- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Cameras flashed throughout the game as the sell-out crowd sensed the historic closing after the postseason. The club will begin play in October in the new Amway Center. Jameer Nelson led the Magic with 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting against the 76ers and Vince Carter added 17, going 4-of-5 from 3-point territory. Dwight Howard scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and Matt Barnes had 12 points as Orlando shot a sizzling 59.8 percent. Orlando broke an NBA single-season record for most 3-pointers made, with 841, passing the 837 by the 2005-06 Phoenix Suns. “Sometimes, all anybody cares about is the playoffs and we know what that’s all about,” [Stan] Van Gundy said. “But what these guys have done for six-and-a- half months it has been a very professional group of people.” Magic players, to a man, say they are ready to make a run at a title.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Just for old time sake Wednesday night, fans inside the sold-out Amway Arena broke out the wave one last time for a regular-season game. And fittingly enough, the Orlando Magic followed suit with a style that has worked wonders for them all season long. Three-pointers from practically every corner of the 21-year-old Amway Arena put the Magic in the NBA record books, and heavy doses of Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson on the outside and Dwight Howard on the inside helped Orlando throttle Philadelphia 125-111 and win for the 59th time this season.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Yes, the regular season wound to a close tonight with the successes listed above. But I don’t think coach Stan Van Gundy can be happy with the way his team closed the season on the defensive end of the floor. We like to have fun with Van Gundy when he burns timeouts in seemingly silly situations, but when Marreese Speights cut right down the center of the lane and threw down a nasty, one-handed slam early in the fourth period to cut Orlando’s lead to 23 points, Van Gundy was 100% right to call timeout immediately to try to wake his team up defensively. In the 82nd game, defensive breakdowns like that just shouldn’t happen. And that is, to me, the Magic’s biggest concern heading into the playoffs. While the team’s playing great ball for the most part, the defensive slippage here is too great to ignore. Since beating the Mavericks in Dallas two weeks ago, the Magic have allowed opponents to score 110.3 points per 100 possessions, which is much higher than league average, and much much higher than Orlando’s usual standard.”
- Kate Fagan of The Philadelphia Inquirer: “On Wednesday night, almost six months after being tossed around by Orlando in the season opener, the Sixers bowed out of the 2009-10 season with a 125-111 loss to the Magic. In the season opener Oct. 28, Orlando won, 120-106. The Sixers finished the season 27-55; Orlando finished 59-23 and headed for the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Magic, who looked as if they were playing an exhibition game, a tune-up for the playoffs, led by as many as 28 points and ran their plays with clever smiles as if they knew the Sixers would trail a double screen or collapse to the middle on penetration. All over the court, guys in white jerseys were open.”
- Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: “The snowball started to roll on that squelching day in late October in Orlando. It mercifully ended last night in the last game to be played at Amway after 21 seasons, as a new, state-of-the-art arena will be ready next season. The Magic closed out the last regular season at the old arena in style. The Sixers again allowed the Magic to basically conduct a shooting practice – for the fourth time this season – as Orlando shot 59.8 percent from the floor (49-for-82). They also made 11 of 25 from three-point range, finishing their four wins against the Sixers shooting 58-for-108 (53.7 percent) from beyond the arc. That has been a problem all year for the team, an inability to correct shortcomings. [Eddie] Jordan often perplexed his players with his substitution patterns, and that led to confusion, frustration and, well, bad basketball.”
Via the Orlando Magic:
The National Basketball Association has announced the schedule for the Orlando Magic’s first round, best-of-seven playoff series vs. the Charlotte Bobcats:
- Game 1 – Sunday, April 18, 5:30 p.m., TNT (Orlando)
- Game 2 – Wednesday, April 21, 7:00 p.m., TNT (Orlando)
- Game 3 – Saturday, April 24, 2:00 p.m., TNT (Charlotte)
- Game 4 – Monday, April 26, Time/TV TBD (Charlotte)
- Game 5 – Wednesday, April 28, Time/TV TBD (Orlando), If necessary
- Game 6 – Friday, April 30, Time/TV TBD (Charlotte), If necessary
- Game 7 – Sunday, May 2, Time/TV TBD (Orlando), If necessary
*All Times Eastern
*Sun Sports/FSN Coverage To Be Announced
*All games on Magic Radio Network (Flagship: AM 580 WDBO) and in Spanish (AM 1030 WONQ).
AP Photo/John Raoux
After 21 years, it’s ironic — props to Matt Guokas and David Steele for pointing this out in their television broadcast — that the Orlando Magic played the Philadelphia 76ers in the final regular season home game at Amway Arena. Why? Because the “godfather” of the Magic, Pat Williams, had ties with the 76ers way back when as their former general manager. And Guokas, Orlando’s first head coach in 1989, also had Philadelphia connections as a player and a coach. So, it’s fitting on a night where fans reminisced on the good times at the O-Rena that the Magic defeated the Sixers by the score of 125-111 to officially clinch the overall No. 2 seed and secure themselves home-court advantage against any team they would potentially face in the NBA Finals from the Western Conference, if they got that far. Orlando’s starting backcourt was outstanding, as Vince Carter had 17 points and six assists while Jameer Nelson had 21 points and four assists. Dwight Howard chipped in with 15 points and 12 rebounds but more importantly, secured his name in the record books by becoming the first player in NBA history to lead the league in blocks and rebounds for a second consecutive year. Plus, Orlando broke the record set by the 2005-2006 “Seven Seconds or Less” Phoenix Suns for the most threes made (841) in a season. Two impressive accomplishments, without a doubt.
With the win, the Magic finish the regular season with an identical 59-23 record as last year.
Via the Orlando Magic:
Matt Barnes was named the Aleve-Publix ‘Hustle Player of the Year’ at halftime of the Orlando Magic’s regular season finale Wednesday evening against the Philadelphia 76ers. At the conclusion of every Magic home game this year, Aleve and Publix presented the Hustle Board, which provided stats derived from heart, hustle and passion shown during that particular game. Due to his constant commitment to playing every game with more excitement than the last, Barnes was selected as the recipient of the 2009-10 Aleve-Publix ‘Hustle Player of the Year’ honor.
Barnes accepted the award from Larry Bond with Bayer Healthcare, who represented Aleve, and Dwaine Stevens with Publix Super Markets. In honor of Barnes’ accomplishments, Aleve is donating $5,000 to the Matt Barnes Foundation. The Matt Barnes Foundation was created to raise funds for research to help defeat cancer and ensure that families may one day live in a world that is cancer free.
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “You could sense Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was going to say something typically and hilariously Stan when asked about his thoughts on Amway Arena’s impending demolition. Was he sad? Was he reliving his three years calling the building home? Not quite. “It’s a building,” Van Gundy said. “It doesn’t have feelings, it’s a building.” He later added, “Sorry guys, I’m not going to shed a tear when a building comes down. Unless it’s my house.” There wasn’t much nostalgia about the Orlando Magic’s final regular season game at Amway Arena among players, either. That will be tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers.”
- This is, arguably, the greatest thing invented. Ever. You have the opportunity to give head coach Stan Van Gundy a makeover. Life is now complete.
- Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference reveals his 2009-2010 APBRmetrics awards. Unfortunately for Rashard Lewis, he ends up with the dubious distinction of winning an award for finishing with the lowest total rebound percentage out of any player in the NBA that is 6’10” or taller.
- Help Dwight Howard‘s cause by making a donation to his fund to help the kids of Haiti affected by the earthquake that struck the island in January.
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus: “My colleague Bradford Doolittle did find the importance of balance in a recent study, however, and it’s these kind of subtle effects I annually hope to tease out by comparing playoff teams to their most similar predecessors. My method compares the 16 playoff squads to the most similar playoff teams of the last 14 years (from the 1996 through 2009 postseasons) based on their Offensive and Defensive Ratings and pace of play (half weighted), all adjusted for league average. Each of the past teams has had their playoff performance rated, getting a point for each playoff win, losing a point for each loss and getting four points for making the playoffs (three prior to 2003, when the first round was extended to seven games) and four points for winning a series. [...] Statistically, Orlando has emerged as the league’s best team, ranking second in Defensive Rating and atop the NBA on the offensive end. That kind of balance should translate very well in the postseason, and while the Magic’s comparables are not overwhelming, they are very solid. The 2000 L.A. Lakers were the lone similar team to break through and win a championship.”
- J.J. Redick, an unsung player? Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post explains: “How can he be unsung? I’m not sure many people realize just how much he’s improved this year. He’s assisted on just 62.9% of his field goals, including a remarkably low 50.9% at the rim, which means he’s learned to create for himself off the dribble, something many NBA observers doubted he’d be able to do at this level, given his lack of size (6’04”) as an NBA two-guard. Additionally, he’s second on the Magic in foul-drawing rate; only Dwight Howard, whom many teams foul strategically, earns more trips to the foul line relative to his shot attempts. In short, Redick’s much more than a spot-up shooter or three-point specialist. He’s refined his game and is playing a key role, backing up a potential Hall-of-Famer in Vince Carter, on a championship-caliber team. And if you didn’t know that by now, well, now you do.”
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel states the Lakers have directly motivated the Magic as the playoffs loom.
Via the Orlando Magic:
Dwight Howard, 2009 NBA Defensive Player of the Year and 4-time winner of the Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award, is proud to launch his Dwight Howard Fund with the mission to help at-risk youths around the world.
The “Dwight Howard Fund” (DHF) was kicked off by the NBA player at his teammate, Adonal Foyle’s, Gala Dinner & Caribbean Fête for the Kerosene Lamp Foundation (KLF) in Orlando, Florida. Howard has tapped KLF to manage the fund on his behalf. Foyle, a recent inductee into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame, founded KLF to empower youth to grow into healthy and well-educated adults.
“Adonal has been giving back for many years, so it felt great to partner with him on my new fund and benefit from his experience,” said Howard. “I’m excited to make a difference for kids in Haiti, and I’ll be counting on my fans to help me make some great things happen.”
Howard has made an initial personal investment of $100,000 to directly help at-risk Haitian children affected most by January’s devastating earthquake in Haiti.
AP Photo/Brian Cleary
Although Amway Arena, also referred to as the “O-Rena” by the locals, won’t be officially closing its doors tonight, it will be hosting the last ever regular season game for the Orlando Magic. That’s 21 years and 844 regular season games, for those keeping count.
Amway Arena, one of the NBA’s most intimate and noisiest venues, has been host to many of the grandest moments in the 21-year history of the Magic history. From the first preseason victory in 1989 against the defending World Champion Detroit Pistons to the Game 7 defeat of Indiana in 1995 that put the Magic into the Finals for the first time to the conquest of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East Finals last spring, Amway Arena has seen its share of magical moments. [...]
Of course, Amway Arena’s most memorable moment of all was Nick Anderson’s steal of Michael Jordan in the second round of the playoffs in 1995, a play that resulted in a game-winning dunk by Horace Grant. Rarely does a game go by that Anderson isn’t reminded of the play that defined his storied career with the Magic.
“The fans remind me about it more so than me reminding myself,” said Anderson, Orlando’s first-ever draft pick. “I get people all the time saying I was there that night that Nick Anderson stole the ball from Michael Jordan. The fans remind me, and it’s a good feeling that the fans remember and respect some of the things that I did out on the floor back in the day.”
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
For Billy Donovan and Stan Van Gundy, it’s a tale of two stories for two head coaches that are in two different positions right now. While the Florida Gators are currently undergoing a rebuilding phase after winning back-to-back NCAA men’s basketball national championships in 2006 and 2007, the Orlando Magic are enjoying an era of prosperity not seen since the mid-’90s when Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal were household names. It’s no secret that Donovan and Van Gundy will forever be linked in Orlando lore after the drama that unfolded in the summer of 2007. Long story short, Donovan accepted then declined the Magic’s offer to become head coach after Brian Hill was fired and as a result, Van Gundy ended up with the job. The question is, how did we get here? How did Orlando become a powerhouse in the NBA?
Look no further than the man that “replaced” Donovan.
There’s no doubt that other people should be credited with returning the Magic to prominence, including the DeVos family (for paying the luxury tax), general manager Otis Smith, and others. But at the end of the day, Van Gundy is at the epicenter of this era. Van Gundy is defining the narrative that is unfolding in Orlando and it’s an interesting one, to say the least.
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus: “I’m not even going to bother discussing the decision at the top of the ballot. LeBron James deserves to be a unanimous selection, and that’s that. By sitting out the last three games, James did cost himself any chance at surpassing last year’s total of 26.9 WARP, which was fifth in modern NBA history. James currently is sitting on 25.4 WARP this season. The more interesting race is for second place. I think you could justify placing Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade in any order. I went with Howard, my Defensive Player of the Year, in second because of his importance to the league’s best defense and its second-best offense. Wade has used possessions at the league’s highest rate (35.1 percent), and while his efficiency is down from a year ago, it’s still incredible given how much he does. Durant, meanwhile, has become the league’s best scorer and made dramatic strides at the defensive end as well.”
- Mickael Pietrus is goofy.
- Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm notes that the Charlotte Bobcats have their work cut out of them against the Orlando Magic in the first round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs: “But for right now, put this one in the back of your head. Because even if they can’t do it. Even if Jackson’s tendencies and the poor passing of the bigs and the length of the Magic derail their intentions, the Bobcats get it, just like Bonnell’s headline suggests. They know what it’s going to take. You want to beat the Magic? Are you the most talented team in the league? No? Then you’re going to have to punch them in the mouth. And you’re going to have to do it every quarter for as many games as it goes and pray that a few three pointers rattle out. The only shot the Bobcats have is to take this out of the spread-it-out, make-it-rain game that Orlando adores and into a painful, brutal grind, something subterranean of the type of game the Celtics aspire to. They need to get so deep beneath the surface into the muck and grime that the sulfer singes their nostrils.”
- Howard Beck and Jonathan Abrams of Off the Dribble state their cases as to who should be the Defensive Player of the Year and the choice isn’t unanimous between the two of them.
- Kyle Stack of SLAM ONLINE talks about how more and more NBA arenas are becoming LEED-certified, including the Magic’s new arena: “Henson made similar remarks, citing social responsibility as a primary factor to the importance of becoming a LEED building. [...] More teams apparently feel that way, as indicated by the possibility of more LEED arenas in the NBA’s future. The Orlando Magic, who are set to open Amway Center in October, plan on becoming LEED-certified by incorporating features which include remediating a brownfield site that lies adjacent to many high density residential, retail and community developments; installing landscaped plazas at arena entrances; treating storm water runoff; and implementing low-flow plumbing features.”
- The votes are in at ESPN.com and Dwight Howard was named the Defensive Player of the Year by every single writer except for one. Can you guess who didn’t choose Howard?