Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie: “Magic center Nikola Vucevic finished with 30 points, 20 rebounds, five assists and two blocks, which made him one of four players to post a 30-20 this season (joining Joakim Noah, Zach Randolph and DeMarcus Cousins) and gave him four 20-20 games this year, two more than anyone else in the league (Noah’s got two). [...] And in addition to sending the game to OT, Haris finished with 30 points on 13 for 20 shooting, 19 rebounds and five assists, joining Shaq as just the second player since ’85 to go for 30 and 19 before his 21st birthday.”
Nikola Vucevic places third in Chris Broussard’s ballot for Most Improved Player at ESPN Insider.
Tobias Harris gets a star from Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk for his 30-point, 19-rebound, 5-assist performance against his former team last night. The 30 points tied a career-high and the 19 rebounds were a new career-high.
John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com on Doron Lamb’s performance against the Bucks: “Not only did he score 16 points and pump in four 3-pointers, he had five straight points in overtime that broke open a two-point game and all but secured the victory for the Magic.”
Rob Mahoney of The Point Forward lists the Magic as one of the biggest surprises this season: “Magic GM Rob Hennigan is way ahead of the game. Orlando’s trade return for Dwight Howard may have seemed meager at the time, but Nikola Vucevic has blossomed into the NBA’s No. 2 rebounder (11.9 per game to go with 12.9 points), Maurice Harkless is already a useful player with plenty of room to grow and Arron Afflalo has used his new circumstances to expand his offensive game. Orlando still doesn’t have a centerpiece player on a rookie-scale deal, but that’s nonetheless a really solid haul and the Magic have three first-round picks from the deal and plenty of developmental opportunities to come.”
14-26 FG | 2-3 FT | 20 REB | 5 AST | 30 PTS | +16
How about this for a mind-boggling stat? Vucevic became the first player to record at least 20 points, 20 rebounds, and five assists in consecutive games since Tim Duncan in 2003. Vucevic had 21-21-6 against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday and 30-20-5 against the Bucks (the 30 points were a career-high). Vucevic may never be as great as Duncan, but he’s pretty damn good already.
Harris was the hero after he made a game-tying 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left after Marquis Daniels waited too long to foul him with Milwaukee up three. But he was also the villain (depending on who you ask), causing a little controversy by electing to dunk the ball in the closing seconds of the overtime instead of dribbling the clock out.
Udrih had a rough outing to say the least. In pick-and-rolls, he clanked jumpers left and right when pulling up for midrange jump shots. And he had a number of inexplicable turnovers, especially in the fourth quarter. But the Magic were able to overcome it — barely. Had they not, Udrih would have been the scapegoat for his dreadful offensive performance.
It speaks volumes that Lamb not only got extended minutes, but that he played the entire fourth quarter and overtime, and drew the assignment of defending J.J. Redick. And it speaks greater volumes that Vaughn ran a sideline out-of-bounds play for Lamb coming out of a timeout in the extra frame. That Lamb scored on the play, setting a new career-high with 16 points, was only fitting.
Not only did the Bucks lose in heartbreaking fashion after having the game in the bag, but the driving forces behind the Magic’s win were former Milwaukee players. You can’t help but wonder, especially if Redick walks in free agency, if the Bucks will regret letting Harris go in a trade that was meant to give them better playoff positioning this season but hasn’t.
He’s old and slow, but that’s not the only reason Hedo Turkoglu should go.
The Orlando Magic are a franchise on the mend after the “put Dwight Howard in the middle and spread the floor with 3-point shooting” experiment ended in recriminations, and finally with Howard getting dealt to Los Angeles. Keeping Hedo around next season would slow the Magic’s stated decision to rebuild, and he’s not exactly the best mentor for the youngsters the Magic possess and are likely to keep acquiring with all the draft picks headed their way.
There are bad contracts and then there are badcontracts, and the Orlando Magic franchise has unfortunately experienced a few of the latter during their brief reign as the NBA’s equivalent of easy money.
No Magic fan can forget Rashard Lewis’s laughable — and possibly PED-influenced — $118 million signing in the summer of 2007. Or the swap of that contract for Gilbert Arenas. Even though Arenas had been amnestied before the start of last season, the Magic still have to pay him $20.8 million this year and $22.3 million next year! Yeah.
So it’s not very surprising the recent Forbes list of the most overpaid NBA players included two current Magic members.
Although the team has not always executed — the Orlando Magic rank 27th in offensive efficiency — the system that rookie head coach Jacque Vaughn has put into place is exciting as a concept.
He’s used a ton of off-ball movement all season. The primary shooter in those sets was J.J. Redick, but as we all know, he’s in Milwaukee now and Vaughn has had to adapt. He’s plugged Arron Afflalo into a particularly effective action Orlando has been running like gangbusters post-trade deadline.
Things begin in a little bit of a “Horns” look, with two high post big men, but almost immediately Tobias Harris moves towards the corner and Al Harrington comes up from the elbow for a screen-and-roll with Jammer Nelson. This is a faux-action, executed only to occupy the defense and get Nelson moving towards the middle.
Another effect of the initial pick-and-roll is to get the Magic’s lone true big man (though it may even be a stretch to call Al Harrington a true big man) out of the paint. Look how much space there is in the middle of the floor.
Harris and Maurice Harkless criss-cross each other on cuts, with Harkless continuing on a curl to the middle while Harris is stopping and lurking on the baseline.
All the space left open in the middle of the floor is now Harkless’ to exploit and the Sixers don’t want to let him do that. Harris’ man (head circled) is keeping his eye on Harkless and shifts over just a half step.
Meanwhile, Afflalo begins to accelerate towards a stealthily-set Harris screen. He comes around it and pops to the corner — the man with the responsibility of helping on him is a step behind because of the Harkless cut. If his man can get around the screen, Afflalo can just use his defender’s momentum against him and curl into the middle. Here’s a couple examples of the play in real time:
This offense will become more and more potent as players develop. The biggest thing is that a system and process are in place, and if Orlando can keep them consistent, they’ll succeed in due time.
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.
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.”
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.”