Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 189

Nov 11

Video Analysis: How Not to Beat a Zone Defense

Zone defenses.

Teams in the NBA rarely utilize them because, well, they don’t work very often. This is basketball at its highest level, not high school varsity, so a 2-3 matchup zone isn’t going to last long against the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers and others.

And the last team that people think a zone defense would work against is the Orlando Magic, given their ability to spread the floor and shoot threes with reckless abandon but also have a dominating inside presence in Dwight Howard to balance everything out offensively.

Yet the Utah Jazz last night, with head coach Jerry Sloan admitting that he had ran out of options, used the zone to erase an 18-point deficit in roughly 13 minutes of game time. It also helped that the Jazz began to run their flex offense to perfection, but their defense played a big role in allowing them to comeback and win by 10 points against the Magic.

Note two things: lack of ball movement and dribble penetration.

Want to make it easy on a zone defense? Do those things.

Nov 11

Second Look: Utah Jazz 104, Orlando Magic 94

AP Photo/John Raoux

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “What upset Stan Van Gundy most is that he had seen it all before. Once again, his team stopped defending after it built a big lead. Once again, his team turned the ball over in bunches. Once again, his team missed lots of free throws. This time, it spelled disaster. An 18-point lead late in the third quarter slipped away, and the Orlando Magic lost 104-94 to the Utah Jazz, who are quickly becoming the comeback kings of the NBA. [...] And also a loss that left Van Gundy puzzled. Just four days earlier, Orlando built an 18-point lead against the Charlotte Bobcats and almost lost. How could the veteran Magic roster fail to learn from that experience? Indeed, what occurred Wednesday night — before a sellout crowd at Amway Center, no less — seemed all too familiar. The Magic turned the ball over 21 times. They missed 11 of their 25 free-throw attempts. They allowed an opponent to shoot 50 percent from the field. Not exactly a championship-caliber performance, was it?”
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Just hours after Stan Van Gundy had finally decided on a starting lineup — really, truly, he meant it this time — it went kaboom. It started ticking after only a minute and a half, and before you knew it, bits and pieces of the Ryan Anderson plan were all over the floor. Later, and with plenty of warning, so were the rest of the Magic. Van Gundy might be fiddling around too much with the lineup, but he was right about one thing: Despite the debris from the decision to name Anderson the starting power forward, the Magic still forged an 18-point lead against Utah on Wednesday night. When it was over, the Jazz had claimed another Florida victim, coming back to beat the Magic 24 hours after coming back to stun the Miami Heat. Afterward, Van Gundy conceded he might need to go back in his laboratory and start over.”
  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “The zone defense is a rarely used tactic in the NBA, and it’s especially rare to see it against a sharp-shooting team like the Orlando Magic. But on Wednesday night, a second-half switch to a zone defensive scheme powered the Utah Jazz to a 104-90 win in Orlando. The Jazz were out of ideas after trailing by as much as 18, and toward the end of the third quarter they mixed things up defensively by going away from man-to-man. [...] The Jazz ended the third quarter on an 9-0 run, cutting a hefty Magic lead to nine. Utah remained in zone defense in the fourth quarter, and the results were negative for Orlando: Howard scored just one point and the Magic made 26.3 percent of their shots in the quarter. The Jazz clicked on offense and outscored the Magic 39-20 in the period.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “The Magic were forced to deal with a painful lesson on Wednesday night when they squandered an 18-point lead following one turnover after another and having no answer defensively for Williams and Al Jefferson. The result – a 104-94 loss to the surging Jazz – was one that Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy dubbed as “disturbing.” The Magic (5-2) saw their four-game winning streak come to an end and they suffered the first-ever loss at the dazzling new Amway Center when they made several uncharacteristic plays late in the second half. Orlando led by 18 points with 96 seconds left in the third period, but came unglued with three straight turnovers and couldn’t slow down Utah (5-3) in a 39-point fourth quarter. Williams scored 17 of his 30 points in the final period.”
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “The starting lineup, an issue which Van Gundy seemed to have solved earlier in the day, when he announced Quentin Richardson would start at small forward against smaller teams, and Ryan Anderson at power forward against bigger teams, is suddenly in flux again; Brian Schmitz covered this topic in exceptional depth for the Orlando Sentinel. For the second time in four outings, he benched Anderson in the first quarter and did not play him again. Brandon Bass got the call in Anderson’s place. In the first 90 seconds, Anderson let Millsap establish deep post position and yielded a layup, and also committed two turnovers. Sloan shrewdly cross-matched small forward Andrei Kirilenko, giving him the Anderson assignment, and the 10-year vet used his long arms to poke the ball away from Anderson twice. Van Gundy said he didn’t like Anderson’s “approach” at the start of games. It seems to me–and I don’t know this for sure, it’s only speculation–that Anderson will not see the starting lineup for quite a while.”
  • Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: “It was the hard burn in Deron Williams’ eyes. The sight of a Jazz bench jumping skyward with raised fists, bared teeth and smiling faces. And the image of a cast of reserves racing out along the hardwood to bump chests and slap hands, congratulating their teammates as Utah accomplished the improbable once again. All captured the spirit of a team that is quickly becoming defined by its collective heart and strong will. And they represented the fierce fight of a Jazz team that rallied from an 18-point late-third quarter deficit to defeat the Orlando Magic 104-94 on Wednesday night at Amway Center. [...] Utah’s self belief is blooming. The Jazz have now knocked off the Heat and Magic — two of the premier contenders in a top-heavy Eastern Conference — during back-to-back nights on the road, delivering each team its first home defeat. Factor in a double overtime victory over the Los Angeles Clippers last Friday — featuring an 18-point rally and a last-second game winner by Williams — and a Utah team that just a week ago was searching for its early-season identity has suddenly begun to find one.”

Nov 10

Recap: Utah Jazz 104, Orlando Magic 94

AP Photo/John Raoux

BOX SCORE

A night after the Utah Jazz pulled off an improbable comeback against the Miami Heat to win in overtime, it was the same song but difference dance versus the Orlando Magic in front of a nationally televised audience. The Jazz, trailing by as much as 18 points in the second half, utilized a zone defense for more than a quarter and were able to overcome a double-digit deficit to beat the Magic by the score of 104-94. Utah was led by Deron Williams, who had 30 points, 14 assists, and five rebounds. Paul Millsap finished with 23 points, five rebounds, and two steals while Al Jefferson contributed with 21 points and eight rebounds. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. That being said, Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter made the biggest impacts. Nelson had 19 points, five rebounds, seven assists, and two steals. Carter chipped in with 20 points. Ryan Anderson started the game for the Magic at power forward but after a few turnovers in the first quarter, he turned over the reigns to Brandon Bass who played a majority of the minutes at power forward the rest of the way.

So what happened?

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Nov 10

Preview: Utah Jazz at Orlando Magic

7:00 EDT | ESPN
4-3 @ 5-1
Pythagorean Record: 3-4 Pythagorean Record: 5-1
Pace: 95.0 (15th) Pace: 93.2 (18th)
Offensive Rating: 105.1 (16th) Offensive Rating: 107.1 (12th)
Defensive Rating: 105.5 (14th) Defensive Rating: 95.1 (1st)
Amway Center | First meeting this season

Nov 10

Sneak Preview: Utah Jazz at Orlando Magic

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “After the Utah Jazz scored 56 points in the paint in edging the Heat in OT Tuesday night, I would guess Stan Van Gundy will fill out his lineup with either Brandon Bass or Ryan Anderson at power forward and use Marcin Gortat in a Twin Towers-combo with Dwight Howard more tonight. With the Jazz exploiting Miami’s biggest weakness — inside the paint — the Magic are likely braced for more of the same. Even with Howard down on the block. Howard can handle Al Jefferson, who has been starting at center even though he’s undersized. He had a miserable night offensively, missing six of shots against Miami, but Paul Millsap’s career night made up for it.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic must feel a bit like Samson after a haircut. The team temporarily has lost one of its greatest strengths. Last April, the Magic set an NBA record for 3-pointers made in a single season. But these last two weeks, the team has struggled to hit shots from beyond the arc. [...] The Magic have made just 32.3 percent of their 3-point attempts so far. Although players and coaches believe that’s a statistical aberration, it’s still a stunningly low figure for a team that depends so greatly on its long-distance shooting. Before Tuesday’s games, 22 teams had posted a higher 3-point percentage than Orlando. Another coach might see that as reason for concern, but Stan Van Gundy sees reason for hope. On Tuesday, Van Gundy gathered his players together and told them that they have compiled a 5-1 record because they’ve played strong defense and rebounded well. The Magic entered the day ranked third in field-goal percentage defense and third in rebounds per game. The last thing Van Gundy wants to do is harp too much on the team’s subpar perimeter shooting. He believes that one of the worst things a coach can do with a slumping shooter is get into his head. Perimeter players will continue to have the green light to take open 3s.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Six games into the season, the Orlando Magic appear to be rolling along with the top winning percentage in the Eastern Conference and the third-greatest margin of victory in five wins. But almost to a man, the Magic (5-1) feel that they have yet to play their best game or hit their full stride because a big weapon in their offensive arsenal has been mostly missing. A season after hitting a NBA record 841 3-pointers, the Magic have mostly missed the mark thus far from behind the 3-point stripe. Whereas the Magic made 10.25 3-pointers a game last season while shooting 37.5 percent, this season they are making just 8.66 a game while shooting only 32.3 percent from behind the stripe. That percentage ranks the Magic 24th in the NBA. It’s a credit to the Magic’s defensive grit and the MVP-caliber play of Dwight Howard inside that they have been able to mostly weather the shooting woes and still win five times in six games. Such was the case again Monday night when Orlando missed on 18 of 22 tries from 3-point range, but was still able to whip Southeast Division rival Atlanta, 93-89. With a team stocked full of good 3-point shooters around Howard, history says the Magic will eventually snap out of their funk. They hope that night comes on Wednesday when they host the Utah Jazz at the Amway Center.”
  • Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: “He would not be defeated. And no matter what, he would not go down. For every blow the Jazz took, forward Paul Millsap fired back. By the time Millsap’s flurry was over, he had a career-high 46 points, and the Jazz had pulled out an improbable 116-114 overtime victory over the NBA superpower otherwise known as the Miami Heat on Tuesday night. Asked to describe a win that saw the Jazz rally from a 19-point halftime deficit — Millsap drilled three 3-point shots in 27.2 seconds in the final minute of the fourth quarter — the longtime backup and workaholic long overshadowed by Carlos Boozer first said he was speechless. Then the humble, quiet starting power forward who has suddenly emerged as the team’s premier offensive option in the paint and on the perimeter beamed. Millsap had never scored 46 points in his entire life. Not in youth ball, not in high school, not in college and definitely not in the pros. Top off the outing with the fact that Millsap sent the game into overtime with a tip-in as time expired in regulation, and it was a night that the small-college player who once had to prove that he even belonged in the NBA will never forget.”

Nov 10

Are You Kidding Me? Fastbreaks?

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Via Peter D. Newmann of ESPN NBA Statistics and Information Research:

One thing that the [Orlando] Magic won’t be doing very much of is running the fastbreak. Orlando averages the fewest fastbreak points per game in the NBA.

Fastbreak PPG Pace
Orlando Magic 8.2 93.2 (18th)
Milwaukee Bucks 8.6 91.4 (24th)
New Jersey Nets 9.7 91.1 (27th)
Portland Trail Blazers 10.0 89.4 (29th)
Detroit Pistons 11.7 90.6 (28th)

Nov 09

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • 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.

Nov 09

Vince Carter Comes Through in the Clutch

Nov 08

Recap: Orlando Magic 93, Atlanta Hawks 89

AP Photo/John Raoux

BOX SCORE

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.

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Nov 08

Preview: Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic

7:00 EDT | Sun Sports
6-1 @ 4-1
Pythagorean Record: 5-2 Pythagorean Record: 4-1
Pace: 92.4 (21st) Pace: 93.4 (18th)
Offensive Rating: 114.9 (2nd) Offensive Rating: 108.4 (10th)
Defensive Rating: 107.3 (17th) Defensive Rating: 94.9 (2nd)
Amway Center | First meeting this season
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