Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 64

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

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 12.23.52 PM

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

Screen Shot 2013-04-04 at 8.53.57 PM

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.

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Apr 04

Video: Orlando honors Dunk City

Apr 03

Grades: San Antonio Spurs 98, Orlando Magic 84

Capture

AP Photo/Eric Gay

 

San Antonio Spurs 98 Final
Recap | Box Score
84 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
7-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 STL | 14 REB | 16 PTS | -3

Vucevic had a rather underwhelming first half. His midrange jumper wasn’t falling and he struggled to finish around the rim. But he resurrected himself on offense after halftime, partly because head coach Gregg Popovich elected to rest Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter in the second half. That allowed Vucevic free reign to have his way with the dregs of the Spurs bench.

Maurice Harkless
8-21 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 BLK | 9 REB | 18 PTS | -12

FGCU may have gotten bounced from the NCAA Tournament, but Dunk City lived on thanks to Harkless, who had a couple of dunks that drew some “oohs” and “ahhs” from the road crowd. His finest dunk of the evening came late in the second quarter when Harris connected with Harkless for an alley-oop dunk in transition. It wasn’t quite Wade to LeBron, but it was spectacular nonetheless.

Beno Udrih
5-11 FG | 2-3 3P | 3 STL | 8 AST | 14 PTS | -16

Facing off against a team who he won championships with in 2005 and 2007, Udrih lucked out in this one. Instead of having to deal with Tony Parker, a whirling dervish of a point guard having the best season of his career, Udrih got matched up primarily against Nando De Colo. Let’s just say that De Colo is in a different class than Parker.

Tobias Harris
5-19 FG | 1-6 3P | 5 AST | 7 REB | 11 PTS | -7

Harris really falls in love with his jump shot sometimes and against San Antonio, his jumper left him at the altar. Harris did attack the rim some, more so in the second half once Duncan and Splitter — the Spurs’ primary rim protectors — were out of the game, but he should have been even more aggressive when Boris Diaw and Aron Baynes were manning the middle.

San Antonio Spurs

It says something about San Antonio’s culture that Popovich can rest most of his starters and the remainder of the team picks up the slack in their absence. In the second half, Pop rolled out the Spurs’ C-Team and they dispatched the Magic with ease. It was a prime example of the winning program that Orlando is slowly trying to emulate.

Apr 03

Preview: Orlando Magic at San Antonio Spurs

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at San Antonio Spurs
  • Date: April 3, 2013
  • Time: 8:30 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: AT&T Center

Records

  • Magic: 19-56
  • Spurs: 55-19

Probable starters

Magic:

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

Spurs:

  • Nando De Colo
  • Danny Green
  • Stephen Jackson
  • Boris Diaw
  • Tim Duncan

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 92.1 (14th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 102.1 (26th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 109.4 (26th of 30)

Spurs:

  • Pace: 93.7 (7th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 109.3 (7th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 101.5 (3rd of 30)

Read about the Spurs

48 Minutes of Hell

Apr 03

Wednesday’s Mini-Magic Word

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “As Shaq delivered his jersey-retirement speech Tuesday night at Staples Center, home of the L.A. Lakers, Dwight Howard also was in the building. Dwight was waiting in the Lakers’ lockeroom at halftime, waiting to build (or rescue) his legacy in L.A. as others paid homage to Shaq’s. In other words, it was a double whammy for the Magic and their fans.”
  • George Gervin, a family friend and mentor, will be rooting on Tobias Harris when the Orlando Magic play the San Antonio Spurs later tonight.
  • The Spurs will be a stiff test for the Magic.
  • Nikola Vucevic is looking forward to matching up against Tim Duncan, a player that he’s admired from afar since his childhood days.

Apr 03

Five creative ways to recover from a concussion

Capture

Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Nikola Vucevic is back and a double-double machine again. He recorded his 39th double-double on the year when he dropped 12 points and grabbed 13 rebounds against the Houston Rockets on Monday. His solid showing was a long way from the fragile state he was in earlier last week when he was trying to recover from a concussion suffered at the elbow of the insufferable Tyler Hansborough.

In the initial stages of his convalescence, Vucevic experienced the symptoms that usually occur after suffering a concussion: sensitivity to light, dizziness, and headaches. According to John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com, Vucevic “was instructed to not watch television, read or even text on his phone during his recovery.”

An inability to watch TV, read, or text helpfully coincided with his mom and dad, Ljiljana and Borislav (we don’t know how to pronounce their names, either), visiting from Montenegro. While they were in town, he asked his mom for some of her home cooking, ostensibly because he didn’t have anything else he could do. He couldn’t watch tape, browse the Internet, or tweet (not that he’s a social media maven) so he might as well bulk up by consuming whatever delicious dishes his mom served him.

Here’s what Vucevic had to say about his lack of entertainment options during his recovery:

My parents were in town, so I got a chance to spend time with them. But I’d rather be out on the court with my teammates. It was very frustrating. I was very bored because I couldn’t really do anything. They told me I couldn’t watch TV, couldn’t read and couldn’t text. It’s not like I couldn’t do those things, but if I did it might have slowed the recovery of the brain so I just did the right things. And it was frustrating to see (Magic) guys playing hard and I wanted to be out there to help them win. It was unfortunate, but I’m back now.

The whole ordeal got us thinking: what on earth could Nikola have done in the down time between meals?

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