John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “Last week, we kind of downplayed Tobias Harris’ solid Orlando debut. And then he went and shot 27-for-36 (5-for-9 from 3-point range) in his next three games, averaging 22.0 points and 7.7 rebounds.”
Al Harrington, fully recovered from a staph infection in his right knee, has emerged as the backup center for the Orlando Magic. Kyle O’Quinn’s playing time has diminished as a result.
Nikola Vucevic’s production has tailed off as of late. Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post takes a look at a few reasons why that is.
Vucevic is third in the NBA with 33 double-doubles this season after having just two with the Philadelphia 76ers last season (via Marc Stein of ESPN.com).
The hi-lo is one of the most complex sets in basketball. On the surface, it looks like a simple pass between two big men, but it needs perfect timing and chemistry. Lately, the Orlando Magic have been running an interesting iteration of the hi-lo. Let’s go through it step-by-step.
Things begin with a guard handling the ball at the top and a wing coming off a big man’s down pick. While this initial action may be inconsequential towards the final result of this play, it’s movements like these that make good offense’s great.
The San Antonio Spurs are constantly running Tony Parker around screens, just to use him in a simple pick-and-roll. Constantly having to fight through screens can take a toll on defenders as the game wears on and when the fourth quarter comes, mere inches of space can mean everything.
The wing and big then transition into a side pick-and-roll. Another reason for the down pick is to keep the defense off-balance so that they can’t set up their side pick-and-roll defense. This involves the defending wing taking an extreme angle and not letting the pick-and-roll ball handler use the screen. As the pick-and-roll is being run, a weak-side big man runs along the baseline and ducks into the post.
The opposite big man receives the ball and immediately hits the roller on a bounce pass. The roller’s defender is behind — his responsibility is to hedge so that the ball handler doesn’t have a direct lane to the basket. If the weak-side defender rotates over and leaves his man in the corner, Nikola Vucevic can hit him for a wide open corner three.
Here are two examples of it being run:
The two most likely outcomes are a dunk and corner three, which correlates perfectly with the two best shots in basketball. What more could you want?
3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -19
In early January, there was an article on Grantland suggesting that Vucevic could become the next Marc Gasol: a player, perceived to be nothing more than flotsam in a blockbuster trade, that emerges to become a star for a rebuilding franchise. Needless to say, Gasol showed on Sunday night that Vucevic has a lot of work to do if he ever wants to be that good.
4-10 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 12 PTS | -14
It was a decent game for Moore. He wasn’t connecting on his jump shot, but he made a few layups in transition and converted on some of those patented floaters of his. He also made a couple of nice passes as well, like his alley-oop pass to DeQuan Jones, from just inside half-court on a fast break, during garbage time.
In the first quarter, Afflalo found himself with the ball at the top of the key and the shot clock winding down while being defended by Tony Allen and Gasol. Trapped along the sideline as he dribbled towards the left wing, Afflalo put up a 3-pointer that was blocked by Gasol. That sequence epitomized the difficulty in which the Magic had in trying to score on the Grizzlies defense.
Harkless scoring in double figures is becoming a trend. Since February 19, he’s scored in double figures in each of Orlando’s last eight games and is averaging 14.1 points per game. Many of Harkless’ points against the Grizzlies came in spectacular fashion, like his dunk off an offensive rebound in the second quarter, where he seemingly swooped in from the ceiling after Tobias Harris’ missed corner three.
Despite missing Zach Randolph, who was out with a sprained left ankle, an injury he suffered in their game against the Miami Heat on Friday, Memphis dominated an outmatched Magic team and Gasol was the primary reason why. Gasol piled up a career-high 11 assists, picking apart Orlando’s defense from the high post. Gasol’s passing was exquisite and the Grizzlies flourished offensively because of it.