Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 47

Apr 08

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Will the Orlando Magic finish with the NBA’s worst record? The answer seems to be yes.
  • The Magic are dead-last in Marc Stein’s Power Rankings for this week. Again.
  • In a recent article, Forbes listed Arron Afflalo as one of the most overpaid players in the league. Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped contends that Afflalo isn’t overpaid, but overworked and being asked to do too many things on the court for Orlando.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk has had a hard time watching the Magic’s offense lately.
  • Shaq and Penny: one of the best duos in NBA history.
  • Andrew Unterberger of The Basketball Jones on Orlando retiring No. 6 for the fans: “Suuuuper lame when you’re guessing retired jerseys and you’ve exhausted all the obvious Magic guesses, until you’re forced to contemplate a universe in which a franchise retired the jersey of Terry Catledge or Darrell Armstrong for some reason.”
  • Are Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless stat-padding?
  • John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “The Magic have held four of their last five opponents under a point per possession, which is pretty amazing. They haven’t won any of those games, but why be picky? Offense (92.5 points scored per 100 possessions in that stretch) is obviously the problem and Tobias Harris might want to stay inside the arc. He has five double-doubles in his last six games, but has missed 17 of his last 18 3-point attempts.”

Apr 08

Highlights: Nikola Vucevic with another 20-20

Apr 08

Video: Nikola Vucevic throws the hammer down

Apr 08

Grades: Cleveland Cavaliers 91, Orlando Magic 85

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Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Cleveland Cavaliers 91 Final
Recap | Box Score
85 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
10-20 FG | 1-3 FT | 21 REB | 6 AST | 21 PTS | 0

His long arms once again controlled the boards as he posted his third 20-20 game of the season. Tyler Zeller was overmatched, as Nik collected eight offensive rebounds on the game and lorded over Zeller in the paint. He needs to work on setting tougher screens, particularly at the top of the key, and hitting his free throws, but he’s an octopus on the glass.

Tobias Harris
11-19 FG | 4-6 FT | 2 STL | 12 AST | 26 PTS | -1

Harris bounced back nicely from his shooting slump. Rather than settle for jumpers, he attacked the rim and hit the glass. Harris started hot, knocking down four of his first five shots, but after a big third quarter, he didn’t shoot well in the fourth. Harris’ defense left a lot to be desired too, as Gee dropped 19, including 3-for-6 from deep when Harris got stuck going under screens.

Beno Udrih
4-12 FG | 5-5 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 13 PTS | -5

Kyrie Irving shot 3-for-15 from the field, but it didn’t matter because Udrih wasn’t much better shooting. He did run the offense smoothly in the first quarter, collecting four assists — including a laser to a cutting Nik for a nifty leftie lay-in — but he only had two assists the rest of the way. And he disappeared down the stretch, committing two costly turnovers in the fourth.

Andrew Nicholson
4-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 8 PTS | -2

Thompson killed the rookie on the glass, and it got so bad Nicholson only played a minute and a half in the fourth. Nicholson did have four assists, and he knocked down a 20-footer in the second half that looked smooth, but he’s young and not quite big enough to grab rebounds without proper technique, which will hopefully come as he plays more.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Orlando was an abysmal 1-for-13 from beyond the arc. If Harris, Udrih, or Harkless had knocked down a couple of their 3-pointers, this is a totally different game. But even with their star struggling and C.J. Miles knocked out early after a Vucevic elbow found his cranium, the Cavs found a way to win behind their young forwards Alonzo Gee and Tristan Thompson.

Apr 07

Preview: Orlando Magic at Cleveland Cavaliers

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Date: April 7, 2013
  • Time: 6:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Quicken Loans Arena

Records

  • Magic: 19-58
  • Cavaliers: 23-52

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Beno Udrih
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Tobias Harris
  • Andrew Nicholson
  • Nikola Vuvevic

Cavaliers:

  • Kyrie Irving
  • Wayne Ellington
  • Alonzo Gee
  • Tristan Thompson
  • Tyler Zeller

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 92.2 (14th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.9 (26th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 109.2 (26th of 30)

Cavaliers:

  • Pace: 92.4 (12th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 104.5 (19th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 109.5 (27th of 30)

Read about the Cavaliers

Cavs: The Blog

Apr 06

Video: DeQuan Jones with a tomahawk jam

Apr 06

Grades: Chicago Bulls 87, Orlando Magic 86

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Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

 

Chicago Bulls 87 Final
Recap | Box Score
86 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
8-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 15 REB | 3 AST | 16 PTS | 0

It was to be expected that Vucevic would rack up a double-double against a shorthanded Bulls frontline currently without the services of Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. That he did it in methodical fashion is no surprise either. He got his midrange jumpers in pick-and-pop sets or by simply spotting up on the perimeter. He got his offensive rebound putbacks. Vucevic got his.

Beno Udrih
10-17 FG | 3-5 3P | 5 REB | 7 AST | 27 PTS | +4

Udrih put on a clinic on how to play effective and efficient pick-and-roll basketball, eviscerating the Bulls’ pick-and-roll coverage. Nearly every time Udrih’s defender fought over the screen, Udrih simply pulled up for a midrange jump shot as Chicago’s big sagged back to protect the paint. And it didn’t matter when a Bulls big man would hedge the screen. Udrih would still score. He was that locked in.

Tobias Harris
5-17 FG | 2-2 FT | 11 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | +2

The slump continues for Harris, who has really struggled to score since putting up a career-high 30 points against the Washington Wizards a week ago. The primary issue remains: Harris is still settling for jumpers and not attacking the rim. He should be trying to get easy buckets, or draw fouls and get to the free-throw line. Or do both.

DeQuan Jones
3-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 BLK | 2 REB | 10 PTS | -3

After Maurice Harkless sat out the second half with a sore left knee, Jones (and Doron Lamb) filled in for him. Neither played well, but Jones did have another noteworthy dunk. It was a tomahawk jam that came late in the fourth quarter, capping a 8-0 run that pulled the Magic within a single point at 87-86 with 1:33 left.

Chicago Bulls

With no Derrick Rose, Rip Hamilton, Marco Belinelli, Noah, and Gibson, head coach Tom Thibodeau has been forced to use sorcery to squeeze out wins with a shorthanded roster. And it worked against Orlando, as Nate Robinson went into hypnosis in the fourth quarter and was the main driving force behind the Bulls’ 13-4 run that ended up giving them enough cushion to hold off the Magic.

Apr 05

Preview: Orlando Magic at Chicago Bulls

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Chicago Bulls
  • Date: April 3, 2013
  • Time: 8:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: United Center

Records

  • Magic: 19-57
  • Bulls: 41-33

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Beno Udrih
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Tobias Harris
  • Andrew Nicholson
  • Nikola Vuvevic

Bulls:

  • Kirk Hinrich
  • Jimmy Butler
  • Luol Deng
  • Carlos Boozer
  • Nazr Mohammed

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 92.2 (14th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.9 (26th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 109.2 (26th of 30)

Bulls:

  • Pace: 89.3 (27th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 103.3 (22nd of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 102.8 (6th of 30)

Read about the Bulls

Bulls by the Horns

Apr 05

Meet the Magic’s small forward of the future

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Photos by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images

One of the bright spots during a post-Dwight Howard rebuilding season, in which the Orlando Magic have lost 59 of their first 76 games, is the play of rookie small forward Maurice Harkless. He was one of the players brought over from Philadelphia in the three-team mega-trade that sent Dwight to Los Angeles, Andre Iguodala to Denver, Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia, and four different players to Orlando. Combined with the contributions of Nikola Vucevic and Arron Afflalo (before he got injured), that deal doesn’t seem so lopsided these days.

After coming out of St. John’s University as a teenager, Harkless suffered a sports hernia and missed all of training camp. It showed in the season’s first couple months, as Harkless had trouble adjusting to his new role after dominating the Big East in the first part of 2012.

But over the last two and a half months, he’s provided a nice blip of offensive potential for an Orlando Magic team that could feature him as their small forward of the future. The lanky 6-foot-8 Big East alum is shooting 31.4 percent on 3-pointers for the season and 47.4 percent overall. He’s sporting a modest .517 True Shooting percentage.

His opportunities have progressed since a foot injury knocked Glen Davis out of the lineup in late January, J.J. Redick was dealt to Milwaukee at the February deadline, and Afflalo partially tore his hamstring in late March. If you’ve been watching Harkless play lately, you’ll know that he’s been taking advantage of his increased role.

The Orlando Magic are banged up right now and they’re losing, but one of the benefits of a lost season is a chance for fans to see young talent. New Magic coach Jacque Vaughn probably thinks: why not get these youngsters some reps? Orlando GM, Rob Hennigan, would also add — privately, of course — that this strategy might mean an additional number of ping-pong balls in this summer’s draft lottery.

Part of a favorable future for Harkless in Orlando is the all-important rookie deal that has GM’s, like Hennigan, salivating at all the saved cap space. In a post-CBA world where salary cap strictures are even more pronounced with increasing luxury taxes, cheap talent is almost as much of a commodity as a certain all-world center who used to prowl Amway Center. Almost. There’s no better place to find cheap talent than with kids still on their rookie deal.

This is readily apparent with the uptick in minutes for Harkless since the All-Star break.

Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 04

Video: Orlando honors Dunk City

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