Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 33

Mar 21

A closer look at Victor Oladipo’s defense

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AP Photo/Matt York

The players that we consider the NBA’s best defenders — at perimeter positions, at least — are usually those who guard the ballhandler well: the Tony Allens, the Paul Georges, and the Andre Iguodalas of the league.

Perhaps players feel particularly pressured to guard the ball well, since everyone is always watching what the ballhandler is doing, therefore if you get beaten and scored on, everybody will notice.

Naturally, this notion of giving so much praise to the elite one-on-one defenders means that the best defenders off the ball will often fly under the radar.

Not that the players mentioned above don’t play great defense off the ball, but with fans putting so much emphasis on the ability to shut down a player in isolation, the players doing the work off the ball will often go unnoticed — the guys who are willing to fight through the hard contact of a screen while chasing a shooter, the guys who know whether to go over or under the player making the dribble handoff: the Victor Oladipos.

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Mar 21

Magic to honor Grant Hill on March 25


Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

In continuation of the Orlando Magic’s 25th anniversary season-long celebration the team will honor former Magic legend and seven-time NBA All-Star, Grant Hill, at the Magic’s March 25 matchup vs. the Portland Trail Blazers, tip-off set for 7 p.m. The night will feature a center court presentation at the end of the first quarter. Hill will join FOX Sports Florida’s broadcasts including Magic Live pregame show with hosts Paul Kennedy and Nick Anderson and join broadcasters David Steele and Jeff Turner for a portion of the game broadcast. He will also be featured live from Amway Center on Magic Drive Time radio show with host Dante Marchitelli on March 25 at 5:30 p.m. on 740 The Game. In addition, the first 2,500 fans will receive a collectible 8×10 photo featuring Hill and Andrew Nicholson. Hill will be available to the media at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 25 in the Amway Center interview room.

“Legends Nights” is an on-going program which will honor former players/legends throughout the Magic’s Silver Season. Past honorees include Tracy McGrady, Nick Anderson, Pat Williams, Jimmy Hewitt, Dennis Scott, Pat Garrity, Jeff Turner, Sam Vincent, John Gabriel, Bo Outlaw, Horace Grant, Penny Hardaway and Darrell Armstrong. In addition to the Magic’s “Legends Nights,” the 2013-14 season will feature the Silver Ticket Sweepstakes and Scratch Off Promotion, special appearances, game entertainment and other events throughout the season.

Hill was drafted in the first round (third overall) of the 1994 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons out of Duke University. He left the Pistons in a sign and trade in 2000 to join the Magic, and was with the Magic for six seasons from 2000-07. Hill appeared in 200 regular season games for the Magic. While with the Magic, he averaged 16.4 ppg., 5.0 rpg., 3.1 apg. and 1.1 spg. in 32.2 mpg., and was twice selected as an NBA All-Star (2001 and 2005).

Mar 20

Grades: Phoenix Suns 109, Orlando Magic 93

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Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images


Phoenix Suns 109 Final
Recap | Box Score
93 Orlando Magic

Arron Afflalo
6-10 FG | 5-5 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 20 PTS | -15

After a horrendous performance (four points on 2-for-7 shooting) against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, Afflalo bounced back with a solid showing versus the Suns. He had an economical 20 points (on 10 shots), and he did it by making his 3-pointers and getting to foul line. Afflalo’s four-point play in the third quarter ended up being his sequence of the night.

Nikola Vucevic
4-7 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -1

For the first time in his NBA career, Vucevic got ejected from a game. In the first quarter, no less. The first technical came when he argued with an official as Markieff Morris shot free throws. The second technical occurred about a minute later after Channing Frye drew an offensive foul on Vucevic. The big fella didn’t like the call, threw the ball at Frye’s feet, and got tossed.

Tobias Harris
7-13 FG | 8-11 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 23 PTS | -8

Even though the Magic got blown out on the road, again, the silver lining is that Harris had another excellent outing offensively. Against Phoenix, Orlando ran a lot of 1-4 pick-and-rolls with Oladipo and Harris, and that set proved to be wildly successful. Harris did a great job of taking what the defense gave him, and either shooting a jump shot or attacking the rim.

Victor Oladipo
6-18 FG | 1-6 3P | 2 REB | 9 AST | 14 PTS | -4

With Jameer Nelson out with a sore left knee, Oladipo got the start at point guard and did okay. He played the typical type of topsy-turvy game (how’s that for alliteration?) that’s been the norm for him this season. He was inefficient (6-for-18 shooting) and he had six turnovers, but he also ran the pick-and-roll well and tallied up nine assists.

Phoenix Suns

Late in the third quarter, the Suns were trailing the Magic by the score of 75-74. And then, all of a sudden, Phoenix caught fire. The Suns went on a 27-5 run, in large part because they were torching Orlando behind the 3-point line, and built up a 101-80 lead midway through the fourth quarter before coasting to an easy victory after a competitive three quarters.

Mar 20

Video: Nikola Vucevic gets ejected in Phoenix

Mar 19

Preview: Orlando Magic at Phoenix Suns


  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Phoenix Suns
  • Date: March 19, 2014
  • Time: 10:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: US Airways Center


  • Magic: 19-49
  • Suns: 38-29

Probable starters


  • Victor Oladipo
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Kyle O’Quinn
  • Nikola Vucevic


  • Eric Bledsoe
  • Goran Dragic
  • P.J. Tucker
  • Channing Frye
  • Miles Plumlee

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 94.0 (15th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.6 (29th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.2 (18th of 30)


  • Pace: 95.8 (7th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 109.3 (8th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.0 (17th of 30)

Read about the Suns

Valley of the Suns

Mar 19

Grades: Golden State Warriors 103, Orlando Magic 89

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Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images


Golden State Warriors 103 Final
Recap | Box Score
89 Orlando Magic

Arron Afflalo
2-7 FG | 0-0 3P | 1 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | -18

This was Afflalo’s worst performance of the season. Matched up against one half of the Splash Brothers (Klay Thompson), Afflalo flat out played like hot garbage — the type that makes New York City smell bad during the summer. While Thompson was raining down 3s all over the perimeter and constantly looking to score, Afflalo was unusually passive with his own offense.

Nikola Vucevic
7-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | -14

It was all Vucevic in the first quarter for the Magic. He scored 10 of his 15 points in the game’s opening stanza (but with zero rebounds) and he did it in a variety of ways. Dunks, midrange jumpers, and even a lefty hook for good measure. But after the opening stanza, Vucevic was quiet. Especially with his rebounding, where he managed to corral only five boards despite no Andrew Bogut.

Tobias Harris
5-11 FG | 3-3 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -2

Harris has continued to come off the bench for Orlando as the proverbial sixth man (with Kyle O’Quinn starting at the power forward position) and he continues to produce. With Bogut out, Harris’ strategy was simple: attack the rim. Time and again, he drove to the basket and either made layups or got to the free throw line.

Maurice Harkless
3-5 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | -17

Say hello to one of the Magic players that actually played well against the Warriors in a blowout loss. In fact, Harkless had the play of the game for Orlando. Late in the second quarter, after a Golden State miss, Harkless dribbled up the floor, spun around Draymond Green on the right block, and finished with a dunk over David Lee. Impressive sequence.

Golden State Warriors

With no Andre Iguodala (knee) and Bogut (ankle), the Warriors relied heavily on Stephen Curry, Thompson, and Lee to get the job done against the Magic. And they did. The Splash Brothers made it rain behind the 3-point line, while Lee got his customary double-double. It was an 18-0 run in the third quarter that turned the game into a blowout.

Mar 19

Video: Maurice Harkless spins and slams

Mar 18

Preview: Orlando Magic at Golden State Warriors


  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Golden State Warriors
  • Date: March 18, 2014
  • Time: 10:30 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Oracle Arena


  • Magic: 19-48
  • Warriors: 42-26

Probable starters


  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Kyle O’Quinn
  • Nikola Vucevic


  • Stephen Curry
  • Klay Thompson
  • Harrison Barnes
  • Draymond Green
  • David Lee

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 94.0 (15th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.7 (29th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.1 (18th of 30)


  • Pace: 96.2 (5th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 106.9 (13th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 102.1 (3rd of 30)

Read about the Warriors

Warriors World

Mar 17

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Marc Stein of “Among the reasons why I refuse to get all worked up about Philly’s horrific second half and whether that should affect Michael Carter-Williams’ rookie of the year campaign: Victor Oladipo’s Magic have racked up exactly one win since the All-Star break against teams other than Philly. One.”
  • Chad Ford of ESPN Insider: “The Magic likely would take Wiggins if they get the No. 1 pick. If not, they’d likely opt for someone who isn’t even playing in the NCAA tournament: Australia’s Dante Exum. Orlando needs a point guard and believes Exum would be great in a backcourt with Victor Oladipo. The Magic also have been a big fan of Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart.”
  • John Schuhmann of digs in deeper into the numbers and breaks down the impact that Jameer Nelson has had this season for the Magic.
  • Since beating the Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers, Orlando has lost 11 of 14.
  • A look at Victor Oladipo’s progression this season at both guard positions.
  • Zach Harper of takes a look at how the Magic’s close losses in recent weeks could somehow have a positive impact on Oladipo’s Rookie of the Year chances.
  • Orlando has been struggling to get to the free throw line lately. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel explains the discrepancy: “In their last five games, the Magic attempted just 12.0 free throws per game while their opponents took 27.4 free throws per game. It’s no coincidence the Magic lost all five of those games.”
  • More from Robbins: “Despite a sore left ankle, Nik Vucevic is scheduled to join the Orlando Magic when the team leaves Central Florida on Monday for its four-game West Coast road trip, coach Jacque Vaughn said.”
  • Oladipo “doesn’t really seem like a star in the making.”

Mar 17

Wisdom for the Magic from the Middle Ages

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

I’ve been reading Dante (Alighieri, not Marchitelli) in my spare time. As you might know, his Divine Comedy is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. Dante writes about himself and his passage through each.

Before I lose you, here’s what I’ve found: that old book from the Middle Ages has a pattern that matches the current Orlando Magic success plan really nicely.

Inferno (Hell): This would reflect the last two years. A .261 winning percentage (39-110), attendance plummeting from ninth in 2011-12 to 23rd this season, and a prolonged dearth of material for journalists to write and fans to talk about. In short, it’s just been hard. Hard to get excited for games. Hard to watch the growing pains of the players. Hard to see an end in sight.

Purgatorio (Purgatory): You could argue this was best represented during Dwight Howard’s last year in Orlando. (“Does he stay?” “Does he go?” “Depends on how the wind blows.”) But for the current team, Purgatory is what comes next. In the minds of most, next year is the time to start the process of winning games again. The Magic will have two high draft picks and money in the bank. The tide is expected to shift for the better, but there could always be more backsliding to be had, depending on the effort of everyone involved.

Paradiso (Heaven): I can’t tell you exactly how this one will look, only that no one should be expecting it for a while. It’s a matter of how high the crest of this era’s wave reaches before it has to crash and rebuild itself again. But to achieve much, you have to dream much, so let’s describe a Magic fan’s paradise: a place where young talent and energy takes the league by storm, a booming Amway Center with standing room only, and Orlando’s first championship. Of course, there would probably have to be a franchise star at the forefront of that team. At this point, not a single person knows exactly who that will be.

And with that, here are the top five Dante applied-out-of-context quotes for all you Magic fans out there:

“Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.” (Inferno, Canto I, lines 1-3)

“Along the solitary plain we went
As one who unto the lost road returns,
And till he finds it seems to go in vain.” (Purgatorio, Canto I, lines 118-120)

“To run o’er better waters hoists its sail
The little vessel of my genius now,
That leaves behind itself a sea so cruel” (Purgatorio, Canto I, lines 1-3)

“… Forth returns whoever looks behind.” (Purgatorio, Canto IX, line 132)

“Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars.” (Inferno, Canto XXXIV, line 139)

Or how about this for a potential halftime speech?

“We’re in the middle of Magic history, and things are pretty dark. In many ways, we’re floundering about and waiting for the path to success to be illuminated again. So we journey.

Hello, better waters; goodbye, cruel sea of losing streaks. Let’s not look behind us; there is nothing now but the future.

And in the end, we will emerge out of this fire to see the stars of greatness that we once new!”

That one was for free, Jacque Vaughn.

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