Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 239

May 08

Sneak Preview: Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks, Game 3

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “One thing [Orlando] Magic coach Stan Van Gundy likes about his team is that their success will depend not on whether or not they put forth the right amount of effort each night or other intangibles. “These guys have been great,” Van Gundy said. “They enjoy playing together. They play well together. They trust each other. … I’ve got a lot of confidence in this team that it’ll just come down to how well we play. It won’t be chemistry problems, it won’t be lack of professionalism. It’ll come down to how we play.” Van Gundy said the kind of balanced scoring the Magic displayed in Thursday night’s Game 2 — when four players scored more than 20 points — is consistent with how the team has played all season. Often, though, rather than four players with more than 20 points, the Magic have six or seven players in double-figures.”
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Nothing else has distracted Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic, so the Atlanta Hawks might need help from their unspoken home-court advantage today for Game 3. The ATL will certainly accommodate the Magic if they want to party early. The Magic will spend three nights in the city, a legendary NBA hot-spot. [...] The Magic say they aren’t about to fall to Atlanta’s reputation, even with a 2-0 lead in the playoff series. The club’s security detail is on alert because Howard, a graduate of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, is returning home. Other than that, the team is looking at it as a business trip.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Dwight Howard has played in his childhood home of Atlanta 12 times in his six-year NBA career, and at times it proved to be more of a challenge than a luxury. The demand for tickets and the tugs on his time proved to be a challenge early on in Howard’s career when he was still a teenager. And, of course, there were the times when Howard felt the urge to take over games and put on a show for his family and friends. But as Howard heads back to Atlanta now for his first-ever playoff series in his hometown, clearly the 24-year-old consensus All-NBA pick has learned a few tricks of the trade about thriving in his old stomping grounds. “My phone is turned off, both of them, so people are going to have to scream through the TV to talk to me while I’m in Atlanta,” Howard said with a chuckle about how he plans on handling the off-court distractions.”
  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “They were good for one quarter in Orlando, then three quarters, and now the Hawks are back at Philips Arena. The Hawks say they are trending upward. The progression didn’t translate into a victory in Orlando during the first two games of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals. It almost has to mean a victory in Game 3 on Saturday: No NBA team has overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series. And though the Hawks were dominant at home in the regular season, the Magic have been playing at an elite level for more than two months.”
  • Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The Hawks led the Magic by two points after 35 minutes and 59 seconds here Thursday night. They trailed by 19 points barely eight minutes later. The visitors had gotten almost everything they could have hoped from the first three quarters, and yet, once again, they weren’t close at the end. There was about Game 2 a sensation of a best shot having been delivered and parried — a chilling thought. Asked if that was his impression, Josh Smith said: “There’s a better shot still to come. We have to play the full 48.” Maybe those long-awaited 48 minutes will come at Philips Arena on Saturday. If not, that’s it for this season. The team that won 53 games is down to its last real chance.”

May 07

Magic Basketball Featured on SportsNation Yesterday

May 07

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com: “Vince Carter has dazzled NBA fans since arriving in the NBA in 1998 with awe-inspiring slam dunks, acrobatic shots and stunning long range game-winning 3-pointers. It’s hard to definitively say, however, that one particular game-winner was more impressive than another. VC’s 35-footer at the buzzer against the Utah Jazz in 2007 and his crowd-shattering trey in his first return to Toronto since being traded to New Jersey are two of his most watched on YouTube. But, perhaps no last-second shot was more improbable than Vinsanity’s buzzer-beater last season against the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 2, 2009 while playing for the Nets.”
  • It’s safe to say that Jameer Nelson has stepped up in the postseason.
  • Trey Kerby of Ball Don’t Lie notes that Dwight Howard is a funny character.
  • Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference calculates the odds that the Orlando Magic go Fo’-Fo’-Fo’ in the playoffs.
  • Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook takes a look at how the Magic were able to pull away from the Atlanta Hawks in the fourth quarter of Game 2.
  • Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated: “They drew the easiest path to the conference finals of any favorite East or West, but don’t hold that against Orlando. The Magic will likely finish off the Hawks within five games and wait unscathed for Cleveland or Boston to emerge. They don’t have Hedo Turkoglu creating mismatches anymore, but they do have Jameer Nelson playing at a high level, they are possibly the best defensive team in the tournament and they believe wholeheartedly they can beat the Cavaliers or the Celtics. While the Cavs, Lakers and Spurs have all foundered at times this postseason, the Magic have looked ruthlessly efficient. We may yet look back to realize this was the league’s best team all along.”
  • Nada Taha Moslehy of SLAM ONLINE: “Vince Carter jumped up for a monstrous block and hustled down the other end of the court for a pull-up three. At half court, Josh Smith bent over for a moment and had a look of defeat splashed across his face. A few minutes later, after a couple more Hawks turnovers and Magic treys (they hit four in the final quarter), Atlanta called timeout and coach Mike Woodson shook his head in his hands. You would think this was a scene from Game 1 where the Magic annihilated the Hawks by 43 points and held them to just 10 and 11 points in the third and fourth quarters. But it was the fourth quarter of Game 2 where the Hawks, who had just come off a strong start after the half and held the lead, just fell apart, losing to Orlando 112-98 and dropping 2-0 heading back home.”
  • Lang Whitaker of SLAM ONLINE praises the Magic: “Jokes aside, the Magic are playing really well right now. Really, really well. Last night in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semis, the Hawks played about as well as they could play for long stretches and they still couldn’t build a double-digit lead. Then, in the fourth quarter, the Magic clamped down defensively and outscored Atlanta 28-15 to get the win. The Magic have so many weapons, from Dwight to Jameer to Vince to Rashard [Lewis], and each guy had a turn last night. [...] Orlando has a better, deeper roster than Atlanta, and when the game was on the line, they were a better team. They really just squeezed Atlanta out of it in the fourth quarter. I’m curious to see how the Hawks respond in Atlanta, where they beat Orlando they last time they played. I still think Cleveland is the team to beat in the East, but if Orlando wins it again I won’t be surprised.”
  • Eric Freeman of The Baseline wonders if Orlando is now the team to beat in the playoffs: “The importance of matchups is an important reminder that asking which team is the favorite is in many ways a fool’s errand. A lot can change between now and the Finals. If you remember, last season at this time most people assumed that LeBron and Kobe would face off to decide who was the best player in the league. So yes, praise the Magic for playing as well as they have so far, but don’t jump the gun and start proclaiming them the team to beat. Wide-eyed speculation can only get you in trouble, and you can be sure Orlando’s only looking at the Hawks right now. It’s a cliche, but you have to take it one game at a time.”
  • Fran Vazquez update: “It’s teammate Fran Vazquez who is more of an NBA-caliber player. At 6-11, Vazquez has very long arms and very good mobility, which allowed him to block 1.1 shots in just 17.5 minutes per game in Euroleague play. With good hands and finishing ability, plus surprising shooting range, Vazquez is also a factor in both the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop games.  Unfortunately for Stateside fans, the 2005 lottery pick still shows no signs of making the jump from Europe to the NBA. I strongly believe he could be an effective NBA big man if he ever came over.”

May 07

Video Highlights: The Attack of the Four All-Stars

In Game 2 of the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals, one of the major storylines following the Orlando Magic’s victory against the Atlanta Hawks was the phenomenal performances of Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard, and Vince Carter — each of them were brilliant. It’s very rare when the four All-Stars for the Magic play well in unison with each other offensively but when they do, and last night was one of the instances, they form a devastating quartet that’s arguably unmatched in the NBA.

See for yourself.

May 07

Atlanta Struggles Against Pick and Roll

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

As seen on ESPN’s Daily Dime.

After the Atlanta Hawks’ 43-point loss at the hands of the Orlando Magic in Game 1, it was widely assumed that Game 2 would be a more competitive contest between the two teams from the Southeast Division. And it was … for approximately three quarters. However, the Magic went to another gear in the fourth quarter and were able to defeat the Hawks by the score of 112-98 thanks in large part to the excellent performances of the four All-Stars on the roster — Vince Carter, Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, and Jameer Nelson.

Each player shouldered the load at different junctures in the game but after a slow start in the first half, Carter exploded in the second half by scoring 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting (he finished 9-for-16 with 24 points and seven rebounds) and helped carry Orlando in the fourth quarter by running a simple play that caused problems for Atlanta.

The pick and roll.

From the start of the final period up until the last minutes, Carter ran the pick and roll with Howard to perfection. Carter did a great job of being a playmaker for the Magic, looking to pass or score whenever possible. When Carter was looking to score, he was almost always aggressive attacking the basket and showing off glimpses of Vinsanity with a few highlight-reel dunks that excited the crowd at Amway Arena. When Carter was looking to pass, he was able to jumpstart the offense by finding the open man or triggering the same type of ball movement that was the death knell for the Hawks in Game 1.

All in all, Carter has settled into a groove and has scored 20 points or more in three consecutive playoff games dating back to Game 4 against the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round. However, Carter’s performance against Atlanta in Game 2 has been his best game so far in the postseason because he was efficient offensively and his shot selection was very good. Carter, for the most part, strayed away from taking long two-point jumpers and instead operated either in the paint or behind the three-point line.

When Carter optimizes his offense in that manner, he becomes a deadly offensive player for the Magic. Game 2 was a prime example.

May 07

Second Look: Orlando Magic 112, Atlanta Hawks 98

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic remained the only unbeaten club in the postseason, pushing their winning streak to 12 games, including the last six of the regular season. They defeated the Atlanta Hawks 112-98 on Thursday night at Amway Arena to seize a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference series. Other than petitioning the NBA to use six or seven defenders at once, the Hawks are quickly running out of X’s as well as O’s. The Hawks sent [Dwight] Howard to the bench with early fouls and to the trainer’s room with a bloody nose, and even built an eight-point lead 48 hours after losing by 43. But Howard not only came back, but he brought friends with him — Vince [Carter], Jameer [Nelson] and Rashard [Lewis] — in a different game that offered the same results.”
  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “After the 114-71 Game 1 blowout of the Hawks Tuesday, the Magic came to practice Wednesday and found a sheet of paper in their lockers. The paper contained an in-depth statistical analysis of what happens to playoff teams after they win a game by 20 points more. According to [Stan] Van Gundy‘s stats over the last three seasons, 65 percent of the teams that won a playoff game by 20 points or more ended up losing the next game. “The sheet was filled with percentages and numbers and the year it happened,” Matt Barnes said. “I don’t think Stan ever sleeps.” Just call it collective insomnia. It seems like nobody on the Magic is willing to sleep until this team wins a championship.”
  • George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Where’s the NBA love for Jameer Nelson? [...] Here’s a few highlights from Orlando’s 112-98 victory against the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals Thursday night at Amway Arena: See him driving the baseline against Joe Johnson, scoring while getting bopped in the head, during the third quarter. Witness a 40-foot, buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Orlando an 84-83 lead at end of the third quarter. Feel the vibe of a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter to tune of Funky Cold Medina, one of the kill shots for a decisive late run for the Magic.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dwight Howard insisted after his dreadful, foul-plagued first round against the Charlotte Bobcats that he would be a different player in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks. His production has improved dramatically, but not by accident or because the referees are more forgiving. Instead, Howard stayed on the court Thursday night in large part because he selectively toned down his aggressiveness on the defensive end of the floor. Howard appeared to make a conscious decision not to challenge some Atlanta drives to the rim early in Game 2, and helped him play a postseason-high 39 minutes as the Magic defeated the Hawks 112-98.”
  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “After a dismal Game 1, compounded by the fact that he was removed from action after picking up one foul, Al Horford recovered in a big way Thursday night. He rebounded, scored and blocked shots fiercely, notching a double-double with 24 point sand 10 rebounds. By halftime the former Gator made six of eight shot attempts and he finished having made nine of 13 in the Hawks’ Game-2 loss. This after Horford only made one field goal Tuesday.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Orlando seized a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series and improved to 6-0 in the playoffs, making it the NBA’s only unbeaten team in the postseason. And dating back to late in the regular season, Orlando has mowed down 12 consecutive foes. And over the last two seasons, the Magic have whipped the Hawks in eight of the last nine meetings. And they did all of that with Carter and plenty of help from his Magic teammates. With 29 points from center Dwight Howard, the 24 from Carter and 20 apiece from Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson, Orlando had four 20-point scorers for the first time in its playoff history. And it was the first time it’s happened in the postseason in the NBA since May 2007 when Golden State accomplished the feat.”
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Though Howard scored more points and drew more attention, Carter is the player who really put Orlando over the top tonight. After a first half in which he deferred, Carter asserted himself in the second, scoring 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and making arguably the game’s defining play. Early in the fourth quarter, Williams scooped up his third offensive rebound of the night and went back up to score, but Carter spiked his offering from behind. He made the outlet pass, and just seconds later, stepped into a trailing, delayed transition three-pointer from the right wing that gave the Magic a 6-point lead and knocked the roof off Amway Arena. And he shredded the Hawks in the halfcourt running the high pick-and-roll with Howard: as ESPN analyst Hubie Brown so beatifully illustrated, the Hawks kept sending Carter’s defender over the screen in order to take away the three-point shot, so Carter just continued driving to the bucket, which forced Horford to decide whether to step over to cover him or to stick with the rolling Howard. It’s how Carter got free for two huge dunks and several more lay-ins. He was squarely in attack mode tonight, or at least for the final 24 minutes.”
  • Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “It was almost as if they were expected to apologize for still being here. Everyone wanted to know how it felt to lose Game 1 by 43 points, and when the Hawks kept saying, “It’s only one game,” the reaction was as if they’d plunged into deep-dish denial. But you know what? It was only one game. And Game 2 was much better. But it wasn’t good enough. The Hawks showed Thursday they could play with the Magic for three quarters. NBA rules, alas, still stipulate four 12-minute periods.  In the fourth period the Hawks did their usual road disappearing act. They saved it for later this night, but that’s not much consolation when you’re down 2-0.”
  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “That a 112-98 loss was considered a competitive effort for the Hawks said more about their history in Orlando than their ability to win the game. The Hawks never threatened the Magic over the final nine minutes. After the Magic took 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, the Hawks now turn to Game 3 on Saturday at Philips Arena, hoping to regroup in a place in which they dominated teams during the regular season. However, if they harbor any thoughts of winning the series they’ll have to get a victory in Orlando. The Hawks return home after suffering the worst loss in the franchise’s Atlanta playoff history in Game 1. They limp into Georgia after coming undone in the final period of Game 2 by familiar faults: porous defense and stalled offense.”
  • Bret LaGree of Hoopinion: “For three quarters though, the Hawks were roughly as good as the Magic. It proved unsustainable, in part because a defensive focus on Howard made it difficult for Al Horford to help against Orlando’s dribble penetration when he played Howard straight up or when the Magic used Howard in screen-and-roll situations. When Atlanta doubled Howard in the post, Orlando’s spacing and ball movement made it difficult for the Hawks to rotate in time to close out on shooters. The Hawks may have shown a bit of their ersatz-zone in the fourth quarter. Then again, Rashard Lewis’ wide-open three with 5:08 left might have been the result of simple mis-communication. Josh Smith left Lewis, just right of the top of the key, to follow a cutter into the weak-side corner. Joe Johnson, at the left elbow, didn’t know this and stayed at the strong-side help line. Unable to feed Howard easily on the left block, Vince Carter made a simple, direct pass to Lewis who had time to measure the shot before releasing as Johnson was clearly surprised not have a teammate behind him.”
  • Frank Hughes of Sports Illustrated: “In the 2001 playoffs, Rashard Lewis, then playing for the Seattle SuperSonics, got caught up with San Antonio’s Malik Rose and suffered a subluxation of his shoulder, something Lewis has worked diligently to strengthen throughout the course of his career. It still bothers him on occasion though, so when he suffered a hard impact in the second quarter and spent the remaining minutes of the first half tugging at the shoulder, it could have proved disastrous for Orlando. Lewis played in the second half and hit a big 3 in the fourth quarter, but it is something that bears watching if the shoulder stiffens up overnight.”
  • John Krolik of ProBasketballTalk: “Surprisingly enough, the Atlanta Hawks were competitive for much of game two. They were able to move the ball while limiting mistakes, actually managed to get to the rim and the line with some consistency, and scored almost 100 points against the Magic’s defense. They made six of their 11 three-point attempts. They shot 97% on their 31 free-throw attempts. They had twice as many offensive rebounds as Orlando did. Jamal Crawford and Al Horford both had bounce-back games. In spite of all of that, the Hawks are going back to Atlanta with a 2-0 deficit. Why? First of all, some of Atlanta’s bad habits reared their ugly heads in the second half. More importantly, it’s almost impossible to beat Orlando when they play like they did on Thursday night.”
  • Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse: “After they were beaten so badly in Game 1, the Hawks were feeling good about their eight-point lead at halftime, and still feeling good when they trailed by just one going into the fourth quarter. But then it was like they got hit with an avalanche, buried by a 28-15 fourth quarter. “We had nothing left for the fourth quarter,” Woodson said. “Unfortunately, you have to play all fourth quarters to win against this team.” The Hawks should have seen it coming. They were playing almost flawlessly through the first three quarters when they held a 10-rebound advantage, hit all 25 of their free throws and six of their seven 3-pointers — and still trailed.”
  • Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus: “Give the Atlanta Hawks credit. After their embarrassing Game One beatdown, they not only came out and competed but looked for much of Game Two like they might just steal a win on the road. It took a Jameer Nelson buzzer-beater to ensure the Orlando Magic would lead after three quarters, but the home team dominated the final period, using a 19-2 run early in the fourth to pull away. An 8-1 Atlanta run made the final score respectable, but was far too little and far too late. The problem for the Hawks ultimately came down to their inability to get stops. Aside from a 17-point second quarter, they allowed 95 points in the other three periods in what was a very slow-paced game (featuring eight and a half fewer possessions than Game One). The Magic got anything it wanted on offense, whether from the paint or on the perimeter. Orlando shot an incredible 64.4 percent (29-45) on two-point attempts and turned it over but nine times. The result was a 135.4 Offensive Rating the Phoenix Suns would envy.”
  • Eric Freeman of The Baseline: “The Magic’s game stats won’t make you think they struggled at times, but that’s only because their second half was so impressive. They shot 55.9 percent and had just nine turnovers, their efficiency and ability to execute down the stretch on full display. Dwight Howard was dominant with 29 points (on 8-of-9 from the floor) and 17 rebounds in 39 minutes. Vince Carter (24 on 9-of-16 FG, seven rebounds), Rashard Lewis (20 points and six assists), and Jameer Nelson (20 points on 7-of-14 FG) also scored at least 20 points while making at least half their shots. Despite some difficulties, the Magic remain firmly in control of this series. It’s just a question of how long the Hawks can postpone their demise.”

May 07

Recap: Orlando Magic 112, Atlanta Hawks 98

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

BOX SCORE

In a competitive game that went back and forth until the fourth quarter, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Atlanta Hawks by the score of 112-98 to take a 2-0 series lead in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. Game 2 was a battle of stars, as the best players for each team stepped up. The four All-Stars led the way for the Magic, as Vince Carter had 24 points, Dwight Howard had 29 points on nine shots and 17 rebounds, and Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson each had 20 points and six assists. Two words can best describe the performances of Carter, Howard, Lewis, and Nelson — efficient and excellent. Al Horford led the way for the Hawks with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks.

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May 06

Preview: Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic, Game 2

8:00 EDT | ESPN
53-29 @ 59-23
Pythagorean Record: 54-28 Pythagorean Record: 61-21
Pace: 90.1 (27th) Pace: 92.0 (18th)
Offensive Rating: 111.9 (2nd) Offensive Rating: 111.4 (4th)
Defensive Rating: 106.7 (13th) Defensive Rating: 103.3 (3rd)
Amway Arena | Magic lead series 1-0

May 06

Orlando’s Dwight Howard Highlights 2009-10 All-NBA First Team

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, the 2009-10 NBA Defensive Player of the Year presented by Kia Motors, and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the 2009-10 Most Valuable Player presented by Kia Motors, were unanimous selections to the 2009-10 All-NBA First Team, the NBA announced today. Joining Howard and James on the First Team are Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat.

Howard, an All-NBA First Team selection for the third consecutive season, became the first player to lead the league in rebounding and blocks (1973-74 was the first season blocks were kept as an official statistic) in consecutive seasons, averaging 13.2 rebounds and 2.78 blocks. Howard also paced the league in field goal percentage (.612), becoming the first player to lead the NBA in all three of those categories since the NBA started keeping blocked shots. Howard recorded an NBA-high 64 double-doubles, including three 20-point/20-rebound efforts.

May 06

Anatomy of Efficiency

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Immediately after the Orlando Magic put the finishing touches on a beat down of epic proportions against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 1 of the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals, people — unsurprisingly — went goo goo ga ga when the final score read 114-71. Amidst the blowout victory, the Magic put on a basketball clinic that certainly made NBA enthusiasts smile. However, there was another group of people, whether they were aware of it or not, that would have been (or were) equally impressed.

Statistical analysts.

It’s no secret that the statistical revolution in the league is gaining momentum year after year and certain basketball philosophies, which were mostly taboo five or ten years ago, have become accepted practices. One of those strategies has been executed by Orlando to near perfection for several years now and it was showcased yet again on Tuesday.

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