Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 252

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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May 06

Magic Basketball Named SportsNation’s Site We Like

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Today at 4:00 p.m. EDT on ESPN2, Magic Basketball will be featured as SportsNation’s Site We Like.

May 06

Sneak Preview: Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic, Game 2

Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “[Stan] Van Gundy said his team was serious even though all the [Orlando] Magic did was watch film and shoot. He said players have been sharply focused ‘for the last three months.’ And, to a man, says small forward Mickael Pietrus, they are on ‘a mission’ to win the title. They haven’t lost in over a month, their last defeat coming April 2 in San Antonio. The Magic have won their last 11 games, including five in the postseason, and are 38-8 since the midway point of the season. Vince Carter says the team’s mind-set is simple: Win ‘em all — by 43 points or 1. ‘Why not? Doesn’t matter what round it is,’ he said. ‘If we’re scheduled to play tonight, we’re scheduled to win tonight.’ ”
  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Jamal Crawford has started on a lot of bad teams in his 10 years in the NBA. It was with a better team, as a reserve, that he truly blossomed. “Who knows if I could have did this early on [in my career],” the Atlanta Hawks guard said. “But you have to have a certain level of maturity to know there’s a big picture of winning. If this is going to give our team the best chance to win, I’m all for it.” A reserve for the first time in years, Crawford became the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year this season as his play keyed Atlanta’s success. In the Hawks’ Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Orlando Magic, Crawford’s play will impact how well Atlanta can recover from a 43-point loss in Game 1.”
  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Figuring there’s no use wallowing in the misery of Game 1, Hawks coach Mike Woodson focused on his team’s positives during Wednesday’s video review. If that sounds like a short session, it was. Still, the Hawks wanted to go over the little good from Game 1 — their play in the first quarter — to help them believe they can compete with the Magic when they go back to Amway Arena on Thursday for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The problem for the Hawks is that the evidence to support otherwise has now stretched to four consecutive losses at Amway Arena and seven of eight losses to the Magic overall. The most compelling proof is those other three quarters of Tuesday’s 114-71 loss.”
  • Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Nobody seriously believes the Magic are 43 points better than the Hawks — the best team in the NBA isn’t 43 points better than the worst — but Game 1 was a reversal of such immensity that it all but washed away the good feeling from the Milwaukee series. Woodson plans to tweak things for Game 2. He’ll revert to his usual substitution pattern, as opposed to making 12th man Jason Collins his first sub, and will activate Randolph Morris to have another big man to use against Dwight Howard. He’ll have Joe Johnson guard Vince Carter and — good luck with this — let Mike Bibby try Jameer Nelson. But tweaks alone won’t override a 43-point spread; Woodson’s players simply must be tougher. We can’t really say the Hawks have no heart. Were that the case, they’d have been eliminated by Milwaukee. What they lack, even in this third playoff go-round, is the mental toughness to keep playing smart basketball when the opponent is flying and its crowd is roaring. The best they can offer is to note that, what the heck, they’ve been blown out before. And that’s weak.”

May 05

Playoff Ticket Update

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

250 Tickets Remain For Game 2 of the Orlando Magic’s Eastern Conference Semifinals series vs. Atlanta. Orlando leads the series 1-0.

Game 2 is set for Thursday, May 6, at 8 p.m., at Amway Arena.

While supplies last, single game tickets for the 2010 Orlando Magic playoffs, presented by Bright House Networks, 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 (RDV Sportsplex, Monday-Friday)(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 $18.

May 05

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: ” The Orlando Magic on Wednesday held a light practice that consisted of some film work, some shooting, some weightlifting … and also a history lesson, courtesy of their coach, Stan Van Gundy. Fresh off of Tuesday night’s 114-71 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, Van Gundy shared some numbers and percentages with his players about what has happened in postseason series after blowouts.”
  • Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel states that the Atlanta Hawks are looking for positives after their Game 1 loss.
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post takes a look at the numbers and notes how dominant the Orlando Magic have been against the Hawks in their last nine meetings: “The Magic have also held leads of 50, 46, 38, 21, and 20 points during this span. The Hawks’ big lead, 19, came in the first game of the 2008/09 season. Since then, Atlanta has never led a game against the Magic by more than 12 points. The Hawks’ 10-point second quarter last night was their worst quarter against the Magic during this period, but not by much. Twice, they’ve managed just 11 points–including the third period last night. They also have quarters of 14 and 15 points on the books against Orlando.”
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk comments on the All-Defensive teams: “There are no shocks on here, everyone belongs, which is what you get when the coaches vote and not media members paid by teams who have their own agendas. Of course, a couple coaches gave Joe Johnson a vote, so clearly they are not infallible.”
  • Colin Powers of SLAM ONLINE: “Damn, what a tour de force from the Magic in Game 1. There are nights when they look like world-beaters; going almost 12 deep with an endless supply of shooters and athletes on the defensive end, they certainly have all the parts you need to win a championship. Nevertheless, they continue to strike me as being mentally fragile, specifically in Dwight’s occasionally errors of immaturity (fouls and whining at referees) and [Vince] Carter’s love for his jump-shot in crunch time. Who knows, though, maybe I’m just being subconsciously influenced by Stan Van’s persistent mustache and interesting wardrobe decisions.”
  • Newsflash: the Magic are not mentally fragile.
  • Dwight Howard: “Really good win for us last night!!! Hope that clears up some of the doubts about whether or not we’d be rusty for the first round from all of the time off. We’re a team that’s focused on winning a championship and we’re not overlooking anybody or taking anything lightly. All we have done is win one game. We know that A-T-L has a great squad and they will come out and respond in Game 2, so we’ll have to be ready. We have to play again with the same fire and intensity to beat them. I like how when we get a team down now, we put the hammer down and keep pushing. That’s how that lead got to as much as 46 points last night. It was crazy, ya’ll!!! We kept on pushing and fighting and playing for 48 minutes. In the past we’d let up at times and teams would come back on us, but I think we’ve learned our lesson.”
  • Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie spreads the good word about Mickael Pietrus: “Between lauding the Orlando Magic for racing to a 53-33 halftime lead in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series and backhanding the Atlanta Hawks for bringing bricks to a BFG fight, Charles Barkley took a moment during TNT’s halftime show to tell America that Magic reserve swingman Mickael Pietrus is his “second favorite player” in the NBA. The legend-turned-analyst’s high praise surprised some viewers; while Magic fans and some NBA heads are aware of the key role that Air France plays off the bench for Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy, Pietrus isn’t exactly a household name. And given the high-class company the Chuckster keeps in his lucrative side gig as a pitchman — y’know, Dwyane Wade, Yao Ming, Dwight Howard, Godzilla — the surprising love might have sounded random, moderately insane or even possibly insincere. In fact, though, Barkley has taken a very public, staunchly pro-Pietrus stance several times of late.”
  • John Hollinger of ESPN Insider debunks four playoff myths you’ll hear or read often. Here’s one of them: “Myth 3: Regular-season matchups matter. Of course, you’d expect head-to-head results from the regular season to offer predictive value in the playoffs. Support for that came as recently as last year’s conference finals, as the Lakers and Magic both won in six games after taking the regular-season series from the Nuggets and Cavs, respectively. Don’t let those two series fool you. When we look at a sufficient sample size — in other words, something more than two series — reality is revealed. For starters, three of the past four NBA champs were swept by their Finals opponent in the regular season. Now, it is true that in the 25 postseasons before this current one, teams with homecourt advantage that also won a regular-season series did win the same matchup in the playoffs 81.9% of the time. But that number is bolstered by the fact that since 1999-2000 (not including this year’s opening round), higher-seeded teams that won a regular-season series against their playoff opponents went a statistically skewing 41-0 in the first round. From the second round on, though, only 63.6% of teams scored the playoff double-up. In other words, after the first round, you’d have been better off picking the team with the homecourt advantage (72.9%). My closing argument is the Heat’s title run in 2006. After the first round, Miami beat three teams — the Nets, Pistons and Mavs — it was 2-8 against in the regular season.”

May 05

Dwight Howard Headlines 2009-10 NBA All-Defensive First Team

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, winner of the 2009-10 Defensive Player of the Year Award presented by Kia Motors, and guard Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics headline the NBA All-Defensive First Team, the NBA announced today. By totaling 57 points overall, including 28 First Team votes, Howard edged Rondo (50 points overall and 23 First Team votes) as the leading vote-getter.

Also selected to the All-Defensive First Team are forward LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers (45 points), Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (34 points) and Charlotte Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace (30 points).

Howard 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. He also became only the fifth player in NBA history to lead the league in rebounding for at least three consecutive seasons. With Howard anchoring the defense, the Magic allowed 95.3 ppg, which ranked fourth in the NBA, and held the opposition to a league-low .438 shooting from the field, including 24 games where opponents shot under .400. Orlando held the opposition to less than 100 points 57 times and to less than 90 points 24 times.

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