Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 194

Oct 10

Recap: Orlando Magic 135, New Orleans Hornets 81

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

BOX SCORE

“It’s an experience of awe.”

Those words, uttered by owner Rich DeVos during the Orlando Magic‘s television broadcast on Sun Sports, best described the feeling many Magic fans had as they witnessed the first NBA game in the brand new Amway Center. The host for the evening did not disappoint, as the Magic were able to defeat the New Orleans Hornets by the score of 135-81 to cap off a momentous occasion in the Central Florida community. As they say, you couldn’t have written a better script. Seven players for Orlando scored in double-figures, with Rashard Lewis, Ryan Anderson, and J.J. Redick leading the way with 23 points each. Quentin Richardson will forever be in the history books for the Magic as the first player to score a basket in the new arena — a 24-foot three-point jumpshot at the 11:41 mark in the first quarter.

When looking at the box score, the question begs to be asked.

Where to begin?

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 10

Preview: New Orleans Hornets at Orlando Magic

6:00 EDT | NBA TV
37-45 @ 59-23
Pythagorean Record: 34-48 Pythagorean Record: 61-21
Pace: 92.6 (15th) Pace: 92.0 (18th)
Offensive Rating: 117.4 (18th) Offensive Rating: 111.4 (4th)
Defensive Rating: 110.1 (21st) Defensive Rating: 103.3 (3rd)
Amway Center | 2010-2011 NBA Preseason

Oct 09

Recap: Orlando Magic 93, Indiana Pacers 86

AP Photo/Darron Cummings

BOX SCORE

In what was a sloppy outing for both teams, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Indiana Pacers by the score of 93-86 to win their 16th consecutive pre-season game dating back to the 2008-2009 NBA season. The Magic were led by a vintage performance from Vince Carter, who had 25 points on 11 shots (6-of-8 from three-point range) in less than 20 minutes of playing time. Dwight Howard was unable to build off of his dominating performance against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, finishing with a pedestrian 10 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks for a rather bland double-double. Ryan Anderson chipped in with 10 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.

The major storyline to take away from this victory for Orlando was the fact that head coach Stan Van Gundy placed Rashard Lewis at small forward and Brandon Bass at power forward in the starting lineup for the first time ever. Van Gundy vowed that he would experiment with different lineups during the pre-season, and he has stayed true to his word.

Anyone thinking that Bass will actually start at power forward once the regular season begins will be in for a reality check. Lewis is the starter at the power forward position. The sole purpose of playing Lewis and Bass was to see how they would perform on the court together.

That being said, how did the alignment work out?

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Oct 08

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “A coach known to yell actually listens a bit more these days. In an attempt to communicate better with players, Stan Van Gundy asks one or two guys on the Orlando Magic roster each day about their off-court lives. It could be about a player’s family. It could be about a player’s favorite baseball team. On Thursday, Van Gundy chatted with Vince Carter as Carter sat in the Amway Center training room. Nothing formal, just shooting the breeze. [...] After the Magic lost in the Eastern Conference finals last May, Van Gundy looked for ways he could do his job better. He put connecting more with players at the top of his list. Van Gundy can be abrasive on the court — he yells in a raspy voice and displays his emotions freely — but he wants his players to know that he cares about them off the court.”
  • More from Robbins: “Tonight will provide a big test for Rashard Lewis. Lewis will start at small forward against the Indiana Pacers, coach Stan Van Gundy said after the Orlando Magic completed their shootaround moments ago at Conseco Fieldhouse. That means Lewis will have to defend Danny Granger, one of the league’s most dangerous wing players.”
  • Daniel Orton has a long way to go before he can contribute for the Orlando Magic.
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Losing unceremoniously the way the Orlando Magic did last spring in the Eastern Conference Finals was crushing on so many levels for the franchise. But from that rubble emerged a ray of hope for the future of the franchise and particularly superstar center Dwight Howard. After his Magic fell behind 3-0 to the Boston Celtics in the East Finals, Howard vowed that he would not let Orlando quit or go quietly in the series. Howard talked with his parents, chatted with assistant coach Patrick Ewing and even had an extensive heart-to-heart phone conversation with legendary center and new friend Hakeem Olajuwon. Their message was clear: Howard could and should do more than he ever dreamed possible and he needed to grab the game by the throat and strangle the life out of it. Howard did just that, stringing together arguably the best three games of his career. In a matter of three games, Howard scored 32, 21 and 28 points, shot 65 percent from the floor, had three double-digit rebound games and swatted 10 shots. The Magic won two of those games, but fell in a Game 6 in Boston. Howard said the way that he responded taught him something about himself, proving that he can always dig deeper into his vast well of talent. It also hardened his somewhat happy-go-lucky nature, bringing a sharpened focus and newfound intensity to his game for this season.”
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Every preseason, it seems, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard fires a few jumpers, stoking Magic fans who’ve long called for him to expand his range beyond the paint. And every subsequent regular season, Howard puts that jumper back on the shelf and keeps doing what he’s best at offensively that isn’t dunking, namely shooting hooks of the jump and rolling variety. Whenever asked why he’s reluctant to shoot jumpers when the games count, Howard usually mentions a lack of confidence and comfort with the shot in game situations. So when the Magic post footage of Howard working on his jump-shot with assistant coach Patrick Ewing and rookie center Daniel Orton after a preseason practice, as they did yesterday, it’s business as usual. But this case feels different.”
  • Not surprisingly, Scott Carefoot of The Basketball Jones ranks Dwight Howard as the best center in the NBA: “He’s the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year. He’s led the league in rebounds per game three seasons in a row, in blocks per game two seasons in a row and in field goal percentage last season. He’s only missed three games in six seasons. Need I go on? He may never become the offensive threat Shaq was in his prime, but Shaq never led the league in rebounds or blocks and was never named Defensive Player of the Year. However, both of them have the same fatal flaw — they can’t shoot free throws. Regardless, Dwight Howard is unlikely to give up his reign as the best center in the NBA anytime soon.”
  • Howard has changed. Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel swears by it.
  • Check out Howard’s adidas TS Beast “Superman” shoes. Two thumbs up.

Oct 08

Preview: Orlando Magic at Indiana Pacers

7:00 EDT | Fox Sports Indiana
59-23 @ 32-50
Pythagorean Record: 61-21 Pythagorean Record: 32-50
Pace: 92.0 (18th) Pace: 97.1 (2nd)
Offensive Rating: 111.4 (4th) Offensive Rating: 103.7 (26th)
Defensive Rating: 103.3 (3rd) Defensive Rating: 106.8 (14th)
Conseco Fieldhouse | 2010-2011 NBA Preseason

Oct 08

Fun With Advanced Statistical Plus/Minus

Photobucket

Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

In late July, I made note that DSMok1 — a member of the APBRmetrics community — introduced a new metric to the fray. And that is advanced statistical plus/minus, which has been tweaked since it was first introduced a few months ago.

This particular statistic shouldn’t be seen as an be-all end-all, but more so as complementary to a lot of metrics out there like adjusted plus/minus, net plus/minus, statistical plus/minus, PER, WARP, and Win Shares/48 minutes. With that said, I thought it’d be fun to take a look at the top 10 leaders in franchise history for the Orlando Magic.

Franchise Leaders
Tracy McGrady (2003) +9.87
Shaquille O’Neal (1995) +7.50
Shaquille O’Neal (1994) +7.32
Tracy McGrady (2002) +6.41
Penny Hardaway (1996) +6.11
Tracy McGrady (2001) +6.06
Shaquille O’Neal (1996) +5.96
Dwight Howard (2010) +5.89
Darrell Armstrong (1999) +5.80
Jameer Nelson (2009) +5.53

Three quick notes:

– Is there any doubt that Tracy McGrady took his game to another level in 2003 for Orlando? For those that watched McGrady play that year, you witnessed the most dominant individual season in Magic history. By the way, the picture above seems appropriate — McGrady taking on five Pistons defenders by himself.

– It’s intriguing to see Darrell Armstrong and Jameer Nelson make cameo appearances. It’s unfortunate that the 1999 NBA All-Star Game wasn’t held due to the shortened 50-game regular season, because Armstrong should have been named an All-Star. Armstrong’s numbers across the board were very impressive, and advanced statistical plus/minus merely reinforces that fact.

– As for Nelson, 2009 was a special year for him and it’s a shame that he was nowhere close to 100 percent in the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. It makes you wonder if the end result would have been different for the Magic had Nelson been at full strength. We’ll never know.

Oct 08

Long Ago, the Orlando Magic Danced Their Way to the NBA Finals

_______

There’s nothing better than reminiscing on good times at the O-Rena, which was rockin’ that night.

Oct 08

Dwight Howard’s Jumpshot is a Work in Progress

AP Photo/John Raoux

Via Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel:

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard has created some buzz with the pair of jumpers he made against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday. He kept the buzz going by working on his mid-range jumpers for 45 minutes after practice on Thursday — with the media watching.

“I just made some shots, and I’m going to keep shooting,” Howard said. “Look, if you work on stuff, it’s going to happen for you sooner or later.”

During Thursday’s session, Patrick Ewing threw Howard entry passes and Daniel Orton rebounded. Howard shot jumpers from both elbows, bank shots from the wings and turn-around jumpers while fading away.

He made more shots than he missed, at one time making seven jumpers in a row.

The league might be introduced to a new Dwight Howard this season.

“It’s great to try and expand your game, and I think that will make him a better player in the long run, and that’s great,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “As long as he keeps his primary focus on the things we need him to do, defense and rebounding.”

Just to put things in perspective because it’s worth pointing out, I posted a now-infamous YouTube video on this platform — of Dwight Howard working out with Hakeem Olajuwon when they met up in Houston during the off-season — at noon two days ago and proceeded to have the second busiest day ever at Magic Basketball in terms of unique visitors (the busiest was the day I published “The Tracy McGrady Manifesto” on August 4).

One way or the other, people care about Howard’s development on offense.

To some, it’s an obsession.

And for Magic fans, after witnessing Howard make two mid-range jumpshots with relative ease against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, hysteria surrounding his jumper is reaching critical mass after the Orlando Magic’s official team website posted footage yesterday of him making shot after shot after shot. One minute, Howard is Tim Duncan. Another minute, Howard is Horace Grant.

Sure, it’s one game, it’s one practice, but we may very well be seeing Howard evolve into the player that everyone expected him to be. Again, and it bears repeating, it’s still early and passing judgment on this new development is premature, but it’s hard not to get excited about what is happening with Howard as the NBA regular season gets ready to kick off soon.

Howard is taking Hakeem Olajuwon’s advice, of not being afraid to unleash his skills on offense for fear of failure, and following it judiciously. When Howard was matched up against Yao Ming or Chuck Hayes or whoever else in the Magic’s pre-season game against the Rockets, he wasn’t thinking out there, he was playing. Howard was letting his instincts take over.

If Howard can continue on this trend, then the NBA landscape is going to change.

And the rest of the league will be on notice. Yes, even the Miami Heat.

Oct 07

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “It was a pretty basic off-day practice for the Orlando Magic on Thursday. They worked on defending cuts – which was a problem in the first half against Houston – and containing pick-and-rolls for much of the practice. There was a lot of full-court work. And offensively, they worked on their “basic stuff,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. The biggest item of note came after practice ended, when Dwight Howard stayed for about 45 minutes to work on his mid-range jumper with Patrick Ewing (entry pass) and Daniel Orton (rebounding). [...] Van Gundy said he had no problem with Howard’s jumpers against Houston. Howard went 2-for-2 on mid-range jump shots.”
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “I watched in open-mouth amazement after Thursday’s practice as Dwight Howard drained shot bank-shot after bank-shot, then made some turnaround jumpers. He worked for about 20 minutes with assistant coach Patrick Ewing and center Daniel Orton, catching and shooting. I’m not crazy about his turnaround J. But anything that doesn’t make him as predictable as he has been in the crowded paint and draws in defenders can’t be all bad.”
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy on Marcin Gortat: “He’s tried to focus on some other things, and making some improvements offensively and things, and that’s fine. But the bottom line is, as he heard last Monday not just from me but from his teammates, is his role is those three things. He needs to defend, rebound and run, and I don’t think his focus was right this week. I’m not in a panic and I’m not angry. I have great faith in him. He’s a smart guy, he plays hard, he knows what we’re doing, and he fits well with us. I don’t have any overriding concern, but he does need to get his focus back to where it needs to be.”
  • After undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, Schmitz has a greater understanding of Jameer Nelson‘s road to recovery (same injury) when he came back to play in the 2009 NBA Finals.
  • Previewing Chris Duhon‘s season with the Orlando Magic.
  • Dwight Howard is happy to see Yao Ming on the court.
  • Enjoy three-plus minutes of Howard taking AND MAKING jumpshots.
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “The Orlando Magic began their preseason Tuesday night in a victory over the Houston Rockets which can alternately be described as thrilling and sloppy. The banner change in their lineup was playing Rashard Lewis at small forward for a majority of his minutes, though he indeed started at power forward. But as I noted yesterday, Lewis was the only player who manned more than one position for Orlando. Which, in turn, got me thinking about the other multi-positional players on the team’s roster, and which two-player combinations might be similarly compelling.”
  • Royce Young of CBSSports.com: “There’s only so much Howard can take from three days of training with The Dream. But that’s a whole heck of a lot more knowledge than he had before. Howard may be somewhat transformed this year, but that comes down to him taking the principles he learned with him and continuing to work on them. He can’t expect three days of training to make him into Hakeem Olajuwon. But if Howard starts getting even a little bit of it? Again, oh my.”
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk thinks Gortat should get the ball a little bit more.

Oct 07

Orlando Magic Single-Game Tickets for First Half of the 2010-11 Regular Season on Sale Friday

Photobucket

Fernando Medina/OrlandoMagic.com

Via the Orlando Magic:

Single-game tickets for the first half of the 2010-11 Orlando Magic regular season will go on sale to the general public Friday, October 8 at noon. The Magic will make its regular season debut in the Amway Center when they host the Washington Wizards in the brand new facility on Thursday, October 28. Tip-off is 8:00 p.m. Tickets that go on sale Friday include games through January 19 vs. Philadelphia. Tickets for the second half of the regular season will go on sale at a later date.

Tickets are available for purchase:

  • Online at www.orlandomagic.com
  • At the Amway Center box office (located on Church St.) (cash, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
  • At all TicketMaster outlets (cash only)
  • By calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)

Orlando Magic season tickets, partial plans, group and single-game Amway Center suite rental opportunities are on sale now. Ticket highlights in the new Amway Center include: 2,500 seats priced $15 or less and 7,000 seats priced $25 or less. A limited number of season tickets are available through the Orlando Magic box office by calling 407-89-MAGIC or visiting orlandomagic.com.

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