Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 52

Mar 16

Grades: Oklahoma City Thunder 117, Orlando Magic 104

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Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

 

Oklahoma City Thunder 117 Final
Recap | Box Score
104 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
8-15 FG | 5-5 FT | 14 REB | 1 AST | 21 PTS | -1

The good? Vucevic got his customary double-double. The bad? He wasn’t much of a rim protector. At this point, it’s clear that Vucevic can get a double-double in his sleep. However, he has to become a better defender if he really wants to be an impactful two-way player for the Magic. Right now, his defense leaves a lot to be desired.

Jameer Nelson
10-22 FG | 5-12 3P | 4 REB | 7 AST | 26 PTS | -3

Nelson scored plenty of points, but his shot selection was questionable at times. There were several instances where he attempted 3-pointers that were from the Oklahoma City Amtrak station — well beyond the limits of his range. Other times, Nelson was a little too trigger-happy in transition, pulling up for 3s when he was better served pulling back and setting up the offense for a quality shot.

Arron Afflalo
10-24 FG | 0-6 3P | 2 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | -3

Afflalo just isn’t a volume scorer. There’s no reason for him to be attempting 24 field goals, even in a fast-paced game. The tradeoff in efficiency isn’t worth it. Afflalo also made a poor decision in crunch time that stood out. With 1:47 left and the Magic trailing 112-104, Afflalo forced up a 3-point shot that was blocked by Kendrick Perkins and essentially ended Orlando’s comeback bid.

Tobias Harris
4-10 FG | 10-10 FT | 3 STL | 6 REB | 19 PTS | +1

Harris was the antithesis of Afflalo offensively. He attacked the rim with reckless abandon, either scoring in the paint or earnings trips to the free-throw line. In fact, his 10 free-throw attempts were a season-high for a Magic player this season. Harris had a whale of a time trying to deal with Serge Ibaka on the other end of the floor, but he put up a valiant effort.

Oklahoma City Thunder

In the first half, it seemed like the Thunder were on their way to another blowout victory. The scary part was that it didn’t even look like they were trying. But that lackadaisical effort eventually caught up with them, as the Magic kept pushing and prodding until they made a game of it in the fourth quarter. However, thanks to Durantula, OKC shut the door on Orlando in crunch time.

Mar 16

Video: Nikola Vucevic triggers a fast break

Mar 15

Preview: Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Date: March 15, 2013
  • Time: 8:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Chesapeake Energy Arena

Records

  • Magic: 18-47
  • Thunder: 48-17

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Tobias Harris
  • Nikola Vucevic

Thunder:

  • Russell Westbrook
  • Thabo Sefolosha
  • Kevin Durant
  • Serge Ibaka
  • Kendrick Perkins

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 91.7 (17th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 102.3 (25th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 109.1 (26th of 30)

Thunder:

  • Pace: 93.6 (8th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 112.9 (1st of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 102.8 (7th of 30)

Read about the Thunder

Daily Thunder

Mar 15

Friday’s Magic Word

  • The Orlando Magic’s defense is in for a challenge against the Oklahoma City Thunder — owners of the league’s most efficient offense.
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “The Magic (18-47) will face the ultimate road challenge tonight when the play the Oklahoma City Thunder (48-17) at noisy Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Thunder have been especially good playing in front of their boisterous crowd, going 29-4 at home this season. To put into perspective just how much of a difference the home atmosphere means to the Thunder, they are just 19-13 on the road this season.”
  • Were Magic fans right to boo Dwight Howard on Tuesday? According to Andrew Unterberger of The Basketball Jones, they were.
  • Adi Joseph of USA TODAY Sports predicts the Magic-Thunder game will be a blowout.
  • Matt Dollinger of Sports Illustrated compares Orlando’s season to The Hangover: “You had to expect this type of year after the Magic gave into Dwight Howard’s trade demands. Orlando has at least seen strong play from some of the pieces acquired in that deal — Arron Afflalo and Nikola Vucevic — but there are only two cures for this type of hangover: cap room and lottery picks. Luckily for Orlando, it’s assembling the pieces needed to shake this one off.”

Mar 15

Replicating the OKC model

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Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images

Tonight’s game between the Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder is very likely to end a certain way. The Thunder are one of the league’s best teams, perhaps the only reasonable candidate, aside from the San Antonio Spurs, to topple the Heat from their throne. The Magic are starting rookies and sophomores while working under the 20-win threshold. There’s room for variance in sports, but we’re unlikely to find it here.

However, as the Magic take the court in Oklahoma City, they will be facing off against more than just an overwhelming opponent. For the Magic, the Thunder are the goal line, the final realization of a plan that will hopefully lead the franchise back to better days.

When Rob Hennigan was hired as the Magic’s general manager this summer, it was a fairly clear declaration of intent. Hennigan had grown under Sam Presti’s supervision in the OKC greenhouse, where the optimal model for rebuilding an NBA franchise from the ground was re-established: hoard draft picks and young prospects who will hopefully pan out, keep maximum financial flexibility, avoid the questionable temptation of signing average veterans to long-term deals, and put your resources into player development. Oh, yeah, and luck into a superstar or two (or three, and trade the third away).

It’s that last part that is the most crucial piece of the puzzle. Fittingly, it’s also the hardest to emulate. It is perhaps somewhat unfair that Hennigan’s execution will ultimately be judged on his ability to stand idly by while ping pong balls are sorted out in the correct way in the correct year, but such is the nature of the business.

Meanwhile, as the Magic wait for a Kevin Durant or a Russell Westbrook to fall into their laps, they have already made several moves in the right direction since their last superstar — Dwight Howard — has left.

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Mar 13

Dwight’s return much ado about nothing

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AP Photo/John Raoux

It’s no secret that both fans and media tend to over-exaggerate, over-hype, and oversell events to create a more desirable vibe. Most recently, it was Dwight Howard’s return to Orlando as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, and only days after some controversial comments toward his former teammates.

The media did not have to try too hard to sell this one. In fact, the only thing Tuesday’s game was missing was a national TV spotlight and a two-hour pregame special with Dwight on a chair in a studio publicly retracting his comments and sharing his love for the city of Orlando.

Instead we got a League Pass game, a Lakers broadcast, and a fairly uneventful evening that actually told us a lot about Dwight Howard and our own misconceptions about the way things like this ought to play out.

The lens in which you watched the game probably dictated how you felt after it was over. Fans commonly misconstrue situations like this one to think that this was the Orlando Magic against Dwight Howard. Similarly, they might think that this was Dwight Howard trying to punish the Orlando Magic.

What we really have is Dwight Howard against himself, Orlando against the hard pursuit of rebuilding, and both teams against the ever-present distraction that is the media. These guys just wanted to play basketball, just like they do every night, and eventually they did.

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Mar 13

Grades: Los Angeles Lakers 106, Orlando Magic 97

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AP Photo/John Raoux

 

Los Angeles Lakers 106 Final
Recap | Box Score
97 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 11 REB | 3 AST | 6 PTS | +3

You have to feel for Vucevic. He ran into a buzz saw. Dwight Howard overwhelmed Vucevic with his mobility and athleticism on both ends of the floor. It was the type of one-sided matchup that people grew accustomed to seeing from Howard when he was in a Magic uniform. Vucevic competed, but he didn’t stand a chance against a motivated and healthier-looking Howard.

Jameer Nelson
9-19 FG | 1-8 3P | 3 REB | 7 AST | 21 PTS | -6

Nelson scored, but it was more by volume than with any sort of efficiency. The interesting part was that he was able to find plenty of success scoring in the paint despite Howard’s presence, usually because he was a step quicker getting to the rim. The problem was that Nelson’s 3-point shot betrayed him and that neutered his effectiveness offensively. That and his six turnovers.

Tobias Harris
7-17 FG | 3-5 3P | 3 BLK | 15 REB | 17 PTS | -4

No. 12 had a double-double and a couple of blocks in a Magic uniform. No, it wasn’t Howard. It was Harris. Wearing Howard’s jersey number in his homecoming, Harris put up a Howard-esque performance. He had the play of the game when he blocked Howard’s dunk attempt from behind, which sparked a fast break for the Magic and momentarily gave them the lead on an Afflalo layup.

Arron Afflalo
6-18 FG | 1-5 3P | 3 REB | 2 AST | 17 PTS | -6

Afflalo had a rough go of it. His defense on Kobe Bryant was excellent, even if Kobe wasn’t too involved offensively as he normally is because of head coach Jacque Vaughn’s decision to deploy the hack-a-Dwight strategy throughout the game. But Afflalo really had a tough time getting himself going on offense himself, which hurt Orlando’s cause.

Los Angeles Lakers

Revenge is a dish best served cold. After losing to the Magic in Los Angeles in early December, Howard got his revenge in his return trip to Orlando, tying his own NBA record for the most free throw attempts in a game with 39. Dwight had a monster game and ultimately had the last laugh at the expense of Magic fans.

Mar 12

Video: Tobias Harris blocks Dwight Howard

Mar 12

Video: Dwight’s pregame introduction in Orlando

Mar 12

Preview: Los Angeles Lakers at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Los Angeles Lakers at Orlando Magic
  • Date: March 12, 2013
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Lakers: 33-31
  • Magic: 18-46

Probable starters

Lakers:

  • Steve Nash
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Metta World Peace
  • Earl Clark
  • Dwight Howard

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Tobias Harris
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Lakers:

  • Pace: 94.6 (4th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 107.9 (8th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.7 (19th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 91.7 (17th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 102.3 (24th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 109.0 (26th of 30)

Read about the Lakers

Forum Blue & Gold

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