Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 86

Nov 18

Recap: Toronto Raptors 97, Orlando Magic 86

AP Photo/THE CANADIAN PRESS, Frank Gunn

BOX SCORE

Nothing like a little dejavu. Sort of.

Against the Detroit Pistons on Friday, the Orlando Magic came back from a 13-point deficit to escape with a win.

Against the Toronto Raptors, the Magic came back from a 13-point deficit and led 74-73 with 8:29 left in the game. That’s where things took a turn for the worse for Orlando, however.

The Raptors proceeded to go on a 19-4 run and came away with an 11-point victory, all thanks to Jose Calderon’s precision passing. Calderon systematically picked apart the Magic’s defense, assisting on 15 of Toronto’s 19 points during the run.

Calderon started things off with a drive-and-kick pass to Linas Kleiza for a three-pointer from the right wing. Then on the ensuing possession, Amir Johnson took a handoff pass from Calderon and drilled a three-point shot from the right corner. A few minutes later, Calderon executed a 1/5 pick-and-roll with Andrea Bargnani, with Bargnani making an 8-foot jumper in the paint. Then on the next play down, Bargnani made a 15-foot jumper alongside the right baseline on a feed from Calderon — Johnson did a nice job of setting a pin-down screen for Bargnani, freeing him up for the shot.

At this point, the score was 87-78 in favor of Toronto and Orlando was reeling. That’s when Calderon finished the Magic off and put them out of their misery. First, he found DeMar DeRozan for an alley-oop dunk in transition following a steal from Bargnani. Then Calderon executed a 1/4 pick-and-roll with Johnson on the left side of the court and made a skip pass to Kleiza for a three-pointer in the right corner.

Ballgame.

It’s rare that a player dominates a game with his passing, unless you’re name is Rajon Rondo (who does it regularly), but that’s what Calderon did against Orlando. Consider this: Calderon, by himself, had as many assists (18) as the Magic had as a team. In the decisive fourth quarter, Calderon had 10 assists and accounted for 23 of the Raptors’ 30 points in the period without scoring a single point. Those are mind-blowing numbers.

While Orlando was struggling to create shots for themselves offensively (especially with J.J. Redick unable to play due to an illness), Calderon was doing it effortlessly for Toronto and it’s why they won.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Starting at point guard for an injured Kyle Lowry (bone bruise), Calderon picked apart the Magic’s defense with his passing all afternoon. Stat of the day? Calderon: 18 assists (including 10 in the fourth quarter alone). Orlando: 18 assists.

X-Factor

Amir Johnson (15 points) and Linas Kleiza (12 points) gave the Raptors a huge lift off the bench, particularly in the fourth quarter, where they combined to score 24 of Toronto’s 30 points in the period.

Defining Moment

After coughing up a 13-point lead and trailing 74-73 early in the fourth quarter, the Raptors responded by going on a 19-4 run that allowed them to regain control of the game. Calderon’s passing wizardry mystified the Magic during the run.

Nov 18

Preview: Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors
  • Date: November 18, 2012
  • Time: 1:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Air Canada Centre

Records

  • Magic: 3-5
  • Pistons: 2-7

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • DeQuan Jones
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Raptors:

  • Jose Calderon
  • DeMar DeRozan
  • Dominic McGuire
  • Andrea Bargnani
  • Jonas Valanciunas

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 91.7 (20th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 99.0 (26th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.4 (18th of 30)

Raptors:

  • Pace: 90.9 (24th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 102.1 (21st of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.7 (26th of 30)

Read about the Raptors

Raptors Republic

Nov 17

Recap: Orlando Magic 110, Detroit Pistons 106

Photo by Dan Lippitt/NBAE via Getty Images

BOX SCORE

After missing the last five games with a strained groin and hamstring, Jameer Nelson made his return from injury against the Detroit Pistons on Friday. And even though Nelson finished with 13 points and 10 assists, he made his impact with his words more so than his play.

During a full timeout late in the third quarter with the Pistons leading 75-65, Nelson lit into his teammates and called them out in the huddle. The Magic responded by going on an 8-0 run, cutting their deficit to two during the opening minute of the fourth quarter.

Before Nelson’s outburst, which changed the complexion of the game, Greg Monroe was shredding Orlando’s defense in pick-and-rolls while Tayshaun Prince seemingly couldn’t miss a shot from midrange. Other players for the Pistons were making a positive impact as well, but Monroe and Prince were the driving force behind Detroit building a double-digit lead that ballooned to as much as 13 points in the third quarter.

However, everything changed in the final period.

With 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Magic down by six with the score 83-77 in favor of the Pistons, head coach Jacque Vaughn — probably sensing that Orlando’s bench was losing their grip on the game — put the starting lineup back on the floor against Detroit’s second unit. The move worked, as the Magic went on a 12-3 run to take a three-point lead at 89-86 midway through the period.

From the 7:11 mark in the fourth quarter up until the final minute of the game, there were eight lead changes as both teams went back-and-forth. In that final minute, Orlando’s late-game execution — which had been an achilles heel in previous games — shined through.

After Kyle Singler made two free-throws with 47.7 seconds left to put the Pistons up 102-101, the Magic ran an excellent sideline out-of-bounds play on the ensuing possession for Redick following a timeout that gave them the lead for good.

Redick inbounded the ball to Nikola Vucevic on the left block, then faked going to the top of the arc before cutting back towards the left corner. While all this was happening, Glen Davis set a screen for Redick’s defender (Singler). Redick’s stutter step, in combination with Davis setting an excellent screen from the left wing at the three-point line, was all the space Redick needed to receive the handoff pass from Vucevic, get a clean look from behind the three-point line in the left corner, and make the shot to give Orlando the lead at 104-102.

Hoping to respond with a basket of their own, Detroit ran a nice sideline out-of-bounds play of their own on the next possession. Prince inbounded the basketball to Monroe at the left elbow, then Monroe faked the handoff pass to Prince, which forced Arron Afflalo to switch onto Monroe while Vucevic switched onto Prince. Monroe isolated Afflalo on the left block but Afflalo made a great defensive stand, holding his ground, and forcing Monroe to take an awkward lefty hook that completely missed the rim.

From there, Redick and Afflalo made their free-throws to ice the game and allow the Magic to escape with a four-point win.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Not only did Redick score 12 points in the fourth quarter, but he nailed a three-pointer that proved to be the game-winner for Orlando. Redick finished the game with 23 points on 13 shots — another efficient outing for him offensively.

X-Factor

After teaming up to score 37 points through three quarters, Monroe and Prince combined to score only four points in the final period. That forced the Pistons to rely on other players to step up in crunch time.

Defining Moment

After trailing for most of the evening, Redick’s three-pointer with 42.8 seconds left in regulation was the game-defining play that allowed the Magic to leave Detroit with a come-from-behind victory.

Nov 16

Preview: Orlando Magic at Detroit Pistons

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Detroit Pistons
  • Date: November 16, 2012
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: The Palace at Auburn Hills

Records

  • Magic: 2-5
  • Pistons: 1-8

Probable starters

Magic:

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

Pistons:

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

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 91.2 (26th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 96.5 (26th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 103.4 (18th of 30)

Pistons:

  • Pace: 91.7 (22nd of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 99.9 (23rd of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.6 (27th of 30)

Read about the Pistons

Piston Powered

Nov 16

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Matt Dollinger of Sports Illustrated ranks the Orlando Magic at No. 26 in his latest power rankings: “After a feel-good 2-0 start, the Magic have lost five straight and are in desperate need of an offensive boost. Orlando ranks 26th in points scored per possession and is averaging just 79.8 points on its current slide — all without starters Jameer Nelson (hamstring, groin) and Hedo Turkoglu (hand), who have both been sidelined since the opener, and veteran forward Al Harrington, who has yet to play this season while recovering from knee surgery.”
  • If the Magic trade Josh McRoberts, whose $3.1 million salary is expiring, they shouldn’t expect much for him in return unless he’s included in a larger package.
  • Orlando looks to snap their five-game losing streak against the Detroit Pistons in tonight’s game.
  • Jameer Nelson, who has sat the last six games with a strained groin and hamstring, is a game-time decision against the Pistons.
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Nelson said it’s been frustrating to have to sit and watch while the Magic have struggled offensively and struggled to close out games. Nelson wanted to play on Tuesday night against the Knicks, but the training staff and head coach Jacque Vaughn held him out so as to not risk aggravation of the injury that would linger for weeks.”

Nov 16

#ORLrank 8: Rashard Lewis

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

 

G MP PER VORP WARP WS/82
2008-2009 79 2859 16.8 4.03 11.0 9.6
Rashard Lewis’ best season with the Magic

 
Rashard Lewis’ time with the Magic is probably best remembered for how it started and how it ended.

Things kicked off with that insane max contract, and unfair as it was to judge Rashard for accepting a deal offered by a general manager bidding against himself that will set his family for life, it never left the public conscious. Being overpaid is a horrible curse in professional sports, especially those with a salary cap. By being such, you’re willingly hurting your team to improve your own off-court life and even though that’s a decision 100 percent of people would make, nuance is somehow lost when it comes to punditry.

And Lewis’ Magic tenure ended, of course, with the Arenas trade -– that horrible, horrible Arenas trade. In proving that no NBA contract is untradable, Lewis was afforded the faint praise of being slightly less destructive to a team than a former All-Star with no knees and a history of bringing firearms into the locker room. And by fairly openly checking out on the Washington Wizards after the trade, Lewis did his part to support the notion that he was collecting checks just so he can calmly settle into his over-the-hill lodgings.

All of this is a damn shame, because Rashard Lewis was an excellent basketball player when he was on the Orlando Magic. And the great thing was, he was excellent in such a manner that almost every single team in today’s NBA is trying to duplicate.

Lewis wasn’t the first perimeter-oriented NBA big man. In fact, initially, he wasn’t even an NBA big man, playing the wing almost exclusively in Seattle. Statistically, these years were his peak. Ideologically, he was just another very good athletic wing who could shoot. In fact, he wasn’t even the best shooter on his team (hello Ray Allen).

In Orlando, though, Lewis played power forward and basically defined the modern “stretch four.” Guys like Dirk Nowitzki or Mehmet Okur were already deep into their careers at this point and “traditional” power forwards such as Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett were no slouches from mid-range either, but they were big men who happened to shoot. Lewis moved to power forward because he could shoot.

The Seven Seconds or Less Suns also had four guys who could shoot at all times, but it was almost position-less once you established that Steve Nash was the point guard. Rashard Lewis was the power forward and he could shoot. Not as part of a four-sniper ensemble, but in his own right.

These days, when the power forward position is dominated by guys like Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge, shooting is almost a requirement to play the 4. Rashard Lewis, by Stan Van Gundy’s command, brought that to the public eye by showing how much success can be manufactured from such a constellation.

It would be wrong to pin the Magic’s Finals run exclusively on the matchup problems Lewis created, but re-watch that Cavs series and see Anderson Varejao and Ben Wallace try to both close out on his shot, seal off his penetration, and fail every time. The effect was so profound that the Cavs spent the next eight months desperately looking for a stretch four to combat Lewis, eventually settling on Antawn Jamison (and failing miserably, but that’s neither here nor there).

Rashard Lewis didn’t play his best basketball with the Magic. The All-Star appearance was probably a result of the team’s record more than his own play. There was that bizarre DHEA suspension that came right after he went to the Finals and right before he stopped being great, which leads to more questions than we might want to admit. And he was overpaid throughout. There is a lot not to like about Rashard Lewis, Orlando Magic basketball player.

But Rashard Lewis, Orlando Magic power forward has his imprint all around the NBA.

Voter breakdown for Rashard Lewis

Drexler Highkin Rivera Schiller Scribbins
Scale (1-to-10) 7 9 7 9 8
Average rank: 8.0

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.

Nov 15

Arron Afflalo’s shot selection explains his struggles

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Since coming to Orlando in the Dwight Howard trade this summer, Arron Afflalo has been touted as one of the central pieces Rob Hennigan is planning to rebuild around. An elite shooter and solid defender, he seems to be a perfect fit for a young team still in search of an identity.

But so far, the results have been inconsistent. Afflalo has had two outstanding shooting performances, but he also helped shoot the Magic out of a seemingly winnable game against the Knicks on Tuesday.

Afflalo’s increased role in Orlando has led to some changes in his shot selection, a lot of which aren’t exactly positive trends. Through seven games with the Magic, he’s averaging 14.1 field goal attempts per game, easily the highest mark of his career. This isn’t surprising at all, given that he’s a focal point of the offense of a young Magic team, rather than one of many cogs in a deep, talented playoff-worthy rotation like he was in Denver.

First, the good: Afflalo’s effectiveness around the basket is right in line with where it’s been over the past two seasons. He’s shooting 70 percent at the rim according to Hoopdata, which is an excellent mark.

A little more troubling is Afflalo’s increased reliance on his midrange jumper. He’s amassed 3.7 field goal attempts per game from 16-23 feet and shooting just 36 percent on these attempts.

Last season, Afflalo shot 40 percent on 2.3 attempts per game from 16-23 feet and in 2010-11, he shot 39 percent on 1.6 attempts per game. Neither of these marks are exactly stellar, either, but they were mitigated by the fact that they weren’t shot nearly as frequently.

The season is still young and things may well even out soon. But in the early going, it seems clear that the spike in Afflalo’s midrange attempts, coupled with the drop in efficiency from that range (which wasn’t great in the first place), has played a large role in his inconsistent start to the year. His True Shooting percentage of 52.2 percent this season is well below his career True Shooting percentage of 57.6 percent.

Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 14

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “A doctor’s check-up that Hedo Turkoglu hoped would lead him one step closer to returning for the Orlando Magic turned sour on Wednesday and the veteran small forward could be out of action another month. When doctors determined that one of the screws in Turkoglu’s surgically repaired left hand had loosened, his hand, fingers and arm were put back into a cast and his timetable for returning for the Magic was adjusted.”
  • More on Turkoglu’s setback from Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Turkoglu, who is normally upbeat and cheerful, said he isn’t in any physical pain, but he seemed discouraged when he spoke with reporters after his teammates finished practice Wednesday afternoon.”
  • Is market size in the NBA overrated?
  • Arron Afflalo took over the official Twitter account of the Orlando Magic on Social Media Night after Tuesday’s game against the New York Knicks.
  • Maurice Harkless’ three blocks on Carmelo Anthony in 30 seconds.
  • The Orlando Magic scratched and clawed against the Knicks on Tuesday, but ultimately lost the game.
  • Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak cites J.J. Redick as one of the NBA’s best pests: “Most pests make their mark on defense, but Redick is the rare offensive-minded pest. He’s won the Orlando’s “Iron Magic” fitness test for the past several years, and he puts that boundless energy to work on the court by running through and around an endless number of curls and hand offs in the Magic’s motion-heavy offense. If his defender loses track of him, or just gets slightly out of position for a moment, Redick flashes to the rim. You know how physically and mentally exhausting it is to guard someone who runs around a lot and can shoot when you’re playing pick-up? That, to the nth degree, is Redick … except he also went to Duke.”
  • The Magic drop in the latest power rankings from Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
  • “Glen Davis leads the world’s slowest fast break.”

Nov 13

Recap: New York Knicks 99, Orlando Magic 89

AP Photo/John Raoux

BOX SCORE

Early in the fourth quarter, the Orlando Magic were leading 80-79 against the New York Knicks and giving them everything they could handle. The Magic were competing and playing hard on both ends of the floor.

The Knicks responded by going on an 18-4 run, essentially ending the game with 1:29 left. New York ratcheted up their defensive intensity, making it difficult for Orlando to create easy buckets for themselves. Also, the Magic didn’t do themselves any favors by failing to execute on either side of the ball (the same thing happened in their loss to the Chicago Bulls one week ago). Especially offensively, where Orlando committed seven turnovers in the period.

The Magic’s lack of execution in the fourth quarter, particularly when it came to taking care of the basketball, proved to be their death knell. Another game, another loss.

For Orlando, there’s a couple of positives they can take away from this game, namely that rookies Maurice Harkless (10 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks in 19 minutes) and Andrew Nicholson played well (11 points in 10 minutes).

Harkless was one of the top attractions in tonight’s game because of his defense on Carmelo Anthony. In a 30-second stretch that spanned the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth quarter, Harkless blocked Anthony not once, not twice, but three times. The first two times, Harkless blocked Anthony in rapid succession when he tried to score at the rim (first off the dribble, then off an inbounds pass). Anthony got rejected a third time after he tried to back down Harkless on the right block and attempt another layup. On all three blocks, Harkless used his 7-foot wingspan to contest Anthony’s shot without fouling.

Yes, Harkless also had 10 points and seven rebounds but it was his disruptive defense against Anthony throughout the game that proved to be eye-opening.

As for Nicholson, he put his diverse and refined skill-set offensively on display once again. His most impressive sequence came on his first basket of the game late in the second quarter. Defended by Rasheed Wallace, Nicholson posted him up on the left block, then went up-and-under for a reverse layup, using the rim to protect against Wallace blocking the shot. It was a nifty move by Nicholson and an example of his refined post game, which is rare to find in a rookie big man.

Even though the Magic lost to the Knicks, the loss shouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things for a rebuilding team. What should matter for Orlando is that they develop their rookies like Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson (fellow rookie Kyle O’Quinn’s development is to be determined). For the Magic, games like these are a positive sign.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

When J.R. Smith gets it going offensively, there’s not much opposing defenses can do to stop him. He went to work mostly in isolation, scoring 21 points on 9-for-14 shooting from the floor in 32 minutes.

LVP (Least Valuable Player)

Arron Afflalo was dreadful for Orlando. Not only did he struggle on offense, scoring 13 points on 4-for-14 shooting, but he committed seven turnovers and was helpless at times defending Anthony in the post.

X-Factor

Even though the Magic outplayed New York for a good chunk of the game, turnovers eventually doomed them. Orlando committed 20 turnovers, including seven in the fourth quarter alone, while the Knicks coughed it up nine times for the whole game.

Nov 13

Preview: New York Knicks at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: New York Knicks at Orlando Magic
  • Date: November 13, 2012
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Knicks: 4-0
  • Magic: 2-4

Probable starters

Knicks:

  • Raymond Felton
  • Jason Kidd
  • Ronnie Brewer
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Tyson Chandler

Magic:

  • E’Twaun Moore
  • J.J. Redick
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats

Knicks:

  • Pace: 91.4 (25th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 114.3 (1st of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 95.7 (1st of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 91.3 (26th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 96.2 (28th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 102.4 (19th of 30)

Read about the Knicks

KnickerBlogger

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