Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 90

Apr 11

Recap: Washington Wizards 93, Orlando Magic 85

Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

BOX SCORE

With Dwight Howard sidelined with a back injury, the Orlando Magic were able to get by on Monday without him against the Detroit Pistons thanks in large part due to exceptional three-point shooting and, surprisingly enough, good defense.

But against the Washington Wizards, the Magic failed at both of those things and as a result, they lost a very winnable game.

For the game, Orlando shot 11-for-35 (31.4 percent) from three-point range and 36.6 from the floor. Conversely, the Magic allowed the Wizards to shoot 50 percent, with Kevin Seraphin leading the way for Washington with a career night — 24 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks. For Seraphin, his double-double represented a career-high in points and rebounds, while he tied a career-high with four blocks.

Glen Davis and Ryan Anderson could not stop Seraphin from doing whatever he wanted in the post. Seraphin showed beautiful touch with his back to the basket, sprinkling in righty and lefty hooks on either side of the block like he was, well, Dwight. Seraphin even showed off his range on one possession midway through the third quarter, making a left elbow jumper in a 2/5 pick-and-roll with Jordan Crawford.

While Seraphin was busy dominating for the Wizards, Orlando was preoccupied building a new mansion in Washington with bricks and mortars. In other words, the Magic — after shooting the lights out against the Pistons — struggled to hit perimeter shots all game long. And it wasn’t like Orlando was forcing up bad shots, though they did on occasion. The Magic had plenty of clean looks, especially behind the three-point line, they just couldn’t knock them down.

No shot typified that more than Jason Richardson’s three-point shot late in the fourth quarter. With Orlando down by the score of 86-81 with less than two minutes to go in the game, Richardson attempted a three-pointer on the left wing in transition that would have cut the deficit down to two points and one possession. Yet, even though Richardson had a clean look, he missed the shot and the Wizards eventually held on for the win.

Should the Magic have attacked the rim more to circumvent the lack of three-point shots falling? Perhaps. But it wasn’t like Orlando didn’t attack the basket. For the game, the Magic shot 12-for-23 (52.1 percent) at the rim. Those 23 attempts jive with the amount of shots Orlando attempts at the rim per game (23.1) this season.

No, the Magic’s issue is that they didn’t convert like they normally do. For the season, Orlando’s percentage at the rim is 63.2 percent.

Which brings it all back to Dwight.

This is not to discount Washington’s win. The Wizards came out and played better than the Magic. End of story.

But facts are facts. For Orlando, these are the types of games in which Dwight’s presence would have changed everything. It’s unlikely that Seraphin would have had a career night. It’s unlikely that the Magic would have struggled converting at the rim.

Nevertheless, credit Washington for taking advantage of the situation.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

What else is there to say about Seraphin that hasn’t been said? He took full advantage of Dwight’s absence and put on an offensive display that proves the Wizards were wise to trade away JaVale McGee.

X-Factor

It’s been already mentioned, but Orlando’s inability to hit three-point shots (aside from Jameer Nelson and Quentin Richardson) killed them against Washington, especially with no Dwight to lean on as a safety net.

That Was … Serendipitous?

Losing isn’t fun. But sometimes losing isn’t bad. Confused? With the loss, the Magic are still in line to face off against the Indiana Pacers in playoffs. Not the Boston Celtics or Atlanta Hawks.

Apr 10

Preview: Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards
  • Date: Apr. 10, 2012
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Verizon Center

Records

  • Magic: 34-23
  • Wizards: 13-44

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • J.J. Redick
  • Jason Richardson
  • Ryan Anderson
  • Glen Davis

Wizards:

  • John Wall
  • Jordan Crawford
  • Chris Singleton
  • Jan Vesely
  • Kevin Seraphin

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 89.1 (28th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 105.2 (15th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 103.1 (11th of 30)

Wizards:

  • Pace: 92.7 (7th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.0 (26th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.6 (25th of 30)

Read about the Wizards

Truth About It

Apr 10

The Magic should choose Dwight Howard over Stan Van Gundy

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

I’ve gone on the record this season saying that I thought Stan Van Gundy was a valuable part of the Orlando Magic and also, recently, that they should fire him sooner rather than later. It occurs to me that these two positions maybe don’t make sense. 

My thinking is as follows.

Either with Dwight locked up long-term or without Dwight at all, Van Gundy is as good a coach as you’ll find. But if the Magic must choose between Dwight Howard or his coach, they ought to go with Howard. I’m not rock solid in this belief because Howard has either caught a serious case of impetuous belle-of-the-ballism or has learned a very good impression of it, but I’ll try and flesh out my hunch that the Magic would be better off giving Van Gundy his walking papers.

The evidence suggests two things about coaching in this league: it matters more than the casual fan thinks and that it matters less than obsessive basketball bloggers think. I believe very much that the NBA is a coaches’ league, but I also think Scott Brooks helms the league’s best team. Look, you want Popovich or Thibodeau on your sidelines, sure. But there are relatively few coaching “geniuses” to be had and in our rush to fetishize technical wizardry, we forget that Doc Rivers used to be a punchline and that Avery Johnson took a team to the Finals.

The science of coaching fit is no more exact than that of player fit — coaches develop their skills and many do better with a certain type of team than others. Any rational observer agrees Van Gundy is the sort of coach who could fit most any roster and that most alternatives are weaker in a vacuum.

But the Magic aren’t facing a vacuum, they’re facing a choice: do you want to keep the league’s best center or a top-tier coach? It seems clear, given how talent is distributed between the player and coach pools around the league, that Howard is the easy choice here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 10

Recap: Orlando Magic 119, Detroit Pistons 89

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

BOX SCORE

In 2009 and 2010, blowouts were routine for the Orlando Magic.

In 2011, less so.

In 2012, it seems like the Magic have become more accustomed to getting blown out than blowing teams out. Instead of Orlando dishing out the pain, they’ve been receiving it.

Which is why the Magic’s 30-point victory — their largest of the regular season –against the Detroit Pistons, without Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu (as well as Chris Duhon, who was suspended one game for conduct detrimental to the team), was probably cathartic for head coach Stan Van Gundy. Not only because it was the Pistons, a squad that has consistently given Orlando a ton of grief in the Van Gundy era no matter how good or bad they are, but because the Magic have been on the receiving end of quite a number of butt whoopings this season. For Orlando, surely a little role reversal never hurts once in a while.

What made this win particularly impressive for the Magic is that they beat Detroit largely with defense. Without Dwight, mind you. Instead of Orlando relying on Dwight to anchor things defensively, the starting lineup of Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Jason Richardson, Ryan Anderson, and Glen Davis were forced to rely on each other to shut down the Pistons’ offense. And they did.

In the first half, albeit with some defensive lapses here and there, the unit of Nelson-Redick-Richardson-Anderson-Davis did a good job of rotating properly and, when needed, providing help defense. Even when Ish Smith, Quentin Richardson, and Earl Clark entered the game in the second quarter, they were able to help the Magic keep the momentum going on defense.

Although Orlando, collectively, couldn’t keep the Pistons out of the paint all the time, the Magic were able to force Detroit into shooting a lot of jumpshots (many of them contested). And when the Pistons did attack the rim, Orlando did their best to contest almost everything.

That explains, for the most part, how the Magic carried a 21-point lead into halftime against Detroit — defense.

Also, three-point shooting.

Orlando decimated the Pistons in the first half with their group of snipers, shooting 10-for-19 from three-point range. Ball movement and dribble penetration (for drive-and-kicks) were the keys to the Magic creating a ton of clean looks against Detroit.

That was the game in a nutshell.

In a lot of ways, this is how Orlando blew out opponents when they were an elite team and championship contenders in 2009 and 2010. Defense and three-point shooting.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

In the absence of Dwight (sore back) and Turkoglu (facial fracture), Nelson stepped up as the Magic’s primary playmaker and carved up the Pistons’ defense with his scoring and passing (18 points and 9 assists).

X-Factor

After Detroit shot 56.6 percent from the floor against Orlando on April 3, the Magic tightened up defensively this time around. With Orlando’s defense playing on a string all night long, the Pistons shot 40.5 percent.

That Was … Payback

With the win, the Magic avoided an embarrassing season series sweep at the hands of Detroit. And Orlando did so in emphatic fashion, combining defense with red-hot three-point shooting (15-for-28) to earn the victory.

Apr 09

Preview: Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic
  • Date: Apr. 9, 2012
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Pistons: 21-35
  • Magic: 33-23

Probable starters

Pistons:

  • Brandon Knight
  • Rodney Stuckey
  • Tayshaun Prince
  • Greg Monroe
  • Jason Maxiell

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • J.J. Redick
  • Jason Richardson
  • Ryan Anderson
  • Glen Davis

Advanced stats

Pistons:

  • Pace: 88.9 (29th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 100.6 (27th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.7 (23rd of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 89.1 (28th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 104.6 (16th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 103.1 (11th of 30)

Read about the Pistons

Piston Powered

Apr 09

Au revoir, O-rena

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

On March 25, Amway Arena was imploded by the City of Orlando, putting an end to the building’s 23 years of existence.

One of the first things I thought of when I found out Amway Arena was torn down was something head coach Stan Van Gundy said after the Orlando Magic beat the Philadelphia 76ers on April 15, 2010 when the building hosted its final regular season game. Van Gundy said:

“It’s a building. It doesn’t have feelings, it’s a building. Sorry guys, I’m not going to shed a tear when a building comes down. Unless it’s my house.”

I always thought that quote from Van Gundy was funny. He shared the same sentiment, too, on the day Amway Arena was imploded.

It’s true that buildings don’t have feelings. It’s an inanimate object. Yet it’s also true that people care about inanimate objects. And in this case, people cared about Amway Arena (better known locally as the “O-rena”).

Although Amway Arena was one of the smallest arenas in the league during its time, lacking the necessary amenities needed in a modern NBA arena to create the revenue streams required for a franchise to survive long-term, it had a certain charm. In many ways, Amway Arena’s size was its biggest weakness but also its greatest strength. It fostered an intimate environment to watch a game, with one lower and upper bowl section stacked on top of each other to create a lot of crowd noise.

That intimacy is the charm I’m talking about.

And that charm created a lot of unforgettable moments for me as a Magic fan, especially one in particular.

“It feels good to get in the second round.”
Tracy McGrady uttered those famous words after the Magic won Game 4 to go up 3-1 in their series against the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the 2003 NBA Playoffs. Unfortunately for McGrady, he was counting his chickens before they hatched. Orlando would go on to lose three straight games against the Pistons and lose the series.

Which meant that the Magic blew their chance at making history, which was to become the first No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 seed after the NBA expanded the first round from a five-game series to a seven-game series that season (side note: isn’t that McGrady’s luck? The year the league decides to expand the first round is the year he played Detroit and was up 3-1).

Nevertheless, I’ll never forget that series. Not so much because of McGrady’s quote and the end result for Orlando, but because I was able to be a part of that unforgettable playoff experience as a fan. I was there to witness Game 4 in person. And for me, that game best defined everything that made Amway Arena a unique place to watch the Magic play.

Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 09

Relying on J.J. Redick in crunch time

On Saturday, the Orlando Magic got a much-needed victory against the Philadelphia 76ers on the road, winning by the score of 88-82 and snapping a season-high five-game losing streak. And the Magic were able to win the game not only without Ryan Anderson and Hedo Turkoglu but with Dwight Howard nursing a bad back.

Needless to say, Orlando has J.J. Redick to thank for the victory. Yes, Dwight and Glen Davis were also instrumental in the win for the Magic, carrying the team in different junctures of the game. But in crunch time, it was Redick that took the role of playmaker in the fourth quarter in place of a struggling Jameer Nelson and an absent Turkoglu.

With the game tied at 73 apiece with 5:24 left in the fourth quarter, Redick scored nine straight points for Orlando in the span of two minutes. That scoring spree allowed the Magic to gain a six-point edge on the Sixers at 82-76 with the game winding down. Orlando would hang on for the victory.

Head coach Stan Van Gundy has said many times that Redick is a player that he can rely on and trust. That’s because Redick plays the right way and makes the right plays.

Against Philadelphia, Redick did just that.

_______

In crunch time, needing a bucket to build a cushion against Philadelphia, the Magic relied on a play that they had ran with success a few times previously in the game.

Orlando starts out in their “horns” set with Dwight and Davis at the elbows. Nelson passes the basketball to Dwight and this is where the action begins.

Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 08

Recap: Orlando Magic 88, Philadelphia 76ers 82

AP Photo/Michael Perez

BOX SCORE

The Orlando Magic aren’t going to win a championship this season. That much is certain.

But amidst all the turmoil, all the drama, and all the BS (as head coach Stan Van Gundy would like to say), the Magic are a good team and capable of doing good things together. Orlando’s win on the road against the Philadelphia 76ers, with no Ryan Anderson (sprained ankle), no Hedo Turkoglu (facial fracture), and Dwight Howard playing through a bad back, is the latest example of that.

Yes, the Sixers are mired in a funk of their own. This isn’t the same Philadelphia team that raced out to a 20-9 start to the regular season. The Sixers are struggling. But in case you haven’t noticed, the Magic have dealt with their own problems all season long. Considering the circumstances, Orlando could have easily folded against Philadelphia and no one would have been surprised.

That’s precisely what happened for the Magic against the New York Knicks on Thursday. Orlando didn’t compete in that game.

The Magic competed against the Sixers. As such, Orlando won the game.

Three players stood out for the Magic — Dwight, J.J. Redick, and Glen Davis.

Let’s start with Dwight. Forget about all his off-court issues for a moment. With a bad back that was clearly bothering him throughout the game, against Philadelphia, Dwight went out and put up 20 points, 22 rebounds, six assists, and two steals. That was his ninth 20-20 game of the season and the 41st of his career. It’s safe to say that this was one of his more gutsier 20-20 performances.

There were times when Dwight just didn’t look good out there, especially on offense. This isn’t to discredit Elton Brand’s defense on Dwight, which was quite good at times (and lends credence to the notion that Brand is one of the most underrated defenders in the NBA). That said, Dwight left a lot of points out there, as he went 4-for-14 from the floor. There were a few instances where he missed badly on hook shots that he routinely makes.

But overall, Dwight gutted it out, shot a decent percentage from the free-throw line (12-for-18 at 66.7 percent) to make up for his lack of productivity in the post, and did his job defensively — both rebounding the ball, protecting the rim, and keeping the Sixers out of the paint when he was on the floor.

As for Davis, for a player that’s had to deal with his own set of issues on and off the court this season, it must be gratifying for him to make a positive impact for Orlando right now. In the absence of Anderson, Davis once again played well, particularly on offense where he made his presence felt the most. As hard as it is to believe it, there was no one for Philadelphia that could stop Davis from doing whatever he wanted offensively. That is, when Davis was doing the right things on offense.

There were times when Davis’ love for the long two got the better of him and he bailed out the Sixers on possessions when he chucked up a shot outside of his range, which is anything beyond the elbows. But when Davis wasn’t preoccupied trying to be a jumpshooter, he was nimble on the low block, he attacked the offensive glass, and he got to the free-throw line. Even though 21 field goal attempts (which produced a game-high 23 points) is normally way too many for Davis, the Magic needed it all against Philadelphia.

Lastly, Redick shut the door on the Sixers in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 of his 19 points in the period. This will be broken down further in a post for Monday, but Philadelphia was forced to assign Andre Iguodala on Redick — one of the best defenders in the league — as the game was winding down. For Redick, that’s the ultimate sign of respect.

All in all, it wasn’t just a good win for Orlando, it was a professional one.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Dwight, Davis, and Redick each deserve the recognition. They were the catalysts for the Magic’s victory and without their contributions, the Sixers would have won the game with relative ease. There’s no question about that.

Defining Moment

How about Davis’ third quarter? With Orlando needing a lift from someone, Davis was more than happy to oblige. He scored 15 of his 23 points in the third quarter, imposing his will offensively against Philadelphia.

X-Factor

The Magic’s bench, excluding Chris Duhon, didn’t do the team any favors against the Sixers. Earl Clark and Von Wafer were flat out terrible. As such, Van Gundy was forced to rely on the starters a lot.

That Was … Much-Needed

Considering everything that’s been happening with Orlando the past few days, they were in desperate need of a win. The Magic are a game back of the Indiana Pacers for the No. 3 seed in the East.

Apr 07

Preview: Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers
  • Date: Apr. 7, 2012
  • Time: 8:00 p.m.
  • Television: ESPN
  • Arena: Wells Fargo Center

Records

  • Magic: 32-23
  • Pistons: 29-25

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • J.J. Redick
  • Jason Richardson
  • Glen Davis
  • Dwight Howard

Sixers:

  • Jrue Holiday
  • Evan Turner
  • Andre Iguodala
  • Elton Brand
  • Spencer Hawes

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 89.3 (26th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 104.6 (16th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 103.2 (10th of 30)

Sixers:

  • Pace: 89.6 (24th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 103.7 (18th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 98.0 (1st of 30)

Read about the Sixers

Philadunkia

Apr 06

Friday’s Magic Word

  • With the drama surrounding head coach Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard reaching a fever pitch, Hedo Turkoglu suffering facial fractures on his cheekbone (this after Carmelo Anthony inadvertently elbowed him in the face), and Ryan Anderson still recovering from a sprained ankle, nothing is going right for the Orlando Magic right now.
  • According to Basketball Prospectus, the Magic are projected to finish with the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference behind the Atlanta Hawks. Though for Orlando, they would play the Boston Celtics in the first round if the standings held up.
  • Last night, the crew (Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal) at “Inside the NBA” on TNT had a lot to say with regards to the Van Gundy-Dwight saga.
  • In lieu of new rumors, in this case from Fred Kerber of the New York Post, in which it’s revealed that Dwight was “threatened” by the possibility of being traded from the Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers at the deadline, Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie went straight to the point: “Honestly, in a few weeks time Dwight Howard has gone from an MVP candidate to someone who needs a leave of bloody absence.”
  • Once known as “Superman,” now Dwight is nothing more than a supervillian. Ian O’Connor of ESPN New York explains Dwight’s transformation from good guy to bad guy: “His innocence — or whatever remained of it — was shattered like a glass backboard even before he embarrassed himself against the New York Knicks. Seven hours before tipoff, before Howard went scoreless for the first 35 minutes and 56.5 seconds of a 96-80 loss to the Knicks, Stan Van Gundy disclosed that his bosses had told him Howard did indeed ask for his head.”
  • What does life after Orlando look like for Van Gundy? John Hollinger of ESPN Insider lays out all the possibilities for Van Gundy’s future. Could ESPN come calling for him to be a television NBA analyst? Would Van Gundy listen to the offer?
  • Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “The only apparent certainty, at this point, is that Van Gundy will not be back in Orlando next season. No one can envision a scenario where Van Gundy returns for 2012-13 … or a scenario where Stan even wants to.”
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk on the Magic: “It’s hard to see how this team rights the ship and gains momentum now — the locker room is divided and there will be a cloud of questions following their every move.”
  • “Oh, things are a hot mess in Orlando right now.”
  • Turkoglu may need a protective mask to shield his face after he suffered facial fractures in his right cheekbone. He also may need surgery.
  • Shaq talks about Dwight and takes his side in the Van Gundy vs. Dwight debate.
  • Abe Schwadron of SLAM ONLINE: “The word ‘strange’ doesn’t even begin to describe what’s going on in Orlando right now.”
  • Is one of the reasons why Dwight has created so much drama is because he’s underpaid? Ethan Sherwood Strauss of CourtVision thinks so: “Howard is set to make $17,885,400 this year and $19,261,200 next year. This is a lot of money to you, me or even a high-powered lawyer. But it’s far from Howard’s worth in terms of TV ratings, ticket prices and international exposure for the Magic organization. The dude’s a bargain, even at near $20 million per year.”
  • With all that’s going on, Orlando may be better off cleaning their hands of the situation once and for all and trade Dwight in the offseason.
  • Zach Harper of HoopSpeak presents to you “Dueling Helicopters” featuring Turkoglu and Anthony. This is part of HoopIdea’s initiative to #StopTheFlop.
  • Bethlehem Shoals of The Classical: “Howard seems intent on simply making more work for himself, or at very least, setting himself up as the dictatorial authority and thus exposing himself to all the blame. It’s a remarkably crude sense of power, one almost as immature as it is counterproductive.”
  • Steve Kyler of HOOPSWORLD with the must-read article of the day. As the mainstream media and blogosphere try to make sense of all the madness that has occurred with the Magic in the last 24 hours, Kyler has this to report: “So what’s the real issue? Dwight Howard wants a coach he can connect with; a coach he can trust; a coach that can relate to what players are going through in a season. Dwight does not want to be an employee.”
  • Andrew Sharp of SB Nation wonders if the Magic were better off dealing Dwight to the Los Angeles Lakers at the trade deadline.
  • In last night’s game, the New York Knicks dominated Orlando from start to finish and — given the circumstances — it didn’t take a lot of work to do so.
  • More from Sharp: “Dwight is the player who’s been flexing his superstar’s leverage all year, Thursday was the day that Van Gundy decided to flex his. Nobody’s done more with less over the past five years, so he’s earned the privilege of candor. Coaches get forced out by superstar all the time, but they’re not usually as proven and respected as Van Gundy — that’s why this got complicated.”
  • Tom Ziller of SB Nation maintains his opinion that once Dwight waived the early termination option in his contract on March 15, the Magic should have traded him the second he signed it to avoid the current mess they’re in: “A lottery pick and a top prospect would have been an easy pull for Orlando on March 14, after Dwight committed. Instead, the Magic have to deal with this nightmare at least until the end of this season, and probably all of next year, too.”
Page 90 of 245« First...102030...8889909192...100110120...Last »