- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “After a long film session and before practice began on Tuesday at the Orlando Sports Complex, Bobcats coach Larry Brown gathered his team in a huddle. “Yesterday, Orlando took the day off,” Brown said. “That’s how seriously they’re taking us.” As the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, Charlotte Bobcats know their places as underdogs against the Orlando Magic. The Bobcats trail the best of seven series 0-1 heading into Wednesday’s game. Heading into Game 2, Charlotte has overcome its pre-playoff nerves and isn’t giving the Magic, or its players, any kind of star treatment.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “It shouldn’t surprise anyone that [Stan] Van Gundy has a long list of areas he wants his players to improve on for Game 2 tonight. He wants the Magic to do a better job moving the ball out of its pick-and-roll game. He wants his team to be prepared for the Bobcats to trap more often. Oh, yeah, he also wants to get [Dwight] Howard and [Vince] Carter more involved in the offense. “We certainly need to get the ball to Dwight more, play more effectively out of his double-teams and we need to be able to get the ball to Vince in better spots,” Van Gundy said. “And we need Vince to have a better night, there’s no question about that.” Carter, who made four of 19 shots in Game 1, exuded calmness after Tuesday’s practice, just like he did during his horrid January shooting slump.”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Howard recalled that it was after the 2007-08 season when he sat down with [Patrick] Ewing, a Hall of Famer, to evaluate his play. Ewing told him, given his freakish athletic ability, that there was no reason he shouldn’t lead in blocks. “He said he was upset that I didn’t have the award and that I needed to do a better job to get that award,” Howard said. Van Gundy said weeks ago that Howard should have been a shoe-on for the award. “He really doesn’t have a weakness,” he said. Van Gundy said that Howard’s prowess in blocking shots and rebounding is obvious. But he’s just as impressed with some things that often go unnoticed, such as Howard’s innate ability to read defenses, play pick-and-rolls and cover for teammates.”
- Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer: “Tuesday, Howard was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in a landslide media vote. (Wallace was third, behind Atlanta’s Josh Smith). Howard led the league this season in rebounds, blocks and field-goal percentage. But perhaps the Bobcats were too conscious of Howard in their approach to Game 1. The Bobcats held Howard to five points, more than 13 below his season average. But in doing so, they sold out their perimeter defense, giving up 39 points at the 3-point line. The coaches instructed the centers to hang back with Howard, rather than jump out at the guards as they normally would in pick-and-rolls. That allowed Orlando’s Jameer Nelson to score 32 points.”
- Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer: “Carter had a horrible Game 1 in this series – shooting 4-for-19 and fouling out. Those sorts of numbers would have meant a sure loss for the Toronto and New Jersey teams Carter starred on for his first 11 NBA seasons, but Orlando is so deep that the Magic won anyway. Indeed, Carter struggled for much of the first half of the regular season because he couldn’t figure out where he fit on this loaded Magic team. “He’s always played where he was ‘ the guy,'” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said of Carter. “And with us, he knew there were other people around. It seemed like early in the year he was caught between forcing the issue too much – still trying to be ‘ the guy’ – or saying, ‘Wow, I’m not the guy’ and then becoming passive.” Carter found his place starting in February, Van Gundy said. He averages 16.6 points per game – second to Dwight Howard but a career low for Carter – and developed a good balance between passing and shooting. Carter, 33, regressed against the Bobcats in the series’ first game, however.”
Do you want to donate $3 to a good cause and raise money for the Dwight Howard Fund to support the children of Haiti to have a chance to win a $500 shopping spree to adidas with Dwight Howard himself?
Here’s your chance to do so.
Dwight is urging fans to donate $3 to his fundraising challenge. Dwight has contributed $100,000 himself, helping the children affected by the earthquake in Haiti and now he is calling on you, the fans, to help him raise more money. The plan is to get a lot of people to give a little.
Here are the instructions:
- There are 2 winners — a randomly chosen donor and the person who recruits the most people to the challenge.
- Each $2.99 donation counts as an entry into the drawing (you can donate up to 4 times a day).
- Donors can also recruit people and at the end of the challenge, the person who recruits the most people to the challenge wins the experience as well. For example, if Magic Basketball wins the recruiting challenge, I will be more than happy to raffle off the prize to one of the site’s loyal readers who donated to the challenge.
It’s that simple. Donating takes just a few clicks. Go to Pink Dingo and donate your $2.99 with me as your recruiter. Feel free to sign up and recruit your own people, too. In the end, it’s about helping people out in need. I’m proud to say I donated. You can, as well.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The NBA named Dwight Howard its 2009-10 Defensive Player of the Year this afternoon, making the Orlando Magic center just the seventh player in league history to win the award in consecutive years. [...] Magic General Manager Otis Smith said it’s “just short of amazing” that a Magic player has won the award in back-to-back years. “He promised me more than this Defensive Player of the Award,” Smith said. “We like other trophies, but especially the gold one, and he’s promised in the not-so-distant future that that would happen here in Orlando. And he’s pretty much set the table for that, so I am as proud of him as a young man as I’ve been proud of any other player who’s accomplished anything else in this organization or in any others.” Howard finished the 2009-10 regular season as the league leader in rebounding (13.2 per game) and blocked shots (2.78 per game). He became the first player to lead in both statistical categories in consecutive seasons. (The NBA started keeping the blocked shot statistic during the 1973-74 season.)”
- Imagine a world where Emeka Okafor is the starting center for the Orlando Magic.
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com has been on fire today, writing articles on a variety of topics. Here they are: Dwight Howard repeating as NBA Defensive Player of the Year, the keys to the game for the Orlando Magic against the Charlotte Bobcats in Game 2, and Jameer Nelson‘s reemergence in the playoffs.
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post looks at three adjustments the Magic can make against the Bobcats: “If I’m Van Gundy, I’m showing film of the Magic’s March win against the L.A. Lakers to [Vince] Carter as a blueprint for how to approach Charlotte in Game 2. Against L.A., Carter attacked early and often, and finished the first period with 15 points on 2-of-2 shooting from the floor and 10-of-10 from the foul line. That effort came against Ron Artest, one of the league’s best perimeter defenders. If he can toast Artest like that, he can certainly do the same to Wallace and Jackson, who are no slouches themselves.”
- Thomas “Big Pooh” Jones of Little Brother, a critically acclaimed hip-hop group from North Carolina, chimes in on the series between Orlando and Charlotte: “I had a back and forth with a few of my Twitter friends about this series. Plenty people told me I was crazy for saying that Charlotte could surprise the Magic so I will keep this one short. Vince Carter was 4-19 yesterday. Sounds like the Vince we all know and love during big-game time. Dwight Howard was effective on the defensive end for a little while, but the three centers the Bobcats have kept Howard at the foul line and the rest of the team kept him in foul trouble. Jameer Nelson coming out and having that monster first half coupled with [Mickael] Pietrus going 3-3 after taking his first three 3-point shots, then we might be talking about a Magic loss. Larry Brown played it ultra safe with Stephen Jackson and his knee, believing that this would be a long series and it may come back to be a very important move later on. After all, the Bobcats have no expectations outside of their locker room. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain in this series. Can’t say the same for the Magic, who have championship aspirations.”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel has more on Howard becoming the Defensive Player of the Year for a second consecutive season.
- There’s a reason why Rashard Lewis is nicknamed Ice-O: “With SG Vince Carter and C Dwight Howard having off-nights offensively, Lewis played perhaps his best game in a month, scoring 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting. [Stan] Van Gundy took advantage of Lewis’ hot night, calling isolation plays for Lewis when the rest of the offense struggled in the second half. Last year’s playoff run to the NBA Finals also might have calmed Lewis. He felt unusually relaxed for a playoff opener. ‘I used to have chills, but for some reason in that first playoff game I was just ready to play,’ Lewis said. ‘I know what the intensity level’s going to be like. I know the level of play is going to go up. It’s not going to be an easy win. I wasn’t nervous at all. I felt more comfortable going into that first playoff game.’ ”
- Will Jason Williams be in a Magic uniform next year?
Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images
Via the Orlando Magic:
Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic is the recipient of the 2009-10 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award presented by Kia Motors, the NBA announced today, marking the second straight season the All-Star has earned the honor.
The 6-11 center 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. He also became only the fifth player in NBA history to lead the league in rebounding for at least three consecutive seasons.Howard recorded an NBA-high 64 double-doubles, including three 20-point/20-rebound efforts. [...]
Howard received 576 points, including 110 first-place votes, from a panel of 122 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Atlanta’s Josh Smith finished second with 136 points and Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace finished third with 113 points. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote received.
Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images
Via the Orlando Magic:
The Orlando Magic have opened a one-stop shop for fans at the team’s Official Playoff Headquarters in the Altamonte Mall, the Magic announced today. The grand opening will be Tuesday, April 20.
Located on the first floor outside of Dillard’s, the retail store will have a vast selection of 2010 Playoffs and Blue & White Ignite gear, including T-shirts, hats, jerseys and an extensive line of adidas apparel that you can’t find anywhere else. The store will be open for the remainder of the playoffs and will operate from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from Noon-6 p.m. on Sunday.
When Sunday arrived and the Orlando Magic faced off against the Charlotte Bobcats in Game 1, it was generally assumed that Vince Carter was going to do what he’s been doing for the past few months. What’s that?
Play good basketball.
It’s no coincidence that the Magic took off in the second half of the regular season and performed — statistically, at least — like the best team in the NBA, in large part because Carter had settled in comfortably as the No. 2 option alongside Dwight Howard. Carter dominated games for stretches at a time (see his 48-point performance against the New Orleans Hornets), performed efficiently, and played exactly the way everyone envisioned he would play when he was acquired in the off-season by general manager Otis Smith. By contrast, when Carter struggled in January, it was because he settled for jumpers, played passively, and generally looked out of sorts.
So, when Orlando needed offense from someone not named Rashard Lewis or Jameer Nelson, especially in the second half, Carter tried to pick up the slack but the results weren’t pretty. To be frank, they were downright awful.
The question that many people are asking, of course, is why did Carter struggle on offense? What did Carter do wrong?
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Stephen Jackson said his left knee was sorer today than yesterday, but expects to start Game 2 of the Charlotte Bobcats’ series against the Orlando Magic. Jackson hyperextended his left knee on Sunday after a collision with Gerald Wallace. An MRI on Monday revealed no structural damage, but a small bone bruise. He is officially listed as day-to-day, but will remain listed as a starter.”
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Magic won Game 1 against the Bobcats, but they didn’t play championship basketball. Not even close. Vince Carter drove to the hoop for the Magic’s first bucket but barely ventured into the paint again for the entire game. He needs to be more aggressive and take the ball to the basket if he indeed is going to be “amazing” in these playoffs as [Dwight] Howard predicted. And Howard needs to start playing smarter and stop picking up dumb fouls. Yes, he is reigning Defensive Player of the Year because he aggressively contests shots (eight blocks in the first half Sunday), but the Magic need him to stay on the floor for offensive purposes as well.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com looks back at some of the biggest moments in the Orlando Magic’s win against the Charlotte Bobcats in Game 1.
- Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace make it perfectly clear that they are going to continue to attack the basket against Dwight Howard, knowing that he can’t block every shot.
- Eric Freeman of The Baseline explains that even though the Bobcats’ franchise is new to the playoffs, the players on the team are familiar with the setting: “Stephen Jackson is an NBA champion and quite memorably makes love to pressure. Boris Diaw played a key role in several playoff runs for the Suns. Larry Hughes, while a mess on the court, at least knows what the playoffs are. Tyson Chandler has won a playoff series. Theo Ratliff is roughly 732 years old. That leaves Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton as the only members of the core without significant playoff experience. But if the playoffs are about mental toughness and playing hard at every opportunity, Gerald isn’t exactly someone you need to be worried about. Felton had some trouble containing Jameer Nelson early, but even if that’s related to inexperience, it wouldn’t explain the collective screw-up Charlotte evinced to begin the game. Oh, plus their coach is Larry Brown, whose name is essentially synonymous with hard-working veteran playoff basketball.”
- Charlotte won the battle but lost the war. Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk explains: “From the Bobcats’ perspective, this is exactly what they want. Howard wasn’t frustrated into making too much of a negative impact (he often forces shots or commits turnovers when he feels he’s been wronged), but to hold Dwight to five points in the opening bout is certainly impressive. Charlotte not only showed that they’ll be competitive in this series but that they’re capable of neutralizing (or at least hedging the impact of) Orlando’s post game, which seemed like an unknown heading into the series. Now if they could just figure out Jameer Nelson…”
- At Orlando Pinstriped Post, Ben Q. Rock takes a quick look at Ryan Anderson’s playoff debut and in a guest post, John Schuhmann of NBA.com offers some context for Magic fans after Vince Carter struggled yesterday by looking back at his recent postseason history with the New Jersey Nets.
- Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook shows how the Bobcats blew a chance to steal a win against the Magic after they were down five with two minutes remaining in the game.
- Bethlehem Shoals of NBA FanHouse offers some commentary: “Orlando-Charlotte was unexpectedly tight — and fun. When Dwight Howard was blocking a shot every time down the floor, it certainly didn’t seem headed in that direction. But Howard ended up in foul trouble, and it was left to Jameer Nelson to carry the team. Little man who was the issue last year goes for a career-high while the celebrated big man gets upstaged by a 6-foot-7 swingman. I can write that out in symbolic logic if you really want. That swingman in question was Gerald Wallace, who went for 25 points and 17 boards. This one — above the rim, over Howard — deserves a poster. If they even make posters for rebounds.”
Jameer Nelson was one of the lone bright spots on offense for the Orlando Magic against the Charlotte Bobcats in Game 1, amidst Dwight Howard‘s foul troubles and Vince Carter‘s shooting woes. Nelson was able to put on a show in front of a nationally televised audience, reminding everyone why he was an All-Star in 2009 by scoring 32 points on 10-of-18 shooting and terrorizing the Bobcats’ defense in the process.
I compiled a video to show the types of plays Nelson got his points from. For instance, note how Nelson and Rashard Lewis are able to force the switch on the 1/4 pick and roll with Boris Diaw to create a mismatch in Nelson’s favor on two separate possessions.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic just didn’t go off script to win, they had to make it up as they went along. [...] No. 2-seeded Orlando raced to a 22-point lead in the third quarter, looking every bit like the club that posted the NBA’s second-best record. But the No. 7-seeded Bobcats made runs as the Magic were forced to work around [Dwight] Howard‘s foul trouble in the second half. They made some big plays defensively and clutch shots in the final period, as is their trademark. The Magic held the Bobcats to 29.7 percent shooing in the second half. The game lived up to its billing as a grind-it-out affair between two of the league’s stingier defenses, and Howard was monstrous. Howard finished with more blocks (9) and rebounds (7) than points (5) in almost 28 minutes.”
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “There was one sequence of plays in the first half where [Jameer] Nelson had the Bobcats looking at each other and probably mumbling to themselves, “What – did the Magic sign Chris Paul for the playoffs?” Nelson jab-stepped, got the defender on his heels, pulled back and drained a trey. He then blew by a defender and drove in for a layup. Then he led a fastbreak and kicked it out to Rashard Lewis for another trey. By the time the first half had ended with Nelson hitting a buzzer-beating 35-footer, he’d scored 24 points and doubled his scoring average for the season.”
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Early in Sunday night’s game, Vince Carter had to walk to the free-throw line, stand before Dwight Howard and try to talk him into relaxing. Theo Ratliff fouled Howard, something he’s used to, and as he approached the free-throw line, he got an earful from Bobcats guard Stephen Jackson. Howard jawed right back at Jackson in what looked like the beginning of that frustration he sometimes lets swirl around inside his head. Eventually he did get rattled, and paid for that with five fouls during the Magic’s 98-89 win over the Charlotte Bobcats. But that early in the game, frustration wasn’t a problem, Howard said. It was just that he was a little too excited.”
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Don’t look at the statistics. They’re deceptive. Howard only scored five points on four shots. He grabbed seven rebounds. Instead, listen to Brown. “He got five points, but he was the most valuable player,” Brown said after Orlando beat Brown’s Bobcats, 98-89, in their NBA first round playoff matchup Sunday night at Amway Arena. The discombobulating of Brown’s plans came in other ways. With so much focus on Howard, other things opened up for the Magic. Jameer Nelson was fabulous, scoring a game-high 32 points. Rashard Lewis had 19. J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus hit big shots in the finals minutes. A lot of this had to do with the dirty-work on Howard.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “For much of the 2009-10 regular season, Mickael Pietrus would disappear for one game and reappear the next. Like Forrest Gump with his box of chocolates, the Orlando Magic never knew what they were going to get. But maybe Pietrus was saving his best stuff for the playoffs.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Fully healthy in a playoff game for the first time in two seasons, Nelson was off the charts in the first half with his aggressiveness. He was in attack mode from the jump, making six of eight shots in the first quarter and 10 of 12 in the first half. He also made four of his first six 3-pointers, including a long buzzer-beater just before the half, giving him 24 points by the break. With Charlotte possessing no true shot blocker, Nelson was able to turn the corner on the pick-and-rolls and get all the way to the rim. In the first half alone, Nelson had three layups and two other runners in the lane. And when Raymond Felton went under screens to cut off the drive, Nelson made him pay by stroking one 3-pointer after another.”
- Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer: “Game 1 of this playoff series established several things, but none more than this: The Charlotte Bobcats have no business in a 3-point shooting contest with the Orlando Magic. You know how Bobcats coach Larry Brown says he “hates” the 3-point shot? He must detest it even more after this one. The Magic outscored his team 39-9 off 3s, which was just enough to preserve a 98-89 victory in this best-of-7 opener.”
- Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer: “As they began the first playoff game in franchise history, the Charlotte Bobcats looked freshly scrubbed and very nervous. They looked like they should be carrying brand-new backpacks. “We were like little kids on the first day of school,” Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace said. Exactly. The Bobcats were enthusiastic, energetic… and not quite ready for everything that was about to happen.”
- Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse: “Point guard Jameer Nelson wasn’t part of the Magic’s playoff run to the 2009 NBA Finals — and even got blamed for the Finals loss when he finally returned at less than full-speed — missing most of the fun after mid-season shoulder surgery. This was about making up for lost time. Nelson, the smallest man on the floor, set the tone quickly Sunday in the Magic’s 98-89 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. It was the Little Big Man Show. The Magic rode him early, then hung on through a rocky second half, turning to him time and again down the stretch. With Dwight Howard struggling to stay in the game, and Vince Carter struggling to shoot straight, Nelson delivered the kind of performance that showed why they gave him the title of captain.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Tonight’s crowd at Amway Arena was one of the best I’ve seen. No doubt that it was a legitimate sellout, and I estimate at least 95% of the paying customers were in their seats prior to tipoff. Charlotte’s Theo Ratliff won the tip, and very few seconds elapsed before fans broke into a spontaneous, unprompted chant of “DE-FENSE!” Genuine engagement and enthusiasm from the crowd tonight, and the Magic’s hot start only fanned the flames.”
- Henry Abbott of TrueHoop: “Some very smart people are picking the Orlando Magic to win this year’s NBA title. Stan Van Gundy‘s team has a great offense and a better defense, and they don’t just beat up on weaklings — they also happen to match up well with all of the NBA’s top teams. Yet, in the first game of their campaign to return to the Finals, the Magic could have easily lost to the 44-win Charlotte Bobcats, who wouldn’t have even made the playoffs in the Western Conference. Hypotheticals matter not at all, and are best avoided. But they’re irresistable in analyzing crunch time of this particular game. With 33.1 seconds left, the Magic led by five. From that point, the Bobcats were forced to foul repeatedly. Thanks to impeccable Orlando free throw shooting, they coasted to a nine-point win.”
- Ric Bucher of ESPN.com: “If All-Star center Dwight Howard has to be on the floor for the Magic to win an NBA title, the Charlotte Bobcats provided the blueprint for keeping him off it. Actually, the blueprint has been utilized before. The Bobcats simply proved it still works by limiting Orlando’s leading scorer to five points and seven rebounds in 28 foul-plagued minutes. It might’ve been less, but when the Bobcats closed to within six with 5:19 left, coach Stan Van Gundy put Howard back on the floor with five fouls. He survived to the end, as did the Magic, 98-89, thanks to 32 points from Jameer Nelson. But, in spite of all the happy chatter about Howard’s nine blocked shots, it had to be troubling to see their anchor reduced to role-player status. For while the ‘Cats might not have enough bricks and mortar to actually build a series upset from the blueprint, there’s a good chance some other team in the East does.”
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus: “Two different games: All Orlando Magic in the first half, and a scrappy Charlotte Bobcats comeback in the second half. The biggest difference was Dwight Howard’s foul trouble. You’ll remember from last spring that one of the keys to the Magic’s run to the NBA Finals was Marcin Gortat‘s ability to step in and maintain if not elevate the team’s level of play when Howard was sidelined by fouls. Not so in this game.”
- Matt Moore of ProBasketballTalk: “There’s a lot to talk about regarding Magic-Bobcats Game 1. The Magic’s initial dominance. The brilliance of Jameer Nelson. The failboat of Raymond Felton taking a lap around the lake. The grit, the nail-chewing, back-breaking, unrelenting grit of the Bobcats in making a significant run in the second half to pull within five under two minutes. And in the end, the Magic held on for a 98-89 win in Orlando behind the same thing that got them to the Finals last year. The three ball. The Magic shot 43% from the arc (13-30), and that was pretty much your ballgame.”
- John Krolik of ProBasketballTalk: “Howard was on the floor for 28 minutes of Sunday’s game. He was on the bench for the other 20 minutes of it. When Howard was off the floor, the Bobcats played the Magic dead even. When he played, the Magic were +9 over the Bobcats. Howard completely dominated the game while scoring five points. One of the most amazing defensive performances I’ve ever seen.”
Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images
In a hard fought, physical game, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Charlotte Bobcats by the score of 98-89 to take a 1-0 series lead in the first round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs. Before the game, there were two players to keep an eye on for the Magic and they were Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson. There were question marks surrounding Lewis and Nelson as the postseason was gearing up but each player answered the call for Orlando. Nelson led the way for the Magic, setting a career playoff-high by scoring 32 points, as well as chipping in with six assists and four rebounds. Lewis was excellent, playing a very efficient game by scoring 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Dwight Howard had a lackluster performance on offense but he was otherworldly on defense, where he tied a playoff-high with nine blocks and set a franchise playoff record with eight blocks in the first half. Gerald Wallace performed magnificently, with 25 points and 17 rebounds for the Bobcats. Monster numbers for Wallace, to say the least.