and gets the crowd into the game, he says, so he’d rather slam one home than sink a jumper. Perhaps that’s why Lewis played so well Thursday night — he dunked not once but twice in the [Orlando] Magic‘s blowout win over the Phoenix Suns. Lewis finished with 13 points, but it felt like 30 with the way he’s been playing lately. In the Magic’s previous three games, Lewis shot 28.5 percent from the field and averaged 7.7 points per game. Lewis shot 6-of-9 on Thursday night, a welcomed efficient performance from the 31-year-old. [...] It’s the first time he’s really felt good after a game since scoring 22 points against Charlotte in on Nov. 6. Since then, Lewis has found himself under consistent scrutiny as Magic fans suffered through his shooting slump as badly as he did.”
- Nobody understands what Hedo Turkoglu said in last night’s game.
- Seriously. Nobody.
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: “Hedo Turkoglu probably doesn’t want to be on the Orlando Magic, and the Magic probably don’t want him. It’s not just that he’ll make an average of eight figures over the course of the contract he signed upon leaving Orlando a year and a half ago; though I’m guessing that helps. He wanted a temperate scene that more closely approximated the European brand of ball that he grew up with (if not his youth spent in Turkey), and I can’t blame him. Some of us like cold weather. Which is why he flirted with Portland, before signing with Toronto. The problem was that his terrible play in Toronto allowed for a trade to Phoenix, which (I’m sorry, Orlando, but this pasty mug was miserable down there) is far more preferable to the dry heat and sports-bars-at-every-turn-with-ranch-dressing-and-light-beer-to-spare environment in Phoenix. Not a fan of either, but intense humidity does tip the scale.”
In a game with little drama, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Phoenix Suns by the score of 105-89 in front of a nationally televised audience. No Steve Nash (out with an injury), no rebounding or defending capabilities, and playing on a back-to-back against the Magic, a roster that was well-rested, it’s no surprise that the game was as lopsided as it was for the Suns. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as six players scored in double-figures including all five starters. Dwight Howard had 20 points and 12 rebounds, Jameer Nelson had 15 points and 12 assists with zero turnovers, Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis each had 13 points, and Quentin Richardson had 15 points. Perhaps the most important thing to take away from the Magic’s victory was that everyone in the starting lineup, including Lewis, played efficiently on offense. Granted, that’s not so hard to do against Phoenix’s defense but it’s still worth mentioning.
This game was over shortly after tipoff.
After Channing Frye made a three-pointer to give Phoenix a 9-8 lead with 7:47 left in the first quarter, Orlando finished the period on a 23-6 run to put things away.
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “And with all due respect to Dwight Howard, who entered last night’s game against the Phoenix Suns shooting a miserable 53 percent from the free throw line, I’m going to have to go with Rick Barry on this one. You see, Barry is one of the greatest free throw shooters who ever lived. When he retired, Barry held the NBA record for most consecutive free throws made (60), highest free throw percentage in a season (.947) and best for a career (.900). And he did it with an underhanded style that today’s image-conscious millionaires would never even consider. [...] And now it’s up to us, Orlando, to be equally relentless in our pursuit to get Dwight to try it. Seriously, what harm could it possibly do? It’s not like it would ruin his stroke. This is, after all, Dwight’s seventh year in the league and he has a career .597 free throw percentage. Isn’t it obvious by now that the conventional style is not going to work for him? Barry says the underhanded method is perfect for a muscle-bound player like Dwight because it would force him to relax. It makes sense. I mean, think about this: The natural position of the body is to stand with your arms hanging down in a completely relaxed position. When you shoot overhanded, the body is in an unnatural position and therefore has a tendency to tense and tighten up. [...] Barry, always blunt and outspoken, is flabbergasted that someone like Dwight won’t even consider going underhanded.”
- Dwight Howard talks about his relationship with Hedo Turkoglu.
- The Orlando Magic are doing an excellent job of rebounding as a team.
- J.J. Redick will not suit up for tonight’s game against the Phoenix Suns.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel takes a look at Howard’s growth on offense.
- Austin Burton of Dime Magazine lists the duo of Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter as one of the 10-best backcourts in the NBA: “Jameer (14.5 ppg, 5.6 apg) gets lost in the shuffle of elite point guards who have more talent, but few are tougher and more tenacious than Orlando’s floor leader. Vince (15.2 ppg, 45% 3PA) obviously isn’t the player he used to be, but he gets too much criticism considering he’s still very good.”
Photo by Fernando Medina
Via the Orlando Magic:
The Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard, Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson were named to the 2011 NBA All-Star Ballot that was unveiled today during a special tip-off event in Los Angeles, the Official Host City of NBA All-Star 2011. NBA All-Star Balloting presented by T-Mobile will begin this afternoon at 3 p.m. ET. The 60th NBA All-Star Game, which will air live on TNT and ESPN Radio in the U.S., and reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories in more than 40 languages, will be played at STAPLES Center on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011.
Howard has been named to the All-Star team the past four seasons and has been a starter each of the last three years, including becoming the first player in league history to eclipse the 3 million vote mark with an NBA-leading 3,151,181 votes in 2009. Carter is an eight-time All-Star, while Lewis has been named to the team twice and Nelson has been selected once.
Scrolling down the Orlando Magic’s upcoming schedule recently, a revelation hit point guard Jameer Nelson like a ton of bricks. With games dead ahead against Steve Nash, Darren Collison, Tony Parker, John Wall and Derrick Rose, Nelson realized there’s an all-star point guard awaiting him at almost every turn.
“Every night you know you are going to get a good guy at point guard and you have to bring it,’’ said Nelson, an NBA All-Star himself two seasons ago. “But the way I look at it, they have to bring it against me, too. You can never let up against these guys and you just really have to play your game. Especially, defensively you don’t want to let those great guards get going and you to contain them as much as you can.’’ [...]
Nelson said his mentality has to change from night to night depending on whether he is facing a pass-first point guard or one with a scorer’s mentality. For example, he might go under a screen on the pick-and-roll against Parker, Kidd and Rondo because he knows those guards aren’t great shooters, but instead are some of the game’s best drivers. But against Billups, Williams and others, Nelson has to focus more on going over screens to try and take away jump shots.
And some nights – like recently with Williams — in pick-and-roll sets, those guards can be unstoppable.
Brandon Bass‘ second year in head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s system has seen a dramatic improvement in almost all phases of his game. However, the one aspect of Bass’ skill-set that’s seen a noticeable change has been his defense.
Team defense, that is.
In the video, keep a careful eye on Bass the entire time. It’s easy to overlook what Bass is doing on the defensive side of the ball because, let’s be frank, it’s harder to notice or quantify a player’s impact on defense. It’s Bass’ attention to detail that stands out the most when examining his improvements defensively.
For example, on the first possession, Bass does an excellent job of rotating on Amir Johnson as Dwight Howard provides a double-team on Jose Calderon along the baseline. When Howard is done double-teaming Calderon, he shifts back to Johnson and Bass sticks with his assignment — Andrea Bargnani. Or how about the fourth possession when Bass correctly shows on the Toronto Raptors’ pick and roll? Later in the sequence, Bass does get beat by Bargnani along the baseline but he lets Howard provide weak-side help to stop the play. That’s proper awareness.
Again, these are things that people won’t notice but someone does and that’s Van Gundy. That’s why Bass is getting more playing time.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Word is that teams have inquired about point guard Chauncey Billups, and nobody on the planet can be surprised. If, or when, Carmelo Anthony goes in a trade, why keep Billups around? The Nuggets will be in official rebuilding mode once Melo walks. The [Orlando] Magic have pieces to land them both. Before the Heat land them by, oh, dealing Chris Bosh. I tweeted this weeks ago. Melo is making $17 million, Billups $13 mil this season. The Magic have a veteran package they can hand over to Denver: shooting guard Vince Carter ($17 mill), center Marcin Gortat ($6 mill) and point guard Jameer Nelson ($7 mill). Is it better than the proposed package New Jersey apparently is offering of draft picks and Derrek Favors? I’d say the Magic’s would-be deal is more proven, no question.”
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “On the Orlando Magic injury front, there’s good news and there’s bad news. We’ll start with the bad news: Jason Williams (foot) and Quentin Richardson (sickness) didn’t practice today. Both are day-to-day, but Q is expected to play Thursday night against Phoenix. J.J. Redick was still sidelined with back spasms, marking the fourth consecutive day he’s been out. He didn’t play in Monday’s game against Memphis because of the injury. The good news? Jameer Nelson (ankle) and Mickael Pietrus (leg) returned to practice. Both players will play Thursday night, barring something unforeseen.”
- Nationally televised games are not kind to the Orlando Magic.
- Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post reveals that the Magic’s use of a traditional lineup has produced some surprisingly good results, so far, in the regular season: “So playing [Brandon] Bass or Gortat at power forward replaces atypically inefficient players with incredibly efficient ones. Bass’ raw shooting percentage of 47.5 doesn’t do him justice, because he’s a volume free-throw shooter with great accuracy. His True Shooting mark of 60.7 percent places him fourth on the team. Gortat, on the other hand, hardly misses from the floor. He leads the team with 65 percent shooting from the field thanks to his soft touch around the rim and the little attention defenses afford him. Add it all up [...] and the Magic’s offense has been 4.85 points per 100 possessions more effective with a traditional power forward in the lineup. But the bigger difference has come at the defensive end.”
- Matt Moore of CBSSports.com: “You’d have thought the Rashard Lewis contract would have bitten them sooner than this, but hey, worse late than never, I suppose. The Magic have one win against a team above .500 and two losses to Miami to and Utah. It’s early yet so they haven’t had many cracks at it, but throw in a loss to the Raptors, and yeesh, not a great start for SVG’s crew. The defense is still excelling, but the offense has fallen off a cliff, thanks in part to Rashard Lewis not being able to hit the broad side of a barn. And yet still, Ryan Anderson gets no minutes. Crying shame, really.”
- Do you believe in Magic? NBA.com writers try to answer that question.
- Dwight Howard is still a flawed player, according to some.