Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 189

Dec 09

Interview with Ben Golliver of Blazersedge

Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

It’s been a tough time for fans of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Before the season began, if there was a team that was expected to battle the Los Angeles Lakers for supremacy in the Western Conference, it was the Blazers. The respective projection systems of John Hollinger and Kevin Pelton were bullish on Portland’s chances of winning the West. Why? The Blazers had a rash of injuries last year, yet were able to win 50 games. If Portland could avoid the injury bug, there was enough talent and depth for them to make a run at a championship.

In other words, the expectation was that the Blazers would experience a regression to the mean with injuries. Fast-forward to today and the outlook for Portland in the present and future is getting bleaker as time moves on.

What’s happened?

Aside from losing Greg Oden for the season as he undergoes microfracture surgery again, Brandon Roy — the Blazers’ franchise player — is suffering slow deterioration in his left knee that is not deemed fixable and as a result, no longer allows him to perform at an All-Star level. The kicker is that Portland was aware of Roy’s condition when they offered him a max contract in 2009, yet former general manager Kevin Pritchard acquiesced to public pressure and contract demands.

It should also be noted that Roy dealt with surgery on his right knee leading up to the 2010 NBA Playoffs. Needless to say, the Blazers are in a precarious position right now as a franchise.

To gain more insight on the beat in Portland, I enlisted the opinion of Ben Golliver of Blazersedge and gathered his take on a variety of topics — Roy’s injury and its significance to the Blazers, Oden’s future, and more.

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What does Brandon Roy’s fall from grace mean for the franchise?

I’m not sure we should call it a fall from grace, perhaps a fall from graceful drives to the hoop. It’s not yet clear what the long-term ramifications of Roy’s bad knees will be, but expectations are significantly lowered in the short term, and hopes for competing for a title in the mid-term are slowly slipping away. A lot depends on how effective Roy can become in his limited state, and how well he adjusts mentally to the physical changes. If he is a productive and efficient (but limited) player this time next year, it will make life significantly easier for new GM Rich Cho. If not, his five-year contract is a huge weight on the team’s salary cap.

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Dec 09

Orlando Magic and Subway restaurants team up for the ‘J.J. Giveaway’ promotion

Photo by Fernando Medina

Via the Orlando Magic:

Starting December 10, 2010, Orlando Magic fans will have the exclusive opportunity to get an autographed mini basketball from Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick in participating SUBWAY® Restaurants through the ‘J.J. Giveaway’ Promotion. Each person who purchases a SUBWAY® gift card for the amount of $50, or gift cards that add up to $50 in value, will receive one limited edition mini basketball signed by Redick, along with a Certificate of Authenticity, until December 31 or while supplies last.

“This ‘gift with purchase’ opportunity is very exciting, especially this time of year. Shoppers can maximize their gift-buying budgets by getting a Subway card and an amazing piece of sports memorabilia at the same time,” said Peter DiPasqua, Subway Owner and President of DiPasqua Enterprises. “We’re thrilled to be able to partner with the Orlando Magic and J.J. Redick to bring something like this to our customers.”

Dec 09

Local minority-owned companies benefitted from Orlando Magic community gyms construction

Via the Orlando Magic:

Minority-owned companies in Central Florida were awarded $5 million in contracts for work on the five new Orange County Orlando Magic Recreation Centers. All five centers are now complete.

“The Orlando Magic recognizes the importance and long-term benefits of utilizing local minority and women business enterprises,” said Orlando Magic President Alex Martins. “From the outset of the community venues process we, along with our construction partners, have worked diligently to provide opportunities for local citizens and businesses.”

Nearly 30 percent of the work on the community gyms went to local minority and women business enterprises. This includes 48 subcontracts awarded to minority and women-owned businesses. A total of 12 African-American, 12 Hispanic-American, 10 Asian-American and 14 women-owned companies earned contracts. The Orange County Orlando Magic Recreation Centers include a 25,300 square foot building at each of the five locations.

The community gyms were donated and built by the DeVos family and Orlando Magic. Champions of the Community partners Disney Parks, GEICO, PepsiCo, AirTran Airways, Florida Hospital and Harris Corporation supported the project. Orange County operates and maintains the centers.

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Dec 08

Unveiling the Boston Massacre tee

Via Sports Enemy:

Sports Enemy is a new line with designs that are a cross between sports and streetwear, with an emphasis on rivalries intertwined with urban designs and catchy/witty logos and slogans. As Christmas is rapidly approaching, we have recently released our latest design – Boston Massacre 2010, with colorways for the Orlando Magic vs. Boston Celtics matchup on Christmas Day.

Keep an eye out for the tee at Sports Enemy’s website.

Dec 08

Dwight Howard and technical fouls

AP Photo/Eric Gay

Via Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post:

It’s tough to argue, in other words, that one or more of [Dwight] Howard‘s technicals cost Orlando a game just yet. In the grand scheme of the [Orlando] Magic‘s season so far, the technicals have cost the Magic seven points, or one every three games. That’s all.

The cost to Howard isn’t too great either. Per the league’s penalty schedule, Howard’s had to pay $13,000 in fines for those technicals this season, less than one percent of his $16.6 million NBA salary, which doesn’t account for his multiple endorsements.

I don’t intend to trivialize Howard’s technical foul trouble so far this season. The potential exists for him to blow his stack at a real inopportune time and send Orlando to a loss, or for a suspension to keep him out of action against a tough opponent such as the Boston Celtics or L.A. Lakers. But when considering the other issues the Magic may have to contend with in the 61 games ahead of them, this one doesn’t loom too large.

That point is especially clear given how Howard has improved his behavior lately. He’s picked up only three technicals in his last 414:22 of court time. Moreover, he’s on a streak of 124:43 without a technical, which is very nearly his best of the season.

Dwight Howard and technical fouls. Two things that aren’t mutually exclusive.

Dec 08

The Orlando Magic are winning with defense

Photo by AP/John Raoux

Live and die by the three.

That’s one of the most common criticisms against the Orlando Magic – they shoot too many threes! This isn’t normal!

Ever since head coach Stan Van Gundy took over as head coach for the Magic, he — alongside general manager Otis Smith — made the conscious decision to surround franchise centerpiece Dwight Howard with scads of shooters on the perimeter, diligently following a blueprint of winning a championship that’s been established by previous teams like the Houston Rockets in the mid-’90s.

Granted, part of the Magic’s chances of winning a title rested upon Howard’s broad shoulders and his ability to develop, and dominate, on offense. Needless to say, based on the early returns, Howard is doing just that. Only a stomach virus has stopped Howard from eviscerating more opponents.

But for all the chatter surrounding Orlando’s schemes offensively and Howard’s growth on that end of the floor, something else gets overlooked.

Defense.

If the Magic are living and dying by the three, then the defense is preventing some gruesome deaths. Three straight Southeast Division titles, an Eastern Conference title, and an appearance in the NBA Finals, all of these occurrences happening in the last three seasons would be evidence for that claim. No, Orlando doesn’t have a championship but they’re always in the discussion.

Because of defense.

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Dec 07

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “An MRI exam on Daniel Orton‘s troublesome left knee revealed no major structural damage, both the Orlando Magic rookie and Magic President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith said Monday night. […] A team doctor examined Orton on Monday after the MRI. The rookie center said he will seek a second opinion by the physician in Oklahoma who operated on his knee during his senior year of high school. Orton left open the possibility that he’ll have surgery, but he said he would like surgery to be “the very last option.” Orton injured his knee Saturday night, during the second game of his NBA Development League stint with the New Mexico Thunderbirds. […] The knee has troubled Orton since high school. As a junior, he partially tore the knee’s anterior cruciate ligament. As a senior, he tore meniscus cartilage in the knee and subsequently underwent surgery to repair both the meniscus and the ACL. The Magic used the 29th pick of the first round to select Orton out of Kentucky. After a poor showing in summer league play, the team put Orton on a rehabilitation program to strengthen the muscles around the knee. He didn’t appear in any exhibition games for the Magic and hasn’t played in a regular-season game yet.”
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “By the time the last Christmas eggnog is sipped, the Miami Heat will have passed the Magic to claim the top spot in the Southeast Division. Who’d have thought it? Only a few weeks ago the Heat were limping along at 9-8 and looking disjointed, needing to call a players-only meeting. But after five consecutive wins, the Heat are 14-8, trailing the Magic by just 1 1/2 games as Orlando heads into its most difficult stretch of the season to date. Meanwhile, the Heat, after tonight’s tough game in Utah, have some cupcakes coming their way. The NBA schedule-maker has spoken.”
  • Jameer Nelson is good to go for Thursday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
  • Are Magic fans confident in Chris Duhon?
  • David Aldridge of NBA.com recently conducted a Q/A with Daniel Orton. Here’s an excerpt from Orton: “At times, I do feel like I’m not really with the team or something like that. Moreso, the development part, like you said, is going to be within myself, really. So I think they’re looking towards me to develop myself, really. But I do get help and guidance from them, really.”
  • Kurt Helin recaps last night’s nightmare game between the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks: “Not that this was a particularly fun game to watch — for the first three quarters neither team cleared 20 points for a quarter. Chew on these numbers — Atlanta’s back court was 0-10 and the Magic’s front court was 2-12 in the first half. The Hawks had the lead at that point with a sad 81.8 points per 100 possessions at the break. The Magic really missed the play creation of Jameer Nelson. Dwight Howard was back — 14 points 13 boards — but was clearly feeling the impact of the stomach bug that knocked him down for a few days.”
  • Adam Figman of SLAM ONLINE sums up the Magic’s loss succinctly: “Dwight Howard might be the wheels, rims, leather seats, carburetor, alternator, paint job, and some other car parts I’m forgetting, but—from the looks of it—Jameer Nelson is the engine that drives the Magic forward. Without him, they were lost last night, as the Hawks pushed ahead in the fourth quarter and took it home.”
  • Dwight Howard talks about how the stomach virus affected his teammates: “I know that some of our guys lost a lot of weight when they got sick. J.J. Redick said he dropped 10 pounds and Mickael Pietrus dropped seven pounds. But I weighed in at 272 pounds. I made sure I ate a lot as of yesterday.”
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: “Orlando nearly doubled up its assists with turnovers, it missed 18 of 22 three-pointers, and yet it was still in the game mainly because the Hawks are pretty useless when Mike Bibby isn’t running the show (I’m being serious when I tell you to try and use Damien Wilkins at point forward, Hawks, because he can really pass). Credit Atlanta, again, but this was an ugly one from beginning to end.”

Dec 07

The play that beat the Orlando Magic last night

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Despite a game that was plagued by a lack of execution on both sides, the Atlanta Hawks were able to run an excellent inbounds play out of a timeout with 31.6 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

The scenario is this — the Hawks were up by the score of 73-70 and for the Orlando Magic, they needed a stop to give themselves a chance to tie the game. On the previous possession, Jamal Crawford ran an isolation set and missed the shot.

This time, however, head coach Larry Drew goes back to the motion offense

Sebastian Pruiti breaks down the possession at NBA Playbook.

Take a look.

Dec 07

Second Look: Atlanta Hawks 80, Orlando Magic 74

AP Photo/John Raoux

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Stan Van Gundy wanted to find something positive about the way the Orlando Magic played against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night. He pored over the box score and pored over it and pored over it. But he found nothing encouraging. The Magic lost to the Hawks in a game every bit as ugly as the 80-74 final score indicated. Dwight Howard, Mickael Pietrus and J.J. Redick returned from a nasty stomach bug, but the entire team played with little energy and just as little sharpness. […] Fatigue had something to do with it. Howard, Pietrus and Redick returned from the vicious stomach virus. And the guys who hadn’t been sick were finishing an exhausting stretch of five games in seven nights. Meanwhile, the Hawks left Amway Center feeling as though they had turned a corner. Until Monday, they had lost 11 of their last 12 regular-season and postseason games to the Magic.”
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The question on Monday night was whether the Magic could hold down the Hawks — and their lunch. They successfully accomplished one of the duties without IV drips or air-sickness bags or calling for mommy. After all their short-handed heroics last week, this home loss to Atlanta was hard to stomach, too. If you follow the Magic — and I wouldn’t follow them too closely yet without a flu shot — you know that the team has been downsized by an industrial-strength bug. It’s, uh, bowl season for the Magic. They still weren’t whole against the Hawks as point guard Jameer Nelson was home on sick leave. Dwight Howard, J.J. Redick and Pietrus found enough strength and Maalox to play. You wouldn’t think a strain of anything could bring down Howard, but he crumbled in sections. Of course, no virus would even think about approaching Stan Van Gundy without a whip and chair, afraid of the yelling. Despite being laughably depleted, the Magic went on the road and won two of three with as few as eight players. And Vince Carter pushed them, leading with his chin.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Not that they needed any provoking with a nasty virus that has already swept through the team, but Monday the Orlando Magic suffered the kind of loss that could make them sick for at least a couple of days. Needless to say, this one was hard for the Magic to stomach. Unable to get stops down the stretch and mired in an offensive funk most of the night, a tired and sickly Magic squad suffered another indignity Monday night with an unsightly 80-74 loss to the Atlanta Hawks at a sold-out Amway Center. The Magic (15-6) shot a dismal 37.8 percent, missed 18 of 22 3-point shots and turned the ball over 17 times because of too many three-second calls, offensive fouls and forced passes. And even when the Magic battled through a 4-minute stretch of the fourth quarter without a point and got back to being down just three points, they allowed a 3-point dagger from Mike Bibby to seal the defeat.”
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Nights like this make one appreciate what Nelson can do for Orlando’s ballclub. Though Chris Duhon played one of his better games of the season filling in for Nelson, the Magic nonetheless had to use Carter to initiate much of their offense, which yielded unimpressive results. Carter wisely looked to attack Atlanta’s weak perimeter defenders in the pick-and-roll, but Horford and Smith provided expert help throughout the game. With the outside shots falling off the rim, the passing lanes open only briefly, and Jason Collins blanketing Howard inside, the Magic struggled to get good shot attempts. There’s very little good to say about that end of the floor tonight. Even without Nelson, Orlando’s capable of more offensively.”
  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “In one night the Hawks finally figured out how to beat the Magic and win a tight game against a good opponent, and do both without injured All-Star Joe Johnson. The Hawks defeated the Magic 80-74 on Monday night at Amway Center to end a six-game losing streak in Orlando. The Hawks had lost 10 of their last 11 games against the Magic, who swept them in 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals by an NBA record margin of 101 points. Considering that ugly history, this was more than just a routine December road victory for the Hawks. […] Atlanta led 62-55 with less than eight minutes to play, but Orlando quickly cut it to 64-62. After the teams traded baskets, the Hawks finally found a burst of scoring down the stretch. Smith made a fade-away jump shot and Josh Powell was fouled after rebounding his own miss. Powell made both free throws. Hawks guard Mike Bibby next pump-faked Chris Duhon and made a 3-pointer to cap the 7-0 run. The Magic had one last run at the Hawks. Rashard Lewis made a 3-pointer, after Atlanta’s Jamal Crawford answered with a driving score, Vince Carter scored on consecutive drives and completed a 3-point play on the second one to make it 73-67. That’s when Bibby delivered another clutch dagger. His high-arching 3-pointer from the middle of the court gave the Hawks a 76-72 lead and they finished off a rare victory over the Magic.”
  • Bret LaGree of Hoopinion: “The Atlanta Hawks beat the Orlando Magic in Orlando without a single player having a good offensive game and it’s this uncharacteristic nature of the victory that gives it its power. The Hawks won without shooting well. They won without dominating the offensive glass. They won despite scoring just two fast break points. They won due to a combination of self-awareness, adaptability, and, yes, effort. It might be a one-off. That might not matter. There aren’t many teams as deep, as well-designed, and as well-coached as the Orlando Magic. Tonight, the Atlanta Hawks solved a difficult problem and that achievement should, in and of itself, be sufficient. No qualifications or caveats necessary.”

Dec 06

Recap: Atlanta Hawks 80, Orlando Magic 74

AP Photo/John Raoux

BOX SCORE

In a poorly played game on both sides, the Atlanta Hawks were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 80-74. The Magic welcomed back Dwight Howard, Mickael Pietrus, and J.J. Redick from a stomach virus that ravaged the team during their three-game road trip in the Midwest. Jameer Nelson sat out the game as he continues to recover from illness. The Hawks were led by Josh Smith, who had 19 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks and played one of his better games against Orlando in recent history. Al Horford finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks. Jamal Crawford chipped in with 15 points off the bench, albeit it took him 17 shots to get to that point total. Mike Bibby was the hero for Atlanta, scoring 11 points and making huge buckets down the stretch. The Magic were led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double figures. Vince Carter was the lead man for Orlando, putting up 18 points and eight rebounds. Howard, shaking off the rust, had 14 points, 13 rebounds, two steals, three blocks but unfortunately for him, he also had six turnovers. Not good.

The Hawks do deserve credit for winning the game but boy, the Magic looked tired as they played their fourth game in five days. Apart from Chris Duhon‘s hustle play in the first quarter, in which he intercepted a pass from Smith that was intended for Crawford, then saved the basketball from going out-of-bounds while diving into the crowd and igniting a fast break that led to a layup for Redick, there was little energy or effort exhibited from Orlando. Atlanta didn’t look that much better, to be frank, but they made the necessary plays in the fourth quarter to pull out the victory on the road. James Naismith wouldn’t be proud of this performance if he were alive.

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