- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Yao versus Dwight [Howard]. Has a nice ring to it, right? But Friday night’s game between the Houston Rockets and the Orlando Magic at Amway Center will not feature a matchup of two the game’s most dominant centers. Injury-plagued Rockets center Yao Ming played just five games this season before the team pronounced him out for the rest of the year. On Thursday, he underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left ankle, an operation that may force him to retire. […] As saddening as Yao’s injury troubles are for him as a person, it’s also clear that his absence hurts the sport as a whole. Millions of people in his native China started to follow the NBA when he joined the Rockets for the 2002-03 season. He missed only two games in his first three seasons. In a league with few quality traditional centers, it figured that he would eventually develop a natural rivalry with the Magic’s cornerstone player, Howard. The marketing possibilities seemed limitless. Both players possess undeniable charisma and skill. Yao is the greatest basketball player ever to come out of the Far East. Howard is the latest dominant American center, and his bubbly personality complements his power game. That rivalry never materialized fully, despite its promise.”
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “Courtney Lee is one of the few ex-Magic players who hears nothing but cheers when he returns to Orlando. Some players get booed (Grant Hill, T-Mac) and some get indifference (most others), but Lee will hear nothing but applause when he comes off the bench tonight for the Houston Rockets.”
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy has settled on a starting lineup.
- Dwight Howard will likely share the All-Star stage with his fiercest rivals.
- Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “It’s fair to say Smith’s trades have paid off in the short term, resulting in victories as well as improvements in areas he cited as specific needs. But the bigger goal for this team is to win a championship, so quite obviously it’s too early to tell if Smith’s gambit will work in that respect. But after a discouraging, dispirited start to the season, Orlando’s back on track and charging hard in the Eastern Conference. The offense has played no small part in that rapid improvement.”
- Scott Carefoot of The Basketball Jones: “Magic coach Stan Van Gundy says “There is no one in the league who has a bigger impact on a game than Dwight” and it’s hard to argue with him. Unfortunately, MVP voters tend to favor players who are among the leading scorers so Howard probably isn’t going to win that award until the season he leads the Magic to the best record in the NBA. Since Orlando is 23-12 at the moment with seven teams ahead of them in the standings, this probably won’t be that season. As for a third consecutive Defensive Player of the Year Award, that’s basically a lock unless he gets hurt.”
- Zach Lowe of The Point Forward thinks the 10-second free-throw rule is silly.
- The Amway Center is an impressive-looking arena inside.
The Orlando Magic Youth Foundation (OMYF), in partnership with Sun Sports/FOX Sports Florida, raised $56,625 (with the McCormick Foundation .50 match) at the Second Annual Holiday Broadcast Auction on December 18 during the Magic’s matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers. The game was broadcast on Sun Sports and all auction proceeds benefited the OMYF. The OMYF is committed to helping children in Central Florida realize their full potential, especially those most at-risk, by supporting programs and partnerships that empower families and change lives.
One package still available.
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “Orlando Magic forward Brandon Bass doesn’t like to evaluate his career or think about how far he’s come as a player, trying to avoid satisfaction or contentment with his career. He wants to keep working, keep learning, keep improving. But even he had to grin when asked about how it feels to finally be a regular starter in the NBA. ‘I’ll tell you what was real exciting,’ Bass said, smiling. ‘When I saw my picture as the five starters on the Jumbo screen, man – I thought that was alright.’ He’s started 12 of the team’s past 13 games, and the one game he didn’t start was because of injuries to Ryan Anderson and Malik Allen. In Bass’ previous five NBA seasons, he started eight games. This is the first time Bass has been an every-game starter since college, when he starred at LSU from 2003-05.”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Say what you want about [Stan] Van Gundy, but he’s always refreshing, the best interview in sports, along with Rex Ryan of the Jets.”
- Dwight Howard plans on bringing back the “Magic Show” — this time, it’ll be football-themed.
- Howard thinks JaVale McGee is the darkhorse in the Slam Dunk Contest this year.
- Howard reveals his New Years resolution on his blog: “That´s fine with me. As much as I like winning rebounding and block titles and the Defensive Player of the Year award, I´m really all about winning a championship. I told you guys that I was going to keep my New Year´s Day resolution a secret, but really what it is is to bring a championship to Orlando. That´s the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about before I go to bed at night. I want to win a title so bad, and I think we have the team here to do that. I just know it would be the best moment of my NBA career.”
- According to Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse, Howard is the favorite to win the Defensive Player of the Year award for a third consecutive season. Here’s the rationale: “Howard’s dominance — he has led the NBA in both blocked shots and rebounding the past two seasons — has allowed Van Gundy to turn the Magic into one of the league’s best defensive teams, even with a roster filled with below-average defensive players.”
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy mocks the “Heatles” nickname created by LeBron James.
- One NBA writer says that the Orlando Magic are not an elite team.
- Howard is going to make an appearance on the Disney Channel on January 14.
- Ben Golliver of CBSSports.com: “Van Gundy hasn’t always handled himself perfectly in the media this year, as his outburst over some comments Phil Jackson made him sound whiny and petulant. Here, though, Van Gundy plays beautifully on the Heatles’ big flaw: the Heat haven’t always sold out their home games, and their fans don’t always show up. In the process of making his point that the Magic take care of their business in that regard, Van Gundy is elevating Magic fans above the average, indirectly drawing a divide between “real basketball fans” and “casual fans who show up for the scene.” Any time a head coach can clown the Miami Heat and pay tribute to the loyalty and consistency of his own fans in one sentence, that’s an opportunity that can’t be missed.”
Via the Orlando Magic:
Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic leads the Eastern Conference in voting after the third returns of 2011 NBA All-Star Balloting presented by T-Mobile were announced today. Howard ranks second overall in voting for the entire NBA behind only Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant is the overall leader with 1,391,597 votes, while Howard paces the East with 1,205,159 votes.
The 2011 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 in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011.
Howard, the leading vote-getter in the Eastern Conference with 1,205,159 votes, paces centers in the East, followed by the Boston Celtics’ Shaquille O’Neal (506,621). LeBron James, a two-time All-Star MVP (2006, 2008), leads all Eastern Conference forwards with 1,194,091 votes, followed by the Celtics’ Kevin Garnett (850,687), MVP of the 2003 All-Star Game. The Heat’s Dwyane Wade, last year’s All-Star Game MVP, paces all guards with 1,167,649 votes; the Celtics’ Rajon Rondo is second among guards in the East (929,781).
In the Western Conference, Bryant, a three-time All-Star MVP, who garnered the honor in 2002, 2007 and 2009, is followed at guard by the New Orleans Hornets’ Chris Paul (724,605). Kevin Durant, a member of last year’s All-NBA First Team, paces forwards in the West (945,944), with the Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony (742,284) second. The Houston Rockets’ Yao Ming (754,583) is the leading vote-getter among Western Conference centers, with the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum (493,237) placing second.
StubHub Ticket Giveaway: Enter for a chance to watch the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets at Amway Center on January 7
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 7:00 PM EST to post a response. That’s 12 hours from now.
Which player for the Oklahoma City Thunder will score the first basket in tonight’s game against the Dallas Mavericks?
In a game that was not pleasing to the eyes, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks by the score of 97-87 and come away with their seventh consecutive win of the regular season — a season-high. As has been the case during their winning streak, the Magic were led by a balanced attack as six players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard paced Orlando with 28 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks, while dominating Andrew Bogut on both ends of the floor and holding him to six points, seven rebounds, two steals, and four blocks while he fouled out. In the Magic’s previous meeting with the Bucks, Bogut feasted on Marcin Gortat but it was a different story against Howard. Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu chipped in with 13 points each, while Brandon Bass and J.J. Redick each had 10 points. Jameer Nelson flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 10 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists with zero turnovers.
Needless to say, this game was not fun to watch.
Orlando was able to build a double-digit lead in the first half, more so because Milwaukee was so inept offensively. Sure, the Magic had some highlight-worthy moments. Nelson’s connection with Richardson on a spectacular alley-oop feed early in the first quarter was a sight to see. And with the period coming to a close, Turkoglu connecting with Howard for a dunk on a half-court pass was another example of the special chemistry that the two players have.
But that was it for notable plays.
Via the Orlando Magic:
Orlando Magic Director of Community Relations, Multicultural Insights and Government Affairs Lucas Boyce announced today the release of his new book, Living Proof: From Foster Care to the White House and the NBA.
In his role with the Magic, Boyce is responsible for the strategic business planning and direction of the organization’s multicultural initiatives, diverse outreach and government affairs. Additionally, Boyce helps oversee the Magic’s community relations department and is responsible for directing many of the Magic’s community outreach programs.
The 11 chapter, 228-page book, complete with photo-page inserts, is being published by Advantage Media Group and is being released in the U.S. in paper-back, and e-book formats, both for a price of $16.99. The paper-back is currently available on www.BarnesandNoble.com for just $12.23. The book is also available on Amazon.com
“I am an eyewitness to God’s incredible grace and am thankful for the opportunity to share, what I hope will be, a story of encouragement and inspiration,” Boyce said. “It is my hope that everyone who reads this book will come away believing that no matter the circumstance, they can accomplish their goals.”
Photo by Fernando Medina
The Orlando Magic are on a six-game winning streak, with notable wins over the San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, and New York Knicks, and Hedo Turkoglu has been a big reason why order is being restored in the City Beautiful.
The Magic have the look of a championship contender again after losing eight of nine games in the month of December and looking nothing more than a second-tier team in the Eastern Conference. It’s too early to determine whether or not Orlando is good enough to beat the Miami Heat and Celtics in a seven-game series, but it’s clear that they’re in a better position to put up a fight than before. Again, Turkoglu’s return to the Magic is something that can’t be overlooked because of it.
It’s true. Turkoglu is no different than the player that left Orlando in 2009. Back then, it was clear that Turkoglu’s value was inflated by the mainstream media in large part because he was a focal point to the Magic’s trek to the NBA Finals. People remember Turkoglu’s game-winning shot in Game 4 against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs or his epic performance in Game 7 against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, in which he played the game of his life and finished with 25 points (on 9-of-12 shooting), 12 assists, and five rebounds. But when it was all said and done, Turkoglu performed no better than an average player in the postseason that year, despite his bevy of memorable moments.
It’s why general manager Otis Smith chose not to re-sign Turkoglu in the offseason and instead replace him with Vince Carter.
The thinking, at the time, was that Turkoglu was replaceable when looking at the numbers. Carter was just coming off an All-Star caliber season with the New Jersey Nets. Hence, it was logical for Smith to conclude that Carter could easily match or out-produce Turkoglu’s production when analyzing things in a vacuum. Plus, Carter offered Orlando the financial flexibility that Turkoglu could not, given that he was seeking a long-term contract. It all seemed to make sense. Out goes Turkoglu, in comes Carter, and the Magic could proceed to chase a title. Long story short, things didn’t go according to plan for Smith. Orlando, despite finishing first last year in efficiency differential, failed to reach their goal in the playoffs.