Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 2

Feb 21

Grades: Orlando Magic 95, New Orleans Pelicans 84

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 10.27.57 AM

AP Photo/Reinhold Matay


Orlando Magic 95 Final
Recap | Box Score
84 New Orleans Pelicans

Nikola Vucevic
9-19 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 BLK | 13 REB | 18 PTS | +11

Vucevic showed off a little bit of everything in his repertoire offensively. He was making midrange jumpers, hook shots with both hands, and offensive rebound putbacks — his specialty. The Pelicans tried defending Vucevic with Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca, and even Ryan Anderson, and none of them were able to slow down Vucevic, let alone stop him from scoring with ease.

Victor Oladipo
11-18 FG | 0-4 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 22 PTS | +5

It was layups galore for Oladipo, who shot 7-for-9 at the rim. The Pelicans could not stop Oladipo from attacking the rim, whether it was off the dribble or on off-ball cuts. Oladipo even showed off his in-between game, as he was able to make all three floaters that he attempted. But perhaps his best play of the night was when he emphatically blocked Asik.

Evan Fournier
7-16 FG | 2-6 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 16 PTS | +19

Starting in place of an injured Tobias Harris (bruised right knee), Fournier reminded Magic fans that he can be a very productive player when he gets extended minutes. He was a team-high plus-19 and made a positive impact with his scoring. Fournier showed off his ability to make contested layups by contorting his body in the paint.

Elfrid Payton
4-7 FG | 2-4 FT | 7 REB | 11 AST | 10 PTS | +8

Payton is the first player under the age of 21 to have 11 assists, 7 rebounds, and 0 turnovers in a game in NBA history. He’s also just the third player ever under 21 to have an 11 assist-0 turnover game. Both stats are courtesy of Zach Oliver of Orlando Pinstriped Post. Needless to say, Payton had himself a game against New Orleans.

New Orleans Pelicans

What’s more surprising? That the Pelicans scored 84 points, despite ranking 7th in offensive efficiency entering Friday night’s game — with the caveat that Jrue Holiday is out indefinitely with a stress reaction in his right leg . Or that Anthony Davis, who’s been the best player in the NBA this season, finished with only 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks.

Feb 20

Preview: New Orleans Pelicans at Orlando Magic


  • Teams: New Orleans Pelicans at Orlando Magic
  • Date: February 20, 2015
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center


  • Pelicans: 27-26
  • Magic: 17-39

Probable starters


  • Tyreke Evans
  • Eric Gordon
  • Dante Cunningham
  • Anthony Davis
  • Omer Asik


  • Elfrid Payton
  • Victor Oladipo
  • Evan Fournier
  • Channing Frye
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 91.7 (27th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 108.5 (7th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 108.4 (25th of 30)


  • Pace: 94.0 (14th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.4 (28th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.7 (22nd of 30)

Read about the Pelicans

Bourbon Street Shots

Feb 20

The evolution of Channing Frye

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Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Inspired by this article on Dirk Nowitzki’s changing shot selection over the years, I decided to conduct the same exercise on Channing Frye because he’s someone with a unique career arc.

The fascinating thing about Frye is that his greatest strength as an NBA player (3-point shooting) wasn’t always a strength. He used to be just a midrange jump shooter. It’s only been in recent years that Frye has evolved into a prototypical stretch four and developed a reputation around the league as an elite shooting big.

That’s the biggest reason why the Magic signed Frye in the offseason. They did so to help fill a glaring need — shooting. With a roster littered with non-shooters, the expectation was for Frye to help spread the floor and open up driving lanes for players like Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo.

The irony is that, although Frye has been a positive impact in that regard, his own numbers have been negatively affected precisely because he’s surrounded by non-shooters. Frye isn’t getting the kind of looks he got with the Suns last season when he was a potent pick-and-roll partner (alliteration!) with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. As a result, Frye is having the worst season of his career and drawing the ire from the Magic fan base.

Regardless, with the help of Nylon Calculus’ shot charts, let’s take a look at how Frye’s shot selection has evolved over the last 10 years — from his rookie year with the Knicks to his first season with the Magic.

Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 18

3-on-3: Is Kevin Durant right about the media?


Photo by Otto Kitsinger/NBAE via Getty Images

With All-Star Weekend over, me and two other TrueHoop Network writers take a look back at the first half of the season and forecast the conference finals. We also offer our opinion on Kevin Durant’s controversial comments about the media. This 3-on-3 originally appeared on 48 Minutes of Hell. Enjoy!

1. What was the best moment of the first “half” of the NBA season?

Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball: Klay Thompson setting an NBA record for points in a quarter by scoring 37 points in the third quarter against the Sacramento Kings on January 23, which solidified his status as a star player. That will go down as one of the greatest shooting displays ever in league history.

Aaron McGuire, Gothic Ginobili: It’s hard to pick between the Hawks and the Warriors as the league’s biggest first half story. So I’ll pick February’s tilt between the two teams — the 124-116 Hawks win — as the biggest moment of the year. Nobody would’ve thought in the preseason that ATL/GSW would end up being a duel between two championship-caliber teams with a legitimate chance at high sixties win totals. The game also managed to live up to all expectations, something that doesn’t happen particularly often with marquee matchups like that one.

Kyle Weidie, Truth About It: Passing and team basketball wins! Yes, this goes without saying in the current era — for the most part. Still, doesn’t make it any less refreshing that the two best teams in basketball — the Warriors and the Hawks — respectively lead the NBA in points created by assists per 48 minutes (63.7 and 60.9). In fact, the top 11 teams ranked in this category are playoff teams with one exception: Brad Stevens’ well-coached Celtics squad (that also benefited from Rajon Rondo early in the season).

The top seven teams from the West, except Memphis, make the list, and from the East, Washington, Milwaukee (another encouraging up-start), and Cleveland join Boston and Atlanta. The focus of the modern NBA might increasingly be on 3-point shots and drives to the basket, but the best moment from the first half of 2014-15 is the continued burial of a single, shot-jacking superstar being where team philosophies rest their laurels.

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Feb 17

Magic reluctant to trade Nicholson for small return


Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Orlando Magic management remains reluctant to unload forward Andrew Nicholson for a marginal return, still wondering how a new coach next season would better utilize him offensively, sources tell Yahoo Sports. Jacque Vaughn and his interim successor, James Borrego, have been unable and unwilling to incorporate his inside-outside scoring abilities into their simplistic offensive systems.

Feb 17

Magic name Igor Kokoskov assistant coach


Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have named Igor Kokoskov (kuh-KOS-kov) assistant coach, general manager Rob Hennigan announced today.

Kokoskov, 43, has spent 14 seasons as an assistant coach in the NBA, most recently with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2013-14 campaign. During his tenure on an NBA bench, Kokoskov’s teams have made six conference finals appearances, two NBA Finals trips and captured one NBA World Championship.

Prior to joining the Cavaliers, Kokoskov spent five seasons with the Phoenix Suns from 2008-13. He also spent five seasons with the Detroit Pistons from 2003-08, reaching the conference finals in each campaign and earning the 2004 NBA title.

In 2000, Kokoskov became the first full-time, non-American assistant coach in NBA history, when he was named to Alvin Gentry’s staff with the Los Angeles Clippers. He spent three seasons with the Clippers from 2000-03. Kokoskov later became the first non-American assistant to win an NBA championship and also the first to serve on an NBA All-Star Game coaching staff. Kokoskov also owns the distinction of being the first European coach to hold a full-time position with an NCAA Division I-A school, when he served as an assistant at the University of Missouri during the 1999-00 season under Quin Snyder, now head coach of the Utah Jazz.

A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Kokoskov owns extensive international experience as a head coach and assistant coach. He was an assistant with the Serbian national team at the 2004 Athens Olympics under renowned European coach Zeljko Obradovic. Kokoskov has enjoyed seven successful summers (2008-14) as the national team head coach for the Republic of Georgia. His team has twice qualified for the European Championships during his tenure, something the nation had never done previously. In 2012, his work with the national team earned him the Order of Honour, Georgia’s highest civilian honor.

Prior to his move to the United States, Kokoskov instructed the former Yugoslavia’s top amateur and professional players for eight years, including a stint as an assistant coach for the nation’s junior national team. He has participated in the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program and administered other clinics throughout Africa and Europe.

Feb 17

Borrego to coach Magic for remainder of season


Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Marc Stein of

The Orlando Magic want interim coach James Borrego to lead the team for the rest of the season, according to league sources.

Sources told that the Magic, after initially flirting with the idea of making an in-season veteran hire in the wake of Jacque Vaughn’s firing, now intend to let Borrego coach the team for the final 26 games of the regular season while undertaking a wide-ranging search for a long-term replacement.

Ex-Magic fan favorite Scott Skiles and fellow veteran NBA coaches Mark Jackson, Mike Malone and Vinny Del Negro are among the names mentioned as potential long-term candidates in Orlando.

The Magic are 2-2 in Borrego’s four games as interim coach since the dismissal of Vaughn, with victories over the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers. It’s believed that Borrego will likewise have a chance to state his case for the job full time, depending on what happens for the rest of the season.

Feb 16

Penny Hardaway on B.S. Report


Feb 16

Stein’s Power Rankings: Week 16

This is an excerpt from Stein’s Power Rankings for Week 16:

Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball: A lack of progress led to Jacque Vaughn’s dismissal just a few games before the break. Will the Magic rush out to make a name hire or let interim coach James Borrego have his shot for the rest of the season? Not much else to discuss in the Magic Kingdom at the moment.

Feb 16

Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton on B.S. Report


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