Beginning on January 26th at approximately 11:00 AM Eastern Time through 11:59 PM ET on January 28, fans can enter to win a all-expense paid trip to the 2011 NBA All-Star Weekend by signing up to follow American Express on Twitter at http://twitter.com/americanexpress. During the entry period, contestants must tweet “I entered for chance to win #AmexSports trip to @NBA All-Star from @americanexpress. I’d bring [insert friend/family member] to become eligible in the contest.” There is a limit of one (1) entry per person/Twitter account per Entry Period.
During the Entry Period, the randomly selected winners will receive Two (2) round-trip flights and three (3) nights’ accommodations, which are included with the All-Star Entertainment Series Package prizes. Ground transportation and food and beverage are not included.
In December, American Express announced a new comprehensive, multiyear marketing partnership as the official partner of the NBA, USA Basketball, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), and the NBA Development League (NBA D-League). As the Official Credit Card Partner of the NBA, American Express provides Cardmembers with exclusive experiences and access to regular-season and playoff games, and premier NBA events.
Photo by Fernando Medina
Despite head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s justifiable grumbling about the Orlando Magic‘s defense, or lack thereof, there are many things that are impressive about the team since general manager Otis Smith made two blockbuster trades that — momentarily — shook the landscape of the NBA.
Like Hedo Turkgolu‘s rebirth with the Magic.
After languishing with the Toronto Raptors and Phoenix Suns as nothing more than a spot-up shooter, Turkoglu has been a player reborn with Orlando. No, Turkoglu’s numbers don’t look drastically different between his stops with the Raptors, Suns, and Magic but rest assured, he has been a different person since rejoining the franchise that made him a household name. Turkoglu has been able to recapture the chemistry he and Dwight Howard have in the pick and roll, while at the same time regaining Van Gundy’s trust in him during crunch-time. And even though Orlando ultimately lost the game, Turkoglu’s game-tying three-point shot against the New Orleans Hornets on January 12 proved that he’s still capable of coming through in the clutch when need be.
It’s like Turkoglu never left the Magic.
And how about Jason Richardson?
The two-time Slam Dunk champion has been a godsend for Orlando, as well.
Richardson has been noted as a player that performs when the lights are at their brightest — examples include his performance in the 2007 NBA Playoffs in the first round upset of the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks as a member of the Golden State Warriors and his tour de force in the postseason last year, aiding the Suns to a trip to the 2010 NBA Western Conference Finals.
There’s no question that Richardson has been unafraid, unlike his predecessor before him at the shooting guard position, to step up and hit big shots for the Magic. Whether it’s been against the Mavericks, Hornets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Boston Celtics, or Philadelphia 76ers, Richardson revealed he has ice in his veins when it comes to his three-point shooting prowess in crunch-time.
So far, Turkoglu and Richardson have provided some of the skills the Magic have been lacking when the season began. Gilbert Arenas is a work in progress, but there’s still time for him to get acclimated with Orlando and produce when the time comes.
However, there’s one reason that Smith dealt for Arenas, Richardson, and Turkoglu — to improve the Magic’s offense.
The Detroit Pistons were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 103-96 in a game that featured a somewhat-vintage performance from a former superstar that resided in the City Beautiful for four seasons. The Pistons were led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. Tracy McGrady played surprisingly well, finishing with 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals — it’s been a while since Magic fans have seen a good performance from him. Tayshaun Price had 20 points and six assists. Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon each had 16 points, while Austin Daye was a bright spot off the bench for the Pistons, finishing with 20 points (5-of-9 shooting from the field), seven rebounds, and two blocks. It was a very efficient outing for Daye and he was one of the main reasons that Detroit was able to steal a win against Orlando on the road. Dwight Howard led the way for the Magic with 20 points, 16 rebounds, and three blocks. Ryan Anderson has been playing like a man possessed lately, putting up 21 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the perimeter along with five rebounds and three blocks. Jameer Nelson had 14 points, while Brandon Bass chipped in with 12 points and eight rebounds. Unfortunately for Orlando, perimeter defense and turnovers were a big reason for the loss. Wasted possessions doomed the Magic’s comeback attempt.
Via the Orlando Magic:
The Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, Jan. 17, through Sunday, Jan. 23. It marks the third time this season and the 14th time of his career that Howard has earned the league’s top weekly honor.
Howard led Orlando to a 3-1 record, averaging 26.0 ppg. and 13.3 rpg. while lifting Orlando to its eighth consecutive victory at home and an Eastern Conference-best three-game winning streak to close out the week. Howard was tied for first in the East in rebounds per game for the week and pulled down at least 13 rebounds in three of the four contests. Howard also ranked fourth in Eastern Conference scoring, pouring in two games with at least 30 points.
Here is a recap of the week for Howard:
Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Jan. 17 @ Boston: Had 33 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and one steal in a 109-106 loss to the Celtics.
Jan. 19 vs. Philadelphia: Posted 18 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in a 99-98 win over the Sixers.
Jan. 21 vs. Toronto: Netted 31 points to go along with 19 rebounds in a 112-72 win versus the Raptors.
Jan. 22 @ Houston: Rounded out the week by tallying 22 points, 14 rebounds, two assists and two blocks in a 118-104 victory over the Rockets.
A brief announcement.
This year, Magic Basketball will be covering the 2011 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles during the February 18-20 weekend.
There will be full coverage of the event, with Media Day, the Rookie Challenge, the Slam Dunk Contest, and then the grand finale — the 60th NBA All-Star Game — serving as the highlights of the weekend. Expect tons of interviews, videos, and more.
Should be a fun ride.
Photo by Fernando Medina
Fast break points.
Any team in the NBA, during games, would like to score in transition as many times as possible. But not all teams in the league are created equal, and some of them are better at scoring on fast breaks than others. And it can’t be underestimated the power of capitalizing on transition opportunities.
For example, there are many reasons that the San Antonio Spurs are 37-7 and have the best record in the NBA, but one of them is their improved ability to score on a fast break. In 2009, the Spurs scored 12.7 fast break points per game. In 2010? That number has skyrocketed to 17.3 fast break points per game. It is worth noting that San Antonio has increased their pace from last season to this season, which means they have more chances to score due to a higher amount of possessions, but it’s still a noteworthy jump.
The Orlando Magic, on the other hand, are at the other end of the spectrum.
The Magic have never really pushed the pace since head coach Stan Van Gundy has been roaming the sidelines, usually ranking in the lower half of the category year after year. As a result, fast break points weren’t going to be high for Orlando but they were competent at executing in transition. However, before the blockbuster trades, the Magic were less than competent on fast breaks. In fact, Orlando was dreadful — ranking last in the league with 7.6 fast break points per game.
To put that number in perspective, the next worst team — the Milwaukee Bucks — averaged 9.9 fast break points per game. What makes it worse is that the Bucks play at one of the slowest tempos in the NBA, ranking 25th in pace. Slower than the Magic, yet they were able to muster more fast break opportunities. Thus, it’s no surprise that general manager Otis Smith acquired Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, and Hedo Turkoglu to breathe life into Orlando’s offense, particularly in transition.
Now, the Magic are averaging 10.1 fast break points per game.
Granted, that places Orlando 29th out of 30 teams in the league but it’s something.
Despite playing on a back-to-back and performing on the road, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Houston Rockets by the score of 118-104 to extend their winning streak to three games. The Magic were led by a balanced attack, as seven players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard was a dominant force, finishing with 22 points, 14 rebounds, and two blocks. Hedo Turkoglu played an excellent and efficient game, putting up 21 points (on 8-of-11 shooting), five rebounds, and two blocks. Jason Richardson and Brandon Bass each had 18 points. J.J. Redick as well as Ryan Anderson had 13 and 12 points, respectively. Jameer Nelson chipped in with 10 points and nine assists.
Like Orlando’s win against the Toronto Raptors on Friday, it was the offense that was the difference. There was little the Magic could do offensively and unfortunately for the Rockets, all they could do was watch as they got picked apart on defense. The death knell for Houston, before the game even started, was their lack of size due to the absences of Yao Ming and Brad Miller. As such, Chuck Hayes started at center and though he’s one of the better post defenders in the NBA, that forced the Rockets to double-team Howard and that created problems for them.