Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 66

Feb 04

Recap: Milwaukee Bucks 107, Orlando Magic 98

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Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

BOX SCORE

Going into this game, it didn’t seem very likely that the Magic would have a shot. They were without three starters (Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, and Glen Davis) and the Bucks’ depth looked to be too much for the inexperienced portion of Orlando’s roster that was healthy to handle. And that’s pretty much exactly how it played out.

The Magic looked lethargic from the get-go, falling behind to the Bucks and never really climbing back into it. The nine-point final margin of victory for Milwaukee is about indicative of how the game went. Orlando stayed in it just enough to not be blown out, but never really made a serious run. They’d make a shot or two and the Bucks would respond with a run of their own, halting any momentum the Magic may have been building. That’s, more or less, how it went for 48 minutes.

There were some silver linings for the Magic. Maurice Harkless had his best game of the season with 19 points and 14 rebounds in a rare start. Kyle O’Quinn also made the case for more minutes, scoring nine points in 11 minutes on an efficient 4-for-7 shooting. Nikola Vucevic was outstanding, finishing with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks.

But without Jameer Nelson, E’Twaun Moore was forced to start at point guard, which is usually a recipe for disaster. He had an atrocious shooting night (3-for-14 from the floor) and had four turnovers. Ish Smith wasn’t much better.

Even the Magic’s best player and most reliable distributor outside of Nelson, J.J. Redick, had an off night offensively — and this was before a shoulder injury took him out of the game late. Hopefully that’s nothing too serious because the last thing the Magic need right now is another injury to a key player (as well as their best trade chip).

The Magic were simply outplayed by the Bucks at both ends of the floor from start to finish. That happens to every team, but it happens more often to a team like the Magic and especially when they’re playing without three of their steadiest veteran scorers.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Maurice Harkless had something of a breakout game in a losing effort, notching his first career double-double and adding four steals.

X-Factor

The Magic were playing extremely shorthanded, being without Jameer Nelson (bruised left forearm), Glen Davis (fractured left foot), and Arron Afflalo (strained left calf). Nelson’s absence in particular was felt, as E’Twaun Moore is not a point guard by any means.

That Was … Potentially Scary

J.J. Redick suffered a shoulder injury late and will miss at least the Magic’s next game, just one of a myriad of injuries to key players the Magic have been dealing with lately.

Feb 02

Preview: Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks
  • Date: February 2, 2013
  • Time: 8:30 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Bradley Center

Records

  • Magic: 14-32
  • Bucks: 24-21

Probable starters

Magic:

  • E’Twaun Moore
  • J.J. Redick
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Andrew Nicholson
  • Nikola Vucevic

Bucks:

  • Brandon Jennings
  • Monta Ellis
  • Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
  • Ersan Ilyasova
  • Larry Sanders

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 91.3 (17th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 103.1 (23rd of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.9 (25th of 30)

Bucks:

  • Pace: 94.2 (6th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 103.1 (22nd of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 103.7 (10th of 30)

Read about the Bucks

Bucksketball

Feb 02

Recap: Boston Celtics 97, Orlando Magic 84

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Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

BOX SCORE

With Glen Davis sidelined with a fractured left foot and Arron Afflalo out with a strained left calf, it was expected that the Orlando Magic — one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA — would struggle mightily on offense against the Boston Celtics. Especially when you consider the fact that the Celtics ranked 8th in Defensive Rating heading into Friday’s game.

Lo and behold, that’s what happened, as the Magic scored 35 points in the first half and struggled to generate points in their half-court offense. Nikola Vucevic, J.J. Redick, and Andrew Nicholson were the only players for Orlando to have any kind of success offensively.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for the Magic, it did. Late in the second quarter, Jameer Nelson suffered a bruised left forearm on a routine play. Paul Pierce grabbed a rebound and Nelson tried to strip the ball. While that was happening, Pierce’s elbow collided into Nelson’s left arm. Nelson, in pain, had to come out of the game and didn’t play in the second half.

In a way, Orlando was lucky to have only been down by 11 points in the first half.

In the second half, the Magic — without Davis, Afflalo, and Nelson — kept fighting and were able to cut their deficit to just three points midway through the third quarter.

But the Celtics were able to seize control of the game and go on a 15-5 run to end the period to extend their lead to 12. In the fourth quarter, Boston’s lead ballooned to as many as 23 points before Orlando went on a late run to make the final score respectable.

With the defeat, the Magic lost their eighth consecutive game and for the 19th time over their last 21 games.

At a certain point, with the losses piling up and the trade deadline approaching, you have to wonder if it’s time for Orlando to blow it up and focus on developing the young players — especially guys like Maurice Harkless, Andrew Nicholson, and Kyle O’Quinn.

Redick’s name has been throw around in trade rumors and when you consider his cap-friendly contract, as well as the fact that he’s having arguably the best season of his career, you have to imagine that general manager Rob Hennigan is thinking long and hard about what Redick might fetch in a trade.

With every loss, you have to wonder if now is the time for the Magic to position themselves fully for the future.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Jeff Green came off the bench for Boston and made a big impact with his athleticism. No play signified that more than in the third quarter when he pump-faked Hedo Turkoglu and finished with a thunderous dunk.

That Was … Anti-Climactic

It’s safe to say, with Orlando continuing to lose, that this is what the Magic fanbase expected when Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson were traded and Stan Van Gundy was fired.

Feb 01

Preview: Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics
  • Date: February 1, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: TD Garden

Records

  • Magic: 14-31
  • Celtics: 22-23

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • J.J. Redick
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Andrew Nicholson
  • Nikola Vucevic

Celtics:

  • Avery Bradley
  • Courtney Lee
  • Paul Pierce
  • Brandon Bass
  • Kevin Garnett

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 91.2 (18th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 103.4 (21st of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 108.0 (25th of 30)

Celtics:

  • Pace: 91.1 (19th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.9 (27th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 102.9 (7th of 30)

Read about the Celtics

Celtics Hub

Feb 01

Friday’s Magic Word

  • The Orlando Magic are on pace to break an NBA record for free-throw futility. Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post has more: “The Magic’s 78.7-percent mark on foul shots ranked fifth in the 2012/13 season through Wednesday’s games, but accuracy isn’t the problem for Orlando. Not anymore, anyway. No, the real problem is that the Magic don’t draw fouls. Through Wednesday, the Magic’s average of 16 free-throw attempts per game ranked last in the league. Not just for the season, but ever. Prior to 2012/13, no team in the history of the NBA had ever averaged fewer than 18 free-throw attempts. Orlando is one of two teams–the Philadelphia 76ers are the other–now under that threshold.”
  • The Magic are 1-10 without Glen Davis this season.
  • Al Harrington, who has yet to play a game this season as he recovers from knee surgery, says he’s close to returning.
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel has additional details on Harrington’s road to recovery.
  • More from Robbins: “Arron Afflalo didn’t participate in the Orlando Magic’s shootaround this morning at TD Garden because of his strained left calf, and he’s unlikely to play when the team faces the Boston Celtics tonight.”

Feb 01

3-on-3 roundtable: Reaction to Glen Davis’ fractured left foot

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Against the New York Knicks on Wednesday, Glen Davis suffered a left foot injury after stepping on Iman Shumpert’s foot early in the first quarter. It was revealed later that night that Davis fractured his left foot.

But it wasn’t until the next day when the Orlando Magic revealed the severity of the injury — Davis had fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot and was expected to be out 8-12 weeks. In other words, he could miss the rest of the season.

Magic Basketball reacts to news of Davis’ injury.

What were your first few thoughts when Davis went down?

Nate Drexler: Honestly, I didn’t think this would be a potentially season-ending injury. My first thought was that the Magic would struggle to cover Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler for the rest of the game, but it really didn’t occur to me that this was a serious injury.

Sean Highkin: A potentially season-ending injury sucks, no matter how frustrating the player in question has been this season. I feel bad for him and wish him the best in his recovery.

Noam Schiller: Mostly, it just sucks for Glen. He hasn’t been the funnest guy to watch this year, but he’s consistently tried hard to acquit himself to a bigger role. Then again. Andrew Nicholson!

What does this mean for the Magic this season?

Drexler: A few less wins, a few more losses, and a lot more minutes for Andrew Nicholson (hopefully). Like it or not, Glen Davis is a huge part of both the offense and defense, and comes equipped with a “win at all costs” mentality. This is honestly a blow to an already troubled squad.

Highkin: I don’t think it will really have that big an impact one way or the other on their win-loss record. The Magic are pretty good at losing games with or without Big Baby in the lineup. The silver lining here is that it opens up a lot of extra minutes for Andrew Nicholson, whose recent DNP-CD’s make no sense whatsoever. I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts the majority of games the rest of the way and I’ll be interested to see what he can do given that added responsibility.

Schiller: That the defensive team from November and December is done for. Davis has been the team’s best frontcourt defender by a mile, but his struggles with his shot have consistently taken the offense down. Without him, this is guaranteed to be an offense-first squad.

Is Orlando a better team without Davis?

Drexler: Maybe. It’s not a pot shot at Davis, but numbers don’t lie, right? The Magic are 5.0 points per 100 possessions worse with Davis on the floor, per NBA.com. Does that speak more to the team in general or to Davis’ inflated usage and shot volume? I’m not really sure. Right now, I’m more caught up thinking about how Orlando is going to do anything inside when Vucevic and Nicholson are not in the game.

Highkin: Yes. They’re not a good team regardless, but games will certainly be more watchable without him jacking up contested long two after contested long two.

Schiller: No. The Magic went on a 10-game losing streak when Davis went down in December and have been obliterated defensively when he wasn’t on the floor. Long term, it might be advisable to give his minutes towards younger guys, but it’s hard to argue that would be the case if the team were playing for anything at the moment.

Jan 31

Thursday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Glen Davis will undergo surgery on Friday to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot, and Orlando Magic officials expect him to miss eight to 12 weeks, leaving his return by the end of the season in serious doubt.”
  • Jameer Nelson is a master of the trick shot.
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie reacts to news that Glen Davis may miss the rest of the season with a fractured left foot.
  • Ben Golliver of The Point Forward breaks down the repercussions of Davis’ injury: “The Magic sit in 12th place in the Eastern Conference with a 14-31 record. The loss to the Knicks marked their seventh consecutive defeat during what has been Year One of a rebuilding season following the blockbuster trade of All-Star center Dwight Howard last summer. There are still 11 full weeks until Orlando’s final regular-season game of the season. Of course, given their positioning relative to the playoff picture, there’s no reason to rush Davis back into the lineup for meaningless games down the stretch.”
  • With Davis out for the foreseeable future, more playing time could be on the horizon for Andrew Nicholson.
  • Despite standout performances from Nelson and J.J. Redick, the Magic lost to the New York Knicks in last night’s game.
  • Video of Davis’ fracturing his left foot after stepping on Iman Shumpert’s foot while running up the court.
  • With Davis potentially out with a season-ending injury and the Magic having lost 18 of their last 20 games, Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel says it’s time for Orlando to focus on developing players for the future.
  • Amin Elhassan of ESPN Insider: “One of the less heralded pieces of the Dwight Howard trade, Vucevic has quietly emerged as one of the most productive young centers in the league after not playing much in his rookie year in Philadelphia. He’s an elite rebounder on both ends, checking at No. 6 in DRB (27.1) and No. 20 in ORB (12.2). He’s one of only 10 players in the league averaging a double-double.”

Jan 30

Recap: New York Knicks 113, Orlando Magic 97

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Photo by Ray Amati/NBAE via Getty Images

BOX SCORE

The Magic are great at having small successes, but still losing games. The interesting thing is that the small successes, just like the ways they end up losing games, change from night to night. On Wednesday, Orlando had no trouble scoring from the perimeter and did a great job containing Carmelo Anthony, but lost the game in the paint.

As far as defensive schemes go, the Magic did a wonderful job on Carmelo Anthony in the first half and really the entire game. With Maurice Harkless guarding him straight up, Orlando switched in and out of double and even triple teams, and held Carmelo to a meager nine points in the first half.

Melo would finish the night with 20 points (setting a Knicks franchise record with his 30th straight 20-point game), but he shot just 2-for-7 from deep, and, aside from a little scoring burst in the fourth quarter was, at least by his standards, not a huge factor in the game.

And yes, Harkless resembled more than just a decent defender. Even Clyde Frazier pointed out in the broadcast that the reason Harkless is going to be a good player in this league is because he’s a terrific defender. Harkless stayed with Anthony just enough to make sure he didn’t get hot and hang 40 on the Magic. More importantly, he turned Carmelo into a jumpshooter and protected the paint by guiding Melo into help defense.

But Carmelo was not the main attacking option for the Knicks in this one.

For most of the night, Redick and Nelson were getting buckets at will. Nelson absolutely abused Raymond Felton with his first step, and, much like the last meeting with the Knicks, found his way to the rim easily. Similarly, Redick attacked, but more importantly was shooting well from deep. All the while, Carmelo was relatively contained.

The biggest issue for Orlando, though, was their inability to stop Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire in the paint. Chandler and Stoudemire combined to score 35 points and shoot 17-for-18 from the floor. There was truly nothing Orlando could do to stop them and you have to think they felt the loss of Glen Davis (who left the game early in the first quarter with a broken left foot), especially in the moments when Andrew Nicholson was guarding Tyson Chandler.

To sum it up, you can’t go up with Nikola Vucevic and basically no one else, and expect to shut down Stoudemire and Chandler (much less win the game). And that’s an interesting problem to end up with, considering the primary issues at the outset were scoring and containing Carmelo.

Again, it’s a strange year for so many reasons, not the least of which is the constant shifting of successes and struggles for this young Magic team.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

J.J. Redick. 29 points on 9-for-14 shooting (4-for-7 from three-point range) basically says it all. Redick was lights out and made us all forget for a few moments that Afflalo was not in the lineup.

Defining Moment

After playing the first four minutes of the game, Glen Davis left the court with a broken left foot. His absence left a huge hole in the Magic frontcourt, and opened the flood gates for Chandler and Stoudemire.

That Was … a Waste

It would have been nice to have seen this output from Orlando’s starting backcourt with a fully staffed squad. Instead, the Magic fall for the seventh straight time, and outside of the fantasy world, those 50 combined points from Redick and Nelson were all for naught.

Jan 30

Preview: Orlando Magic at New York Knicks

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at New York Knicks
  • Date: January 30, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Madison Square Garden

Records

  • Magic: 14-30
  • Knicks: 27-15

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • J.J. Redick
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Knicks:

  • Raymond Felton
  • Jason Kidd
  • Iman Shumpert
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Tyson Chandler

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 91.4 (16th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 103.2 (23rd of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.5 (24th of 30)

Knicks:

  • Pace: 90.6 (23rd of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 110.5 (3rd of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.0 (16th of 30)

Read about the Knicks

KnickerBlogger

Jan 30

Nikola Vucevic named to 2013 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge

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Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic was named to the 2013 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge to be played Friday, Feb. 15, in Houston during NBA All-Star 2013, as announced today by the NBA. The BBVA Rising Stars Challenge consists of current rookies and sophomores selected to the roster by the NBA’s assistant coaches.

Vucevic leads all second-year players in rebounding at 11.2 rpg., ranking in the NBA’s top five overall. He also ranks in the top ten among all “sophomores” in field goal percentage, shooting .522, and in scoring at 11.9 ppg. Vucevic is the only second-year player in the NBA averaging a double-double.

Others named to the roster include the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving, the reigning Kia NBA Rookie of the Year and a 2013 NBA All-Star, and rookies Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Hornets and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers. Davis, the overall No. 1 selection in the 2012 NBA Draft presented by State Farm, is tied for the rookie lead in rebounds (7.6 rpg) and ranks first in blocks (1.8 bpg). Lillard has won consecutive Kia NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month awards, and is leading first-year players in scoring (18.1 ppg) and assists (6.6 apg).

The BBVA Rising Stars Challenge — televised live nationally on TNT at 9 p.m. ET and broadcast live on ESPN Radio, with live audio also available on NBA.com in multiple languages — features two teams each consisting of nine rookies and sophomores mixed together, drafted from a pool selected by the NBA’s assistant coaches.

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