- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “One more piece, Otis [Smith]. One more piece that allows you to go from Major Fail to Major Coup. Snag a serviceable backup center, and the Orlando Magic are right there in the conversation of NBA championship contenders. As good as they look now, the Orlando Magic won’t get far in the Eastern Conference playoffs without a true backup center. The Celtics are too good, even if Shaq has become an over-sized slug. And the Magic get a double-whammy because of Dwight Howard‘s dysfunctional relationship with the referees. Whether they are unfairly picking on him or not doesn’t matter. What does is that Howard, now with 11 technicals, will start sitting out games once he hits 16. After he crosses that threshold, he will miss one game for every subsequent pair of techs.”
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “Efficient and [Hedo] Turkoglu were generally two words never used together, unless the word “not” was sprinkled in there somewhere. But Turk’s been super efficient in these first six games, creating points for the Magic without taking much away from the team by turning the ball over or taking bad shots. Perhaps his proficiency has more to do with the team than with Turkoglu. Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas, Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson also spend significant time with the ball in their hands facilitating the offense. When Turk was with Orlando, he was the primary guy – Howard’s offensive game wasn’t as developed and Rashard Lewis was more of a complementary offensive piece. Now, Turk isn’t counted on to create from the pick and roll on almost every possession. […] In Phoenix and Toronto, Turk was being used primarily as a spot-up shooter, a role he can fill but not a role in which he can thrive. Judging by these first six games, Turkoglu’s decreased production in those cities was related to the system, not his skills.”
- The Orlando Magic are finding their groove.
- Earl Clark is making a name for himself with the Magic.
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy talks about the adjustments he made in Orlando’s win last night.
- Could the Magic and New York Knicks play against each other in the 2011 NBA Playoffs?
- Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Arenas is no stranger to success in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena. Not counting last night’s performance, he’s averaged 22.7 points per game in 9 regular- and post-season appearances at The Q since the start of the 2005/06 season, including a 44-point outing for the Washington Wizards in a crushing playoff defeat.”
- Van Gundy is a good coach.
- Could Marcus Camby be a possibility as a back-up center for Orlando? Sekou Smith of the NBA’s Hangtime Blog thinks it’s a possibility: “We have to admit, a trade that would send Camby to Orlando — where he could work alongside Dwight Howard — intrigues. The Magic have fortified their perimeter with their recent deals for Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas. Where they were left vulnerable was inside, by moving Marcin Gortat to Phoenix and getting young, raw big man Earl Clark in return. With Howard, Camby, Clark and Brandon Bass up front, the Magic would certainly have the bodies needed to fight the Celtics and Heat in a playoff series. (Don’t think Magic GM Otis Smith hasn’t already dreamed about that.)”
- Several NBA writers don’t think the Magic are good enough to win the Eastern Conference.
- Andrew Unterberger of The Basketball Jones visits Amway Center and gives his impression: “Mostly, it’s just huge, with a greater variety of concession stands, gift shops (the lower level looked like an independent mini-mall) and seating options (best demonstrated in the “Suites” category of the Wiki page comparing the AC to the AA) than just about any of the other stadiums I’d visited — really, it was probably the closest I’ve come on this trip to an NBA equivalent to Jerry’s World in Dallas.”
- Van Gundy, apparently, isn’t a fan of Hedo Turkoglu’s three-point shooting.
- Howard mocks LeBron James’ chalk toss in Cleveland. Not the first time he’s done this.
Here’s Part II of my interview (click here for Part I) with Kyle Weidie of Truth About It, who covers the Washington Wizards for the TrueHoop Network. In this segment, Kyle offers his own opinion on Gilbert Arenas.
Will Gilbert Arenas’ knees hold up?
I think they’ll “hold up” … just how effective will they be in allowing him to do what he wants to do. Maybe Tim Grover isn’t the injury medicine man everyone lauds him to be, maybe it will just take more time with Arenas. Grover is pretty proven, so I’d side with the latter. But thinking of two of the more famous micro-fracture knee surgery comebacks — Jason Kidd and Amar’e Stoudemire — I feel that Kidd hasn’t really had to regain “lift” as it was never really part of his game and Amar’e is less dependent on it as a big man. No, Arenas was never a high flier, but that lift was very important not only to his jump shot, but also in his forays to the hoop where he’d use his quickness to blast past a defender, hang in the air, draw a foul and finish the shot.
Right now, I’d say give it some time and evaluate later, especially since Arenas appeared to gain weight during his “downtime” this past summer (earlier this season, I poked fun at Arenas “roundness,” if you will, likening him to Ledell Eackles). Of course, at one point before being traded Arenas expressed how he didn’t think he was overweight, even though he previously said something contrary to that. Who knows. But he was out for so long, I’m thinking it will take longer than the 27 games he’s played thus far this season for him to reach what’s now considered his top level, whatever that may be at this point (turning 29 on January 6 ain’t helping things).
Photo by Fernando Medina
It’s fitting that Gilbert Arenas had his finest game in an Orlando Magic uniform last night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, putting up 22 points, 11 assists, five rebounds, and three steals. Why?
Because there’s two writers that cover the Washington Wizards and have been around Arenas long enough to provide insight to Magic fans on whether or not he is capable of providing the requisite firepower on offense that general manager Otis Smith is expecting from him after the trade.
It’s no secret that Arenas isn’t the player that he once was a few years ago when he made consecutive All-Star appearances and, looking back on it now, could have been inserted into MVP discussions considering his production and worth to the Wizards on the court.
That being said, what Arenas is Orlando getting?
Mike Prada of Bullets Forever and Kyle Weidie of Truth About It are here to answer that question and more. Part I will showcase Mike’s thoughts.
Will Gilbert Arenas’ knees hold up?
I think they will, in the sense that they won’t force his career to end in the next four years. These things tend to take time in recovering. However, due to all the time missed and the lack of rhythm, I doubt he’ll ever be healthy enough to approach his production from 04-07.
The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers by the score of 110-95 to extend their winning streak to four games. It was a competitive game for three quarters, but the Magic were able to blow things wide open in the fourth quarter and put the Cavaliers away for good. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as six players scored in double-figures. Gilbert Arenas led the way for the Magic coming off the bench, finishing with 22 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, and three steals — it’s only the third time, since 1995, that a player came off the bench and had at least 20-plus points, 11-plus assists, and five rebounds (the other players to do it were Magic Johnson and Sam Cassell). Needless to say, Arenas lived up to his billing as sixth man extraordinaire. Jason Richardson had his long overdue breakout game in an Orlando uniform, putting up 20 points, five rebounds, and two steals. J.J. Redick had 14 points, while Dwight Howard and Earl Clark had 12 points each. Lastly, Jameer Nelson chipped in with 13 points, six assists, five rebounds, and two steals.
For the Magic, three-point shooting was the story of the night.
Orlando made a season-high 19 threes, which helped mask porous defense that was an issue throughout the game. Head coach Stan Van Gundy won’t like the effort his players put forth defensively, especially against one of the worst offensive units in the NBA. That’s Cleveland. But the Magic’s execution on offense — thanks in part to the Cavaliers’ own struggles on defense — was excellent, aside from a slow third quarter when they scored 15 points.
In the other periods, Orlando scored at least 30 points or more.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “[Orlando] Magic guard Gilbert Arenas told me recently that he has yet to show an explosive side that he displayed this summer in workouts. ‘This summer, when I was playing, I was attacking the basket and dunking on guys,’ Arenas said. ‘I hope to get back to that.’ Arenas said he’s adjusting to playing with a new team and now almost exclusively at point guard. He said he’s still coming back mentally from injuries the past three seasons in which he played just 47 games.”
- Dwight Howard thinks he’s the new Rasheed Wallace of technical fouls.
- A list of big men the Orlando Magic could pursue in free agency or a trade.
- Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com: “When NBA fans reminisce the most memorable playoff series of all time, they tend to talk about the illustrious Lakers-Celtics matchups of old and new, some of the Pistons-Bulls collisions and even clashes between the Knicks and Pacers or the Spurs and Mavericks. While all of these historical playoff matchups were spectacular, the one series that deserves to be mentioned as one of the most exhilarating in NBA history is Magic-Cavs of 2009. There are immeasurable instances from the Eastern Conference Finals that year that continue to astonish me. Yet for whatever reason – possibly because neither team resides in a large market – this breathtaking series does not receive the attention it warrants.”
- Check out Howard’s new commercial for Gatorade.
- Beckley Mason of TrueHoop: “By casting Howard as the brute force, we easily overlook all the thinking he does on the court. Over the last few seasons, Howard has become one of the league’s best big men at passing out of the double team. This can be hard to notice because of the offense in which he plays. Unlike the Lakers’ Pau Gasol, who feeds a steady carousel of cutters from the post, racking up assists that are easy to spot in a box score, Howard’s role is to make the hockey assist for his 3-point shooting teammates. When the Magic space the floor around Howard, often the wide open 3-point shot or closeout-busting drive will come two passes after Howard kicks the ball out of the double team. Howard may not tally the assist, but his decision making and ability to absorb a full double team before finding the right teammate on the perimeter are vital to his team’s success.”
- Britt Robson of Sports Illustrated: “Ending two double-digit winning streaks back-to-back is by itself impressive; that the Magic beat the Spurs and the Celtics in different fashion indicates the potent versatility of their revamped roster — and the potential pitfalls if coach Stan Van Gundy can’t push the right buttons. The Spurs, on the tail end of a home/road back-to-back, were ripe to be run out of Amway Arena last Thursday, and with new acquisitions Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu eager to prove their mettle, Orlando sped to victory via a 30-2 advantage in fast-break points. On Christmas, the Magic churned out a defensive-oriented win against Boston led by the holdovers — Dwight Howard, Brandon Bass, Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick. Monday’s thrashing of New Jersey was a mixture of the two. Credit Orlando for quality victories against San Antonio and Boston, but in the big picture, Turkoglu and Arenas remain huge gambles and the Magic need another legitimate big man to shore up their frontcourt.”
- What does it take to be an MVP?
- Howard is excited about his new teammates.
The Orlando Magic are in the midst of a three-game winning streak, which is modest by NBA standards, but one of the wins came against the Boston Celtics — holders of the best record in the Eastern Conference — on Christmas Day. The reason why that is a big deal, of sorts, is because the Magic are trying to integrate three new players (more like two, given that Hedo Turkoglu is on his second stint with the team) into their rotation.
Whether or not the trades executed by general manager Otis Smith work will be determined in the playoff. But it doesn’t hurt for Orlando to know that, after beating one of their conference rivals (the other being the Miami Heat), they’re heading in the right direction.
The main theme in the Magic’s win, that’s worth pointing out, was the strong start and finish to the game against the Celtics. At the start of the first quarter and end of the fourth quarter, Orlando went on a combined 28-1 run.
It’s true that, between that timeframe, Boston was in control. However, to use a boxing analogy, the Magic were able to come away with a 12th-round knockout to steal the fight.
The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the New Jersey Nets by the score of 104-88 to win their third consecutive game of the regular season. Only snow en route to the Prudential Center could stop the Magic from doing whatever they wanted against the Nets. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as six players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 19 points, 13 rebounds, and six blocks. Hedo Turkoglu, who looks rejuvenated with Orlando, finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. J.J. Redick contributed off the bench with 15 points, while Jason Richardson had 14 points. Ryan Anderson, firmly in the rotation after the Magic’s trades, put up 10 points and 12 rebounds. Brandon Bass continued his mid-range shooting display, finishing with 11 points. Head coach Stan Van Gundy has been going with an eight-man rotation and it’s becoming clear, after a hectic month of December, that order is slowly restoring as Orlando heads into the new year with much different roster than which they started with in 2010.
This was an easy win for the Magic.
New Jersey put up a fight in the first half, trailing by seven at halftime. But Orlando was able to impose their will and blow the game wide open in the fourth quarter, in which their lead ballooned by as many as 23 points.