Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 261

Apr 14

How Did the Orlando Magic Get to This Point?

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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.

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Apr 13

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • 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?

Apr 13

Orlando Magic to Honor Fans with “Fan Appreciation Night”

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Photo by Scott Miller/NBAE via Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

The Orlando Magic will honor their fans when they host Fan Appreciation Night on Wednesday, April 14 as they face the Philadelphia 76ers in the last regular season game in Amway Arena.  Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. and doors will open at 7 p.m.

Highlighting Fan Appreciation Night will be a jersey presentation to 13 randomly selected Magic season ticket holders and representatives from 13 community partners, who will each receive a game-worn jersey from a Magic player prior to the tip-off of the game.  The night will also include a number of activities centered around the fans, including pregame festivities and in-game activities.

Additional highlights include:

  • Orlando Magic team posters presented by Tobacco Free Florida, Sun Sports and FOX Sports Florida will be given away to the first 10,000 fans in attendance.
  • A pregame highlight video of the top-10 Orlando Magic plays of the year and a fan highlight video.
  • 10 autographed basketballs will be given away during the game as part of the Magic Text presented by T-Mobile Text2Win Promotion.
  • The Orlando Magic Dunking Dancers will be performing at halftime.
  • A halftime presentation to the Aleve-Publix Hustle Player of the Year.
  • All fans are invited to take a lay-up on the court following the game.

Apr 12

Recap: Orlando Magic 118, Indiana Pacers 98

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Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

BOX SCORE

In a game that was pretty much over with in the first quarter, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Indiana Pacers by the score of 118-98 for their fifth win in a row. As an aside, the Magic now know their first round opponent is the Charlotte Bobcats after the Miami Heat beat the Philadelphia 76ers to assure that the Bobcats get the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. Anyways, seven players scored in double-figures for the Magic but it was the starters that led a balanced attack against the Pacers when things mattered. Orlando’s starting backcourt played well, in particular, as Vince Carter had 21 points on 11 shots and Jameer Nelson had 15 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, and only two turnovers. Indiana’s lone star, Danny Granger, was held to 18 points on 19 shots.

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Apr 12

Preview: Orlando Magic at Indiana Pacers

7:00 EDT | Sun Sports
57-23 @ 32-48
Pythagorean Record: 59-21 Pythagorean Record: 32-48
Pace: 91.9 (18th) Pace: 97.0 (2nd)
Offensive Rating: 110.0 (6th) Offensive Rating: 103.9 (26th)
Defensive Rating: 103.1 (3rd) Defensive Rating: 106.8 (13th)
Conseco Fieldhouse | Magic lead season series 2-1

Apr 12

Orlando’s Dwight Howard Named NBA Eastern Player of the Week

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Photo by Gregory Shamus/NBAE via Getty Images

Via the Orlando Magic:

[Dwight] Howard averaged 21.3 points on .730 shooting (second in the East), 12.0 rebounds, and an Eastern Conference-leading 3.3 blocks, helping Orlando to a 3-0 week. On April 11, Howard recorded 22 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks, leading the Magic to a 98-92 win over Cleveland, handing the Cavaliers only their sixth home loss this season. This is Howard’s third Player of the Week nod this season. […]

Here is a recap of the week for Howard […]:

Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
April 7 vs. Washington: Recorded 17 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, two assists and a steal in a 121-94 win over the Wizards.
April 9 vs. New York: Posted 25 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and a block in a 118-103 win over the Knicks.
April 11 @ Cleveland: Scored 22 points, and added 13 rebounds, six blocks and three assists in a 98-92 win over the Cavaliers.

Apr 12

Dwight Howard to Make Announcement at Adonal Foyle’s Charity Gala Dinner & Caribbean Fête

AP Photo/John Raoux

Via the Orlando Magic:

WHO: Adonal Foyle is a native of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, professional basketball player and inductee into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame in 2009. Dwight Howard was the number one draft pick in the NBA in 2004 selected by the Orlando Magic, winner of the 2009-10 Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award for the third consecutive year and named 2009 NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

WHAT: NBA veteran Adonal Foyle founded Kerosene Lamp Foundation (KLF) to empower youth to grow into healthy and well-educated adults. Adonal will host their 1st Annual Gala Dinner & Fête to launch “Adonal’s All-Star Student Athletes” and celebrate KLF’s work with at-risk youth in the U.S. & Caribbean. Dwight Howard will also make an important announcement at the event. Proceeds from the event will support “Adonal’s All-Star Student Athletes” as well as a basketball court refurbishment project for inner-city youth in New Orleans, Louisiana. Event to feature Caribbean entertainment and a silent auction with one-of-a-kind items.

WHEN: Tuesday, April 13, 2010, 6:30 to 10:30 PM

WHERE: Kerosene Lamp Foundation Annual Gala Dinner & Fête

Apr 12

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic, who have already clinched the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Eastern Conference playoffs, can learn who their first-round playoff opponent will be as early as tonight. Here’s tonight’s scenario: The Magic will face the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round if the Bobcats lose to the New Jersey Nets tonight in New Jersey or if the Miami Heat beat the Philadelphia 76ers tonight in Philadelphia.”
  • Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus: “When I fill out my awards ballot tomorrow, there will be two honors that merit virtually no discussion because they are so obvious. One is MVP and the other is Defensive Player of the Year. [Dwight] Howard is so far beyond his peers defensively it is remarkable. He’s accounted for 13.9 WARP at the defensive end, which would be good enough to place him in the league’s top 10 in total WARP even if Howard was merely average on offense. Howard ranks second in the league in defensive rebound percentage and ninth in block percentage, and he’s also stifled opposing centers. His dMult looks like a typo; opponents have been held an incomprehensible 41.4 percent below their usual production. Orlando is at the moment the league’s best defensive team despite starting a converted small forward at the four, a poor defender at shooting guard and for much of the year either an aging Jason Williams or Jameer Nelson hobbled by knee surgery at the point. That’s a testament to the incredible force that Howard is in the paint.”
  • It’s no secret that head coach Stan Van Gundy likes to speak his mind, which makes him a great interviewer but also leaves him open to be critiqued sometimes. So, it comes as no surprise that the blogosphere has reacted (cue the reactions here, here, and here) strongly to Van Gundy’s latest comments about LeBron James and the Most Valuable Player award: ” ‘You know how the vote’s going to go. LeBron (James) will win the MVP every year until he retires,’ Van Gundy said. Van Gundy was likely playing to the Cleveland media. But there’s part of him that feels that the MVP — decided by the media — will be James’ award to lose for a long time. ‘LeBron has to go into the year and basically lose the MVP. You guys have decided he’s the MVP,’ Van Gundy said.”
  • Nevertheless, Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk praises Van Gundy’s ability to be candid when he talks, especially when it comes to genuinely praising an opponent like the Cleveland Cavaliers: “There are a few shining beacons of hope. Ron Artest immediately comes to mind, though one of my personal favorites is Stan Van Gundy. SVG is oddly personable and eccentric, obsessed but self-aware, and incredibly knowledgeable but not wholly set on defending his methods like nuclear launch codes. For instance, Van Gundy is apparently very fond of the Cleveland Cavaliers. […] Now, was it unknown that the Cavs are better than they were a year ago? Of course not, but it means something else entirely to hear it coming from the head coach of the Cavs’ likely opponent in the Eastern Conference Finals. It also means a bit more coming from Van Gundy, who has never been one to offer lip service, especially to the competition. This reads as legitimate praise from an opposing head coach rather than a cursory response to a question from a guy on the other team’s beat.”
  • After the unfortunate loss of the president of Poland, who was killed along with 95 others in a plane crash, Polish native Marcin Gortat speaks about the tragedy.
  • If you want to see upsets in the playoffs, Henry Abbott of TrueHoop suggests keeping an eye on the Western Conference: “The playoff odds say that it’s 89.3% likely that the Eastern conference champions will be a team that starts the playoffs with homecourt advantage. It’s 73.9% likely to be either the Magic or Cavaliers. In the West? Wow is it ever a totally different story.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com chimes in on Howard being named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the third time this season: “The Orlando Magic had just locked up their fourth consecutive victory and surged ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers in the standings on Sunday, but superstar center Dwight Howard wasn’t pleased at all. He’s been unhappy with how the Magic have defended of late and on Sunday in Cleveland he despised the fact that Orlando had to dig its way out of a 16-point hole. It was a peek inside the perfectionist persona that drives Howard to be great. Howard’s incredible drive was rewarded on Monday when he was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week. It is the fourth time this season and the 10th time in his six-year NBA career that Howard has been honored as the East’s Player of the Week.”

Apr 12

The Awards Ballot

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Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

With the regular season winding down and the postseason just a mere six days away, I figured I’d do what other writers have been doing lately — reveal my awards ballot. I know that I’m not a member of the Pro Basketball Writers Association, which means I do not have a say in who wins which award but I still wanted to engage in this exercise.

Most Valuable Player

adj. +/- net +/- stat. +/- PER WARP Win Shares/48
Kevin Durant +17.58 +17.3 +7.40 26.0 16.5 .237
LeBron James +17.39 +14.6 +14.13 31.1 25.3 .301
Dwyane Wade +17.00 +16.0 +10.77 27.9 19.8 .224
Dwight Howard +19.36 +9.0 +7.22 24.0 18.6 .222

This is what transcendence looks like.

It may be common knowledge to some but it still needs to be stated because it might not be obvious to others, this is LeBron James’ award to lose for the foreseeable future. And like it or not, James is approaching Michael Jordan’s level of dominance when strictly looking at on-court performance. NBA titles notwithstanding, there’s no denying it anymore. What’s scary is that James can still improve, particularly on offense where his shot selection betrays him sometimes. The idea that ‘James’ and ‘improvement’ can be in the same sentence is, somewhat, ridiculous, when you consider the fact that he is already the best player in the world … but it’s true. At this point, the only way James doesn’t win the MVP award every year for the next few years is if voters get bored and choose someone else, he regresses, or he gets hurt. That’s it. It’s possible but highly unlikely that a player, whether it’s Kevin Durant or whoever else, can produce at a similar output to James assuming he maintains his current production. Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade were very close last year but not close enough. All in all, James may not be universally liked but it would be foolish not to appreciate his greatness, at the very least.

There’s a reason why he’s called “King James.”

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Apr 09

Recap: Orlando Magic 118, New York Knicks 103

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AP Photo/John Raoux

BOX SCORE

The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the New York Knicks by the score of 118-103, a win that seemed like a formality for the Magic. A trio of starters and reserves led the way for Orlando, all scoring in double-figures and accounting for the majority of the Magic’s points. Dwight Howard had 25 points and 13 rebounds and Vince Carter had 25 points, five assists, and two steals, both seemingly scoring at will against the Knicks. But it can be argued that Ryan Anderson stole the show, stuffing the stat sheet with 19 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocks and playing one of his best games of the year. On the flip-side, Danilo Gallinari had 28 points for New York.

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