Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images
As seen on The Heat Index.
Before the Orlando Magic faced off against the Miami Heat on October 29, the conversation surrounding the matchup centered on Dwight Howard‘s ability to exploit the Heat’s front line. Nearly everyone said, “Who is going to stop him?”
Yet few bothered to ask how the Magic would score on the perimeter against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, two of the best wing defenders in the NBA.
In the first half of their initial meeting in Miami’s regular season home opener, Orlando got a lot of production from Howard but little else from the likes of Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter and others. Howard was dominant in the first two quarters. He executed to near perfection on the low block and displayed an array of lefty and righty hooks, spin moves and jump shots.
Unfortunately for the Magic, Howard was a one-man show because head coach Erik Spoelstra elected not to double-team the big fella in the low post and instead concentrated on stopping the perimeter attack.
Let Howard get his, and stop everyone else on the Magic’s roster.
It’s a strategy similar to the one Boston Celtics employed to beat Orlando in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. In this case, Wade shut down Carter while James acted as a rover on defense, using his elite athleticism to make it nearly impossible for Orlando shooters to get clean looks from the perimeter.
The strategy worked, as the Heat were able to pull away from the Magic in the third quarter thanks to a barrage of shots from James and Wade. The Magic posted their worst offensive night in more than two years as they fell 96-70 in Miami.
What can Orlando do differently this time around?
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
On October 29, the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat faced off in one of the most highly anticipated regular season games in NBA history. After a first half in which the Magic and Heat traded blows like a pair of heavyweights, things changed quickly at the onset of the third quarter. Miami tightened up their defense, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade caught fire from the perimeter, and — in the blink of an eye — an intense game between two rivals turned into a rout.
So much for a matchup living up to the hype. That was nearly a month ago.
My, how things have changed.
After a triumphant victory against the Magic, the Heat have looked mortal and are struggling with an 8-6 record. Injuries have taken their toll on Miami, sure, but this is a roster that looks lifeless and zombie-like. And with each loss, the shadow of president Pat Riley looms larger over head coach Erik Spoelstra. Cue Michael Corleone’s infamous quote from Godfather Part III.
So to preview the inner happenings of the Heat, I gathered the intelligent observations of Michael Wallace of the Heat Index. Formerly of the Miami Herald, Wallace has covered Miami for five seasons and knows what the deal is.
Wallace provides his opinion on Spoelstra’s future, the impact of the Heat losing Udonis Haslem for (possibly) the rest of the season, and more.
On Twitter, you said that the Miami Heat’s loss to the Indiana Pacers on Monday was the worst loss you’ve seen in the five years you’ve covered the team. What was it about the game that made you feel that way?
When you weigh the talent level and expectations against the effort and performance the Heat played with against the Pacers, the disparity between those two sides was never greater in any of the games I’ve covered on this beat. That’s no knock against Indiana. But the Heat didn’t defend, didn’t play with passion, didn’t execute anything resembling offensive structure and really didn’t seem to take the loss as seriously, based on their postgame comments, as they probably should. Getting blown out at home by the Pacers simply isn’t acceptable for this team. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Surprise, ahem, is in the voice of the Heat these days. Now that their force field of arrogance has been shattered, the Heat wobble into Amway Center at a ho-hum 8-6, misfiring on offense and missing some spare parts (Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller). All their woes place a ton of pressure on the 9-4 Magic tonight for Orlando-Miami II. What do you make of the [Orlando] Magic if they can’t beat the reeling, luke-warm Heat and square the series? […] The Magic said that the Spurs game was a measuring stick. If that was a barometer, isn’t the Miami rematch, especially after Orlando was embarrassed Oct. 29 in South Florida? Absolutely. If the Heat aren’t vulnerable now, then when? At least against the Spurs, the Magic played well until the final minutes when they kicked the ball around. They could leave Texas feeling upbeat. It’s no wonder [Jameer] Nelson and teammates have nightmares of their 96-70 loss to the Heat, visions of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh shutting them down in mismatches. They left Miami’s building feeling deflated, not only wondering if all the hype about this South Florida steamroller was warranted but whether they’d stand a chance at playoff time. Other teams have poked holes in the Heat hysteria since then. The Magic need to join them, particularly since they are playing at home. Magic-Heat II is the biggest game yet at new, cavernous Amway Center. I haven’t been overwhelmed by the home-court atmosphere. Time to break it in proper.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Vince Carter received some welcome news on the injury front Tuesday. An MRI on his injured left knee revealed no significant structural damage, an Orlando Magic spokesman said. Carter might play when the Magic host the Miami Heat on Wednesday. He will be a gametime decision. The 33-year-old shooting guard sustained the injury Monday, midway through the fourth quarter of the Magic’s 106-97 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Carter made a gorgeous spin move and converted a layup on the play, but he landed awkwardly on his left foot. He didn’t return to the game.”
- Dave Hyde of the Sun-Sentinel: “The Heat has consecutive losses to Memphis and Indiana. It’s Spoelstra now on the [Stan] Van Gundy Hot Seat. And Spoelstra knows the rules. He’s a big boy and a good coach, no matter what anyone says today. But you don’t get handed the keys to a team like this without the wild expectations that come with it. Of course, that previous sentence is part of the dilemma itself. This team has significant holes, especially with Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller on the shelf. At the crux of the question Jackson raises is this: Do superstars in the NBA, the most diva of sports leagues, need to be coached by superstars? That’s why Jackson was brought to Los Angeles with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. It’s also why Van Gundy got run out of Miami by his own players, mainly Shaq, even if modern legend claims it all Riley’s doing. Since this pertains to the Heat’s current situation, let’s take a quick history lesson. Shaq was upset Van Gundy kept running plays for an injured Dwyane Wade in Game 7 of the previous spring’s Eastern Conference Finals. Wade had nothing left by the fourth quarter. Plays kept going to him. Detroit won. Shaq decided, then and there, he was done with Van Gundy.”
- Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel: “Erick Dampier is in, Jerry Stackhouse is out, and Udonis Haslem may be gone for the season. In the wake of one of the franchise’s ugliest losses in years, Monday’s 93-77 setback to the visiting Indiana Pacers, the Miami Heat quickly found their focus turned to personnel issues at Tuesday’s practice at AmericanAirlines Arena. On the practice court, Dampier, the veteran center, was working with coaches on the team’s playbook, after signing a one-year contract at the veteran minimum. Gone from the scene was Stackhouse, with the Heat electing to release the veteran shooting guard, rather than one of the four centers already on the roster. […] Although the team would not confirm the extent of Haslem’s injury other than to say he would be out indefinitely, a source familiar with the procedure said it is a season-ending injury for most players. The source said the opinion had nothing to do with the possibility of the Heat seeking salary-cap relief for a replacement, which only would come if Haslem was deemed sidelined for the season by Nov. 30.”
- Israel Gutierrez of the Miami Herald: “One day after a numbing home loss to the Pacers temporarily shattered the Heat, the theme for Tuesday’s practice was reconnecting. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra wanted his team to rediscover the elements that would make the team successful — none of which showed up during Miami’s 16-point loss Monday. One of those key elements, though, won’t be reconnecting anytime soon. Possibly not for the rest of the regular season. Udonis Haslem had surgery Tuesday to repair a torn Lisfranc ligament in his left foot. The procedure was called a success, but the typical recovery period for that type of surgery is at least four months. If that were the case for Haslem, it would keep him out until at least late March. In Haslem’s absence, the Heat signed center Erick Dampier, a 14-year veteran, and waived Jerry Stackhouse.”
- Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald: “If three of the biggest NBA stars aren’t enough to get Heat fans in their seats on time, maybe $2 off a hotdog, and a gentle scolding by team management will do the trick. Or, maybe not. In most NBA cities, the prospect of seeing Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh on the floor together would be enough to have fans captivated by tipoff. But this is Miami, where socializing and showing up fashionably late is as much a part of the culture as ignoring stop signs. Heat management — tired of seeing thousands of empty seats at the start of game broadcasts — recently launched a “Fan Up” campaign in an attempt to get fans to be more punctual and spirited. That could prove more difficult than winning another NBA title. They may have to lock the arena doors at tipoff to get fans in on time.”
- Kevin Arnovitz and Tom Haberstroh of The Heat Index: “A season ago, the Orlando Magic were the proud owners of the league’s second best offense in the league but it’s slid 6.1 points per 100 possessions since then. What’s the problem? Magic point guards have been uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball. That’s especially true for newcomer Chris Duhon whose turnover rate so far in a Magic uniform has doubled his career norm. Jameer Nelson and Duhon combined for 5 turnovers in the Oct. 29 matchup. The Heat should be licking their chops since the transition game is the only thing that seems to be working offensively and turnovers award them those opportunities. Additionally, if the Heat seek to disarm Dwight Howard defensively, causing turnovers and jumping out in transition will be their best option.”
- Brian Windhorst of The Heat Index: “LeBron James will be the first member of the Miami Heat introduced in the starting lineup on Wednesday night at Amway Center. The Magic home crowd, like every other crowd outside Miami this season, will likely boo him. And then when James touches the ball early in the game there will probably be more boos. The boos will follow James as he travels the league this season, whether he’s checking in at the scorer’s table or walking to the foul line. The volume might vary based on region, the competitiveness of the game or general level of interest, but the pattern figures to be consistent. This is the new norm for James and one of the many things he admits he’s adjusting to as a member of the targeted Heat. James admitted last week after another night of routine boos in Memphis that he’s been perplexed by some of the grief he’s received on the road this season.”
- Michael Wallace of The Heat Index: “Erick Dampier should have been signed two months ago when he first met with Pat Riley and Erick Spoelstra before the Miami Heat’s training camp. But that doesn’t mean his arrival Tuesday in advance of Wednesday’s clash with Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic didn’t come right on time. The Heat are hurting right now, both figuratively and literally. The pain of their disappointing 8-6 start to the season has been compounded by the the loss of their leading rebounder, co-captain and resident tough guy, Udonis Haslem, for what might be the duration of the season. On the same day Haslem had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left foot, the Heat tried to regain their balance by signing Dampier to help fill their rebounding void and need for another big man with some semblance of a mean streak to bang inside.”
Via Fox Sports Florida:
“Inside the Magic: J.J. Redick” premieres this Friday, 11/26, at 10:00pm on FOX Sports Florida immediately following the Cavaliers @ Magic game.
Hosted by Jessica Blaylock. Produced by Lynne Mixson.
One of the Orlando Magic’s key moves in the off-season was the decision to match the Chicago Bulls’ three-year, $19-million offer sheet to J.J. Redick. On this edition of “Inside the Magic” we look at J.J.’s journey: how he transformed his game from riding the bench as a Magic rookie into a valued member this NBA franchise. We revisit his days at Duke, as one of college basketball’s best, and most reviled, players, plus, we shine a light on J.J.’s unique personality and style.
Featured on the half-hour show are:
- J.J. Redick
- Otis Smith
- Stan Van Gundy & other members of Magic coaching staff
- Dwight Howard
- Ryan Anderson
- Vince Carter
- Chris Duhon
- Jameer Nelson
- Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Kay Kellogg loved Dwight Howard. Loved him to death. And, sadly, her death came on Sunday night. Kellogg passed away at her home at age 62 after a battle with Multiple Myeloma, an aggressive cancer that searches out and destroys the blood plasma in the bone marrow. Her disease was inoperable and incurable. You might know Kellogg from a couple of columns I wrote in the Orlando Sentinel. She became known as “Mama Kay” because that’s what Dwight Howard called her when he met her a couple of months ago. You see, her dying wish was to meet Howard, her sports hero, before she died. Not only did she meet him, she made an imprint on his life.”
- Vince Carter has a sprained knee. Good news for Magic fans.
- What are the best five-man units for the Orlando Magic?
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dwight Howard received a technical foul with 5:37 remaining in the first quarter of Monday night’s game between the Orlando Magic and the San Antonio. Howard pumped his fist after he made a shot, appearing to call for an “and-one” shooting foul against Tim Duncan. A referee gave Howard a “T” because of the gesture. From the Magic’s perspective, it could have been worse. After all, the NBA giveth. The NBA taketh away. Orlando Magic President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith said before tipoff that league officials have rescinded one of Howard’s earlier technical fouls and replaced it with a Flagrant 1 foul. Howard was called for a technical in the first quarter of Saturday’s game in Indianapolis for an elbow on the Indiana Pacers’ Roy Hibbert. At the time, it looked like it was Howard’s fifth technical of the season. But the league has now made that infraction a Flagrant 1 foul instead, Smith said.”
- Rest assured, the Magic will be ready for the Miami Heat in tomorrow night’s grudge match. John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com has more: “Within minutes of Orlando coming up short in a measuring stick game against the surging San Antonio Spurs on Monday night, the Magic quickly moved on mentally to the next litmus test dead ahead. But then again, it’s not as if the rival Miami Heat have ever really left the Magic’s consciousness. The Magic were embarrassed in their second game of the regular season by the revamped Heat and the unsightly 96-70 beatdown has never strayed far from Orlando’s psyches. […] Still, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy knows the Magic have their work cut out in trying to keep Wade and James from slashing and Bosh from scoring inside. Van Gundy was upset at Orlando’s inability to handle San Antonio’s drive-and-kick game on Monday night, and the Heat will once against test Orlando’s defensive mettle.”
- Breaking news: Rashard Lewis is overpaid.
- Eric Freeman of Ball Don’t Lie prays that Howard stops singing.
- Britt Robson of Sports Illustrated details Carter’s importance to Orlando: “From admitting he didn’t always give maximum effort while playing in Toronto to his lackluster performance against Boston in last year’s conference finals, Vince Carter justifiably attracts a significant amount of criticism. But statistical measures are pretty emphatic about Carter’s value to the Magic. According to 82games.com, Orlando scores 19.5 more points and allows 9.8 fewer points per 100 possessions when Carter plays compared to when he sits. The more sophisticated, “adjusted plus/minus” metrics at Basketball Value reinforce his worth. For those who like to keep it simple, Carter — who left Monday’s loss at San Antonio in the fourth quarter because of a knee injury — is shooting less frequently but more accurately from the field than ever before, and he’s also converting a career-high 42.2 percent from deep.”
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie chimes in on “Mama Kay.”
- More from Dwyer: “At this pace, Howard is going to be earning a one-game suspension for every two technicals he picks up by late January, and I’m sorry, but that’s not exactly what MVPs do. I also find it a little curious that the man who insists on quoting scripture at every given opportunity seems to take his lord’s name in vain quite frequently and loudly and matched with another curse word in close proximity to microphones, children, or the microphones that relay that message into people’s living rooms in front of children. I don’t care if he cusses until he’s Magic-blue in the face. Go nuts, Dwight. Just don’t try to have it both ways.”
Photo by Gary Bassing
Via the Orlando Magic:
On Monday, November 22 the Orlando Magic Backcourt distributed supplies and hosted breakfast for the residents at Harbor House. The group collected toiletries, personal care/hygiene items, paper products and non-perishables at the November 18 contest between the Magic and Suns. The Orlando Magic Backcourt was created by the Orlando Magic players, coaches and basketball operation’s wives, girlfriends and family members as a way to give back to the community. Harbor House seeks to eliminate domestic violence in Central Florida providing safety, shelter, empowerment, education and justice.
Stephen M. Dowell of Orlando Sentinel
Kay Kellogg, a Magic fan and a friend of [Dwight] Howard‘s, died of cancer Sunday at the age of 62.
Howard spent time with Kellogg this past summer after the team learned that Kellogg’s dying wish was to meet the [Orlando] Magic center. Howard called her “Mama Kay.”
Howard has three words sewn into the back of his sneakers: “For Mama Kay.”
In a game that went back-and-forth until the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, the San Antonio Spurs were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 106-97 to win their 11th consecutive game of the regular season. The loss for the Magic snaps the four game winning streak they had entering the night. The Spurs were led by Manu Ginobili, who had 25 points, nine assists, and six rebounds, as well as make clutch shots down the stretch. Tony Parker had 24 points and 10 assists, Tim Duncan had 15 points, and Matt Bonner had 15 points and seven rebounds — these players highlighted key contributions for San Antonio. On the other side of the coin, the Magic were led by three of their four All-Stars. Dwight Howard finished with 26 points, 18 rebounds, three steals, and two blocks, while Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis chipped in with 15 and 14 points respectively.
This was, without a doubt, one of the best games that will be played in the NBA for the entire season. These were two heavyweights playing at a level that seemed more conducive for the month of June rather than November. The execution was crisp on offense and defense for both teams, and the best players — for the most part — performed at the peak of their abilities. Ginobili and Parker left no doubt that they’re playing like All-Stars, while Howard continues to prove to the public that he’s a much more refined player offensively.