Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 68

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.

Jan 29

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports: “The Magic have dropped six straight and have only won twice in January. There isn’t much hope for optimism ahead with upcoming road games against New York, Boston, Milwaukee and Philadelphia.”
  • Kyle O’Quinn threw a pass directly at Andray Blatche’s face in last night’s game between the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets.
  • The Nets led by as much as 26 points in their 97-77 win yesterday against the Magic.
  • Video of Glen Davis cradling Gerald Wallace like a big baby.
  • Zach Lowe of Grantland with praise for the Magic broadcasting duo of David Steele and Matt Guokas: “Right up there with Brooklyn’s group as perhaps the very best on your League Pass dial. David Steele is evenhanded on play-by-play, and you can tell Matt Guokas devours every piece of NBA material he can find — lineup data, local coverage, blog posts from all over the Internet, and lots of other stuff. The facts Guokas brings up aren’t the inane talking points other crews spout. In a landscape of mute-worthy homers, we must acknowledge the great work of those trying to bring information over fluff and noise.”
  • Arron Afflalo has been one of the best midrange jumpshooters in the NBA this season. Ironic, given that his shot selection has come under question for not taking enough corner threes.
  • Davis, who has gotten a technical foul in each of Orlando’s last four games, vows to keep quiet from now on and not say anything to the officials.

Jan 29

A midseason review on the Magic

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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

The Magic’s season is now 44 games old and and while some characteristics of this team are starting to take focus, others are still a bit hazier. The Magic are somehow simultaneously exactly what we thought they’d be and not really anything like we thought they’d be. Results are inconclusive.

Instead of looking at expectations for this season and grading the Magic accordingly, this is an exercise in bringing everyone up to speed on who exactly the Magic are, what exactly they’re made up of, and how they arrived at a 14-30 record.

You’re only as good as your record
A 14-30 record is bad, but evaluating the Magic at this point is not as simple as citing wins and losses. Looking at a team’s record is what you do when you have a fully stocked and competitive roster that is competing for home-court advantage in the playoffs, and has even an outside chance of winning a championship. Orlando is not in that position. So we should really throw their record out the window.

After all, more than a handful of the Magic’s losses this year have been in close games and against good teams. The problem is that the Magic still lack a serious scorer and in no way have proven that they can close a game out. Competitiveness can only get you so far in a game. At some point, you need someone to take over (preferably multiple options on that front).

You honestly could make an argument that this team could be gunning for a playoff spot if they only had a closer. Think back to a couple weeks ago when the Magic played neck-and-neck with the Knicks for three and a half quarters, only to be bested by Carmelo Anthony down the stretch. The only thing that can really combat that is a Carmelo of your own or something similar.

The point is that we know Orlando is a bad team, but that does not mean that all is bad. Throwing wins and losses around doesn’t really capture what is really going on this season. There is plenty of good, in fact, within this organization at the moment. So if you want to talk about records, consider the fact that Orlando isn’t too far off from being a playoff team when taking into account all the close losses they’ve had.

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Jan 29

Recap: Brooklyn Nets 97, Orlando Magic 77

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Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

BOX SCORE

Let’s just cut to the chase.

With each loss, the Orlando Magic are confirming everyone’s suspicion before the season began that they were going to be one of the worst teams in the NBA.

After beginning the season with a 12-13 record, it seemed like the Magic were going to defy expectations. Orlando’s defense was leading the charge and an overachieving group was coming away with impressive road wins over teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors.

Then reality set in. The Magic regressed defensively and as a result, they went on a season-high 10-game losing streak. Orlando’s surprising 12-13 start seemed so long ago.

The Magic snapped their 10-game losing streak with a thrilling 104-101 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers and followed that up with an impressive win against the Indiana Pacers four days later.

Unfortunately for Orlando, they’ve reverted back to their losing ways. With their latest loss, this time at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets, the Magic are now in the middle of their second-longest losing streak of the season (six games).

The Nets had a strong first half thanks to Deron Williams (18 points on 7-for-8 shooting from the floor). He was scoring from all over the court and there was very little Orlando could do to stop him from doing whatever he wanted on offense. Williams was supplemented by strong first half performances from Brook Lopez (12 points) and Joe Johnson (7 points).

In the third quarter, Brooklyn took their foot off the gas pedal and allowed the Magic to get back into the game. Glen Davis, Maurice Harkless, and Nikola Vucevic combined to score 21 of Orlando’s 23 points in the period and cut the deficit to seven heading into the fourth quarter.

Harkless (who finished with a career-high 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting), in particular, was impressive in the third quarter, nailing two three-pointers from the corners and showing glimpses of the type of player he can be in the NBA — a “3-and-D” specialist.

But the Nets woke up in the final period. Brooklyn went on a 23-4 run to start the quarter and road some hot three-point shooting from their “Bench Mob” to blow the game wide open and put the Magic away.

Aside from Harkless’ career night, there isn’t much else to take away from this game.

After tying a career-high with 31 points against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, J.J. Redick couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn against Brooklyn (2-for-13 shooting). He did, however, set a new career-high with 10 assists. And Nikola Vucevic had another solid performance, finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds.

But the fact of the matter is that Orlando is who we thought they were before the season started — a bad team.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Williams did most of his damage in the first half, scoring 18 of his 20 points to give the Nets a 16-point lead at the break. Williams played the role of facilitator in the second half and finished with nine assists.

X-Factor

The “Bench Mob” for Brooklyn were the difference makers against the Magic. The Nets’ second unit outscored Orlando’s bench, 41-14, and helped blow the game wide open in the fourth quarter. 

Defining Moment

After a lackluster third quarter, in which Brooklyn was outscored 23-14 by the Magic and relinquished a double-digit lead, the Nets opened the final period on a 23-4 run and cruised to a 97-77 victory. 

Jan 28

Preview: Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets
  • Date: January 28, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: NBA TV
  • Arena: Barclays Center

Records

  • Magic: 14-29
  • Nets: 26-18

Probable starters

Magic:

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

Nets:

  • Deron Williams
  • Joe Johnson
  • Gerald Wallace
  • Reggie Evans
  • Brook Lopez

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 91.5 (16th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 103.4 (20th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.4 (24th of 30)

Nets:

  • Pace: 88.1 (30th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 107.7 (9th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.4 (19th of 30)

Read about the Nets

The Brooklyn Game

Jan 28

Recap: Detroit Pistons 104, Orlando Magic 102

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Photo by FPaul Chapman/NBAE via Getty Images

BOX SCORE

The Magic’s offensive strategy in Sunday’s loss to the Pistons was pretty simple: Get the ball to J.J. Redick and hope he can get a three-pointer off. The box score will show that other Magic players had excellent games, namely Jameer Nelson, E’Twaun Moore, and Nikola Vucevic. But Orlando’s offense functioned at its best when the ball was in Redick’s hands.

This couldn’t have been more apparent than in the final five minutes of the first quarter. After starting the game 5-for-5 from beyond the arc and singlehandedly putting the Magic on top, Redick exited as they held onto an 18-17 lead. Over the rest of the quarter, the Pistons proceeded to go on a 12-2 run and end the period leading 29-20.

From there, the momentum was Detroit’s friend, and even though the Magic caught up and led several times throughout the game, it was impossible not to think about how differently things might have turned out if Jacque Vaughn had left Redick in early on when he was the only thing working.

In the second half, the Pistons made a more concerted effort to keep a body on Redick at all times and his shooting cooled considerably. Jameer Nelson hit a few key shots in the half, but for the most part, Orlando’s offense sans Redick was lacking.

Glen Davis had the most Big Baby game imaginable, finishing with 17 points and 12 rebounds but taking 22 shots to get to that mark. And, shockingly, seven of his eight makes came from within the restricted area. Several times he was content to jack up a 22-footer when Redick had a relatively good look from beyond the arc. In other words, business as usual for Big Baby.

Even with these misjudgments on the part of Davis and others, the Magic were right in the game until the final buzzer.

Nelson was fouled shooting a three with 6 seconds remaining in regulation and the Magic trailing 104-100. He hit the first two free throws and intentionally missed the third. Davis corralled the rebound, wasn’t able to get a layup over the Pistons’ bigs (and this was without Andre Drummond in the game), and Orlando blew several second-chance opportunities as the clock expired. The Magic had every opportunity to send the game to overtime and couldn’t get it done.

These types of close losses are starting to run together for the Magic, and after a while, there’s not a lot more they can teach us. The takeaways here are that Redick should shoot a lot and Big Baby shouldn’t. But we knew that.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Redick equalled his career-high of 31 points and did so on 10-for-16 shooting. He was unconscious from beyond the arc in the first half, hitting five of his eight threes in the first quarter.

X-Factor

The Pistons won the turnover battle and scored 16 points off the Magic’s mistakes. Eight of Orlando’s turnovers came in the second quarter, when the Pistons opened up a 10-point lead.

Defining Moment

With six seconds remaining, Jameer Nelson missed the third of three free throws and the Magic blew several second-chance opportunities that would have sent the game to overtime.

Jan 27

Preview: Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic
  • Date: January 27, 2013
  • Time: 6:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Pistons: 15-27
  • Magic: 14-28

Probable starters

Pistons:

  • Brandon Knight
  • Kyle Singler
  • Tayshaun Prince
  • Jason Maxiell
  • Greg Monroe

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • J.J. Redick
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Pistons:

  • Pace: 89.9 (25th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 104.2 (16th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 105.6 (15th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 91.5 (16th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 103.2 (21st of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.2 (24th of 30)

Read about the Pistons

Piston Powered

Jan 25

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Matt Dollinger of Sports Illustrated suggests the Orlando Magic should unload some of the burden in the second half of the season: “The Magic have been much better than expected this season, but are still unlikely to sneak into the playoffs. This year could be even more successful if new general manager Rob Hennigan can unload one of the team’s hefty long-term contracts. Hedo Turkoglu ($12 million), Jameer Nelson ($8.6M), Al Harrington ($7.1M) and Glen Davis ($6.4M) are all a poor fit on a rebuilding team. Hennigan might be able to clear some cap space by pairing one of the players with J.J. Redick, who has an expiring deal and the ability to help a team in need of a shooter.”
  • Glen Davis got into Aaron Gray’s face in last night’s game between the Magic and Toronto Raptors. Literally.
  • With yesterday’s defeat, Orlando has now lost 15 of their last 17 games. Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie looks at the road ahead.
  • J.J. Redick blames “the basketball gods” for their current losing funk. Trey Kerby of The Basketball Jones compiles of list of things as to why the gods are against the Magic.
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “A little more than a month ago, the Magic were a win away from a .500 record and qualifying as one of the NBA’s feel-good stories of the season. [...] What followed – an excruciating 10-game losing streak and a stretch now that has swelled to 15 losses in the last 17 games – has caused frustrations to simmer.”
  • The Boston Celtics are rumored to be interested in acquiring J.J. Redick.
  • If rookies Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson are going to develop, they’ll need to play major minutes sooner rather than later.
  • A number of players for Orlando are named to the second annual Hardwood Paroxysm Alternative All-Star Game.

Jan 25

Examining the Magic’s trade deadline outlook

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Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Magic have traditionally been very active at the trading deadline over the past few years, if not in making deals, then at least in being involved in talks. Their motives this season, however, are very different than in past years.

During the 2010-11 season, Otis Smith swapped Rashard Lewis’ awful contract for Gilbert Arenas’ equally bad one, and traded Mickael Pietrus, Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter, and a 2011 first round pick to the Suns for Earl Clark, Hedo Turkoglu, and Jason Richardson. These moves were made in an attempt to surround Dwight Howard with friends (Arenas and Richardson) and favorite former teammates (Hedo).

Last season, after Howard waived the early termination option in his contract and temporarily killed any trade talks involving him, they heavily pursued Steve Nash and Monta Ellis in a last-ditch effort to bring about a change of heart from their disgruntled superstar.

This year, the Magic are expected to be as active as ever, but for entirely different reasons. Bringing in veteran talent is no longer the goal, especially if said talent comes with a hefty price tag. Any deal Rob Hennigan makes before February 21 will be with an eye on either unloading one of the few remaining bad contracts from the Otis era, or on bringing in cheap young talent or draft picks.

Casting aside DeQuan Jones, Ish Smith, Kyle O’Quinn, and E’Twaun Moore (none of whom have much value around the league other than as salary throw-ins), the rest of Orlando’s roster has a few intriguing pieces that could draw interest around the league, although their value is undefined.

Most of the other basement dwellers around the league have at least one young player they would be very hard-pressed to deal. Anthony Davis is completely untouchable for the Pelicans (and they’re officially the Pelicans now, so mentioning their name just got a lot more fun). The Bobcats won’t part with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Kemba Walker anytime soon. The Wizards seem committed to building around John Wall and Bradley Beal. Even the Kings, for whom seemingly everyone is up for grabs with their ownership in flux, seem determined not to move DeMarcus Cousins.

The Magic don’t have anyone like that. Everyone on the roster could be moved for the right offer. Andrew Nicholson has been a revelation in his rookie season and the Magic likely won’t look to move him. But if a young, cheap piece with more potential importance to the franchise (like, say, Eric Bledsoe) came available and he was part of the asking price, Hennigan would probably make that move. Nikola Vucevic is similarly unlikely to be moved, but he isn’t untouchable by any means. Ditto Moe Harkless and Gustavo Ayon. As disappointing as Ayon has been, he’s still cheap and young enough that he’s worth holding onto unless someone offers a pick, which I doubt.

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