- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “After a string of very public arguments with, among others, coach Stan Van Gundy over playing time and a random fan in San Antonio, it seemed only a matter of time before Matt Barnes’ temper impacted a game. Van Gundy said he hoped Barnes would take his ejection from Sunday’s game as a “wake up call.” Barnes was contrite and apologized to his teammates. “Apology accepted,” Vince Carter said, smiling. The truth is, his teammates don’t want him to change.”
- Henry Abbott of TrueHoop: “[…] there’s sure to be more excitement in the season’s final week-and-a-half. The conference’s top three teams, after all the tie-breakers, are the Lakers, Mavericks and Nuggets, and they’re doing their best to keep things interesting. Over their last 10 games, they have combined to create a tepid 16-14 record. (And even the Lakers, who are a cinch for first in the West with 22 losses, are still fighting for homecourt advantage in the Finals against Orlando, which has 23 losses. Every team is still trying.)
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post comments on the relationship between the Orlando Magic and the referees: “Orlando’s playing well, but has been chirping about foul calls a lot more lately. Though the Magic responded after Barnes’ ejection yesterday, there’s also the chance that they could let their anger get the best of them in another pressure-packed situation, which could indeed hurt them in the playoffs, especially on the road. That might explain why Van Gundy is a bit concerned, particularly with Barnes. Then again, maybe playing so emotionally is a good thing, as it prevents the team from coasting, which in turn could explain why Barnes’ teammates don’t want him to change.”
- Dwight Howard looks back at the Magic’s ‘steel cage match’ with the Memphis Grizzlies in last night’s game: “That Barnes-Thabeet cage match went pretty well for us. Matt got kicked out of the cage and sent to the locker room, but at the end of the night we won the Royal Rumble. The Big Show (me) didn’t get a T. Ric Flair (Vince Carter) got a T. And Hulk Hogan (Matt) got kicked out of the steel cage match. Matt apologized to us after the game, but we all understood where he was coming from because we don’t take too much of anything personally on this team. We actually enjoyed that little pushing match and it fired us up.”
Via the Orlando Magic:
Single game tickets for the first round of the 2010 Orlando Magic playoffs, presented by Bright House Networks, will go on sale to the general public Saturday, April 10 at 10 a.m. Orlando’s playoff schedule will be announced following the conclusion of the regular season.
Tickets are available for purchase:
- Online at www.orlandomagic.com
- At the Amway Arena box office (cash, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
- At the Orlando Magic ticket office (Monday – Friday and on Saturday, April 10; cash, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
- At all TicketMaster outlets (cash only)
- By calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover)
Playoff tickets start at $12.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “During last June’s NBA Finals, ESPN analyst Jon Barry noted that [Dwight] Howard often looked ‘mechanical’ on offense and lacked a go-to move. But Barry feels differently now. He thinks that Howard has made ‘tremendous strides.’ ‘It’s reactionary game,’ Barry explained. ‘So you have to make moves according to what your defense does. I just think he’s got a better feel for that. With his repertoire, he seems to have everything. I’ve seen right-hand hooks, left-hand hooks. I’ve even seen a face-up jump shot for the first time, although it’s used sparingly. Ask Tim Duncan how that’s worked for him over the last 15 years. As a post player, especially with the athleticism that he presents, it can open up so many doors for him. He will be absolutely unstoppable if he can make a face-up jump shot to force guys to come out on him.’ “
- Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com: “The Mavs’ MVP has taught us that lesson many times over the years, snapping out of a shooting funk to dominate down the stretch of a Dallas win. His performance in the final few minutes of regulation in Wednesday’s win over the Grizzlies ranks as one of his most impressive performances in that category. Midway through the fourth quarter, Nowitzki had clanked his way to a 3-of-16 shooting performance. Then he hit five in a row to fuel the Mavs’ double-digit rally. […] Four of those buckets came during a 10-point flurry in the final 3:08, almost singlehandedly forcing overtime in a game Dallas seemed destined to lose. Dirk displayed an array of weapons during that scoring spree, starting it with a strong dropstep after catching the ball on the block, following that with a couple of catch-and-shoot 3s and capping it with one of those wild, contested fadeaways he knocks down at a ridiculously high rate.”
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: “The Mavericks pulled out their 50th victory of the season Wednesday night, and if it wasn’t the definition of stealing a game, it wasn’t far from it. Dirk Nowitzki, whose era is defined by 50-win seasons, fittingly knocked in a 15-foot jumper and four free throws late in overtime that secured a 106-102 stress test over the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum. It pushed the Mavericks’ record to 50-25, their 10th consecutive season with at least 50 wins. Only three other NBA franchises have had such a run of regular-season success: the Lakers (1980-91), the Celtics (1959-68) and the Spurs (2000-2009).”
- Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game: “When Jason Terry missed five games while recovering from surgery to repair his orbital bone, plenty of his offensive opportunities went to Rodrigue Beaubois (who was plugged into the rotation using Terry’s suddenly available minutes) and Shawn Marion. Both performed brilliantly on offense given the extra shot attempts, but when JET returned to the lineup, I naturally assumed that the offense would revert to its usual balance. That would theoretically include Marion sliding back into his usual role as a primary defender and purely supplemental scorer, relying almost entirely on transition opportunities and backdoor cuts for his scoring possessions. Not quite so. While Marion’s FGAs have dipped since his notably high 16.2 in the five games without Terry, he’s settled in at 12.6 attempts for the 14 games in March. He’s also shooting his highest percentage from the field (56.8%) and averaging his highest monthly scoring average (15.6 PPG) excluding his three-game October.”
- Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com: “10X50. How rare is this? You’ve got to be Magic’s Lakers or Russell’s Celtics or Duncan’s Spurs to be in this class. Immodestly I note that I understood it two years ago. Understanding it all along and especially at this moment? Two of the architects, Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson. […] ‘It’s rare air,’ Mavs GM Donnie Nelson told DallasBasketball.com at the DB.com Watching Party at Star Power in Addison. ‘It’s not the ultimate goal. But it’s an important step to the ultimate goal – and we’ve stepped in that right direction 10 straight times.’ ”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said after Sunday’s game that he didn’t expect Mickael Pietrus or Vince Carter to be out too long with injuries. The Magic’s next game is Thursday in Dallas, and Carter might be able to return from a sprained right toe he sustained in Sunday’s win against Denver. The team said that x-rays revealed no serious damage. Joel Glass, the Magic’s vice president of communications, said Monday that Carter is day-to-day.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel states that the Orlando Magic played some of their best basketball in the month of March: “The Magic displayed the feisty swagger of a contender in March. Van Gundy was relentless as usual. [Matt] Barnes agitated Kobe Bryant in a nationally televised win. Carter howled after hitting some big shots. [Dwight] Howard floored Derrick Rose again. He kept collecting technical fouls and wondering out loud why the Magic are overlooked. Confidence has spread through a team that carries a sizeable chip on their shoulders.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post wonders how much J.J. Redick is worth?
- Looks like things have soured with Hedo Turkoglu in Toronto. Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie doesn’t mince words when he explains why the Raptors made a mistake by signing Turkoglu to a long-term contract that doesn’t expire until 2014. Yikes.
- News flash. Redick can still shoot.
- Are divisions in the NBA relevant anymore? Henry Abbott of TrueHoop attempts to answer the question: “[…] through it all — do you care? How much bragging can you do if your team wins its division? Are Denver and Utah locked in a contest for a better playoff spot, or a division crown? I could be wrong, but I put it to you that division crown means almost nothing, and if you ignore it entirely, you miss almost nothing.”
- Tom Haberstroh of Hoopdata explains how the Magic excel on defense: “[…] As opposed to the steal-centric Celtics who own the second highest opponent turnover rate, the Magic alter shots (lowest opp. eFG%), don’t allow offensive rebounds (lowest opp. rebound rate), and keep their opponents away from the charity stripe (seventh lowest free throw rate). While it helps to have Dwight Howard on the floor, this is a collective effort.”