- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “The good news? The Orlando Magic have now won nine consecutive games, one win away from the first double-digit winning streak in franchise history. The better news? This team can get a whole lot better. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, always a difficult man to please, spoke highly of the team’s ball movement, pace and efficiency on offense since the trades. He also noted the team’s defensive numbers are slightly better after the trade. But he still sees all sorts of holes on defense. […] Van Gundy also wants his players to keep opponents out of the paint, as the newcomers may be relying on Dwight Howard to clean up the mess a bit too often. Additionally, the Magic are allowing opponents to shoot 36.8 percent from three-point range since the trade, giving up 7.2 three-pointers per game. Both of those numbers are higher than pre-trade.”
- The Orlando Magic are not thinking about the winning streak.
- Jason Richardson on Gilbert Arenas‘ rejuvenation: “I’ve known him for 10 years. I saw him when he was with Washington and he came out to Phoenix, and he just didn’t look like the same person out there. He just looked miserable. There was a lot of pressure on him and you could just tell he just wanted out. Now, when you look at him, he’s doing interviews and he’s smiling. So, I’m just glad he’s just happy to be a part of this.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “A mischievous smile crossed Gilbert Arenas’ face as the American Airlines Center public-address announcer introduced the Dallas Mavericks’ starting lineup Saturday night. In Gil’s world, the guy on the PA was calling out the names of the Orlando Magic’s reserve point guards, not the home-team Mavericks. Arenas sprung up from the Magic bench, ran onto the court and — with his teammates laughing — ripped off his warm-up pants in a grand gesture. Arenas’ trade last month from the Washington Wizards has rejuvenated the eccentric sense of humor that once made him one of the NBA’s most charismatic players. Some observers initially questioned whether Arenas would fit in with the Magic, but it seems like he meshes perfectly in a locker room policed by Dwight Howard.”
- General manager Otis Smith is not looking for another big man.
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “Nine consecutive wins. What the trade has done is made them a much more balanced offensive team, and Hedo Turkoglu is back to being effective.”
- Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “Most interesting element of the Magic’s nine straight wins by eight points or more? They’ve averaged 16.1 fast-break points in those wins. In its first 28 games, Orlando was the league’s worst running team at 7.9 ppg.”
- Rohan Cruyff of Hardwood Paroxysm: “Stan Van Gundy’s lack of patience with the national media’s insistence on attributing every Dwight Howard shot ever to a few hours spent with Hakeem Olajuwon is understandable. And Van Gundy’s “outburst” is another reminder as to why he’s one of the league’s most entertaining coaches. How many coaches go on the record like that on an issue that doesn’t really matter? Van Gundy wanted to get that off his mind and so he did.”
- The Magic’s blockbuster trades was one of the top NBA stories in 2010.
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie spreads some knowledge on Hedo Turkoglu’s return to Orlando: “Raw talent, and comfort with a system, is the reason Turkoglu is playing so well in Orlando. And sometimes unorthodoxy (like paying an eight-figure yearly salary to a 29-year-old who shot 41 percent that year) helps, but I’m not going to kill Otis Smith for this. There are so many other things to criticize Smith for, but not this. He made the right move, it didn’t work, and somehow (as has been the case quite a few times in Smith’s Orlando tenure), he’s backed into the right move gone wrong and working out. Or the wrong move, gone right, and working out. Like Billy Donovan turning Orlando down and Stan Van Gundy stepping in. Or Rashard Lewis’ ridiculous contract that still allows him to run circles around the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009 Conference finals. Where Hedo fits in all this remains to be seen, but the early returns are encouraging, to say the absolute least.”
- Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider breaks down the Magic’s nine-game winning streak.
- Dwight Howard is happy to have Turkoglu back.
On Saturday, the Orlando Magic and Dallas Mavericks engaged in one of the more entertaining regular season games in the NBA this year. For those a fan of offense, the Magic and Mavericks did not disappoint — much to the dismay of head coach Stan Van Gundy, who preaches a defense-first mentality every minute of every hour of every day.
Orlando and Dallas entered the fourth quarter separated by one point. But in the blink of an eye, the Magic went on a furious 26-3 run highlighted by Hedo Turkoglu‘s playmaking prowess in the 3/5 pick and roll with Dwight Howard. In total, Turkoglu was able to pile up 17 assists in the game (five coming in the final period).
Turkoglu’s 17 assists were a career-high and the most by an Orlando player since Penny Hardaway in 1995. Not bad, eh? And when Turkoglu got a triple-double against the Golden State Warriors last week, he surpassed Hardaway and Tracy McGrady as the most players with a triple-double in Magic franchise history.
Maybe Turkoglu should be nicknamed the “Penny Hardaway of Turkey” instead.
Playing on a back-to-back, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Dallas Mavericks by the score of 117-107, winning their ninth consecutive game of the regular season — tying a franchise record. It was the Hedo Turkoglu show for the Magic, as he finished the game with 13 points, 17 assists, and five steals. Turkoglu sliced and diced the Mavericks’ defense in the 3/5 pick and roll with Dwight Howard throughout the evening. It was a ruthless display of execution offensively. Howard finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks. Jason Richardson continues to play well offensively, contributing with 20 points on 12 shots. Jameer Nelson and Gilbert Arenas had 16 points and 14 points respectively, while Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson each had 11 points. Had J.J. Redick scored one more point, every player in the rotation would have been in double-figures. As it has been since Orlando began their streak of wins, balance on offense has been the name of the game. The Magic have been dizzying opponents by attacking offensively from a variety of angles, with Turkoglu acting as the maestro of the concerto. For Turkoglu, Dallas was the latest to be victimized by his precise and intuitive passing ability.
Let’s fast-forward to the fourth quarter.
Via the Orlando Magic:
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Offer is good for the day after the Magic win and score 110 points.
Fans must go to PapaJohns.com to redeem the offer.
The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Houston Rockets by the score of 110-95 in front of a nationally televised audience and sellout crowd at the Amway Center. The win is the Magic’s eighth-straight — a season-high. It was a balanced attack for Orlando, as six players scored in double-figures. Brandon Bass led the way for the Magic with 18 points and nine rebounds. Jason Richardson contributed with 18 points. Ryan Anderson had 16 points and seven rebounds. Dwight Howard, marred by foul trouble for most of the game, finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks. Hedo Turkoglu chipped in with 12 points and six assists, while Jameer Nelson had 10 points and eight assists. There wasn’t a lot of defense in this game, aside from the third quarter when Orlando was able to put together stops and proceed to put up 39 points in the period. When it was all said and done, that was the difference for the Magic. No third quarter collapse this time.
What happened in the period?
Aside from the Rockets offering little resistance defensively, a lot.
- 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.”