Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 195

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

Nov 08

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

Photo by Sam Greenwood/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. 1, through Sunday, Nov. 7. It marks the 12th time that Howard has earned the league’s top weekly honor.

Howard’s Magic finished the week 3-0 and had an average margin of victory of 16.7 ppg. over Minnesota, New Jersey and Charlotte. Howard averaged 23.3 points, 13.4 rebounds and tallied 11 blocks on the week. On Tuesday versus the Timberwolves, Howard set a Magic franchise record for most blocked shots in a quarter with six, breaking his previous record of five in a quarter, while his eight blocks in the game stands as a season-high for the NBA this year. Howard also led the NBA in rebounds per game during the week, ranked second in the league in blocks per game and was third in the Eastern Conference in points per game.

Here is a recap of the week for Howard:

Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Nov. 3 vs. Minnesota: Posted 18 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocks in a 128-86 win over the Timberwolves.
Nov. 5 vs. New Jersey: Tallied 30 points and 16 rebounds in a 105-90 win over the Nets.
Nov. 6 @ Charlotte: Scored 22 points and added eight rebounds in a 91-88 win over the Bobcats.

New Orleans’ Chris Paul took home the weekly award for the Western Conference.

Nov 08

Superman’s Rise to New Heights

Photo by Fernando Medina

While Chris Paul is reminding everyone why he’s the best point guard in the NBA, there’s another player that’s doing similar conversion tactics.

His name is Dwight Howard.

Mind you, Howard doesn’t need to remind many people that he’s the best center in the league but for those that like to insert Yao Ming’s name in the discussion when he’s healthy or Pau Gasol if they want to bend the positional rules a little bit, the first five games of the regular season have provided a refresher course for them. Yes, small sample size needs to be accounted for but it’s not too early to say that Howard is playing the best basketball of his career right now. Howard has taken his game to another stratosphere and even though he hasn’t faced some of his toughest challenges yet, namely the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, he’s been a dominant force against nearly everything that he’s crossed paths with.

Howard has been so dominant, the unthinkable is now a complete thought — he could be emerging as the best player in the NBA according to one linear metric.

This is not to suggest that Howard has reached that threshold because it’s early in the year and things can change in a hurry. Plus, even though he’s seen a dip in his numbers with the Miami Heat, there’s plenty of empirical evidence from years past to assert that LeBron James remains the top dog. Yet if James was still a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers and still putting up the type of eye-popping statistics in which everyone has grown accustomed to, Howard is inching himself closer to rivaling that type of production. Again, it’s early but Howard is playing like a man possessed and it’s hard not to notice the change with eyes and numbers.

And all of these changes are coming on offense.

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