This is an excerpt from Stein’s Power Rankings for Week 16:
Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball: A lack of progress led to Jacque Vaughn’s dismissal just a few games before the break. Will the Magic rush out to make a name hire or let interim coach James Borrego have his shot for the rest of the season? Not much else to discuss in the Magic Kingdom at the moment.
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
The Magic will look to move little side pieces like Andrew Nicholson and Maurice Harkless [at the trade deadline], though it wouldn’t be a shocker if a front office that might be in some danger searches for something juicier.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images
Via NBA press release:
Atlanta Hawks All-Star forward Paul Millsap will replace injured All-Star forward Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans in the Degree® Shooting Stars during State Farm® All-Star Saturday Night on Feb. 14 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. In addition, Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton will replace the injured Michael Carter-Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers and Hawks guard Dennis Schröder will replace Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls in Saturday night’s Taco Bell® Skills Challenge. Butler, an All-Star guard, is resting his strained right shoulder.
Both events will be televised exclusively by TNT, which starts its coverage at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Degree® Shooting Stars features four teams composed of one current NBA player, one current WNBA player and an NBA legend competing in a two-round, timed shooting competition. The Taco Bell® Skills Challenge, an obstacle-course competition that tests dribbling, passing, agility and shooting skills, showcases a head-to-head, bracket-style tournament format for the first time.
Millsap, one of a record-tying four 2015 All-Stars for Atlanta, is averaging 16.8 points, a team-high 7.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 53 games. The two-time All-Star will be teamed with six-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen and two-time WNBA All-Star Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky in the Degree® Shooting Stars.
Payton, the Kia NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for January, leads all rookies in assists (5.7 apg) and ranks second in steals (1.55 spg) to go with 7.9 points in 56 games. His first-round opponent in the eight-player Taco Bell® Skills Challenge will be All-Star guard Jeff Teague of Atlanta.
Schröder, the 17th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft presented by State Farm, is averaging 8.5 points and 3.5 assists in 52 games for the Hawks. His first-round opponent will be All-Star guard Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors. Schröder and Payton will also play in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 13, at Barclays Center.
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Orlando, thanks to a surplus of young big men, has made Andrew Nicholson available, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN.com on Thursday that the Magic are working with Nicholson’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, to find a new home for the 25-year-old Canadian, who was selected 19th overall by the Magic in the 2012 NBA draft.
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
12-20 FG | 4-6 FT | 18 REB | 0 AST | 28 PTS | +12
It’s easy to get enamored with Vucevic’s 28 points (and 18 rebounds), but he nearly gave it all back defensively. Jason Smith scored a season-high 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting — this isn’t the first time he had a big game against Orlando this season, either. He scored a then season-high 19 points in New York City on January 23.
4-11 FG | 11-11 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 19 PTS | +11
After Oladipo’s inefficient 13-point outing against the Wizards on Tuesday, I wrote that he “can get around that issue if he’s attacking the rim and getting to the free-throw line.” Voila. That’s exactly what he did against New York. Oladipo attacked the rim (3-for-5) and got to the free-throw line (11-for-11). Granted, he had it easy against the Knicks’ unimposing frontline.
4-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 STL | 2 REB | 13 PTS | +3
Late in the third quarter, Green stole a pass from Andrea Bargnani and finished with a breakaway one-handed dunk in transition. All that was missing was for TNT’s Kenny Smith to yell “It’s over!” and Let’s go home!” The game should have immediately ended after Green’s dunk, which ended up being the highlight of the night for the Magic.
4-8 FG | 4-5 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 12 PTS | +8
Payton performed sorcery midway through the fourth quarter when he somehow made a reverse layup around Amar’e Stoudemire and Langston Galloway. Look at this picture! How did this happen? It’s a prime example of Payton’s ability to finish in traffic, which is downright amazing at times, considering that everyone in the building knows he can’t shoot and is going to drive to the basket.
|New York Knicks
With no Carmelo Anthony, who sat out to rest his sore left knee so that he can play in the All-Star Game in Madison Square Garden on Sunday (why?), New York slogged through an ugly game against Orlando and lost. All you really need to know from this game is that the Knicks sucked and the Magic sucked less.
- Teams: New York Knicks at Orlando Magic
- Date: February 11, 2015
- Time: 7:00 p.m.
- Television: Fox Sports Florida
- Arena: Amway Center
- Knicks: 10-42
- Magic: 16-39
- Jose Calderon
- Langston Galloway
- Tim Hardaway Jr.
- Lou Amundson
- Jason Smith
- Elfrid Payton
- Victor Oladipo
- Aaron Gordon
- Channing Frye
- Nikola Vucevic
- Pace: 90.3 (29th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 102.1 (26th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 110.6 (28th of 30)
- Pace: 94.1 (13th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 101.4 (28th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 108.0 (24th of 30)