- Ish Smith had one of the most amazing plays you’ll see all season. In last night’s game against the Washington Wizards, Smith jumped over John Wall after biting on his pump fake, then recovered to block his shot.
- The Orlando Magic have lost 11 of their past 12 games.
- This headline says it all: “Jameer Nelson plays a perfect seven seconds, steals a ‘Walk the Dog’ attempt.”
- On Wednesday, the Magic will face off against the Indiana Pacers for the first time since both teams met in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
- Orlando’s offense is better without Glen Davis, but their defense is better with him. That’s quite a conundrum. Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk tries to offer up a solution.
- The Washington Wizards blew the Magic out at Verizon Center yesterday.
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
At one point, it was pretty difficult, almost impossible, to imagine the Magic running out of the tunnel without Dwight Howard. Now, just months after his departure, things have normalized, at least in a sense, in Orlando.
While the few veterans left on the roster continue to chip away at what was supposed to be an agonizing season, players like Andrew Nicholson, Nikola Vucevic, and Maurice Harkless have become familiar, if not by now household names.
Maybe now, while we still have our wits in tact, we should get used to the idea that J.J. Redick, a man who has never in his professional career worn a jersey that didn’t say “Orlando” or “Magic” on it, might not be in Orlando for much longer.
Rumors have been reported, pundits have predicted, promulgated, and all but publicized the fact that J.J. Redick is probably the highest-valued trade asset on the Magic’s roster, and is in all likelihood squarely in the crosshairs of several contenders.
And why wouldn’t he be? For years, Redick has been referred to as a cerebral player, a high IQ guy, a smart defender, and obviously a great shooter. Now he’s enhanced his passing game and shown his ability to confidently get to the paint.
Put differently, Redick has expanded his skill-set, increased his production, and now you’ll need more than two hands to count the number of teams that would salivate at the prospect of having him come off their bench.
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
Heading into tonight’s game, the Washington Wizards ranked dead last in the league in Offensive Rating — averaging 95.7 points per 100 possessions. To put that number in perspective, when the Charlotte Bobcats finished with the worst winning percentage in NBA history last season, they averaged 95.2 points per 100 possessions.
In other words, the Wizards’ offense had reached historic levels of futility.
But none of that mattered against the Orlando Magic, as Washington scored 120 points in 94 possessions for a whopping 128.3 Offensive Rating. The Wizards did it by running roughshod over the Magic. Literally. Washington outscored Orlando 29-4 in fast break points, which proved to be the difference in the ballgame.
And John Wall was one of the catalysts of the Wizards’ transition offense. The moment Wall stepped on the floor, he pushed the tempo every chance he got. This was evident with his first basket of the game, which was a fast break layup late in the first quarter.
The sequence began when Kevin Seraphin blocked Arron Afflalo’s layup attempt. Emeka Okafor caught the loose ball, then made an outlet pass to Wall, who immediately darted down the court. Jameer Nelson was the first man back on defense for the Magic but it didn’t matter, as Wall zipped right past him for a layup in transition.
It’s no secret that Wall’s biggest strength is his speed, particularly in the open floor, and he put it on display against Orlando throughout the game. But Wall made the best use of his speed in the half-court in the play of the game.
With the third quarter winding down, Wall beat Ish Smith off the dribble and broke his ankles with a devastating behind-the-back crossover that finished with an assist to a wide open Seraphin along the baseline for a dunk. It was Wall moving at the speed of light that doomed Smith.
This coming after Smith jumped over Wall and blocked his shot in the first half. It’s safe to say that Wall got his revenge.
A.J. Price and Garrett Temple also deserve kudos for pushing the pace and putting the Magic’s defense on their heels all night long. Price and Temple, alongside Wall, picked apart Orlando’s defense with their relentless attacking and it reflected in the discrepancy in fast break points.
Considering the caliber of opponent, this may take the cake as the worst loss of the season for the Magic.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
This was a team win in every sense of the word for the Wizards. Six players finished the game scoring in double figures. Emeka Okafor stood out from the pack with a double-double (19 points and 11 rebounds).
That Was … a Welcomed Sight
Despite the blowout loss, the good news for Orlando is that Glen Davis and E’Twaun Moore played after sitting out with injuries. Davis, in particular, looked sharp, finishing with 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting in 18 minutes and playing solid defense.
- Teams: Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards
- Date: January 14, 2013
- Time: 7:00 p.m.
- Television: Fox Sports Florida
- Arena: Verizon Center
- Magic: 13-23
- Wizards: 6-28
- Jameer Nelson
- Arron Afflalo
- DeQuan Jones
- Andrew Nicholson
- Nikola Vucevic
- A.J. Price
- Bradley Beal
- Martell Webster
- Emeka Okafor
- Nene Hilario
- Pace: 91.5 (17th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 103.0 (22nd of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 106.2 (19th of 30)
- Pace: 91.4 (18th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 95.7 (30th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 103.7 (10th of 30)
Read about the Wizards
- In the wake of Glen Davis’ absence, Nikola Vucevic has emerged as a double-double machine for the Orlando Magic. Joe Kaiser of ESPN Insider has more: “Since Davis’ injury, though, he’s pretty much become a dream for any fantasy basketball owner, rattling off eight double-doubles over the last 11 games (including six in a row) and averaging 14.8 points and 14.4 rebounds during that span.”
- Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “Shocking the Clips in Grant Hill’s return halted the longest skid Orlando has seen (10 L’s in a row) since the spring of 2004, a skid that put it in position to draft Dwight Howard.”
- J.J. Redick has made a living out of drilling three-pointers from pin-down sets.
- An update on the Magic’s injured players.
- What will Davis’ impending return mean to Vucevic’s development?
- It remains to be seen when Glen Davis (sprained left shoulder) and E’Twaun Moore (sprained left elbow) will return from their respective injuries.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel with an excellent breakdown of what Davis’ absence has meant to the Magic. Of note: Orlando’s offense has skyrocketed with Davis out, but the defense has regressed sharply.
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “The Magic were good in the clutch on Saturday in a 104-101 defeat of the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. J.J. Redick had a tremendous sequence by tying the game with a layup and then giving the Magic their first lead of the day with a step-back 3-pointer over Matt Barnes. Redick then preserved the win by drawing a charge from Jamal Crawford and seconds later passing out of a double team for what proved to be the game’s winning points.”
- John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “Redick is 14-for-26 on threes in his last three games and is a prime candidate to help a contender down the stretch, but he’s not so old that he can’t be a part of Orlando’s future.”
- The Magic likely won’t make the playoffs, which makes wins against teams like the Los Angeles Clippers extra satisfying.
Since the start of the season, J.J. Redick has been the subject of trade rumors and it’s easy to see why.
At 28 years old, Redick is an elder statesman on a rebuilding team. Only Jameer Nelson (30) and Hedo Turkoglu (33) are older. With the Orlando Magic in the middle of a rebuilding phase, it makes sense that people are questioning whether or not Redick is a part of the franchise’s long-term plan.
Further fueling the fire is Redick’s cap-friendly contract. He’s making $6.2 million this season, one of the best value contracts in the NBA, and is set to become an unrestricted free agent in July, per ShamSports. That makes it easy for almost any team in the league to acquire Redick in a trade.
Oh, and Redick is pretty good. He’s posting a career-high 15.8 Player Efficiency Rating. He’s an elite shooter, efficient scorer, underrated playmaker, and a smart defender. In other words, he’s an excellent role player that every team in the NBA covets — especially a contender.
And Redick put those positive basketball qualities on display in the Magic’s 104-101 come-from-behind win against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday. In the game, Redick scored eight of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead three-pointer with 42.1 seconds left, and he drew a key offensive foul Jamal Crawford moments later.
Let’s take a look at both plays.
Trailing 101-99 with 54.7 seconds left, head coach Jacque Vaughn drew up a play to get Redick a three-pointer.
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein /NBAE via Getty Images
Despite facing off against the Los Angeles Clippers — tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the best record in the NBA (28-8) — on the road, the Orlando Magic finally won a close game and snapped their season-high 10-game losing streak with a 104-101 victory.
During the losing streak, the Magic had lost six games by margins of five or fewer so they were bound to win one of these games. That it came against the Clippers, one of the best crunch time teams in the league this season thanks in large part due to Chris Paul, is ironic.
What makes the win even more impressive for Orlando is that they trailed for the majority of the game. That’s because, for three quarters, Blake Griffin did whatever he wanted offensively and dominated on that end of the floor.
For all the talk of Griffin being just a dunker, he made his critics look foolish with his performance against the Magic.
Orlando’s frontline was helpless, as Griffin scored at will primarily on the left and right blocks as well as in pick-and-rolls. Yes, he had a few dunks in transition but those plays were mere footnotes to his display of offensive versatility.
Does a dunker face up against Nikola Vucevic on the left elbow, back him down on the left block, and make a lefty hook?
And when Griffin wasn’t too busy scoring, he was doing a tremendous job of picking apart the Magic’s defense with his passing. Time and again, Griffin showed remarkable patience on offense, making the right read and finding the open man.
Does a dunker face up against Vucevic on the right block, notice Arron Afflalo looking to double him in the post, and make a diagonal pass to Matt Barnes for an open three-pointer from the left wing?
With Los Angeles leading 83-75 heading into the fourth quarter, Griffin showing no signs of slowing down (he had 30 points, eight rebounds, and six assists after three quarters), and Paul content with playing the role of facilitator for the time being (knowing he can take over at any time), it seemed like the deck was stacked in the Clippers’ favor.
But Orlando never gave up and their persistence paid off in the end. Led by Afflalo and J.J. Redick, the Magic stormed back in the fourth quarter and took their first lead of the game, 102-99, after a Redick three-pointer from the left wing with 42.1 seconds left.
Paul responded with a stepback midrange jumper from the right elbow. On the ensuing play, Jameer Nelson’s shot was blocked by Lamar Odom as he got into the lane. The Clippers picked up the loose ball and Paul started a fast break — in other words, the worst-case scenario for Orlando.
Paul passed the ball to Jamal Crawford in transition. Despite having Barnes wide open in the right corner for a three-pointer, Crawford drove to the basket. One problem. Crawford was out of control and lowered his right shoulder to Redick, who established position and drew an offensive foul. Crawford waited too late to make the kick-out pass to Barnes.
On the ensuing possession, Los Angeles compounded their mistake by not intentionally fouling Josh McRoberts fast enough, who was able to pass the ball to a wide open Nikola Vucevic for a dunk.
Trailing 104-101 with 8.1 seconds remaining, Crawford missed a contested three-pointer from the left wing and the Magic escaped Staples Center with an improbable victory — much like their win against the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this season.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Afflalo had his best game of the season, finishing with 30 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists including 10 points in the fourth quarter. His four-point play with Orlando trailing 95-89 set into motion the come-from-behind win.
That Was … Puzzling
Despite dominating the Magic’s frontcourt, Griffin did not attempt a single shot in the fourth quarter. Paul was used as a decoy on Los Angeles’ final play of the game. Head coach Vinny Del Negro’s awful late-game management cost the Clippers dearly.
- Teams: Orlando Magic at Los Angeles Clippers
- Date: January 12, 2013
- Time: 3:30 p.m.
- Television: Fox Sports Florida
- Arena: Staples Center
- Magic: 12-22
- Clippers: 28-8
- Jameer Nelson
- Arron Afflalo
- DeQuan Jones
- Andrew Nicholson
- Nikola Vucevic
- Chris Paul
- Willie Green
- Caron Butler
- Blake Griffin
- DeAndre Jordan
- Pace: 91.5 (16th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 102.6 (23rd of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 106.0 (18th of 30)
- Pace: 92.1 (9th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 110.2 (4th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 100.7 (3rd of 30)
Read about the Clippers
Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images
There’s little debate the top 10 players are among the very best in Magic franchise history. But how exactly do you order them? If #ORLrank must split hairs at this point, so be it. Rage on, debate, rage on.
Which players deserve their spots in the top 10? Who should be bumped up or back? Magic Basketball weighs in on the best of the best.
Who was ranked too high?
Nate Drexler: Dwight Howard. And really just barely. Looking back at the raw data, Shaq was just pound-for-pound better in 1994 than Dwight was in 2011. If we’re looking at only the pinnacle of that player’s career, than I have to put Shaq ahead of Dwight.
Sean Highkin: Ryan Anderson. I generally don’t think we overrated anybody, but if I have to quibble, he doesn’t have the longevity most of the other guys did. But I’m fine with him being where he was, given his production was outstanding during his tenure with the Magic.
Noam Schiller: Dwight Howard. It’s almost ridiculous to say that a player who won three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards and was the consensus best player at his position is overranked. That said, dominant as he was, I can’t place any Dwight season above T-Mac’s 2002-03 campaign or the insane two-way beast that was Orlando Shaq.
Who was ranked too low?
Drexler: Hedo Turkoglu. Again, I’d flip flop him and Rashard at the very least. When he was good, he was really pretty great. You can’t say enough about his tools and the bigger thing you get out of Hedo is a long list of intangibles. He was a big game player, and a big moment guy with ice in his veins and confidence pouring out of his ears. I’d take 2009 Hedo on my team any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Highkin: Tracy McGrady. I had him third on my ballot, which is where he ended up, but I think I’d put him ahead of Shaq in second place if we got to redo it. His 2002-03 campaign is the best individual season any Magic player has ever had.
Schiller: Tracy McGrady. I had T-Mac at second place in what amounted to a coin flip and he finished third. It’s not a huge difference, but I still feel it does him a disservice. McGrady may have had the worst teammates throughout his Magic tenure as anybody who finished in the top 10 and still played at a level that rivaled anybody in the league at the time. I’m not sure what else he could have done.
Who was ranked just right?
Drexler: Tracy McGrady. At first I thought he needed to be higher, but there was no way I could justify moving him above Shaq or Dwight just based on the sheer impact of their game. McGrady was awesome and there’s no one on this list below him that should be higher. I love where he fits just behind two of the most dominating centers to play the game.
Highkin: Dwight Howard and Bo Outlaw. When you combine longevity, numbers, and team accomplishments, it’s pretty clear Howard is the best player in Magic history. And something about Outlaw sneaking in at No. 10 feels like a perfect encapsulation of who he was as a player.
Schiller: Darrell Armstrong. I was pleased to see him finish first outside of the obvious top four. We were instructed to go with singular excellence of career-long achievements, but Armstrong was a combination of both — with nine years in Orlando peaking during the “Heart and Hustle” campaign.