Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 201

Oct 04

Amway Center Community Open House Draws Approximately 45,000 Residents

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Gary Bassing/Orlando Magic

Via the Orlando Magic:

Approximately 45,000 Central Floridians attend the Amway Center community open house on Saturday, October 2, 2010.  The event was free and open to the public and gave Orlando residents a first-hand look at the multiple fan amenities and state-of-the-art technology at the new Amway Center.

Central Floridians peruse the Orlando Magic Team Shop presented by adidas during the Amway Center community open house on Saturday, October 2, 2010.  The event was free and open to the public and gave Orlando residents a first-hand look at the multiple amenities and state-of-the-art technology at the new Amway Center.

Oct 04

Watch Out for Mickael Pietrus This Season

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Via John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com:

When Mickael Pietrus got word this summer that Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was flying to Paris to chat with him, the good-natured, but sometimes quirky Magic swingman got somewhat worried. After all, it was Pietrus who vowed that he would be “sleeping with one eye open,” this summer because he feared an offseason trade that would have him playing elsewhere.

But much to Pietrus’ delight, he and Van Gundy spent much of their time in the City of Lights munching on French pastries. They met with Pietrus’ family, they joked and made small talk and even took a brief tour of some of the tourist sights in Paris. And in the midst of the get-to-know-you-better session, they even talked some basketball.

For Pietrus, a thoughtful type who deeply values friendship and family, the visit from Van Gundy meant everything to him. And it’s the Magic who are now reaping the benefits with Pietrus feeling fully welcomed to the Magic and playing as well as any wing player in training camp. His eyes light up when up the topic turns to his meeting with Van Gundy and the effect it had on his mindset.

“It meant so much to me. I’m not going to lie to you, I was very surprised that he came,’’ said Pietrus, a native of the French-speaking Caribbean island of Guadeloupe and a Paris resident in the offseason. “What I liked about it was that when coach came to Paris it wasn’t like we were talking about why I wasn’t playing more or why I was only getting a few shots. It was about coach coming to see me like a member of my family. I showed him how people love me in France. I took him on a tour of France. We ate a little French cake.”

“We talked about basketball and the upcoming season,’’ Pietrus said. “I’ve never had a problem with coach, to me he’s a great coach and he’s a part of my family. We’ve always had a great relationship, but we needed a deeper relationship.’’

That relationship has seemed to spark Pietrus and bring out the best in him so far. Van Gundy has talked openly to Pietrus about the need for him to shoot for becoming an All-Defense selection this season. He wants him to solve the mystery that has made him an erratic enigma at times in Orlando and become a consistent rock that the Magic can count on nightly.

It’s safe to say that Mickael Pietrus is going to be a very important player for the Orlando Magic this season, now more than ever. The argument behind whether or not Pietrus should start at small forward for the Magic is somewhat irrelevant. What matters is that Pietrus plays to the best of his abilities when he’s on the court.

Pietrus’ calling card, when he performs at his peak, is three-point shooting and defense. Pietrus, like the Bruce Bowen’s of the world, is a prototypical “three-and-D” player that is on the floor to provide the requisite perimeter defense required to slow down the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and other elite scorers in the NBA. And with the extremely harsh reality that the Miami Heat have the aforementioned James and Wade on their roster, while Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant handle the main scoring duties for the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers respectively, it becomes clear that Pietrus’ defense will need to be at its best if the Magic want to beat these teams.

What’s fascinating is that head coach Stan Van Gundy, by making a visit to Paris during the off-season, may finally coerce all the latent potential that has resided in Pietrus since he arrived in the league in 2003.

Pietrus is a player with enormous physical gifts and athleticism, yet his worst enemy has been himself. Consistency, as well as the random injury here and there, has always been an issue for Pietrus, which is why it’s a pleasure to watch him play when he’s locked in on both sides of the ball (just watch the 2009 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers).

That’s the player the Magic need this season — a lights-out shooter and a rugged defender that makes the likes of James work hard for their points.

It’s early, but it’ll be interesting to see if Pietrus can transfer his “unbelievable” effort in training camp to the regular season when the time comes.

Pietrus is unequovically Orlando’s best perimeter defender and since last year, one of his goals has been to be named to the All-Defensive team.

Can Pietrus do it this year? Time will tell.

Oct 04

Orlando Magic Launch ElOrlandoMagic.com

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Orlando Magic have announced the launch of ElOrlandoMagic.com, the new and improved Spanish website which serves as the official source for the Hispanic community to obtain original content and coverage of the Magic, including in-depth game coverage, breaking news, features, video clips, photo galleries, podcasts and more.

In an effort to further connect to the growing Hispanic fan base in Central Florida, the new site features up-to-the-minute news articles, press releases and team information in Spanish.

The new site features a design and a homepage similar to OrlandoMagic.com. The look and functionality of the new site was a collaboration between the Orlando Magic’s web team and the NBA’s internet services team.

The new site will feature:

  • A clean design that makes the page easy to navigate.
  • An expedient and eye-catching navigation field that will include information about tickets, team, and community events.
  • A well-located news board that includes news articles, features and the latest press releases.
  • An area where fans can find information about upcoming contests, the latest photo galleries, Spanish podcasts by Magic radio broadcasters Joey Colón and Ramón Rivas and videos created for our Spanish community.
  • The homepage will feature a top story media player with in-depth coverage of all news related to the Orlando Magic, including feature articles, community events and blog postings.
  • Up-to-the-minute scores on recent games and information on upcoming Magic contests through our social media outlets including Twitter (@El_OrlandoMagic) and Facebook (Orlando Magic en Español), both updated in Spanish.
  • The most recent Twitter messages generated by ElOrlandoMagic.com poured directly onto a section on the homepage for quick and easy viewing.
  • A section that will showcase video analysis after each home game by Joey Colón.
  • A direct link to the Orlando Magic Team Store, presented by adidas, where visitors can purchase the latest Orlando Magic merchandise.
  • A direct link to the Spanish site for AmwayCenter.com

Oct 04

2010-2011 NBA Blog Previews: Central Division

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Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Enjoy.

Bucks: Brew HoopNBAMateSBNation Recap

Bulls: Blog-A-BullSBNation Recap

Cavs: Fear The SwordWaitingForNextYear

Pacers: Indy Cornrows

Pistons: DetroitBadBoysDetroit BasketballNeed4Sheed.comSB Nation Detroit

Recaps: All Previews

Oct 01

The Wait is Over; the Amway Center is Open for Business

Photo by Fernando Medina

Via the Orlando Magic:

For years, the city of Orlando has generally been branded as the place where Mickey Mouse roams, Shamu performs and kids play.

Although that certainly has not changed, there is a new item on the docket for everyone to enjoy and admire.

Amway Center, which officially opened on Friday during a memorable ribbon-cutting ceremony, is now another item on the checklist.

The new home of the Orlando Magic is undoubtedly the most technologically advanced sports and entertainment facility in North America. There are 1,100 high definition video displays at the dazzling venue.

After a very elaborate ceremony outside the main entrance, thousands of people piled into the Amway Center for Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s annual State of Downtown Address.

Oct 01

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “While the celebration of the new place was going on up the street, the old place was eerily quiet. It was sunny and green and clean outside, but dark and desolate and dusty inside. And nearly abandoned. Except for a skeletal crew of workers, there was no sign of life in a building that had first given us music and laughter and indoor football and, yes, dunks, from Shaq to Dwight [Howard], for 21 years. Amway Arena was officially left behind on Friday by Amway Center, The Next Generation. I headed out to say goodbye to the old gal, taking a familiar route — I-4, Colonial and a left past Lake Dot — for the last time. It was a path I had traveled to cover hundreds and hundreds of games since the [Orlando] Magic were born in 1989. I don’t know what the traffic was like for the grand opening at Amway Center, but this trip felt like a scene out of “I Am Legend,” when Will Smith had the city to himself after a virus outbreak.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “If anyone wondered how Jameer Nelson would approach the Orlando Magic’s training camp this year, he answered that question at the end of the first 5-on-5 scrimmage. Crouched in a perfect defensive stance, his weight on the balls of his feet, Nelson crowded the opposing team’s point guard. When the ball-handler dribbled left, Nelson sprinted to his right, never giving up an inch of space. When a much larger player attempted to set a pick, Nelson fought through it, absorbing a glancing blow on his left shoulder. The man Nelson was covering had nowhere to go. That sequence typifies the way Nelson has responded to challenges this week. Coach Stan Van Gundy wants Nelson to improve his man-to-man defense, particularly against quicker point guards, and Nelson has responded. President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith wants Nelson to be a more vocal leader, and teammates say that Nelson has obliged.”
  • The story of how the Amway Center was born.
  • The city of Orlando is thrilled about the new arena.
  • Vince Carter sat out of today’s practice with a sore ankle. Head coach Stan Van Gundy has the details: “He’s got a little bit of swelling, and it’s been a little tender. It’s actually been bothering him for a couple of days a little bit, and he’s continued to go on it, which probably hasn’t helped. He tried to go today. He went in and got more treatment while we were getting warmed up and was going to try to go, but he decided he couldn’t.”
  • Van Gundy wants to see Dwight Howard back down his defenders on the low block.
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Small forward is familiar territory for [Rashard] Lewis, who spent the first nine years of his career in Seattle playing on the wing. But in Orlando, head coach Stan Van Gundy to some degree revolutionized the ‘stretch four’ position, using a front line player to predominantly shoot 3-pointers and leave the middle of the floor open for Dwight Howard. [...] Brandon Bass worked on film study and closely with assistant coach Patrick Ewing to become a better defender at power forward, and [Ryan] Anderson re-shaped his body in an attempt to be quicker and stronger. Either could start at power forward and center Marcin Gortat could also see time there because of his defensive and rebounding prowess. But Van Gundy admitted on Thursday that he’s still somewhat leery about changing a formula (i.e. Lewis at power forward) that’s brought so much success to the Magic. The likelihood is that Lewis will start at power forward with newcomer Quentin Richardson getting the nod at small forward. While Van Gundy said he wants no part of a revolving starting lineup, he does want to the flexibility to change styles during games and against particular foes.”
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Really, just appreciate that the fact that the arena’s very existence ensures the Magic will continue to call Central Florida home for the forseeable future. It’s not a great time for NBA teams in small markets looking to improve their facilities; the Sacramento Kings, for instance, just came up against a big obstacle in their efforts to obtain land for a new arena, continuing to fuel rumors they could flee for Kansas City, Las Vegas, or another town hungry for an NBA team. They have until the end of February to file for relocation. While I believe the DeVos family is committed to keeping the Magic in Orlando, I do think the same scenario the Kings are facing now is one with which the Magic could have been confronted had the arena measure not passed.”
  • Matt Moore of CBSSports.com chimes in on Ryan Anderson’s contract being extended by the Orlando Magic: “Anderson compares favorably to OKC’s Jeff Green, as a perimeter power forward. Anderson’s rebounding numbers actually are favorable to Green. Anderson still needs help at the defensive end, but even that gap in his game is closing quickly. It’s no wonder the Magic are clinging to him. With the Magic talking more about moving Lewis more to the small forward spot, there will be opportunities for Anderson. The question is if they’ll mazimize their use of him or if he’ll continue to add to the ranks of Magic frontcourt guys who are disgruntled with their lot. Marcin Gortat’s not happy with not getting touches, and Brandon Bass could not be more stressed out with being buried on the depth chart. Lewis is still the best flex-forward player they have, but Anderson’s potential was enough for the Magic to go ahead and lock him up, even as they continue to struggle with the luxury tax.”
  • Make sure to become a fan of Orlando Pinstriped Post on Facebook. Magic Basketball will have its own page next week, so stay tuned for that.
  • Daniel Orton will miss the pre-season to rehab his left knee.
  • Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference: “In the realm of APBRmetrics, perhaps no stat has as many alternate versions (many under essentially the same confusingly interchangeable name) as “Assist Ratio/Rate”. All theoretically attempt to measure passing ability, but each version has its own quirks and biases. Today I want to compare all of the versions I can think of, and show a leaderboard (minimum 500 MP) for each to get a better feel for what each is measuring [...]“
  • Ball Don’t Lie bids farewell to Trey Kerby, who is moving on to work at The Score in Toronto.

Oct 01

Orlando Magic Exercise Fourth-Year Option on Ryan Anderson

Fernando Medina/NBA/Orlandomagic.com

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Orlando Magic have exercised their fourth-year team option on forward Ryan Anderson, President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Otis Smith announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed. Anderson is now under contract through the 2011-12 season.

Anderson (#33, 6’10”, 240, 5/6/88) played in 63 games last season for the Magic, averaging 7.7 ppg. and 3.2 rpg. in 14.5 minpg., while shooting .370 (78-211) from three-point range. He started in six outings, averaging 15.0 ppg. and 5.0 rpg. in 25.6 minpg. during that span. Anderson also appeared in nine playoff games, averaging 2.6 ppg. and 3.4 rpg. in 9.9 minpg.

Originally selected in the first round (21st overall) of the 2008 NBA Draft by New Jersey, Anderson was acquired by the Magic from the Nets, along with Vince Carter, in exchange for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie and Courtney Lee on June 25, 2009. He has played in 129 career NBA regular season games with New Jersey and Orlando, averaging 7.6 ppg. and 4.0 rpg. in 17.2 minpg, while shooting .368 (147-400) from three-point range.

Oct 01

Shaquille O’Neal Dominated With the Orlando Magic in 1994

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Shaquille O’Neal’s stat line against the Timberwolves — 53 points, 18 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks.

Oct 01

Interview With Matt Guokas, Part II

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Here’s Part II of my interview (click here for Part I) with Matt Guokas, the television color analyst for the Orlando Magic. In this segment, Matt talks about the Magic’s quest for a championship this season and more.

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Do you think that Matt Barnes’ inability to hit threes at a proficient rate compared to his teammates was an achilles heel for the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics?

Yeah. One of the big problems, Eddy, was … the Magic were not really … the way the schedule broke, they did not get a lot of competitive games in the last 41 [regular season games]. Maybe four or five tough games. The teams were hurt or resting people when they played the good teams or they just weren’t playing competitive teams. And then even in the first two rounds, Charlotte and Atlanta just seemed totally unprepared. They did not put up any resistance whatsoever and I’m not saying that’s an excuse, but I think the Magic kind of got into a routine of saying ‘hey, this is pretty easy.’ And then by not winning one of those first two games in the Boston series, that’s what kind of cost them. That’s what hurt. Boston just brought it. They were riding the high. I think they were more surprise than anybody that they were able to get by Cleveland and they saw that fold in Game 5. They looked like the most shocked team in the world. They were like, ‘they’re just going to give this to us’ and Cleveland basically did, so now Boston was playing with a little bit of confidence. And then by winning the first two in Orlando, that obviously set the direction of the series but I would not point a finger at Matt Barnes for poor three-point shooting in the Boston series. I thought it was more about giving Boston more credit and the fact that the Magic weren’t as mentally ready as they normally would be had they been tested a little bit more

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 30

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Actually, the Heat ought to be on the [Orlando] Magic‘s mind 24/7, sun up, sun down. They should embrace them. [Quentin] Richardson is not alone, as Magic players are already tired and/or agitated when asked about South Florida’s can’t-miss dream team. Agitated a month before the real season begins? See? That’s a good sign. They might get annoyed, but the Heat are the best thing that’s happened lately to the Magic — and the league. That’s right. The Heat’s presence should make the Magic and everyone else elevate their games. Want to make it four in a row as Southeast Division champs, Magic? Beat the Heat. Want to come out of the Eastern Conference? Beat the Heat. Want another shot at the Lakers? I repeat, beat the Heat.”
  • More from Schmitz: “There seemingly has been much hand-wringing during the Magic’s training camp over the whereabouts of Rashard Lewis. Will he really vacate his power-forward spot and switch to small forward, causing a seismic shift in the lineup? The short answer: no. The long answer: at times he will, when the Magic need more size at the 4 when they play the Celtics, who now have Shaq to go along with all their other big men, or the Lakers, who boast more 7-footers than Yao Ming’s family tree. [...] Van Gundy will start with Lewis at the 4, but insists he’s trying to assemble a Big Man Lineup out of [Ryan] Anderson, [Marcin] Gortat and [Brandon] Bass to play alongside Howard for stretches.”
  • Dwight Howard talks about his new album (and click here).
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy praises Mickael Pietrusperformance in training camp: “M.P, he’s been unbelievable. I’ve been happy with everybody, but he’s probably stood out more than anyone. He’s making unbelievable efforts defensively. He’s making more solid plays with the ball offensively. His energy has been good. He’s been unbelievable.”
  • With Jason Williams sidelined with an injury, maybe the Orlando Magic should pursue an old friend. Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post further explains: “For relative chump change, the Magic could sign a free-agent point guard strictly to serve as a body in training camp so [Chris] Duhon and [Jameer] Nelson can get some rest; as it is, the Magic are having Vince Carter and J.J. Redick slide down there from shooting guard. The fact that Anthony Johnson, who spent the last two seasons in Orlando, is still on the market may make this option especially attractive, as he would not need to be brought up to speed on the Magic’s system. In fact, no point guard played more minutes for the Magic in 2008/09 than Johnson did.”
  • Howard’s jersey is popular in Europe.
  • Jameer Nelson reminisces on his time playing alongside Chris Duhon on the U21 USA basketball team: “He beat me out for the job. But whenever I played against him in practice, I let him know I was there. And vice versa.”
  • NBA 2K11 has adjusted their player ratings. What do you think?
  • Sekou Smith of the Hang Time Blog chimes in on the “Van Gundy Rule.”
  • Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie has more on the subject: “If you’ve ever watched an Orlando Magic game, then you know Stan Van Gundy is famous for three things — screaming, looking like various rotund Italian-American celebrities, and wearing mock turtlenecks underneath his sport coat. Apparently, this year, he’s going to be almost unrecognizable.”
  • Ditto with Royce Young of CBSSports.com: “In 2005, the NBA instituted a dress code for its players to go by and it caused quite a stir. Some called it racist, some called it stupid and some actually thought it was a good idea. In the end, the controversy dissolved and now everyone seems fine with players arriving wearing a nice pair of corduroy pleated slacks with a tasteful two-button mauve tweed jacket. (I have no idea anything in that last sentence actually is.) Now, the dress code has moved to include coaches. Some of the NBA’s top sideline wanderers had started taking advantage of the lax dress code rules, one being Stan Van Gundy and his mock turtlenecks. Well, the NBA has had enough of those. Now, coaches are required to wear collared shirts on the sidelines.”
  • Kyle Stack of SLAM ONLINE critiques the Magic’s new logo: “While the Magic aren’t completely eliminating their association with their roots — after all, Vega just made the point of keeping the stars that were their first identity — there’s a natural maturation which takes place. Vega likened it to that of a person. Now that the Magic are 21 years old, they’re making smarter decisions which comes from the experience and knowledge they’ve gained as an organization. First the first time in their history, the Magic are an annual threat to win a championship. They want to show fans their new look is emblematic of the focus they have on winning their first title.”
  • Chris Duhon is no longer in LeBron James’ shadow. Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse explains: “The LeBron James era never materialized in New York City, but point guard Chris Duhon still feels like he played right through a part of it. Duhon was the starting point guard for the Knicks the past two seasons, trying to lead a team whose only real goal was creating salary cap space to lure James in his celebrated summer of free agency. James never came, but his presence always was felt.”
  • Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD with an interesting report: “The company line in Orlando is that they made informal inquiries about both Chris Paul in July and Carmelo Anthony in August and those inquiries never included discussion of specific players and died quickly. Hornets’ sources confirmed Orlando’s pursuit of Chris Paul this summer as more than informal and more than a single inquiry, saying Orlando had reached out a number of times over the last year, but New Orleans just is not interested. Fast forward a month and the Magic made similar aggressive inquiries with Denver. [...] When you wonder why Orlando isn’t in the mix with Denver now, it’s mainly because they want Carmelo along with Chauncey Billups and not just Melo alone. Unless they could get both in a deal, they like the group they have in place now and wouldn’t break it up for Carmelo alone, unless they got him for a single player straight up, which isn’t going to happen.”
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