Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 38

Jan 03

Welcoming back the original black pinstripes

Nick Anderson Action Portrait

NBA Photos/Getty Images

Via OrlandoMagic.com:

In celebration of the Magic’s 25th anniversary season and to honor the rich history of Orlando Magic basketball, the team will don the original jersey, the signature black, pinstriped jersey with throwback team logos worn through the 1989-94 seasons starting with the January 4 matchup with the Miami Heat. The team also featured the jerseys through the 1998 season as an alternate. The original Magic jersey design was worn by Magic greats including Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Dennis Scott, Nick Anderson, Horace Grant, Darrell Armstrong and Scott Skiles.

There’s a time for objective analysis, and there’s a time for things that are too awesome for stoicism. The Orlando Magic wearing their “black, pinstriped jersey[s]” is of the latter category. They’re among the greatest jerseys ever, and, given the general reaction on Twitter being an emphatic embrace of the news, they’re fondly remembered.

The reason, I’m willing to wager, stretches back to the talent and level of play of those Shaq and Penny years. For a fair share of basketball fans around the country, Orlando became a national team. Those teams were the very definition of entertaining. Don’t forget about Dennis Scott, Nick Anderson and Horace Grant in these same styled jerseys — with Grant accentuating them with matching Rec Specs. Scott Skiles donned them, too.

Many fans have first loves, but Orlando provided an outlet in lean years and an entertaining alternative on off nights. That effect seems even more pronounced in regions far removed from an NBA city, where geographical affiliation becomes nebulous and rooting for a team either hundreds or thousands of miles away seems an equal choice.*

*Alternate explanation: people like the jerseys because they look really good. And in an age of endless glasses without lenses, surely someone on the Magic can rock some non-prescription Rec Specs, right? I’m looking at you, Tobias Harris.

And, fair weather or bandwagon as it might be, I think the Magic will gain quite a few fans as they once again don these gorgeous jerseys. Even if it’s just for the few nights that they are so adorned, it’s a chance to show the entertaining side of the 2013-14 Orlando squad. Nikola Vucevic is a mountain of a man who devours souls and rebounds alike. Victor Oladipo seems more adept at initiating offense and creating his own looks with every game. Arron Afflalo continues his bid to make the All-Star Game. Glen Davis does Glen Davis things, and all that entails.

In an age of expanding League Pass access (and other not-so-legitimate means), the era of the national team is alive and well. The Magic will draw curious viewers with their selection of attire. Keeping them curious is the new task at hand.

Jan 03

Grades: Cleveland Cavaliers 87, Orlando Magic 81 (OT)

Screen Shot 2014-01-03 at 10.41.50 AM

Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Cleveland Cavaliers 87 Final
Recap | Box Score
81 Orlando Magic

Arron Afflalo
5-15 FG | 2-5 3P | 6 REB | 5 AST | 12 PTS | -12

The Cavaliers double-teamed Afflalo throughout the game and forced him to give up the ball a lot. The Magic tried their best to run sets Afflalo to free him up for open looks to counteract that. But even then, Cleveland made it tough on Afflalo to get quality shots. This is the type of added attention Afflalo has been seeing lately, given how well he’s been playing this season.

Glen Davis
6-19 FG | 4-8 FT | 2 BLK | 13 REB | 16 PTS | -11

Big Baby got a double-double, but as is the norm for him, he did it in the most inefficient way possible. He took 19 shots to score 16 points, with many of his misses coming at the rim. It’s often said that Davis struggles to finish in the paint because of his lack of lift (due to his girth). That’s what happened against the Cavaliers.

Jameer Nelson
5-9 FG | 4-8 3P | 6 REB | 9 AST | 14 PTS | -8

Did you know that more than half of Nelson’s field goal attempts (55.6 percent, to be exact) are from behind the 3-point line? Well, now you know. Nelson kept that trend going versus Cleveland, as four of his five made field goals were 3-point shots. It’s interesting to see Nelson’s shot selection drift further away from the basket — at least he’s not shooting long 2s.

Andrew Nicholson
5-11 FG | 0-3 3P | 1 BLK | 6 REB | 12 PTS | +7

Nicholson wasn’t able to connect on any of his corner 3s, but that’s about all he couldn’t do offensively. He was damn near-automatic everywhere else on the floor. On a night where nearly every player for the Magic struggled to score on offense, Nicholson was effective. If given the minutes, he could have easily put up a more efficient double-double than Davis.

Cleveland Cavaliers

In the span of 13.9 seconds, Nelson fouled Jack on a 3-pointer, Harris committed a five-second violation, and Moore missed two free throws. That allowed the Cavaliers to erase a 79-72 deficit — thanks to Jack’s three free throws and back-to-back layups from Waiters — and send the game to overtime, where they came back to win. Varejao (18 points, career-high 25 rebounds) was a monster.

Jan 03

Video: Dion Waiters sends the game to overtime

Jan 02

Preview: Orlando Magic at Cleveland Cavaliers

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Date: January 2, 2014
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Quicken Loans Arena

Records

  • Magic: 10-21
  • Cavaliers: 10-21

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Tobias Harris
  • Glen Davis
  • Jason Maxiell

Cavaliers:

  • Jarrett Jack
  • C.J. Miles
  • Earl Clark
  • Tristan Thompson
  • Anderson Varejao

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 94.7 (13th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.8 (24th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 105.1 (14th of 30)

Cavaliers:

  • Pace: 93.8 (17th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 100.2 (27th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.6 (19th of 30)

Read about the Cavaliers

Cavs: The Blog

Jan 02

Magic to wear Hardwood Classics jerseys

Orlando Magic v New Jersey Nets

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

In celebration of the Magic’s 25th anniversary season and to honor the rich history of Orlando Magic basketball, the team will don the original jersey, the signature black, pinstriped jersey with throwback team logos worn through the 1989-94 seasons starting with the January 4 matchup with the Miami Heat. The team also featured the jerseys through the 1998 season as an alternate. The original Magic jersey design was worn by Magic greats including Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Dennis Scott, Nick Anderson, Horace Grant, Darrell Armstrong and Scott Skiles.

The white and black pinstriped jerseys were worn for some of the greatest Magic moments in team history, including Scott Skiles’ 30 assist performance on Dec. 30, 1990 – breaking the NBA record for most assists in a single game; Shaquille O’Neal breaking the backboard and Nick Anderson scoring a career-high 50 points in the same game on April 23, 1993; when Nick Anderson stole the ball from Michael Jordan in Game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals; the Magic’s first run to the NBA Finals in 1995; Dennis Scott setting a then-NBA single game record with 11 3-pointers on April 18, 1996; and Penny Hardaway’s 42 and 41 points, respectively, in Games 3 and 4 of the first round of the 1997 NBA Playoffs against Miami, still ranking as one of the best playoff performances in Magic history.

The Hardwood Classic Jerseys will be featured at the following 10 games this season: Jan. 4 vs. Miami, Jan. 17 vs. Charlotte, Jan. 21 at Brooklyn, Jan. 24 vs. LA Lakers, Feb. 5 vs. Detroit, Feb. 7 vs. Oklahoma City, Feb. 21 vs. New York, Mar. 8 at San Antonio, Mar. 10 at Milwaukee and Mar. 14 vs. Washington.

Dec 31

Grades: Golden State Warriors 94, Orlando Magic 81

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Golden State Warriors 94 Final
Recap | Box Score
81 Orlando Magic

Arron Afflalo
7-18 FG | 0-4 3P | 1 REB | 4 AST | 15 PTS | -20

Bound to come back to earth simply due to regression after such awesome recent play, Afflalo also struggled due to some sterling defense by the Warriors — his streak of six consecutive games scoring 20 or more points was snapped. He deserves credit for helping to hold Curry and Thompson in check from beyond the arc, though: Golden State shot just 6-for-27 from behind the 3-point line.

Nikola Vucevic
2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 BLK | 1 REB | 4 PTS | -13

Vucevic left in the first quarter after spraining his left ankle (the same ankle he injured earlier in the season) and never returned. His absence, though, was certainly felt, nowhere more than on the glass. With Vucevic out of commission, the Warriors proceeded to out-rebound the Magic by a wide margin (56-37). Orlando can only hope that Vucevic isn’t out for too long.

Glen Davis
4-10 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | -15

In a battle of shoot-first, defense-averse power forwards, Big Baby was soundly outplayed by David Lee from the opening tip. The numbers, incredibly, don’t do his performance justice. Davis was dreadful on both ends against the Warriors. Three rebounds? That’s not close to good enough. Meanwhile, Lee finished the game with 22 points (11-for-15 shooting from the floor) and nine rebounds.

Tobias Harris
2-11 FG | 0-3 FT | 1 BLK | 9 REB | 5 PTS | -16

Harris couldn’t find his jumper against the Warriors and was far too stubborn in his search. On several occasions he forced a shot when a pass was the smarter play. He was the only Orlando player that was even close to game on the boards, though, and had a couple memorable defensive moments. But offense is his game, and Harris needs to be far better.

Golden State Warriors

The Warriors jumped out to a 26-13 lead in the first quarter, getting whatever they wanted offensively while playing sound defense on the other end. Golden State’s double-digit lead ballooned to 24 in the second quarter and they — understandably so — went on cruise control from there. The Magic made things interesting in the third quarter, but this was a beatdown. Plain and simple.

Dec 31

Preview: Golden State Warriors at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Golden State Warriors at Orlando Magic
  • Date: December 31, 2013
  • Time: 5:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Warriors: 19-13
  • Magic: 10-20

Probable starters

Warriors:

  • Stephen Curry
  • Klay Thompson
  • Andre Iguodala
  • David Lee
  • Andrew Bogut

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Tobias Harris
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Warriors:

  • Pace: 96.9 (4th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 105.4 (14th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 101.1 (6th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 94.7 (13th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.8 (24th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 105.1 (14th of 30)

Read about the Warriors

Warriors World

Dec 31

3-on-3: Looking back at 2013

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

It has been a wild year in 2013. Which teams and players can stake claim to the title of Biggest Surprise? Which are just glad to see the calendar flip to 2014? Our panel of experts discusses the best of 2013 for the Orlando Magic.

1. Which player was the biggest surprise in 2013?

Jacob Frankel: Nikola Vucevic. While Tobias Harris’ per minute numbers in Milwaukee indicated he could stuff the stat sheet, that wasn’t the case with Vucci Mane. Vucevic was a minor part of the Dwight Howard deal, but might be the most valuable piece going forward. He has an 18.4 PER this season and is only 23 years old.

Spencer Lund: Nikola Vucevic. The big fella from Montenegro was supposed to be a throwaway piece as part of the four-team Dwight Howard swap, but Doug Collins was a fool to let him leave Philly. He burst onto the scene with those 20-rebound games against Miami, but I love how he’s continued his steady production this season, even with more defenses keyed on him.

Andrew Lynch: Nikola Vucevic. While Arron Afflalo has turned things around this year, we knew he had that in him. Vucevic, on the other hand, was a board-gobbling, paint-dominating monster that I never saw coming. Given time to play in Orlando, he’s flourished, expanding the qualities he showed in Philadelphia to become a big part of the Magic’s future.

2. Which player was the biggest disappointment in 2013?

Frankel: The Magic have lost a lot of games in 2013, but I’m having trouble pointing to one player that’s been specifically disappointing. Maurice Harkless hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, but he’s a young player still figuring the NBA out. Arron Afflalo had a miserable 2012-13 season, but has made up for that with a scorching stretch throughout the fall and winter.

Lund: Hedo Turkoglu. I wish he had stayed in shape like a lot of players do now with better trainers, but Hedo was gonna have his pizza, and try and squeak by on PEDs. He was the first player that really made me scratch my head. He just didn’t seem to care, which is probably an unfair assessment, but one I can’t help making.

Lynch: Jameer Nelson. It seems unfair to pick on the young guys when they still have so much development ahead of them. Every time I watch Nelson play, it just makes me miss the old Jameer from four or five years ago. I know he’s never coming back, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. Come back to us, Jameer!

3. What storyline stood out to you the most in 2013?

Frankel: Orlando winning the Dwight Howard deal. The Lakers lost Howard, the Nuggets lost Iguodala, and Bynum didn’t play at all in Philadelphia. The Magic were terrible enough to snag Victor Oladipo, Afflalo is playing out of his mind in the new season, and of course there’s the aforementioned Vucevic. This trade is a prime example of how one should wait a few years before judging a deal.

Lund: Rob Hennigan preparing for the future. The Magic are bad again this season, but are they bad enough? That remains to be seen. Picking up the fourth-year options on Vucevic and Tobias are huge (especially if the Magic can sign them long-term next season) and Orlando could have two lottery picks this summer with the lesser of the Denver pick if they miss the playoffs.

Lynch: Orlando’s eye on the future. They acquired some nice assets in the Dwight Howard trade, and they’re positioned for another top pick this year. On the theoretical level, the Magic are in a good place going forward. Whether or not they can put it all together and take the next step as a young team will likely be the story of 2014.

Dec 30

Monday’s Magic Word

  • The Orlando Magic are on a rare two-game winning streak.
  • Arron Afflalo keeps putting up All-Star caliber numbers.
  • Afflalo has scored 20-plus points in six straight games. During that span, he’s averaging 24.0 points per game with a .693 True Shooting percentage.
  • Tyler Lashbrook of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “What Hennigan is looking for–from Jacque Vaughn and his young guys–is improvement. He wants to see Victor Oladipo develop point guard skills; he wants to see Andrew Nicholson improve on defense and on the glass; he wants to watch Arron Afflalo establish himself as an All-Star caliber, do-it-all player. He’s looking for his core–the one he built nearly from scratch–continue to get better. I imagine he’s using this season to see who can do what and who has a future with the team.”
  • Afflalo’s recent efficiency binge has been put him in rare company — alongside Larry Bird and Detlef Schrempf, to be exact.
  • Chad Ford of ESPN Insider with an eyebrow-raising comment: “Afflalo has been great, but Bledsoe could’ve been their point guard of the future and devastating next to Victor Oladipo in the backcourt. It’s this sort of fence-sitting that may mean the difference between the Magic getting the top pick and having the fifth-best player in the draft.”
  • Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “Arron Afflalo’s string of six straight 20-point games is the longest for any Magic player since Dwight Howard’s 11-gamer in the spring of 2011.”
  • On this day one year ago, Nikola Vucevic had the game of his life (20 points and 29 rebounds) against the Miami Heat. The 29 rebounds were a franchise record.
  • John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “Having started the last five games, Tobias Harris is finding a rhythm offensively. The Magic’s new starting lineup has been excellent on that end in 69 minutes together. And with Victor Oladipo totaling 19 assists off the bench, Orlando has scored 109 points in each of their last two games. So Tuesday’s matchup with the Warriors — who are playing their best defense of the season — could be a good one.”
  • Victor Oladipo is starting to get the hang of this point guard thing.
  • Andrew Nicholson is staying positive despite seeing a dip in playing time recently.
  • Orlando is prepping for their New Years Eve tilt against the Golden State Warriors.

Dec 30

Staying ahead of the statistical revolution

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 12.00.35 PM

Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Though a rising tide ostensibly lifts all boats, the trend toward analytically-minded NBA head coaches has left Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn adrift in the wake of public opinion. And it’s too bad, too, as Vaughn and the Magic were a year ahead of the curve.

This past offseason, nine teams hired rookie head coaches to lead their on-court execution and player development. Unsurprisingly, several have struggled significantly and notably in their first year on the bench — Jason Kidd, of course, but also Mike Malone in Sacramento. Dave Joerger in Memphis has battled through injuries to his roster and a two-step forward, one-step back foray into changing the way the Grizzlies play, and Brian Shaw’s Nuggets have been down, then up, then down again.

Yet the other five first-year head honchos (Brett Brown, Jeff Hornacek, Brad Stevens, Steve Clifford and Mike Budenholzer) have gathered a fair amount of acclaim for their relative success in their brief careers, and one of the ties that binds that group is an appreciation for and application of the statistical and data revolution in which the league currently finds itself in.

Orlando, however, took to the future a year ahead of the rest. General manager Rob Hennigan, who spent eight years in the San Antonio and Oklahoma City organizations, is well-known at this point for his interest in analytics. The Magic were among the earliest adopters of the SportVU player tracking technology, and Hennigan attended the 2013 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference along with other members of the Orlando front office.

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