Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 197

Dec 03

Revisiting Jameer Nelson’s rise to prominence, Part II

There are many ‘what if’ questions that Magic fans ask on occasion. Some wonder how the Orlando Magic would have fared if Grant Hill was healthy. Others try to figure out if the Magic had a chance to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2009 NBA Finals if Jameer Nelson didn’t have to rush back from injury to play.

Although Orlando lost in five games, apart from Game 1, this was a competitive series.

In fact, the Magic were two plays away from heading into Game 5 with a 3-1 series lead if Courtney Lee made a game-winning layup in Game 2 and Derek Fisher didn’t hit a game-tying three-pointer in Game 4 with 4.6 seconds left in the fourth quarter. And this was with a hobbled Nelson running around the court while this was all happening.

Nelson tortured the Lakers in the regular season and many people ponder the possibilities of him playing in the Finals at the All-Star level he was playing.

Dec 03

Revisiting Jameer Nelson’s rise to prominence, Part I

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

So far, Jameer Nelson has been having a good year for the Orlando Magic.

Fully healthy and springboarding off a strong performance in the 2010 NBA Playoffs, Nelson is back to playing like an All-Star point guard during the regular season. A big reason that the Magic rank fourth in the NBA in efficiency differential (+8.0) and second in point differential (+7.9) is because of Nelson’s stellar production offensively. It may surprise people, however, that Nelson is doing more to help Orlando on offense with his passing than at any other point in his career.

Is this trend sustainable?

It remains to be seen. But let’s go back in time and offer a refresher course on how Nelson emerged as one of the better point guards in the league for the Magic.

How about January 16, 2009 against the Los Angeles Lakers?

There are many Magic fans that remember that date vividly because it marked not only the “official” arrival of Orlando as an elite team and championship contender, but it was Nelson’s coming out party as a clutch performer and emergence as an All-Star caliber player in front of a nationally televised audience. Yes, Nelson had big games against the likes of the San Antonio Spurs and other good teams earlier in that year but this was the Lakers. At Staples Center. In primetime.

It was something more than just a regular season game for the Magic.

And for Nelson, it was his christening.

For the evening, Nelson had 28 points and eight assists while all of his damage came in the fourth quarter when the game was going back-and-forth between Orlando and Los Angeles in a matchup of two heavyweights.

The traits that people have been accustomed to seeing from Nelson — deadly shooter, drive-and-kick extraordinaire, pick and roll maven — these past few years were on full display against the Lakers in the period. It was an iconic sequence of events for Nelson because not only did it reveal his growth in head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s system but also unearthed his potential to be an impact player for the Magic when the stakes were high.

Nelson displayed flashes of brilliance in the 2008 NBA Playoffs against the Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons, but everything came together that night.

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Dec 03

An aggressive Vince Carter is a good one

Dec 02

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “As much as [Otis] Smith likes Arenas — and their relationship is akin to that of a father and son — I don’t think Arenas fits for the [Orlando] Magic. Forget all the controversy that surrounds Arenas. Smith knows Arenas well and wouldn’t consider that a roadblock. Instead, Arenas has a recent injury history that can’t be ignored. Even worse, he has a massive contract and will earn $62 million more in the three seasons after this one. One of those concerns could be overlooked if the other problem didn’t exist. But the two taken together? That’s why I don’t think the Magic would trade for Arenas.”
  • Should the Orlando Magic try to acquire Tayshaun Prince in a trade?
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com talks about Mickael Pietruspositive impact on the Magic: “Early in the season, Orlando Magic small forward Mickael Pietrus was in a danger zone of sorts. He was not only playing just 14 minutes a night, but he wasn’t playing especially well and he had just gotten pushed out of the rotation. He exchanged heated words with Magic coach Stan Van Gundy along the sideline, was benched for two games and quietly wondered if his future was still in Orlando even though he had previously enjoyed two of the best years of his NBA career with the Magic. Knowing full well that his season could likely head one of two ways – sulk and play himself out of Orlando or stay focused and get back in the good graces of the team – Pietrus poured himself back into his work. The straying, after all, was surprising because Pietrus had been one of Orlando’s best players in the preseason and seemed poised for a big season. Pietrus doesn’t always fit the NBA mold with his happy-go-lucky nature and his carefree attitude. The Guadeloupe native has an free-flowing island sense about him and never is there a sense of entitlement. He openly talks about his love for Orlando and his blessings to be playing in the NBA, and he said he owed it to his teammates and his supporters to play his way back onto the floor.”
  • Brandon Bass is shooting the lights out of the basketball.
  • Bryan Crawford of SLAM ONLINE witnessed Orlando’s domination of the Chicago Bulls.
  • Dwight Howard is a fun person to be around.
  • Howard is happy about the Magic’s win against the Bulls: “We got us a really good win Tuesday night against Detroit and then an even better one last night in Chicago. We were facing a Bulls team that hadn´t played since Saturday while we were on a back-to-back. Chicago was getting Booze back and D-Rose is steady blowing up. We played defense like a championship team and we moved the ball on offense. When we put it all together and ball like we did last night, I think we show people and even ourselves how good we can be as a team.”
  • Gilbert Arenas isn’t expected to be traded by the Washington Wizards. Not yet, at least.

Dec 02

Orlando Magic single-game tickets for the 2010-11 second half of the season on sale December 6

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

Orlando Magic single-game tickets for the 2010-11 second half of the season will go on sale to the general public Monday, December 6 starting at noon. Tickets to all games from January 21 through April 13 will be available for purchase at the following areas:

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

Tickets available for the second half of the season start at $5.

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.

Dec 02

Dwight Howard destroys a basketball with his bare hands

Dec 02

The ongoing saga involving Gilbert Arenas

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Via Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post:

The Orlando Magic have engaged the Washington Wizards in an ongoing trade dialog centered around Wizards shooting guard Gilbert Arenas, Orlando Pinstriped Post has learned. What Orlando would send Washington in return for the three-time All-Star is less clear, but the proposed deal likely includes shooting guard Vince Carter, according to a source. Wizards big man Andray Blatche, Magic forward Rashard Lewis, and Magic center Daniel Orton could also be involved. Both teams have a mutual understanding of what the trade might include, the source says, and it’s unclear what factors are holding up the trade. What is clear around the league, however, is that Magic President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith has his eye on Arenas. If Orlando is to make a major trade this season, Arenas will likely be the target.

CBS Sports’ Ken Berger reported the Magic listened to trade offers regarding Arenas this summer, but rebuffed the Wizards due to concern over the salary remaining on his contract, which runs for three seasons after this one, at a total cost of $62.4 million. In early November, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported “the Magic have cooled on the notion of a Vince Carter-for-Arenas exchange,” citing “NBA front-office sources.” However, the source who spoke to Orlando Pinstriped Post contradicts Stein’s report, saying Orlando has indeed initiated the discussions with Washington of late.

Orlando Pinstriped Post’s report was later refuted by general manager Otis Smith.

Still, it’s a topic worth discussing.

One of the most common criticisms of the Orlando Magic, when determining their chances of winning a championship this season, is that there is no one on the roster that can serve as a go-to scorer on the perimeter. The Los Angeles Lakers have Kobe Bryant, the Miami Heat have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the Boston Celtics have Paul Pierce, and the San Antonio Spurs have Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. These are players that have proven themselves when the stakes are at the highest. But what about the Magic?

There’s Jameer Nelson. If there’s anyone on the roster for Orlando that comes closest to being regarded as a go-to scorer (the main knock is his consistency), it’s Nelson. There’s no question that Nelson has been a clutch performer for the Magic not only this year, but in years past. It’s a shame that Nelson played through an injury in the 2009 NBA Finals because it would have been interesting to see how he would have fared against the Lakers, a team he demonized in the regular season that year, with the bright lights on him and fully healthy.

There’s Vince Carter. It’s fair to say that his performance in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics is a major reason why people are skeptical that Carter can be relied upon when the going gets tough.

And that’s it.

Which is why, for better or worse, Gilbert Arenas’ name keeps getting mentioned in trade rumors with Orlando. But is Arenas really the answer?

Really?

There’s a possible answer to that question. Problem is, no one will know until the trade deadline comes and goes in February. Until then, everyone is going to try to determine whether or not the Magic need Arenas.

Dec 01

Recap: Orlando Magic 107, Chicago Bulls 78

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

BOX SCORE

The Orlando Magic played one of their best games of the regular season and were able to defeat the Chicago Bulls by the score of 107-78, winning their season-high fifth consecutive game of the year. For the Magic, they blew the game wide-open by halftime after putting up a 33-15 margin in the second quarter. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as five players scored in double-figures. The Magic’s starting backcourt was excellent, as Jameer Nelson finished with 24 points, nine assists, and two steals while outplaying Derrick Rose head-to-head, while Vince Carter had 22 points and six rebounds. Dwight Howard had another pedestrian game for his standards, chipping in with 13 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks. Rashard Lewis had 13 points before leaving the game early with a left knee injury (it’s not considered serious). And once again, Brandon Bass contributed off the bench with 17 points.

This was a weird game.

J.J. Redick had to sit out with a stomach flu and unfortunately for Orlando, a virus that has been going around the team had Mickael Pietrus vomiting in the second quarter. With Redick and Pietrus absent, the Magic were short-handed on wing players which resulted in extended minutes for Quentin Richardson, Chris Duhon, and Carter to shore up part of the rotation.

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Dec 01

Preview: Orlando Magic at Chicago Bulls

8:00 EDT | Sun Sports
13-4 @ 9-6
Pythagorean Record: 12-5 Pythagorean Record: 9-6
Pace: 91.7 (19th) Pace: 93.9 (11th)
Offensive Rating: 107.5 (12th) Offensive Rating: 106.0 (17th)
Defensive Rating: 100.1 (1st) Defensive Rating: 102.7 (8th)
United Center | First meeting this season

Dec 01

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “Suddenly, Rashard Lewis’ stats are meaning out to his career average. Lewis made 7-of-10 field goals for a game-high 20 points in the Orlando Magic’s 90-79 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night, and his horrid start to the season appears to be what he’s said all along – not that big of a deal. […] Lewis – and his 7-year, $118 million dollar contract that gets mentioned as much as his name – began the year looking washed up, averaging 10.3 points and shooting just 30.6 percent from three-point range. Because Lewis contributes very little outside of scoring, his poor shooting put him in the crosshairs of upset fans. At the time, Lewis let the negativity roll off his back and expressed confidence his shot would come around. He’s in his 13th season, after all – he’s been through a few shooting slumps in his day.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Orlando faced some tests early in the season. There was a game in Miami on the second leg of a back-to-back. There were home games against the Atlanta Hawks and the Utah Jazz. And the team faced the San Antonio Spurs in Texas and the Miami Heat at Amway Center during a three-day span. But the fact remains that the Magic played 11 of their first 17 games against teams that currently have losing records. The Magic started their season 13-4, but the team notched wins at New Jersey, at Indiana and at Washington only after Jameer Nelson or Dwight Howard scored go-ahead baskets in the games’ final minute. The Bulls, the Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks should be just as tough, if not tougher.”
  • Charles Barkley thinks the Chicago Bulls are going to win the Eastern Conference.
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post with the biggest Orlando Magic-related news of the day: “The Orlando Magic have engaged the Washington Wizards in an ongoing trade dialog centered around Wizards shooting guard Gilbert Arenas, Orlando Pinstriped Post has learned. What Orlando would send Washington in return for the three-time All-Star is less clear, but the proposed deal likely includes shooting guard Vince Carter, according to a source. Wizards big man Andray Blatche, Magic forward Rashard Lewis, and Magic center Daniel Orton could also be involved. Both teams have a mutual understanding of what the trade might include, the source says, and it’s unclear what factors are holding up the trade. What is clear around the league, however, is that Magic President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith has his eye on Arenas. If Orlando is to make a major trade this season, Arenas will likely be the target.”
  • Royce Young of CBSSports.com chimes in on Dunlap’s report: “An interesting deal, especially if Blatche were involved, considering the Wizards just locked him up to be part of their future. But swapping Carter for Arenas makes sense because it gives the Magic the scorer they want and with Carter’s deal being up soon, the Wizards have a nice contract to come off the books in the near future, plus can hand the reins of the team completely over to Wall.”
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk wonders if Gilbert Arenas is the answer for the Magic.
  • Zach Lowe of The Point Forward: “Taking on Arenas without getting rid of other long-term obligations puts Orlando in a difficult cap situation and could easily result in the team’s being stuck with a long-term core of Arenas, Lewis, Dwight Howard and Nelson. That’s not a bad core, but it’s not a championship-level core, either, unless Orlando can find supplementary talent elsewhere.”
  • Arie Stark of Dime Magazine remembers when Shaquille O’Neal, who left Orlando as a free agent in 1996, made his first return to the City Beautiful as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers: “Shaq left Orlando on bitter terms with the organization after not being compensated adequately. In his first trip back to Orlando after signing with the Lakers after the 1995-96 season, Shaq produced 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks but was outshined that night by Nick Anderson who went off for 30 points – including the game-winning three-pointer. To add insult to injury, Anderson mocked Shaq’s celebratory dance after his big shot.”
  • Dwight Howard makes fun of Derek Anderson’s now-infamous rant.
  • Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: “Since being reinserted into the starting lineup eight games ago, Arenas has been consistently exceeding 30 minutes a night and has scored at least 20 points in five of those games. While the Magic have let it be known that they’re willing to make a big deal if it involves trading anyone except Dwight Howard, sources say there has been no movement on the Arenas front since the aforementioned discussions fell apart.”
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