Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 192

Dec 01

Recap: Orlando Magic 90, Detroit Pistons 79

AP Photo/John Raoux


It was another lackadaisical performance but the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Detroit Pistons by the score of 90-79. For three quarters, the Magic were in cruise control and only led by three points heading into the fourth quarter. Yet Orlando was able to flip the switch, as they say, in the last period and put the Pistons away in a decisive manner. Rashard Lewis led the way for the Magic with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Dwight Howard had a quiet game for his standards, finishing with nine points, 14 rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. In fact, it was a combination of Mickael Pietrus and J.J. Redick coming off the bench to combine for 23 points, including 5-of-11 shooting from three-point range, that gave Orlando just enough oomph offensively to come away with a victory.

Needless to say, the first quarter was a bit of a disaster for the Magic.

Not sure what the deal is but Orlando is not learning their lesson about playing inferior opponents with a lack of energy and effort. Detroit was running circles around their familiar foe, jumping out to an 18-6 lead that was sparked by a 14-0 scoring run. It got so bad that head coach Stan Van Gundy was forced to take two timeouts in the span of less than six minutes and berate his players.

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Nov 30

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “As of Monday, [Dwight] Howard, the reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year, was in the top 5 in rebounding and blocks. Scoring weighs heavily in MVP voting, as overrated as it is. ‘Voters don’t look at Dwight’s affect on the game as a whole. It’s not sexy,’ General Manager Otis Smith said. ‘Scoring 30 points a night is sexy.’ Howard is trying to sex it up with his offensive expansion. He’s risen to No. 12 in scoring — a high-water mark for him if the season ended today — at a career-best 22.6 points per game. He’d crack the top 10 easily and gain more attention if he’d improve at the free-throw line (53.8 percent), where he’s leaving points on the floor and damaging his MVP campaign. He’s also in the top 5 in field-goal percentage, double-doubles and efficiency rating.”
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy won’t limit Vince Carter‘s minutes when he plays.
  • Van Gundy talks about the Detroit Pistons.
  • Tracy McGrady on the future his career: “I’m not what I once was, but I think I’m a smart enough basketball player to be able to modify my game. It’s just working on fine-tuning what I can and what I can’t do on the basketball court. Everything is an adjustment. As long as I’m healthy, I feel good about my future.”
  • John Denton of “Sunday was a day off for the Orlando Magic after playing in Washington, D.C., the night before and not arriving back in Central Florida until 3 a.m. But not for veteran guard Vince Carter, who arrived early at the team headquarters and took advantage of the solitude inside the gym. With only an athletic trainer looking on, Carter wanted to test out the bruised left knee that had kept him out of the previous three Magic wins against Miami, Cleveland and Washington. On his own, Carter wanted to push the injured knee and clear whatever mental hurdle that might have existed in the recesses of his mind. So for a couple of hours, Carter simulated game-like conditions with shooting drills, cutting exercises and full-court sprints. And he liked that there was no pain and a return of his explosiveness. […] Carter got a good look at what he will be facing while trying to guard Detroit veteran guard Richard Hamilton when he chased Orlando’s J.J. Redick around screens on Monday. Hamilton has been effective for years by staying in motion and running over a series of screens along the baseline. Carter took a deep sigh when asked about having to check Hamilton, but said the test will prove to himself and others that his knee is sound structurally.”
  • Howard is getting a lot of MVP love.

Nov 30

Preview: Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic

7:00 EDT | Sun Sports
6-11 @ 12-4
Pythagorean Record: 6-11 Pythagorean Record: 12-4
Pace: 89.5 (28th) Pace: 92.2 (17th)
Offensive Rating: 105.4 (20th) Offensive Rating: 107.5 (13th)
Defensive Rating: 110.2 (25th) Defensive Rating: 100.5 (1st)
Amway Center | First meeting this season

Nov 30

Video Analysis: Orlando Magic’s Pick and Roll Attack

As I wrote at the Heat Index last week when previewing the grudge match between the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat, the key to victory for the men in blue came down to one thing.

Pick and rolls.

That’s it.

Scouting the Heat’s loss against the New Orleans Hornets and witnessing Chris Paul butcher a defense in the pick and roll made me realize that the Magic could do the same thing (a fun exercise is to watch to compare both games and see how similar they are in terms of offensive execution).

Instead of Emeka Okafor on the receiving end of alley-oop passes from Paul, it’d be Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard. Instead of David West and Jason Smith on the receiving end of open looks for mid-range jumpers in pick and pops, it’d be Rashard Lewis and Brandon Bass. Head coach Stan Van Gundy is one of the most diligent coaches in the NBA when it comes to scouting opponents and he must have seen the same footage.

Even though Nelson isn’t as great as Paul, he’s good enough to break down Miami’s defense as long as he was aggressive offensively and attacked. And that’s what Nelson did on Wednesday. Orlando ran a steady diet of pick and rolls from the opening tip until the final buzzer and Nelson was the orchestrator of a systematic breakdown of one of the best defenses in the league.

Nov 30

Video Analysis: Jameer Nelson’s Fourth Quarter Onslaught

If there was any doubt that Jameer Nelson has fully returned to being an All-Star caliber point guard like he was in 2009, his performance against the Miami Heat proved that he’s playing to the peak of his ability once again.

Led by Dwyane Wade, the Heat made a furious comeback in the fourth quarter after trailing by as many as 12 points earlier in the game. All it took was a 12-3 run that spanned roughly three minutes for Miami to take an 88-87 lead. Magic fans had seen this movie too many times before, and it seemed like Wade was going to steal another win for the Heat against their rival.

However, Nelson — with a verbal push from Brandon Bass — “let it fly” in the late stages of the fourth quarter when the Magic needed buckets. Nelson scored 11 points in the period and Orlando was able to come away with a much-needed win versus Miami, even if they’re not playing to their full potential. With that scoring flurry, Nelson reminded everyone why he’s the engine that makes the Magic go.

The one thing that stands out the most from the video, however, is that on two separate possessions, the Heat elected to use Wade and LeBron James to defend Nelson on the perimeter. Didn’t work. And this last point won’t comfort supporters of Miami but at the 0:33 mark of the video, look at Chris Bosh’ worthless attempt at help defense as Nelson attacks the basket.

Instead of meeting Nelson as he enters the paint, Bosh waits until the very last minute before putting up any resistance defensively.

Something to keep in mind when the Magic and Heat face off again.

Nov 29

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “There’s little question Dwight Howard is the best center in the league and one of the league’s most dominant players along with LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul. But there’s one discernible difference between Howard and those other guys, if you ask Stan Van Gundy: Howard gets criticized much, much more. His free throws. His perceived lack of a low-post game. His foul trouble. His turnovers. Many are fair criticisms — some, maybe not. But they’re always topics of conversation in the national media. […] Those other guys, meanwhile, produce very tangible results. Durant and Kobe fill up the points column, and do it beautifully. Chris Paul racks up the traditional point-guard stats — points, assists and steals — better than any player in the NBA. LeBron and Wade make racket in every statistical category. Howard, meanwhile, is the league’s best rebounder, but bulldogs such as Reggie Evans and Kevin Love are close behind. Nobody in the NBA blocks shots better than Howard, but Darko Milicic and Javale McGee aren’t bad. That’s not exactly elite company, at least in the traditional sense. Howard’s far and away the best at skills that go overlooked by the casual NBA observer. His highlight dunks and blocks make YouTube, but it’s his less aesthetically pleasing abilities that make him the best big man in the NBA.”
  • Tracy McGrady doesn’t think the union between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will work.
  • Dwight Howard for MVP? Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel is on board: “I wrote a few weeks ago that there are few players more important to their team than Dwight, and he might be THE frontrunner. In my mind, he’s never had a better start in The Chase. His scoring — always a factor in MVP voting, as overrated as it is — is up to No. 12. It would be even better if he could bump up his free-throw shooting. The two-time Defensive Players of the Year is in the top 5 in rebounding and blocks. He’s older, more mature and has expanded his offense to satisfy some critics. I do think he has been the MVP so far in the East after the first month of the season. It definitely feels as if there’s no other lead-horse candidate.”
  • Are the Orlando Magic going to wear their alternate uniforms too much?
  • The Magic are ready to make a trade if a superstar is made available.
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “It’s tough to figure what a trade package built around Carter’s semi-expiring contract, a young rotation player or two, and future draft picks likely to be late first-rounders could net. It is, however, safe to assume Orlando has targeted reasonably young perimeter players who can generate offense.”
  • Royce Young of “Orlando isn’t satisfied with its current scoring punch and is searching for a reliable go-to option. That’s the biggest scratch on the Magic’s armor and Vince Carter hasn’t been able to fix it. Against premier defensive units, Orlando’s drive-and-kick offense can easily be shut down. Dwight Howard’s post game is much improved, but there has to be an isolation option. There has to be a guy that can score eight straight points when shots aren’t dropping. Great big men are the foundation of a championship team and the Magic have that. But they need the walls and a roof still. And apparently, they’re willing to deal the furniture to get it.”
  • Dwight Howard is excited about hitting a game-winner on Saturday.
  • Are the Magic flexible or flawed? Bethlehem Shoals of NBA FanHouse attempts to find an answer to that question: “Orlando has the perennial Defensive Player of the Year in the middle, a system that seems to work, a coach whose basketball mind is matched only by his scrappy ardor, and a seemingly bottomless vat of good-not-great rotation players. It’s a formula of sorts, albeit one that will only take them so far.”
  • UPDATE: Henry Abbott of TrueHoop points out that Howard takes his time when shooting free-throws. Perhaps too much time: “NBA rules state that from the time the player catches the ball at the free throw line, he has ten seconds to shoot it. Most players have no trouble with this rule. But there are some exceptions. Most assuredly Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard is one of them. You can see for yourself by watching the seconds tick off on the little clock at the bottom of any number of YouTube videos of Howard shooting.”

Nov 29

Orlando’s Dwight Howard Named NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, Nov. 22, through Sunday, Nov. 28. It marks the 13th time of his career and the second time this season that Howard has earned the league’s top weekly honor.

With double-doubles in all four games, Howard led Orlando to a 3-1 record, averaging 26.3 ppg. and 14.5 rpg. on .632 shooting. Howard hit the game-winning shot at Washington on Saturday with four seconds left to propel Orlando to its third consecutive win. Howard had a season-high 32 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in the victory, while he also recorded a season-high 18 rebounds in both the San Antonio and Miami games.

Here is a recap of the week for Howard:

Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Nov. 22 @ San Antonio:
Had 26 points, 18 rebounds, three steals and two blocks in a 106-97 loss to the Spurs
Nov. 24 vs. Miami: Posted 24 points and 18 rebounds in a 104-95 win over the Heat
Nov. 26 vs. Cleveland: Netted 23 points to go along with 11 rebounds, two blocks and two steals in a 111-100 win versus the Cavaliers.
Nov. 27 @ Washington: Rounded out the week with his fourth double-double, tallying 32 points and 11 rebounds in a 100-99 victory over the Wizards.

Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki took home the weekly award for the Western Conference.

Nov 29

Orlando Magic, Harris and KaBoom! Team Up for Opening of Volunteer-Built Playground at Palm Bay’s Diamond Community School

Via the Orlando Magic:

Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of volunteers, children at Diamond Community School have a great place to play.

Representatives from Harris Corporation, the Orlando Magic, Diamond Community School and residents of the Palm Bay community will join children in celebrating the opening of the first KaBOOM! playground in Brevard County on Monday, Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. Orlando Magic players, the Orlando Magic Dancers and Magic mascot STUFF will join children from the area for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the playground.

The playground was built on November 19 by hundreds of volunteers from Harris Corporation, the Orlando Magic and Diamond Community School under the guidance of non-profit KaBOOM! and is based on drawings created by children who participated in a Design Day event in September.

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Nov 28

Recap: Orlando Magic 100, Washington Wizards 99

Photo by Ned Dishman


Superman to the rescue.

Thanks to Dwight Howard‘s game-winning putback with 4.3 seconds left in the game, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Washington Wizards by the score of 100-99. For the third Saturday in a row, Jameer Nelson tried to be the hero on the Magic’s final possession of the game but he airballed a fadeaway jumper in a 1/5 pick and roll with Howard. Luckily for Nelson, Howard was there to clean up the mess and secure the victory for Orlando. Gilbert Arenas’ attempt at a game-winner after Howard scored came up long, and that was that. The Magic were led by Howard, who had a season-high 32 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks. Quentin Richardson continued his torrid shooting, finishing with 20 points on 12 shots. For the Wizards, it was the Arenas show as he turned back the clock and had 31 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Nick Young provided a spark off the bench for Washington, chipping in with 21 points.

The good news for Orlando is that they won. The bad news is that this game should have never been this close to begin with.

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Nov 27

Preview: Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards

7:00 EDT | NBA TV
11-4 @ 5-9
Pythagorean Record: 11-4 Pythagorean Record: 4-10
Pace: 92.5 (17th) Pace: 93.1 (15th)
Offensive Rating: 107.1 (14th) Offensive Rating: 102.8 (27th)
Defensive Rating: 99.8 (1st) Defensive Rating: 110.4 (26th)
Verizon Center | Magic lead season series 1-0
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