In what was a sloppy outing for both teams, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Indiana Pacers by the score of 93-86 to win their 16th consecutive pre-season game dating back to the 2008-2009 NBA season. The Magic were led by a vintage performance from Vince Carter, who had 25 points on 11 shots (6-of-8 from three-point range) in less than 20 minutes of playing time. Dwight Howard was unable to build off of his dominating performance against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, finishing with a pedestrian 10 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks for a rather bland double-double. Ryan Anderson chipped in with 10 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.
The major storyline to take away from this victory for Orlando was the fact that head coach Stan Van Gundy placed Rashard Lewis at small forward and Brandon Bass at power forward in the starting lineup for the first time ever. Van Gundy vowed that he would experiment with different lineups during the pre-season, and he has stayed true to his word.
Anyone thinking that Bass will actually start at power forward once the regular season begins will be in for a reality check. Lewis is the starter at the power forward position. The sole purpose of playing Lewis and Bass was to see how they would perform on the court together.
That being said, how did the alignment work out?
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “A coach known to yell actually listens a bit more these days. In an attempt to communicate better with players, Stan Van Gundy asks one or two guys on the Orlando Magic roster each day about their off-court lives. It could be about a player’s family. It could be about a player’s favorite baseball team. On Thursday, Van Gundy chatted with Vince Carter as Carter sat in the Amway Center training room. Nothing formal, just shooting the breeze. [...] After the Magic lost in the Eastern Conference finals last May, Van Gundy looked for ways he could do his job better. He put connecting more with players at the top of his list. Van Gundy can be abrasive on the court — he yells in a raspy voice and displays his emotions freely — but he wants his players to know that he cares about them off the court.”
- More from Robbins: “Tonight will provide a big test for Rashard Lewis. Lewis will start at small forward against the Indiana Pacers, coach Stan Van Gundy said after the Orlando Magic completed their shootaround moments ago at Conseco Fieldhouse. That means Lewis will have to defend Danny Granger, one of the league’s most dangerous wing players.”
- Daniel Orton has a long way to go before he can contribute for the Orlando Magic.
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Losing unceremoniously the way the Orlando Magic did last spring in the Eastern Conference Finals was crushing on so many levels for the franchise. But from that rubble emerged a ray of hope for the future of the franchise and particularly superstar center Dwight Howard. After his Magic fell behind 3-0 to the Boston Celtics in the East Finals, Howard vowed that he would not let Orlando quit or go quietly in the series. Howard talked with his parents, chatted with assistant coach Patrick Ewing and even had an extensive heart-to-heart phone conversation with legendary center and new friend Hakeem Olajuwon. Their message was clear: Howard could and should do more than he ever dreamed possible and he needed to grab the game by the throat and strangle the life out of it. Howard did just that, stringing together arguably the best three games of his career. In a matter of three games, Howard scored 32, 21 and 28 points, shot 65 percent from the floor, had three double-digit rebound games and swatted 10 shots. The Magic won two of those games, but fell in a Game 6 in Boston. Howard said the way that he responded taught him something about himself, proving that he can always dig deeper into his vast well of talent. It also hardened his somewhat happy-go-lucky nature, bringing a sharpened focus and newfound intensity to his game for this season.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Every preseason, it seems, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard fires a few jumpers, stoking Magic fans who’ve long called for him to expand his range beyond the paint. And every subsequent regular season, Howard puts that jumper back on the shelf and keeps doing what he’s best at offensively that isn’t dunking, namely shooting hooks of the jump and rolling variety. Whenever asked why he’s reluctant to shoot jumpers when the games count, Howard usually mentions a lack of confidence and comfort with the shot in game situations. So when the Magic post footage of Howard working on his jump-shot with assistant coach Patrick Ewing and rookie center Daniel Orton after a preseason practice, as they did yesterday, it’s business as usual. But this case feels different.”
- Not surprisingly, Scott Carefoot of The Basketball Jones ranks Dwight Howard as the best center in the NBA: “He’s the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year. He’s led the league in rebounds per game three seasons in a row, in blocks per game two seasons in a row and in field goal percentage last season. He’s only missed three games in six seasons. Need I go on? He may never become the offensive threat Shaq was in his prime, but Shaq never led the league in rebounds or blocks and was never named Defensive Player of the Year. However, both of them have the same fatal flaw — they can’t shoot free throws. Regardless, Dwight Howard is unlikely to give up his reign as the best center in the NBA anytime soon.”
- Howard has changed. Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel swears by it.
- Check out Howard’s adidas TS Beast “Superman” shoes. Two thumbs up.
Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
In late July, I made note that DSMok1 — a member of the APBRmetrics community — introduced a new metric to the fray. And that is advanced statistical plus/minus, which has been tweaked since it was first introduced a few months ago.
This particular statistic shouldn’t be seen as an be-all end-all, but more so as complementary to a lot of metrics out there like adjusted plus/minus, net plus/minus, statistical plus/minus, PER, WARP, and Win Shares/48 minutes. With that said, I thought it’d be fun to take a look at the top 10 leaders in franchise history for the Orlando Magic.
|Tracy McGrady (2003)||+9.87|
|Shaquille O’Neal (1995)||+7.50|
|Shaquille O’Neal (1994)||+7.32|
|Tracy McGrady (2002)||+6.41|
|Penny Hardaway (1996)||+6.11|
|Tracy McGrady (2001)||+6.06|
|Shaquille O’Neal (1996)||+5.96|
|Dwight Howard (2010)||+5.89|
|Darrell Armstrong (1999)||+5.80|
|Jameer Nelson (2009)||+5.53|
Three quick notes:
— Is there any doubt that Tracy McGrady took his game to another level in 2003 for Orlando? For those that watched McGrady play that year, you witnessed the most dominant individual season in Magic history. By the way, the picture above seems appropriate — McGrady taking on five Pistons defenders by himself.
— It’s intriguing to see Darrell Armstrong and Jameer Nelson make cameo appearances. It’s unfortunate that the 1999 NBA All-Star Game wasn’t held due to the shortened 50-game regular season, because Armstrong should have been named an All-Star. Armstrong’s numbers across the board were very impressive, and advanced statistical plus/minus merely reinforces that fact.
— As for Nelson, 2009 was a special year for him and it’s a shame that he was nowhere close to 100 percent in the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. It makes you wonder if the end result would have been different for the Magic had Nelson been at full strength. We’ll never know.
There’s nothing better than reminiscing on good times at the O-Rena, which was rockin’ that night.
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard has created some buzz with the pair of jumpers he made against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday. He kept the buzz going by working on his mid-range jumpers for 45 minutes after practice on Thursday — with the media watching.
“I just made some shots, and I’m going to keep shooting,” Howard said. “Look, if you work on stuff, it’s going to happen for you sooner or later.”
During Thursday’s session, Patrick Ewing threw Howard entry passes and Daniel Orton rebounded. Howard shot jumpers from both elbows, bank shots from the wings and turn-around jumpers while fading away.
He made more shots than he missed, at one time making seven jumpers in a row.
The league might be introduced to a new Dwight Howard this season.
“It’s great to try and expand your game, and I think that will make him a better player in the long run, and that’s great,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “As long as he keeps his primary focus on the things we need him to do, defense and rebounding.”
Just to put things in perspective because it’s worth pointing out, I posted a now-infamous YouTube video on this platform — of Dwight Howard working out with Hakeem Olajuwon when they met up in Houston during the off-season — at noon two days ago and proceeded to have the second busiest day ever at Magic Basketball in terms of unique visitors (the busiest was the day I published “The Tracy McGrady Manifesto” on August 4).
One way or the other, people care about Howard’s development on offense.
To some, it’s an obsession.
And for Magic fans, after witnessing Howard make two mid-range jumpshots with relative ease against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, hysteria surrounding his jumper is reaching critical mass after the Orlando Magic’s official team website posted footage yesterday of him making shot after shot after shot. One minute, Howard is Tim Duncan. Another minute, Howard is Horace Grant.
Sure, it’s one game, it’s one practice, but we may very well be seeing Howard evolve into the player that everyone expected him to be. Again, and it bears repeating, it’s still early and passing judgment on this new development is premature, but it’s hard not to get excited about what is happening with Howard as the NBA regular season gets ready to kick off soon.
Howard is taking Hakeem Olajuwon’s advice, of not being afraid to unleash his skills on offense for fear of failure, and following it judiciously. When Howard was matched up against Yao Ming or Chuck Hayes or whoever else in the Magic’s pre-season game against the Rockets, he wasn’t thinking out there, he was playing. Howard was letting his instincts take over.
If Howard can continue on this trend, then the NBA landscape is going to change.
And the rest of the league will be on notice. Yes, even the Miami Heat.
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “It was a pretty basic off-day practice for the Orlando Magic on Thursday. They worked on defending cuts – which was a problem in the first half against Houston – and containing pick-and-rolls for much of the practice. There was a lot of full-court work. And offensively, they worked on their “basic stuff,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. The biggest item of note came after practice ended, when Dwight Howard stayed for about 45 minutes to work on his mid-range jumper with Patrick Ewing (entry pass) and Daniel Orton (rebounding). [...] Van Gundy said he had no problem with Howard’s jumpers against Houston. Howard went 2-for-2 on mid-range jump shots.”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “I watched in open-mouth amazement after Thursday’s practice as Dwight Howard drained shot bank-shot after bank-shot, then made some turnaround jumpers. He worked for about 20 minutes with assistant coach Patrick Ewing and center Daniel Orton, catching and shooting. I’m not crazy about his turnaround J. But anything that doesn’t make him as predictable as he has been in the crowded paint and draws in defenders can’t be all bad.”
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy on Marcin Gortat: “He’s tried to focus on some other things, and making some improvements offensively and things, and that’s fine. But the bottom line is, as he heard last Monday not just from me but from his teammates, is his role is those three things. He needs to defend, rebound and run, and I don’t think his focus was right this week. I’m not in a panic and I’m not angry. I have great faith in him. He’s a smart guy, he plays hard, he knows what we’re doing, and he fits well with us. I don’t have any overriding concern, but he does need to get his focus back to where it needs to be.”
- After undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, Schmitz has a greater understanding of Jameer Nelson‘s road to recovery (same injury) when he came back to play in the 2009 NBA Finals.
- Previewing Chris Duhon‘s season with the Orlando Magic.
- Dwight Howard is happy to see Yao Ming on the court.
- Enjoy three-plus minutes of Howard taking AND MAKING jumpshots.
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “The Orlando Magic began their preseason Tuesday night in a victory over the Houston Rockets which can alternately be described as thrilling and sloppy. The banner change in their lineup was playing Rashard Lewis at small forward for a majority of his minutes, though he indeed started at power forward. But as I noted yesterday, Lewis was the only player who manned more than one position for Orlando. Which, in turn, got me thinking about the other multi-positional players on the team’s roster, and which two-player combinations might be similarly compelling.”
- Royce Young of CBSSports.com: “There’s only so much Howard can take from three days of training with The Dream. But that’s a whole heck of a lot more knowledge than he had before. Howard may be somewhat transformed this year, but that comes down to him taking the principles he learned with him and continuing to work on them. He can’t expect three days of training to make him into Hakeem Olajuwon. But if Howard starts getting even a little bit of it? Again, oh my.”
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk thinks Gortat should get the ball a little bit more.
Via the Orlando Magic:
Single-game tickets for the first half of the 2010-11 Orlando Magic regular season will go on sale to the general public Friday, October 8 at noon. The Magic will make its regular season debut in the Amway Center when they host the Washington Wizards in the brand new facility on Thursday, October 28. Tip-off is 8:00 p.m. Tickets that go on sale Friday include games through January 19 vs. Philadelphia. Tickets for the second half of the regular season will go on sale at a later date.
Tickets are available for purchase:
- Online at www.orlandomagic.com
- At the Amway Center box office (located on Church St.) (cash, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
- At all TicketMaster outlets (cash only)
- By calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
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.
At the EuroBasket qualifying tournament in August, few big men were more dominant than Poland’s Marcin Gortat.
He led the tournament in field-goal percentage. He played almost every minute. He had 29 points against Belgium. 23 against Bulgaria.
When playing for Poland, Gortat is the man. His teammates look to him almost every trip down the court, feeding him the ball near the hoop and out near the perimeter. Jumpers, post-ups, cuts off the pick and roll; Gortat shows off a versatile offensive repertoire when playing for his home country.
Then Gortat returns to Orlando, where his role is simple: rebound, defend and run the floor. Stuck backing up the league’s best center, few plays are called for Gortat. On offense, he’s little more than a pick-setter and boards-crasher.
When Gortat does try to showcase his offensive game with the [Orlando] Magic, he gets talked to by the coaching staff.
And that adjustment has not been easy for the 26-year-old big man. [...]
The Orlando Magic, meanwhile, are not overly concerned about Gortat’s desire to play more offense. During the team’s 3 1/2- hour meeting last Monday, his teammates told him they wanted him to focus on his role of defending, rebounding and running the floor.
They weren’t interested in any offensive flash from Dwight Howard‘s backup.
This is an interesting problem, because Marcin Gortat is the only player for the Orlando Magic that has to deal with this type of issue.
In Poland, Gortat is the man.
In Orlando, Gortat is one of many.
For the rest of the Magic roster, each player has a defined role that doesn’t change dramatically even in international play. Granted, when Dwight Howard is playing for the USA men’s basketball team, his role is a little different. More so on offense than anything else, given that in the past he’s played alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and some of the other top players in the NBA. And FIBA basketball, when it comes to trends and patterns with offenses, is not entirely conducive to traditional big men like Howard. As such, Howard’s value comes mostly on defense.
For Gortat, his desire to be more involved on offense is understandable. It’s tough to alter roles on the fly and in the past several years, Gortat has grown accustomed to being the centerpiece (here is an example) offensively when he’s playing for the Polish national team. It explains why Gortat isn’t shy in talking about his desire to play more, whether it’s for the Magic or another team.
Gortat wants “the damn ball.”
Can Gortat post up? Yes.
Should Gortat receive more touches on the low block? No.
That’s not an indictment on Gortat’s skill, per se, but it speaks more to the amount of talent Orlando has at their disposal. When Gortat is playing on the second unit, he’s not the best option on offense. Likewise, if the Magic want to really have a low post presence when Howard is out of the game, they could tab Rashard Lewis to be that guy since head coach Stan Van Gundy is making a concerted effort to play him more at the small forward position to take advantage of those skills.
The lack of a low post option was an issue last year for the second unit, at times.
What does this all mean for Gortat this season?
Nothing. Gortat’s role won’t change and shouldn’t change.