- The Orlando Magic, off to a 2-0 start for the first time since the 2009-2010 season, are “are balling for Jacque Vaughn.”
- During Sunday’s game between the Magic and Phoenix Suns, there was a net malfunction during a TV timeout in which a U.S. soldier attempted a trampoline dunk, missed, and broke the net (which delayed the game for 13 minutes). Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie provides an in-depth breakdown of what transpired.
- Andrew Unterberger of The Basketball Jones: “The undefeated Orlando Magic! It’s a mystery how they’re doing it — they started E’Twaun Moore and someone named DeQuan Jones in this one, ferchrissake — but sure enough, the post-Dwight Magic are now 2-0, with a +34 scoring differential. ‘Right now Orlando just looks unstoppable!’ remarked the Suns announcer at one point, before realizing the enormity of what he had just said. Whatta week.”
- Against the Suns, Nikola Vucevic had 18 points, 13 points, and three assists, outplaying Marcin Gortat and earning a “Lion Face” from Jared Dubin of Hardwood Paroxysm.
- Somehow, someway, the Magic are off to a surprising 2-0 start to the regular season, which has caught the attention of ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.
- A look back at one of the plays of the game between the Magic and Phoenix — courtesy of Arron Afflalo.
- Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post analyzes Orlando’s upcoming schedule (at Chicago, vs. Minnesota, vs. Brooklyn, at Brooklyn) for the next week.
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk recaps the Magic’s win against the Suns: “Phoenix led most of the first half and was up by 11 midway through the third quarter, then Orlando went 37-9 run over and that was it.”
- An extremely early look at the NBA awards landscape, with head coach Jacque Vaughn and J.J. Redick garnering mentions.
- The Ewing Theory is in full effect for the Magic after two games.
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com on Orlando’s unselfishness: “No moment early this season has symbolized the Orlando Magic’s willingness to share the basketball and ‘play for one another,’ as head coach Jacque Vaughn likes to say, more than Sunday’s jaw-dropping, game-turning third quarter. It was a stretch of basketball that saved the Magic, paved the way to a thrilling 115-94 victory and spoke volumes about the way the unselfish squad wants to play the rest of the season.”
- A status update on Hedo Turkoglu’s broken hand.
- John Hollinger of ESPN Insider on Orlando: “The expectation here was that they would be awful, as I’d pegged them for 17-65. Even two games tells us that forecast may be wide of the mark.”
- John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “One of the most eye-opening stats of the first week was the number of shots (47!) that Glen Davis attempted in just two games. J.J. Redick was much more efficient (45 points on 25 shots) and threw in 12 assists for good measure. Though it’s just two games, the Magic’s overall efficiency is eye-opening in itself. But it will be seriously tested when they visit Chicago on Tuesday.”
AP Photo/Reinhold Matay
Of course I saw a 2-0 start for the Magic coming. Who wouldn’t have?
The first half couldn’t have gone much worse, which was to be expected. With Jameer Nelson (strained groin) and Hedo Turkoglu (broken hand) sidelined, the Magic had two first-time NBA starters in their lineup in E’Twaun Moore and undrafted rookie DeQuan Jones. The defense had no answer for Luis Scola, who went to work early and got pretty much anything he wanted in the paint. Glen Davis started jacking up shots from the top of the key. The Suns forced turnover after turnover. Besides J.J. Redick’s 15 first-half points, Orlando got almost nothing from their bench, which isn’t surprising with two of their starters out of action. It was a miracle they only went into halftime down 10.
The second half was a completely different story. Big Baby had a much more efficient half on both ends of the floor. Moore and Arron Afflalo lit it up from three-point range to start the half. Gustavo Ayon (in his Magic debut) and Nikola Vucevic made key defensive contributions. Andrew Nicholson capably spelled Davis for about six minutes in the third quarter. Even Josh McRoberts was aggressive in the paint on offense and pulled down seven rebounds.
DeQuan Jones getting his first NBA start after improbably making the team out of training camp seemed to be the most compelling storyline coming into the game, but he only played 16 minutes and didn’t play a role in the Magic’s second-half run. However, even though the box score won’t show it, he did display a nice defensive effort against Michael Beasley, with a block and a ball knocked off Beasley’s foot to force a turnover. Even if he doesn’t stay in the starting lineup, he at least showed enough to stay in Jacque Vaughn’s rotation.
E’Twaun Moore, the other newcomer to the starting lineup, played very well, knocking down shots and picking up five assists. Once Nelson is back, Moore will have firmly established himself as a viable back-up point guard option.
The Magic aren’t going to win these types of games very often this season — the talent level is just too low for this to be sustainable. But the play of the Magic was exactly what fans should want out of a rebuilding team: a total team effort in which the young players visibly got better as the game progressed. At the very least, this team is going to be fun to watch.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Redick scored 24 points on 9-for-14 shooting off the bench. Of the nine makes, only three of them were from three-point range. He scored inside as well as from midrange just as confidently and dished out six assists.
Big Baby had a horrible first half, shooting 2-for-9 from the field and getting in early foul trouble. But he completely turned it around in the second half, being much more aggressive inside and taking fewer long twos.
Led by Afflalo and Moore, the Magic drilled their first eight three-point attempts of the second half and from there, Orlando’s scoring stayed consistent the rest of the way. Phoenix never recovered.
- Teams: Phoenix Suns at Orlando Magic
- Date: November 4, 2012
- Time: 6:00 p.m.
- Television: Fox Sports Florida
- Arena: Amway Center
- Suns: 1-1
- Magic: 1-0
- Goran Dragic
- Jared Dudley
- Michael Beasley
- Luis Scola
- Marcin Gortat
- E’Twaun Moore
- Arron Afflalo
- DeQuan Jones
- Glen Davis
- Nikola Vucevic
- Pace: 93.9 (16th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 94.2 (28th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 93.7 (4th of 30)
- Pace: 92.8 (23rd of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 109.9 (4th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 95.9 (8th of 30)
Read about the Suns
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
There’s a lot of things to take away from the Orlando Magic’s win against the Denver Nuggets in their regular season home opener, but here are a few that stood out.
Jacque Vaughn won his first game as an NBA head coach. Making his head coaching debut, Vaughn coached a masterful game. The Magic, as a team, look well-prepared on both sides of the ball.
On offense, Orlando generated a lot of points out of a hybrid high-post offense and did so efficiently for the most part. Defensively, the Magic put forth an honest effort and deserve credit for limiting the Nuggets to 89 points on 92 possessions, but Denver didn’t do themselves any favors either. The Nuggets were their own worst enemy — they weren’t aggressive in attacking the rim, they settled for too many jumpshots, they didn’t create enough transition opportunities (partly due to the fact that Orlando took care of the basketball), and they were sloppy on offense (committing silly turnovers and making bad passes).
As a result, the Magic came away with a surprising victory.
For Orlando, the stars of the game were Glen Davis and J.J. Redick.
Firmly entrenched in a starting role for the first time in his career, something that Davis has always wanted, he took full advantage of the opportunity. He was the centerpiece of the Magic’s offense, primarily scoring via midrange jumpers, layups, and hook shots. At the end of the night, Davis finished with 29 points (13-for-25 shooting from the floor), 10 rebounds, and two blocks. With no Dwight Howard around, expect Davis to continue to be a focal point offensively.
As for Redick, he played his usual efficient ballgame (21 points on 11 shots) for Orlando. What was most impressive, though, was his playmaking ability. Even though he’s entering his seventh season in the league, it doesn’t seem as if Redick gets enough credit for his ability to create for himself and others on offense as he did against the Nuggets (six assists). Yes, he’s one of the premiere shooters in the NBA but Redick is a playmaker too. This has been the case for a while now. Maybe this season that’ll become a common description of his skill-set.
With rookie Maurice Harkless still working his way back from sports hernia surgery and fellow rookie DeQuan Jones out with a minor hip strain, Vaughn was forced to play Arron Afflalo a lot at small forward against Denver. That trend will likely continue, given that Hedo Turkoglu broke his left hand during the game against the Nuggets (he’s expected to miss at least four weeks).
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
It’s a tie between Davis and Redick. Both players were standout performers against Denver and the main reasons why the Magic were able to win the game in an “upset.”
Team A had 15 fast break points and 60 points in the paint. Team B had eight fast break points and 36 points in the paint. Can you guess which team won the game?
Midway through the first quarter, Jameer Nelson made a tremendous half-court bounce pass to Redick for a reverse layup in transition (it was goaltended). It was one of many sequences for Orlando that signaled they came ready to play.
- Teams: Denver Nuggets at Orlando Magic
- Date: November 2, 2012
- Time: 7:00 p.m.
- Television: Fox Sports Florida
- Arena: Amway Center
- Nuggets: 0-1
- Magic: 0-0
- Ty Lawson
- Danilo Gallinari
- Andre Iguodala
- Kenneth Faried
- Kosta Koufos
- Jameer Nelson
- Arron Afflalo
- Hedo Turkoglu
- Glen Davis
- Nikola Vucevic
- Pace: 94.4 (12th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 79.5 (23rd of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 89.0 (2nd of 30)
- Pace: N/A
- Offensive Rating: N/A
- Defensive Rating: N/A
Read about the Nuggets
- A gameday primer of tonight’s regular season home opener for the Orlando Magic, in which they host the Denver Nuggets at Amway Center.
- It’s no secret, with the Magic undergoing a rebuilding phase, that veteran players on the roster may be on the move before the trade deadline on April 20. J.J. Redick, a player in the final year of his contract which pays him roughly $6.2 million this season, could be one of those players on the trading block. General manager Rob Hennigan has informed Redick he’ll keep him in the loop if that happens.
- Magic players look forward to the start of a new season.
- Every Friday leading up to January 4, Magic Basketball will be unveiling its list of the top 10 players in Magic franchise history. At No. 10, Bo Outlaw.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
When a player doesn’t have any singular elite skill on the basketball court, analysts tend to refer to them as “energy and hustle guys.” It can be taken as a backhanded compliment, a way to talk about a player without being forced to actually praise their play. But for some guys, the term not only fits, but it perfectly characterizes their games in the best possible sense. Bo Outlaw was one of those players.
At an unimposing 6-foot-8 and 210 pounds, Bo lacked a true position in an era where roles were much more defined than they are today. His athleticism was off the charts, but his technical abilities and basketball instincts were about as undeveloped as could be. But he made it work. He made it work so well that he was able to turn a 10-day contract with the Clippers into a 15-season NBA career, 10 seasons in which he spent playing legitimate rotation minutes.
He did this by finding meaningful ways to contribute that compensated for his almost total lack of a scoring arsenal. He was good for some dunks, but a scorer he was not. However, he was an outstanding passer for his size and position. In each of his first four (and best four) seasons with the Magic, from 1998 to 2001, he averaged at least 2.4 assists per 36 minutes, a number that was as high as 3.8 per 36 in the 1999-2000 “Heart and Hustle” season.
But while Outlaw’s passing was impressive for a power forward, his true calling card as an NBA player was his defensive versatility. He was capable of guarding multiple positions and in each of his last three full seasons of his first stint in Orlando, he helped anchor a defense that ranked in the top 10 each year. He was a core piece of the third-best defense in the league during the lockout-shortened 1999 season, in which the Magic finished 33-17 (losing in the first round to the Philadelphia 76ers in four games).
One of Outlaw’s strengths as a defender was his unique ability to be an equal opportunist when it came to amassing steals and blocks — a quick look at this list and you’ll see his name listed among some of the best defenders in NBA history. Among players whose steal and block percentages were two and four percent respectively in a single season (minimum 1,000 total minutes), Outlaw was in special company.
Outlaw was traded to Phoenix in 2001 primarily as a salary dump, bringing to an end the tenure of one of the most popular yet underappreciated players in Magic franchise history. (An interesting historical what-if: the Magic also sent a 2002 first-round pick to the Suns alongside Outlaw, which Phoenix used to draft Amar’e Stoudemire.) He returned to the Magic for the final three seasons of his career, between 2005-2008, but by that point, his days of being a productive contributor were mostly behind him.
Still, it was a fitting end to one of the unlikeliest, most unique, and most enjoyable NBA careers of its era. Bo Outlaw was exactly the type of hard-nosed, defense-first player typically ignored by the media but embraced by fans. But beyond just those cliched terms like “energy” and “hustle,” he had a real impact on the defensive end of the floor and was capable of making highlight-reel plays on offense too.
Voter breakdown for Bo Outlaw
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What is #ORLrank?
Magic Basketball ranks the top 10 players in Magic franchise history. #ORLrank is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to get involved in the discussion or just follow along.
You can also follow along here: @erivera7
How did we rank the players?
Five MBN writers ranked each player 1-to-10, in terms of the quality of each player.
Thanks to Daniel Myers, Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference, and Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus for contributing to the project.
Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
I’ve been asked about a dozen times why the Magic made an offer to Jameer Nelson during what everyone considers “a rebuilding time.” My answer has simplified every time the question has been asked and now consists of just five words: because he is a leader. Okay, also because Orlando needs to sell tickets, but let’s look at leadership first.
The more you run those words through your mind, the more it makes sense. Jameer is the most tenured player on the roster, has been to the playoffs, has been to a Finals, quarterbacks the offense, etc. I could go on.
If you’re going to keep a few guys around while you build from the bottom up and take on packs of rookies, you have to have a guy who can lead by example, and you have to have smart and patient guys in those leadership positions. We’re talking about J.J. Redick, Hedo Turkoglu, and yes, Jameer Nelson, even if that meant signing him with money that perhaps could have been spent to further rebuild. Because otherwise what do you have? A bunch of rookies running around, making mistakes, and watching SportsCenter for guidance.
Think of it this way. Before Andrew Luck, if the Indianapolis Colts decided to take a middle linebacker for their first round pick in the draft and this was long before decided and agreed upon by owners and coaches, you might have still said that they were rebuilding. At that point, you have to ask yourself if you want a Peyton Manning who is like a 60 percent version of himself or a new, untested quarterback who has no grasp of the system in place in Indianapolis. Orlando was not in a position to go out and sign a young stud or higher-echelon point guard. So you have to sit back and say, “Yeah, Jameer looks pretty good right now, given our circumstances.”
So leadership is a huge part of this rebuilding process (if you are going to call it that). There’s no more Stan Van Gundy, for goodness sake, and with a rookie coach in place, it further emphasizes the need for proven veterans (player-coach) to be in leadership positions.
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
The aftermath of the Dwightmare means that whatever happens on the court for the Magic this season is pretty much inconsequential. Wins and losses have been tossed aside in favor of gunning for draft picks and developing talent. While this is an understandable process that is directly derived from the league’s collective bargaining agreement, it also means that the next six months will be full of mostly meaningless basketball, which is quite a depressing realization.
That being said, even though new general manager Rob Hennigan and his “Presti Plan” dictate that the Magic will be built mostly on their next few drafts going forward, there are still things to glean from the upcoming season. Here are five questions heading into the 2012-13 season that bear watching for the Magic’s future.
What happens at shooting guard?
One can very easily make the claim that Orlando’s two best players fit into the same roster slot. Both Arron Afflalo and J.J. Redick had high-profile college careers, entered the league as afterthoughts, and put in extensive work to improve their games. The result is two efficient shooters, solid if unspectacular defenders (Afflalo more than Redick until last season, when he showed diminished interest on that end), and improved playmakers who are entering their respective primes.
The problem, of course, is that it’s unclear how they fit together. It seems unlikely they can share both wing spots defensively, especially if Afflalo, the bigger of the two, continues to exert more and more of his energy on the offensive end. The better bet is Redick sliding into the back-up point guard role, as he’s improved his ballhandling a great deal over the course of his career, but that’s still quite a dramatic leap of faith in his skills.
Furthermore, it’s unclear if the two are in Orlando for the long haul. Redick will be a free agent this summer, when he will presumably get more money and more competitive basketball from a non-rebuilding team. And while Afflalo is locked up for four more years, he might prove more valuable as a trade asset for a team that isn’t looking to do a lot of winning in the near future.
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
Via Orlando Magic press release:
The Orlando Magic have exercised their third-year team option on the contract of center Nikola Vucevic, general manager Rob Hennigan announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed. Vucevic is now under contract through the 2013-14 season.
Vucevic (7’0”, 240, 10/24/90) was acquired by Orlando from Philadelphia as part of a four-team, 12-player deal on Aug. 10, 2012. He played in 51 games (15 starts) during his rookie campaign last season with the Sixers, averaging 5.5 ppg. and 4.8 rpg. in 15.9 mpg. Vucevic ranked among all NBA rookies in rebounding (t-sixth), blocked shots (t-sixth) and field goal percentage (.450, eighth). He led (or tied) the Sixers in scoring four times and in rebounding nine times. Vucevic also played in one playoff outing.