- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Orlando Magic shooting guard Vince Carter tweaked his tender right big toe during Tuesday afternoon’s practice. But Carter told me a few minutes ago that the injury is not serious and said that he’ll be able to play Wednesday against the Washington Wizards. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy originally told reporters that Carter had “tweaked” an ankle during the practice and sat out the end of the workout. But Carter clarified that he had tweaked his toe and not his ankle. Carter said he aggravated the toe when Ryan Anderson stepped on on his foot during practice.”
- Orlando Magic television color analyst Matt Guokas has set the internet ablaze after stating on a recent telecast that Dwight Howard is a better defender than Bill Russell. Here’s what Guokas told me via e-mail (note: I cleaned up the message): “Dwight’s pick and roll defense is the best I’ve seen. Back in the 50′s and 60′s there wasn’t the discipline in running offenses, nor was there spacing involved because of the three-point line. Help and recover is more of a factor now. Bill was a deceptively strong individual defender against Wilt, even though Wilt put up big numbers. And Russell guarded the paint extremely well and kept his approximate eight blocks a game in play for the most part.”
- Sometimes it feels like the “Heart and Hustle” era is overlooked in Magic history. No problem. Orlando Pinstriped Post has you covered by unveiling a tee “celebrating the fan-favorite 1999/2000 ‘Heart and Hustle’ Orlando Magic squad that won 41 games despite having a roster full of castoffs, rookies, and journeymen as the front-office prepared to clear salary for the 2000 Free Agency period.”
- The NBA has gone green this week and Orlando is at the forefront of the movement, as Kyle Stack of SLAM ONLINE describes: “Orlando is constructing Amway Center, which they hope will become LEED certified. It will be designed to use 20 percent less energy and 40 percent less water than arenas of a similar size. They will run a compact florescent lightbulb giveaway Apr. 7 for the arena’s first 500 fans. The fans will receive a voucher upon entry and can exchange it for a lightbulb outside the arena starting in the third quarter.”
- Dwight Howard explains his pre-game routine.
- John Hollinger of ESPN Insider lists Howard on his All-Defensive First Team and tabs him as the Defensive Player of the Year: “I was down on Howard earlier this season, as I didn’t think he was moving particularly well in the first half of the season. All that’s changed since about Christmas, however, and Howard is back to his dominating ways. So are the Magic, who rank a close second to Charlotte in defensive efficiency despite a roster laden mostly with offensive players. The reason, of course, is Howard, who patrols the middle with his breathtaking shot-blocking ability, dominates the defensive glass, helps his guards on the perimeter and nullifies opposing breaks with his speed back down the court. It would be nice if he’d block a few more shots to his teammates rather than going for volleyball spikes into the 10th row, but as long as we’re comparing him to current players rather than Bill Russell, Howard is easily the cream of the crop.”
- Brian Windhorst of The Plain Dealer states why the Magic are as dangerous as ever, specifically against the Cleveland Cavaliers: “Orlando went through a miserable period just after Jan. 1 where they lost seven of nine games as their defense lagged, Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson struggled and Dwight Howard wasn’t impacting games. As is his style, coach Stan Van Gundy had a series of meltdowns and issued a series of venomous challenges to his team. Basically, they listened. Since mid-January, the Magic have gotten back to the active defense that was just as much of a bedrock as their 3-point shooting in the run to the Finals last year.”
Via the Orlando Magic:
The Orlando Magic announces their participation in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Green Week 2010 which tipped-off on April 1 and will run through April 9. The NBA will partner with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on its efforts.
To recognize NBA Green Week 2010, the Orlando Magic will be hosting a “Green Night” on Wednesday, April 7 during the Magic vs. Washington matchup. Orlando’s “Green Night” activities on April 7 to include:
- A voucher/pledge card distribution to the first 500 fans for two compact fluorescent light bulbs redeemable outside Amway Arena’s north side starting in the third quarter of the April 7 contest.
- “Green Tips” displayed on the jumbotron throughout game.
- Players to wear adidas shooting shirts featuring a green logo (done during all games throughout Green Week).
- Recycling awareness videos featuring STUFF the Magic mascot on the jumbtron.
- Waste Management’s (WM) 2010 Think Green Art Contest Winner, fifth-grader Anna Lam from Azalea Park Elementary, to be recognized pregame on-court with Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw, STUFF and a WM representative. Her artwork illustrates the 3 R’s…reduce, reuse and recycle.
- The WM truck outside at Fan Fest displaying Anna Lam’s artwork.
- Continuing with the team’s “green sweep” in partnership with Waste Management to educate fans and encourage them to recycle in games.
The Orlando Magic continues a company-wide green initiative, which is punctuated by having the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certified designed and constructed professional basketball arena. Other on-going Orlando Magic green activities include: an in-game recycling program with Waste Management and an Orlando Magic front office recycling program; a continued partnership with “Rock and Wrap it Up” to take leftover food after Magic games and deliver to shelters and food banks; an environmentally-friendly digital version of the team magazine, Magic Magazine produced monthly.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images
Via the Orlando Magic:
Orlando’s “magic number” to clinch the Southeast Division title is 1 … which means an Orlando win OR an Atlanta loss will give the Magic their third straight division title. It will also secure the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference during the upcoming 2010 NBA Playoffs.
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “After a string of very public arguments with, among others, coach Stan Van Gundy over playing time and a random fan in San Antonio, it seemed only a matter of time before Matt Barnes’ temper impacted a game. Van Gundy said he hoped Barnes would take his ejection from Sunday’s game as a “wake up call.” Barnes was contrite and apologized to his teammates. “Apology accepted,” Vince Carter said, smiling. The truth is, his teammates don’t want him to change.”
- Henry Abbott of TrueHoop: “[...] there’s sure to be more excitement in the season’s final week-and-a-half. The conference’s top three teams, after all the tie-breakers, are the Lakers, Mavericks and Nuggets, and they’re doing their best to keep things interesting. Over their last 10 games, they have combined to create a tepid 16-14 record. (And even the Lakers, who are a cinch for first in the West with 22 losses, are still fighting for homecourt advantage in the Finals against Orlando, which has 23 losses. Every team is still trying.)
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post comments on the relationship between the Orlando Magic and the referees: “Orlando’s playing well, but has been chirping about foul calls a lot more lately. Though the Magic responded after Barnes’ ejection yesterday, there’s also the chance that they could let their anger get the best of them in another pressure-packed situation, which could indeed hurt them in the playoffs, especially on the road. That might explain why Van Gundy is a bit concerned, particularly with Barnes. Then again, maybe playing so emotionally is a good thing, as it prevents the team from coasting, which in turn could explain why Barnes’ teammates don’t want him to change.”
- Dwight Howard looks back at the Magic’s ‘steel cage match’ with the Memphis Grizzlies in last night’s game: “That Barnes-Thabeet cage match went pretty well for us. Matt got kicked out of the cage and sent to the locker room, but at the end of the night we won the Royal Rumble. The Big Show (me) didn’t get a T. Ric Flair (Vince Carter) got a T. And Hulk Hogan (Matt) got kicked out of the steel cage match. Matt apologized to us after the game, but we all understood where he was coming from because we don’t take too much of anything personally on this team. We actually enjoyed that little pushing match and it fired us up.”
Via the Orlando Magic:
Single game tickets for the first round of the 2010 Orlando Magic playoffs, presented by Bright House Networks, will go on sale to the general public Saturday, April 10 at 10 a.m. Orlando’s playoff schedule will be announced following the conclusion of the regular season.
Tickets are available for purchase:
- Online at www.orlandomagic.com
- At the Amway Arena box office (cash, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
- At the Orlando Magic ticket office (Monday – Friday and on Saturday, April 10; cash, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
- At all TicketMaster outlets (cash only)
- By calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
Playoff tickets start at $12.
Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images
Matched up with a good opponent on a back-to-back, the Orlando Magic lost to the San Antonio Spurs by the score of 112-100. The Magic played with the requisite effort and energy required to win but a dominant performance by Manu Ginobili, with 43 points, six rebounds, and five assists, allowed the Spurs to come away with the victory. As expected, Tim Duncan returned to form for San Antonio with 23 points in 24 minutes after being held to his worst shooting percentage game of his career the last time these two teams met. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, with six players scoring in double-figures. Rashard Lewis and Mickael Pietrus each had 18 points and shot with great efficiency.
- Dime Magazine: “The Orlando domination started with Dwight Howard’s Kraken act in the paint. The Centaur cruised his way to a light 17 points, 20 boards and five blocks (including one where he just snatched a J.J. Barea shot out of the air), showing some nice moves and carrying himself with a little bit of an edge. For example, in the final minute of the first half, Dwight almost decapitated Jason Terry on a ball screen. About 30 game seconds later, as the final seconds of the half were ticking down, Terry tried to launch a shot from just inside half court. Dwight rudely swatted it away and stomped off to his halftime interview.”
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel thinks it would be a mistake for general manager Otis Smith to pursue Tracy McGrady in free agency during the off-season.
- Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated lists Matt Barnes ($1.6 million) as a member of the All-Judicious Team, which recognizes players that have helped their teams at a bargain price.
- Add Holly MacKenzie of SLAM ONLINE to the list of people that were impressed by one of Howard’s blocks last night against the Mavericks: “The Dwight ‘block’ of J.J. Barea was phenomenal. He just grabbed the ball in the air, as though it was a pass attempt from Barea to him and then went the other way.”
- When ESPN writers were asked: “Other than the Lakers and Cavaliers, what two other teams do you see as most capable of reaching the NBA Finals and why?” … the Magic were a unanimous choice.
Dwight Howard is well on his way to winning the Defensive Player of the Year Award for a second consecutive season and there’s no doubt that he is, arguably, the best defender in the NBA. But more people are starting to take notice of Howard’s improvements on offense and last night against the Dallas Mavericks, he put his new-and-improved post moves on display once again.
As for Mickael Pietrus, it sure didn’t take him too long to get back into rhythm after missing two games with a left ankle injury.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “If you doubted their confidence as a contender, consider this: The Orlando Magic have at least thought about the idea of passing the L.A. Lakers in the standings in order to grab home-court advantage …should they face the defending champs again for the NBA title. That would also mean that the Magic already have thought about beating rivals Cleveland, Boston and Atlanta to get there. “We have mentioned it,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said, when asked if his team has kept track of the Lakers, who are 54-21.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “After his Magic resoundingly smashed the surging Dallas Mavericks to the tune of 97-82, [Jameer] Nelson reminded everyone surrounding his locker after the game that Orlando is still very much a championship contender and center Dwight Howard absolutely, positively should be in the MVP race. [...] ‘We know how good of a basketball team that we are. I’m not being cocky, but we know we can beat any team in this league when we play our style of basketball,’ Nelson said. [...] ‘I know I’m biased because he’s on my team and I might be criticized for it, but I really think Dwight should be the MVP, too,’ Nelson said of Howard, who had 17 points, 20 rebounds and five blocked shots. ‘The things he does go so far beyond just Defensive Player of the Year. He controls the paint, rebounds, blocks shots and scores. All of the rest of those MVP (candidates), they just score the basketball and don’t rebound and defend like Dwight does.’ ”
- Randy Galloway of the Star-Telegram: “On the offensive end, the Mavs seemed intimidated, particularly by Dwight Howard super-manning in the middle, plus, as advertised, it was a Magic rain storm of 3′s (a whopping 14-of-24). A question for Rick Carlisle. Coach, was that great D by them, or was that bad offensive execution by you? ‘Probably both,’ he said. ‘That is a good defensive team. They are going to make it hard. We had Dirk [Nowitzki] going for a while, but once they locked in on him, things changed.’ Of course, Carlisle made his most telling comment in leading off his postgame media session: ‘The thing that killed us was the 3s. We made a real effort to run them off the line. But they hit those shots they were missing last time [in February, when the Mavs won by 10 in Orlando].’ ”
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: ” It’s a bad sign in the NBA when the other team has twice as many 3-pointers as the number of assists you have. It was one of many bad signs for the Mavericks on Thursday night. They had problems at both ends of the floor, as playoff basketball arrived early and they weren’t quite ready for it. The Orlando Magic took charge in the third quarter and clocked the Mavericks, 97-82, at American Airlines Center. [...] While the Mavericks looked tired at times, it’s hard to pinpoint the back-to-back as the problem. They were 11-7 on the second night of back-to-backs before Thursday.
- Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas.com: “The Mavericks are in a fight for the No. 2 seed in the West, but they’re hardly taking care of their home in the process. Clearly leg-weary from Wednesday’s night’s overtime struggle at Memphis, the Mavs were blown out by the well-rested Orlando Magic, 97-82. Still, with so much on the line, the Mavs were disappointingly sluggish on their home floor and fell to 3-3 at home since reeling off eight in a row during their 13-game win streak. They’ve had the awful blowout against the Knicks, a late collapse against the Celtics and now this double-digit loss that wasn’t close since Orlando extended its seven-point halftime lead to 10 and then as many as 18 in the third quarter.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “If nothing else, this game is a lesson in the law of averages. The first time these teams played, the Magic missed 21 of their 25 three-pointers and got just 6 points on 3-of-19 shooting from their bench. The odds that Dallas would limit the league’s fifth-best three-point-shooting team like that twice in one season were slim, and it showed. Within the first 2:07 of the second quarter, [Mickael] Pietrus hit a pair of triples to match the reserves’ output from the last game. But he didn’t stop there, scoring 9 more points the rest of the quarter with some aggressive, mostly in-control drives to the basket. Perhaps playing against his good friend Rodrigue Beaubois at the NBA level for the first time inspired him. Perhaps playing in the American Airlines Center, which he’s lit up before, worked to his advantage. Perhaps the week off and new pair of sneakers helped. The reason isn’t as important as the result, in this case. The Magic needed offense early, and Pietrus provided it.”
- Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game: “It was just a matter of time before Orlando’s defense came around. Dwight Howard (18 points, 20 rebounds, five blocks) is one of the league’s most influential defensive forces, and every block (and even goaltend) made the Mavs more and more nervous around the basket. Shawn Marion and Brendan Haywood passed up looks at the rim due to Howard’s very presence, and many more Mavs faked themselves out of a rhythm as they approached the basket. There are certain award races this season that have discussions or arguments involved. Defensive Player of the Year is not one of them. No player in the league has a more profound impact on the defensive end, and that’s just as obvious in what he does do (block shots, get mad rebounds, show aggressively on screens) as what he doesn’t (deter opponents from coming in the lane, alter shot selection).”