Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 207

Aug 25

The Art of the Fastbreak by Penny Hardaway

Aug 25

Fact or Fiction Returns to Magic Basketball

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Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

Last year around this time, I introduced a feature at Orlando Pinstriped Post — then known as Third Quarter Collapse — called “Fact or Fiction.”

For those that watch, or have watched, ESPN regularly on television, the premise is very simple — a statement is made about something (ex: the Orlando Magic will win the Eastern Conference this season), arguments and counter-arguments are given, then viewers decide on their own if they agree with one side or the other.

Since it was a popular segment at OPP, I wanted to conduct the same series at Magic Basketball as the beginning of training camp creeps closer.

The focus of the posts will be on the Magic, of course.

For today, I’m going to give the floor to you, the readers, so that y’all can come up with statements that you’d like to see analyzed. I only ask that the comment or e-mail you submit is in the form of a statement, as shown in my example.

Have at it!

Next week on September 1, the festivities begin.

Aug 24

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com: “Heart, passion and devotion are just some words that describe international athletic competition. From the Olympics to the World Cup to the Little League World Series, global sporting events reveal an unparalleled spirit in an athlete. Although some are more patriotic than others, it seems athletes unveil more vigor, emotion and commitment than they normally would. We witnessed such fortitude from the Americans during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing when the Redeem Team, featuring NBA stars such as Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, recaptured the gold in an epic final against Spain. [...] Perhaps instead of a customary All-Star Weekend or maybe replacing a portion of the exhibition schedule, I think an NBA “Battle of the States” competition should happen. Basically, the guidelines would permit only active NBA players to participate and teams would be sorted out based on where the player was born. I would, moreover, set up a playoff-style tournament to determine the grand U.S. champion. “
  • Dwight Howard is going to star in a new movie, alongside Carmelo Anthony.
  • At ESPN.com, 17 percent of panelists select the Orlando Magic to win the Eastern Conference. Here’s what J.A. Adande had to say: “They tried playing the “nobody respects us” card for the past two seasons and maybe it will finally take effect now. Dwight Howard was a dark horse MVP candidate last season, but now that LeBron is in South Beach, Dwight can no longer be considered the best player in the state of Florida. Take that, plus the humiliating first three games of the Eastern Conference finals, and if Howard and the Magic don’t enter 2010-11 in vengeance mode, then they never will.”
  • For what it’s worth, I chose the Miami Heat as the champions in the East.
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie ranks Rashard Lewis as the 22nd-best power forward in the NBA: “If I’m honest, the only reason Lewis is ranked this high is because the skill he’s best known for contributing (sound shooting from behind the arc) is so hard to find at this position, and he can be a matchup nightmare. Can be. Because, too often, Lewis doesn’t take advantage of his own gifts. And when he passes on being aggressive offensively, his terrible defense and position-worst rebounding tend to bring out the worst in him.”
  • Normally, I agree with Dwyer on just about everything but he’s incorrect in saying that Lewis is terrible on defense because he’s not.

Aug 24

Orlando Magic Single-Game Tickets for the 2010-11 Preseason on Sale Thursday

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

Single-game tickets for the 2010-11 Orlando Magic preseason will go on sale to the general public Thursday, August 26 at 12:00 p.m. The Magic will make its debut in the Amway Center when they host their first preseason game at the brand new facility on Sunday, October 10 against New Orleans. Tip-off is 6:00 p.m. The rest of the Magic’s home preseason slate at the Amway Center includes games October 14 vs. Charlotte, October 16 vs. Chicago and October 20 vs. Dallas.

Tickets are available for purchase:

  • Online at www.orlandomagic.com
  • At the Orlando Magic ticket office at the RDV Sportsplex (cash, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
  • At all TicketMaster outlets (cash only)
  • By calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)

Remaining preseason tickets available range from $5 to $130, with 12 different price points.

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. Single-game tickets for the regular season will go on sale in October. A limited number of season tickets are available through the Orlando Magic box office by calling 407-89-MAGIC or visiting orlandomagic.com.

Aug 24

Video Highlights: Marcin Gortat

It’s been a busy off-season for Marcin Gortat, as he’s been hard at work trying to position the Polish national team towards qualification for EuroBasket 2011. After a horrid first game against Georgia on August 2, in which Gortat was “destroyed” by Zaza Pachulia in their head-to-head matchup, the “Polish Machine” has redeemed himself with some excellent performances since then.

One of those games came in a rematch against Georgia on August 17, in which Gortat led Poland to a win with 17 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks in his hometown of Lodz. Let the game be known as Gortat’s revenge, as Pachulia struggled mightily in their matchup against each other — eight points on 10 shots for the Georgian native.

Enjoy the commentary and the vuvuzelas.

Aug 23

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Marcin Gortat had a big game in Poland’s 75-71 victory over Bulgaria on Monday. Gortat scored a game-high 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting. He also collected nine rebounds, blocked three shots and dished out two assists. With the win, Poland improved its record to 4-3 as it attempts to qualify for next year’s European championships. The Poles are second in their group, trailing Belgium (5-1). The [Orlando] Magic center is averaging 18.0 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.”
  • Ben Q Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Five years, one month, and 26 days have elapsed since the Orlando Magic used the 11th overall pick of the 2005 NBA Draft on Fran Vazquez, then a mere 22 years old. And Vazquez has still yet to play for the Magic, instead plying his trade in high-level leagues in his native Spain. Yesterday, in an exhibition match against Team U.S.A., Vazquez tallied 8 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block in 14 minutes off Spain’s bench–yes, he’s good enough to play for Spain’s national team–and looked NBA-ready. Mobile, with good hands, he’d make an excellent pick-and-roll partner for Jameer Nelson in Magic pinstripes.”
  • More from Rock: “Watching Team U.S.A. struggle against a decidedly inferior Lithuanian team in an exhibition game yesterday–Chris Sheridan rather memorably wrote, “[t]o say they looked ordinary would be to give them an undeserved compliment”–I learned a few things: the European conversion rate on veteran savvy is steep, if Chauncey Billups’ miserable play is any indication; a number of second-string NBA point guards could start for Lithuania, which could hardly dribble or pass against the U.S.A.’s press; and Team U.S.A.’s size deficit is as bad as advertised. Coach Mike Krzyzewski elected to bring five point guards and just one center across the Atlantic for these exhibitions leading up to the FIBA World Championships. And as much respect as I have for Tyson Chandler, it’s pretty obvious that rotating him and a trio of forwards (Lamar Odom, Kevin Durant, and Kevin Love) in the pivot is going to present problems for the United States; it’s perfectly reasonable to view them as the underdogs, given their deficiencies in inside scoring as well as perimeter jump-shooting. Which is where Dwight Howard fits in. Or would have, anyway.”
  • J.J. Redick: “I’ll be politically correct about it because that’s the honest answer: I would like to start on an NBA team. But I’d also like to start on a really good NBA team. And for me, there’s no substitute for winning. So, if I have to play my whole career on playoff teams and be a backup, I’m fully cool with that. You know, I just want to be a part of a great organization and a winning team, and I have it with the Magic. Whether Vince [Carter] sticks around for two more years or one more year or four more years, I’m not going to complain. I’m happy with my situation.”
  • Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference takes a look at the players which played for the best defenses in NBA history. Dwight Howard, surprisingly enough, does not make the list.

Aug 23

Playbook: The 2/5 Pick and Roll

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In 2009, the 3/5 pick and roll with Hedo Turkoglu and Dwight Howard was one of the centerpieces of the Orlando Magic‘s offense. With Turkoglu’s departure and Vince Carter‘s arrival, the 2/5 pick and roll became the flavor de jure for the Magic.

Carter’s involvement in the pick and roll not only initiated the offense for Orlando but the play was also used for him to score. Carter takes, and is still taking, a lot of heat for his underwhelming performance in the 2010 NBA Playoffs, but there’s no denying that he was an efficient force in pick and rolls. Yes, Carter settled for too many jumpers and didn’t attack the basket as much as he should have offensively, yet he usually got the job done in the 2/5 pick and roll with Howard.

Usually.

Hopefully the comparisons with Carter and Turkoglu have been put to rest. But if there’s one thing to point out between the two players when they anchored — along with Jameer Nelson — the pick and rolls, Carter took much better care of the basketball than Turkoglu did. And that means something because Carter wasn’t wasting many possessions, even if the end game (a long two-point jumper) wasn’t the result that many Magic fans desired.

With Carter at the helm last season, the Magic were more efficient on offense during the regular season than they were in 2009. This isn’t to state that Carter was the sole reason for this phenomena, though he was one of the reasons.

Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 23

Anheuser-Busch Partners with Orlando Magic and Amway Center

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Orlando Magic announced today a renewed, multi-year relationship with Budweiser for the new Amway Center. As part of the partnership, Budweiser, a 21-year partner of the Magic, will collaborate with the team to institute the Good Sport program, receive arena signage and naming rights to the Budweiser Baseline Bar – a highly visible and entertaining space accessible to all Amway Center ticket buyers 21 years of age and older.

The Good Sport Program, a comprehensive action plan that promotes a positive atmosphere at the arena by encouraging adult fans to drink responsibly and use a designated driver, represents collaboration between Anheuser-Busch and its wholesalers, the Magic and concessionaires. The Good Sport Program will be promoted at the Amway Center through the use of stadium signage, PSAs and an in-arena designated driver sign-up booth.

Budweiser will have permanent signage throughout both the inner bowl of the inner concourse and at the Budweiser Baseline Bar – one of several premium amenities accessible to every level of ticket buyer at the Amway Center. Located on the south end of the Terrace Level and overlooking the inner bowl, the Budweiser Baseline Bar will have the look of a high-end club, including a terrazzo floor, granite bar tops and flat-screen TVs.

Aug 23

Some Inaccurate Criticisms of the Orlando Magic

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Via Bryan Crawford of SLAM ONLINE:

The moves that the Orlando Magic made which garnered them a grade of “A” last year is in stark contrast to the moves they made this year which earned them such a low mark. Yes, they’re still a team capable of winning it all, but even with Dwight Howard in the paint, this team is still primarily made up of guys who love to shoot from the outside and a squad built that way will never win a championship. Ever. Allowing your best perimeter defender (Matt Barnes) to leave and replacing him with someone (Quentin Richardson) who plays no defense at all was a real head scratcher. This puts even more pressure on Howard to defend the rim leaving him even more susceptible to foul trouble than he already is. Even with the Q deal and the re-signing of JJ Redick, Orlando did nothing to improve their chances of being a contender for the Eastern Conference crown. The Magic are still going to be a tough out in the East, but another appearance in the NBA Finals seems like a stretch at this point and Stan Van Gundy may find himself without a job after this season.

Three quick notes:

— Nearly everyone is enamored with the offensive philosophy of the Orlando Magic while they ignore that Dwight Howard anchors one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. That’s how the Magic got to the 2009 NBA Finals (first in Defensive Rating during the regular season in that year), and that’s ultimately what will determine whether or not they will win a championship before it’s all said and done. The axiom “defense wins championships” is cliched, without a doubt, but it means something in this particular situation.

— Matt Barnes wasn’t the best perimeter defender for Orlando. Mickael Pietrus was, and still is. As for Quentin Richardson, he does play defense and will likely be a superior fit with the Magic opposed to Barnes. However, one of the main elements that is being overlooked about Richardson is that he is a better shooter than Barnes and that means a lot. It was Barnes’ inability to spread the floor and be a threat on offense, among other things, that made him a liability in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. And given Orlando’s small margin for error in winning a title, those little differences can matter a lot in the grand scheme of things.

— Head coach Stan Van Gundy may see himself without a job after this season? Anything is possible, sure, but it’s highly unlikely that Van Gundy will be unemployed beyond 2011 unless Orlando has a disastrous season. And that is also highly unlikely, even after taking account for the improvements of the Miami Heat and other teams in the Eastern Conference. It’s going to be a tough road ahead for the Magic, but there are still games to be played and nothing is set in stone.

Aug 20

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Citing “those who claim to be in the know,” freelance writer Sam Amico says the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Hornets “have expressed an interest in” working out free-agent guard Allen Iverson. In response, ESPN’s Marc Stein debunks the Hornets portion of that rumor, but says there’s “no word” about the Magic. However, a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking told me that Orlando has no interest in the four-time scoring champion, citing the fact that the Magic already have three point guards under contract.”
  • Matt Moore of CBSSports.com: “The Magic present a stickier alternative. The Magic have Jameer Nelson, with Jason Williams backing him up, and Vince Carter and J.J. Redick locked in at shooting guard. Throw in the fact that the Magic’s system primarily relies on long, athletic shooters and not short, high-usage ball-handlers, and the fit seems like an odd one. Still, if teams are looking for a veteran with some spring in his step that can come off the bench and get buckets, there are worse alternatives than Iverson (and his name is Jannero Pargo). We’ll keep you updated if a team takes the leap of faith on Iverson.”
  • More on Allen Iverson, this time from Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk: “With the Magic, the opposite is true. Orlando already has Jameer Nelson, Chris Duhon, and Jason Williams at the point, so Iverson would likely play off the ball. In a matter of speaking, anyway; Iverson would likely still be the same high-usage, ball-dominating player he always has been, just slated as Orlando’s shooting guard rather than a point guard. Not that Orlando’s wings are much more vacant. J.J. Redick, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus, and Quentin Richardson eat, sleep, live, play, and shoot on the perimeter for the Magic, leaving Iverson to scrape up minutes at the bottom of the barrel. [...] the Orlando Magic are one of the league’s truly elite teams, and picking up Iverson just for the hell of it isn’t something Orlando is really in a position to do. The Magic already have to contend with the Heat, so there’s really no reason to play with fire.”
  • Mickael Pietrus is the 26th-best small forward in the NBA, according to Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: “He adamantly refuses to drive the ball even when his up-fakes from behind the arc send a defender into the front row, but man can this guy defend. Not a lockdown Bruce Bowen-type, but enough of a staunch defender and shooter to earn a starting slot on a great team, and a spot on this list. Pietrus’ shot selection stinks, and he does have the skills to work toward becoming a better all-around player; but for now, this is enough.”
  • Rashard Lewis has played on some of the best offenses in his career.
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