Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 24

Jan 23

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk tabs Arron Afflalo as an All-Star reserve in the Eastern Conference.
  • So does Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider. He had this to say about Afflalo: “With Irving voted into the starting lineup, everyone gets moved down a peg on my list. And that puts Afflalo in my wild-card slot. Afflalo was overwhelmed last season as Orlando’s No. 1 scoring option, but holy smokes is he thriving in that role this season. Of the 19 qualified players averaging 20 points per game this season, only LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Paul George and James Harden can match Afflalo’s true shooting percentage (58.3 percent). Not bad company.”
  • For the Orlando Magic, late-game miscues doomed their chances of completing their comeback attempt against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.
  • The Magic are projected to select Andrew Wiggins with the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
  • Afflalo has earned All-Star consideration. The question is whether or not the East coaches, who tend to reward players on winning teams, will penalize Afflalo for the Magic’s 11-32 record.
  • Orlando gets a “C” for their performance versus the Hawks.
  • Tobias Harris is trying to be more of a vocal leader.
  • Doron Lamb had a breakout game of sorts (13 points on 5-for-6 shooting) against Atlanta, but is disappointed he fouled out in just 19 minutes of playing time.

Jan 23

Orlando learning to deal with growing pains

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AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

The tank is good for you. That’s what everyone wants to believe.

When the games on the court become something of a lost cause, focus shifts to games of probability. The actual losses — those that show up in the box score and go down in the record books — are supposed to be net gains, moving the odds a percentage point or two in your favor. There are no guarantees, as Magic fans know all too well from the 2013 Draft Lottery,* but you roll with the numbers and put faith in the idea that they’ll play out more successfully than the season has.

*Though thanks to the Cavaliers selecting Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick, Orlando ended up getting the player they wanted anyway. Having Cleveland drafting ahead of you is a good way of hedging your risks, apparently.

Embracing the process is nice, of course. And when it works, you end up with Tim Duncan, which is also nice. But the process is also jagged and dark, a place where entertainment often goes to hibernate for the long winter of the rebuild. To tank is to climb K2 in the dark; to do so with grace would be to find the summit.

Through the first three weeks of 2014, the Magic have struggled mightily against the forces of the ascent. A back-and-forth victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday gave Orlando reprieve from a 10-game losing streak, but their struggles in January — and all season — are best summed up in a visualization from Basketball-Reference.com:

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The green bars are wins, the red bars are losses. The slight breaks between groupings are the different months of the season. And that last group, with 12 (mostly big) red bars and one tiny green bar? That would be January, naturally. In an uphill fight, Orlando’s embroiled in a fight against gravity just to stand up.

All of this puts Magic fans in a pretty tough situation. The future of the franchise is the clear objective, even in the present, yet the games right now are all they really have. When you want to tune in and watch professional basketball, it sucks to know that you’re in for growing pains on a nightly basis.

Blowout losses are a distinct possibility, and the best-case scenario is a nail-biter that comes down to the final possession. Don’t get me wrong — close games are awesome. But it’s nice to win a blowout every once in a while, you know? At least Orlando fans could count on a few of those in the first month of the season.

Regardless of the potential for disappointment, however, Magic supporters will find the bright spots and continue to watch through the rough times. Be it the growth of Victor Oladipo (not to mention his devastating dunks), the post dominance of Nikola Vucevic, the All-Star candidacy of Arron Afflalo, the mystic legends of Glen Davis, there are positives here. There are reasons to watch and spend time with this team.

What other choice is there? Like everything else for the Magic, it’s an investment in the future.

Jan 22

Grades: Atlanta Hawks 112, Orlando Magic 109

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Atlanta Hawks 112 Final
Recap | Box Score
109 Orlando Magic

Arron Afflalo
3-9 FG | 0-1 3P | 1 REB | 3 AST | 6 PTS | -15

With the All-Star reserves set to be announced on January 30, Afflalo picked a bad time to have his worst game of the season (his streak of scoring in double figures snapped at 37 consecutive games). He was a non-factor against the Hawks. Case in point: Afflalo was on the bench when the Magic went on two big scoring runs to erase a 19-point second half deficit.

Victor Oladipo
8-13 FG | 6-7 FT | 7 REB | 7 AST | 24 PTS | -4

Oladipo wasn’t flashy, like he was with his first career triple-double game against the Philadelphia 76ers or his career-high 35-point performance against the Chicago Bulls, but he was excellent nonetheless, quietly putting together an efficient outing. Perhaps the most eye-opening thing is that Oladipo is getting more comfortable shooting his floater. He made two of them in the third quarter.

Tobias Harris
7-16 FG | 5-5 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 19 PTS | -11

Paul Millsap and Harris represent the old guard and the new guard of the NBA, given that Millsap is your classic power forward while Harris is your new-age stretch four. Needless to say, power beat fitness in this matchup. Millsap had a monster game (24 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 blocks, 3 steals) and dismantled Harris in the low post.

Jameer Nelson
6-11 FG | 5-5 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 17 PTS | -21

Nelson was the Tasmanian devil in the first half, whirling around and getting to the rim at will, which is where he did much of his damage offensively. At halftime, Nelson had 12 points and 7 assists, and was — by far — the Magic’s best player. But he was subdued in the second half and finished the game with a whimper.

Atlanta Hawks

When Jeff Teague made a 3-pointer to give the Hawks a 82-63 lead late in the third quarter, this game was all but over. But Orlando didn’t give up, going on runs of 17-6 and 16-2 to take the lead in the fourth quarter. But Atlanta recovered at the very end, holding on to win after Nelson missed a game-tying 3-pointer with time expiring.

Jan 22

Video: The steal, the dunk, the foul

Jan 22

Preview: Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic
  • Date: January 22, 2014
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Hawks: 21-19
  • Magic: 11-31

Probable starters

Hawks:

  • Jeff Teague
  • DeMarre Carroll
  • Kyle Korver
  • Paul Millsap
  • Pero Antic

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Victor Oladipo
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Tobias Harris
  • Glen Davis

Advanced stats

Hawks:

  • Pace: 94.8 (13th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 106.4 (13th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 105.3 (12th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 93.9 (16th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 100.4 (27th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.7 (17th of 30)

Read about the Hawks

HawksHoop

Jan 22

Five reasons to be happy in Magic kingdom

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

The Magic ended a 10-game losing streak against the Celtics this past weekend, a streak which dated back to 2013. That’s a long stretch to go winless, and Magic fans are predictably perturbed. But this most recent losing streak shouldn’t make the fanbase catatonic with woe, since there’s a solid reason they were losing a lot: they’re not very good.

A string of losses can be tough for fans, obviously, but this is a unique situation with so many talented college players possibly entering the draft this summer. The Magic had the NBA’s worst record last year, and in turn they got Victor Oladipo in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Oladipo is one of five reasons Magic fans should still be happy right now.

21-year-old Victor Oladipo
‘Dipo is better than Alex Len, who’s only claim to fame is antagonizing the normally light-hearted Swaggy P. The guard out of Indiana is better than Otto Porter and Anthony Bennett (on that latter point, the poor Canadian is on pace to become the worst No. 1 pick in history).

‘Dipo is faster than a hiccup, as Jameer Nelson recently noted, and when seeing him in person, you’re struck by how much bigger and athletic he is when compared to watching him on TV, like a boulder of energy rather than simply a ball. He makes you gasp sometimes, with athleticism that’s like gunpowder waiting for a spark.

So cheer up, the Magic have basically won the 2013 NBA Draft — with their only competition coming from Philly’s Sam Hinkie, a benevolent Bond villain, with an exciting, lengthy point guard in Michael Carter-Williams. But if MCW is the best rookie this season, ‘Dipo is 1B in that discussion. Feel free to add Trey Burke to the mix if you’d like.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 22

Grades: Brooklyn Nets 101, Orlando Magic 90

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Photo by Reid Kelley/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Brooklyn Nets 101 Final
Recap | Box Score
90 Orlando Magic

Arron Afflalo
4-9 FG | 2-4 FT | 1 STL | 2 REB | 11 PTS | -21

With the way Joe Johnson had been playing lately, you knew it was going to be a tough matchup for Afflalo but he managed to keep Joe Jesus in check. However, Afflalo couldn’t get anything going offensively himself, as Johnson’s length served as a deterrent. It was as if Afflalo was trying to score over Brazil’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue.

Kyle O’Quinn
6-10 FG | 3-6 FT | 2 BLK | 8 REB | 15 PTS | +3

The more O’Quinn plays, the more mind-boggling it gets that Jason Maxiell has logged more minutes than him this season. O’Quinn has made it clear that he deserves to be the backup center for the Magic. His back-to-back blocks on Shaun Livingston and Paul Pierce late in the first quarter shows the kind of defensive impact he can make when he gets playing time.

E’Twaun Moore
5-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | +3

Moore had his best game of the season, but that’s not saying much. First, he’s a bad player so the benchmark for him is low. Second, 10 of his 13 points came in the fourth quarter during garbage time when the game was already decided. It’s on Moore to play like this when the games matter, which he struggles to do.

Victor Oladipo
3-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 10 PTS | -24

No 360 dunk for Oladipo against the Nets this time around. The most dramatic thing that Oladipo did against Brooklyn came in the game’s opening minutes when he made a 3-pointer by getting a friendly roll on the rim. Given Orlando’s inability to score at times, it would have behooved Oladipo to attack the basket and get to the free throw line more but that didn’t happen.

Brooklyn Nets

After a close first half, Brooklyn’s defense manhandled the Magic in the third quarter. Orlando shot 3-for-21 from the floor (14.3 percent) and the Nets were able to increase a 4-point halftime lead to 19 in the period before coasting the rest of the way. With the win, Brooklyn is 8-1 in 2014 and steadily moving up the standings in the Eastern Conference.

Jan 21

Preview: Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets
  • Date: January 21, 2014
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Barclays Center

Records

  • Magic: 11-30
  • Nets: 17-22

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Victor Oladipo
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Tobias Harris
  • Glen Davis

Nets:

  • Shawn Livingston
  • Alan Anderson
  • Joe Johnson
  • Paul Pierce
  • Kevin Garnett

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 94.1 (16th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 100.3 (26th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.7 (18th of 30)

Nets:

  • Pace: 91.3 (26th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 105.1 (18th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 108.5 (26th of 30)

Read about the Nets

Brooklyn’s Finest

Jan 21

Magic to honor Bo Outlaw on January 24

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Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic

Via Orlando Magic press release:

In continuation of the Orlando Magic’s 25th anniversary season-long celebration the team will honor former Magic forward and current community ambassador Bo Outlaw at the Magic’s January 24 matchup vs. the Los Angeles Lakers, tip-off set for 7 p.m. The night will feature a center court presentation at the end of the first quarter. Outlaw will join FOX Sports Florida’s broadcasts including Magic Live pregame show with hosts Paul Kennedy and Nick Anderson and join broadcasters David Steele and Jeff Turner for a portion of the game broadcast. He will also be featured on Magic Drive Time radio show with host Dante Marchitelli on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 5:30 p.m. on 740 The Game. In addition, the first 2,500 fans will receive a collectible 8×10 photo featuring Outlaw and Ronnie Price. Outlaw will be available to the media at 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24 in the Amway Center interview room.

“Legends Nights” is an on-going program which will honor former players throughout the Magic’s Silver Season. Past honorees include Tracy McGrady, Nick Anderson, Pat Williams, Jimmy Hewitt, Dennis Scott, Pat Garrity and Horace Grant. In addition to the Magic’s “Legends Nights,” the 2013-14 season will feature the Silver Ticket Sweepstakes and Scratch Off Promotion, special appearances, game entertainment and other events throughout the season.

A 14-year NBA veteran, Outlaw played in 914 career NBA regular season games with the L.A. Clippers, Orlando, Memphis and Phoenix. He spent six-plus seasons (360 games-222 starts) with the Magic from 1997-2001 and 2005-07. He ranks on the Magic’s all-time career lists in blocked shots (third, 536), rebounds (fifth, 2,160), steals (seventh, 401) and games played (ninth, 360). While with the Magic, he averaged 6.3 ppg., 6.0 rpg., 2.2 apg., 1.1 spg. and 1.5 bpg. in 26.8 mpg. Outlaw was also recognized for his outstanding work in the Central Florida community winning the Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award three times (1998-99, 2005-06, 2006-07). He is one of only two players in team history to accomplish that feat.

Jan 20

Monday’s Magic Word

  • ESPN ran a mock draft lottery with the Orlando Magic selecting Marcus Smart with the No. 4 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. However, the experts are divided over whether or not Smart is best suited to play alongside Victor Oladipo.
  • The Magic snapped a 10-game losing streak with their win over the Boston Celtics on Sunday.
  • Orlando is on pace not to appear on national television this season.
  • With the Magic officially at the halfway point of the regular season, Orlando Pinstriped Post takes an in-depth look at where the team currently stands.
  • Chad Ford of ESPN Insider: “While Victor Oladipo continues to have his moments (like a 35-point performance against the Bulls on Wednesday) and Nikola Vucevic has been good when he’s been healthy, the Magic don’t have a lot of building blocks after that. Expect them to be very active at the trade deadline trying to package away their remaining veterans with some of their younger players who haven’t really worked out.”
  • Oladipo’s 35-point barrage against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday was the most points scored by a rookie this season.
  • With the trade deadline steadily approaching, it’ll be interesting to see what type of offers, if any, the Magic will get for veterans like Glen Davis.
  • Zach Harper of CBSSports.com with a midseason report on Orlando: “They’re 11-30, which puts them with the second-worst record in the NBA. That’s bad. But it’s not all bad. The Magic are clearly in the process of a rebuild and nothing would be as welcome as Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker added to a core of Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic. It would be nice to see this young roster start to take gradual steps forward and win a few games more consistently, but right now for the Magic, losing is still winning.”
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