Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 92

May 09

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • The Orlando Magic have a lot of decisions to make in the near future: namely the futures of general manager Otis Smith, head coach Stan Van Gundy, Dwight Howard, Ryan Anderson, J.J. Redick, and Jameer Nelson.
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel lists the top 10 issues that the Magic will be facing as they head into the offseason.
  • Orlando tried but didn’t have enough left in the tank to pull out a win in Game 5 against the Indiana Pacers, losing by the score of 105-87 after entering the fourth quarter with a 71-69 lead.
  • The Magic have a lot of questions they need to answer with regards to free agents-to-be like Anderson. Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post has an excellent breakdown of Orlando’s current roster outlook as the offseason looms.
  • Finally, the NBA is rid of an anticlimactic first round playoff series between the Magic and Indiana Pacers.
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: “And, really, it was great to see Jameer Nelson back. Even 5 1/2 months into the season he still looks out of shape, but he managed 27 points on 21 shots and didn’t turn the ball over in 39 minutes. We’ll have much more on the Magic later on Wednesday, and we want to keep this Pacers-heavy, but it was a welcome return, Jameer. If only for a night.
  • More from Dwyer: “On paper, with Van Gundy’s voice being treated as reverently as it should be, the Magic should have a chance at the conference finals, or even NBA Finals, all over again in 2012-13. That’s what overachieving is all about. Especially when you have Dwight Howard. But especially because they have Dwight Howard, Stan Van Gundy probably won’t be there next season.”
  • Orlando struggled to get to the free-throw line in the playoffs without Dwight. That is no surprise, given that Dwight accounted for 10.6 of the Magic’s 19.0 free-throw attempts per game during the regular season.
  • ESPN Stats & Information: “After losing the series opener, the Pacers dominated the series against the Orlando Magic. In the clinching game, they outscored Orlando 18-0 in fast-break opportunities and 46-22 in the paint. For the series, they held a 69-13 advantage in fast-break points and outscored the Magic by 76 points in the paint.”
  • for Orlando, a decision on Dwight’s future will be made sooner rather than later. The question is will Dwight commit long-term with the Magic or will he finally get traded? Stay tuned.
  • Adonal Foyle is on Orlando’s radar as a possible successor to Otis Smith as the team’s general manager.
  • With a win in Game 5 against the Magic, the Pacers completed the “gentleman’s sweep”.
  • Rob Mahoney of CourtVision suggests that people should not come to snap judgments with regards to Ryan Anderson’s offensive struggles in the postseason.
  • A look back at Orlando’s rollercoaster season.
  • The Magic earned a D+ for their effort against Indiana in Game 5, thereby getting eliminated in the first round for a second consecutive season.
  • David Aldridge of NBA.com: “Orlando will not have a repeat of this past season, however; Howard will be dealt in the offseason if the Magic determine he does not want to stay long-term. Several teams, most notably the Nets, want him.”
  • Hedo Turkoglu and pizza.

May 09

A vintage performance from Jameer Nelson

If the Orlando Magic had it their way, they would be in Orlando right now preparing for Game 6 of their first round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers. The game would have been on Friday at Amway Center.

Instead, the Magic’s season is over, but not before they put up a valiant effort — as they did all series long — in their series-clinching loss to the Pacers in Game 5. For 40 minutes, Orlando fought tooth and nail on the road before Indiana’s talent and depth took over in the last eight minutes of the game. And leading the fight was the Magic’s captain and starting point guard — Jameer Nelson.

After scoring 10 points in the first half on 4-for-6 shooting from the floor (2-for-2 from three-point range), Nelson put together a vintage performance in the third quarter with Orlando staring down elimination. Showing off an aggressiveness and fearlessness offensively, Nelson picked apart the Pacers’ defense in pick-and-roll sets.

Nelson’s stat line in the third quarter: 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the floor (3-for-4 from three-point range) in 12 minutes. For the game, he had 27 points on 11-for-21 shooting from the floor (5-for-8 from three-point range), 5 assists, and 4 rebounds in roughly 39 minutes of playing time.

The scouting report on Nelson is simple. When he’s aggressive and efficient in pick-and-rolls and actively looking for his shot, he transforms into an All-Star caliber player and one of the best pick-and-roll point guards in the NBA. 2009 will forever serve as an example of Nelson at his very best.

That player showed up at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Tuesday.

In the third quarter, Nelson got himself going in pick-and-rolls and the Magic kept drawing from that well.

_______

On this possession, Orlando ran a 1/4 pick-and-roll with Nelson and Ryan Anderson that generated a three-pointer for Nelson through his own ingenuity and savvy.

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May 09

Recap: Indiana Pacers 105, Orlando Magic 87

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

BOX SCORE

Turbulent.

If I were given only one word to describe the Orlando Magic’s season, turbulent would be it. And in that turbulence, the Magic persevered.

First it was “The Indecision.” Next it was the Stan Van Gundy vs. Dwight Howard saga. Then it was Dwight’s season-ending back surgery. And lastly it was Orlando’s first round loss to the Indiana Pacers in the 2012 NBA Playoffs. Did I mention there was a lockout during the offseason?

Through it all, the Magic showed a mental toughness and fighting spirit not seen since their Finals run in 2009. The difference, of course, between the two teams is is that the 2012 team was nowhere nearly as talented as their 2009 counterpart. That reality revealed itself in Orlando’s first round playoff series.

Despite Van Gundy coaching a hell of a series and players like Glen Davis giving everything they had, it wasn’t enough. The Pacers were the better team and they made that point loud and clear in Game 5.

And in a season that’s made no sense for the Magic in every sense of the word, it makes all the sense in the world that the script of the second half of Game 5 was nothing like the scripts of Games 1-4.

Make sense?

For a half, it seemed like Game 5 was going to follow the pattern of the previous four games. Indiana jumped out to a big first quarter lead, leading by as many as 15 points in the period. Then the bench got Orlando back into the game midway through the second quarter, with the starters eventually taking the reins and continuing the push up until halftime.

That’s when Game 5 diverted from the script.

Led by the All-Star version of Jameer Nelson, the Magic finally outscored the Pacers in the third quarter (24-19) for the first time in the series.

With a 71-69 lead heading in the fourth quarter, it seemed like Orlando was in prime position to extend their season for at least one more game. But it was to no avail, as Indiana blew the game wide open, dominating on both ends of the floor and outscoring the Magic 36-16 in the period.

All the energy that Orlando spent in the third quarter trying to take the lead away from the Pacers came back to bite them in the fourth quarter. Van Gundy tried to bide the starting lineup some time at the onset of the final period, but Indiana’s second unit — led by Darren Collison — built up a lead quickly. Van Gundy was forced to rush the starters back onto the court, but it was too late. Guys like Davis (who couldn’t even reenter the game) and Nelson were gassed. In turn, Indiana took full advantage with their depth.

Like they had all series long, the Magic fought but it wasn’t enough.

Yes, Orlando lost the series and their season is over. However, in the eyes of Magic fans, the players and coaching staff should be seen as winners for handling such a tumultuous season (especially Davis, who had to deal with the death of his grandmother and biological father) with a high display of character. Well, everyone except for Dwight.

Now?

A franchise-defining offseason awaits for Orlando.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

The game changed, and the series ended, with Collison’s outburst in the fourth quarter of Game 5. He scored 15 of his 19 points in the period, dealing a fatal blow to the Magic’s season.

Defining Moment

After Nelson made a layup in a 1/5 pick-and-roll with Davis to cut Orlando’s deficit to three points with the score at 83-80 and 7:48 left in the fourth quarter, the Pacers finished the game on a 22-7 run.

That Was … No Asterisk

Dwight’s presence would have changed the landscape of the series entirely (Vogel knows that more than anyone), but injuries happen. Indiana deserves credit for beating the team that was placed in front of them.

May 08

Preview: Orlando Magic at Indiana Pacers, Game 5

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Indiana Pacers
  • Date: May 8, 2012
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: NBA TV
  • Arena: Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Records

  • Magic: 37-29
  • Pacers: 42-24

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Jason Richardson
  • Hedo Turkoglu
  • Ryan Anderson
  • Glen Davis

Pacers:

  • George Hill
  • Paul George
  • Danny Granger
  • David West
  • Roy Hibbert

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 89.0 (29th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 105.0 (15th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.1 (12th of 30)

Pacers:

  • Pace: 90.7 (19th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 106.7 (7th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 103.1 (9th of 30)

Read about the Pacers

8 Points, 9 Seconds

May 08

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • As Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinels tells it, “Eight teams in NBA history have recovered from 3-1 deficits.” Will the Orlando Magic become the ninth team?
  • What can the Magic do to beat the Indiana Pacers on the road in Game 5 to extend their first round playoff series at least one more game? Robbins breaks it down.
  • It’s been reported that the Charlotte Bobcats plan to interview assistant coach Patrick Ewing for their vacant head coaching position. The Bobcats just completed the worst regular season in NBA history, finishing with the lowest regular season winning percentage of all-time (.106). On the bright side, Charlotte is in line to win the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery and get a chance at selecting Anthony Davis with the first overall pick.
  • The Pacers have a chance to finish off Orlando in Game 5 and complete the “gentleman’s sweep.”
  • Matt Moore of CBSSports.com: “Orlando has done more with less than any other team in the playoffs. The Magic have fought, and defended, and hustled, and hit shots, and pushed Indiana. But they don’t have Dwight Howard. This will forever be the year of what-ifs for the franchise, one way or another, and Tuesday is one more chance for them to stand up and show what they’re made of.”
  • Ewing’s friendship with Bobcats owner Michael Jordan may pay dividends as he tries to secure his first head coaching position in the NBA. But Ewing isn’t alone on Charlotte’s wish list.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk expects Indiana to beat the Magic and advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals: “Orlando plays hard, Stan Van Gundy knows how to coach. But in the end Indy has Roy Hibbert, David West and Danny Granger and talent wins out in this league. The Pacers will close this out.”
  • After crunching the numbers, Neil Paine of ESPN Insider concludes that Orlando has a 32 percent chance of winning Game 5 and staving off elimination in the first round of the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
  • If the Magic want any chance of coming back in their series against the Pacers, Ryan Anderson must step up according to Zach Lowe of The Point Forward: “[T]he Magic need Anderson to make this matchup something close to a wash. He’s just 10-of-31 from the floor so far, and the secondary skills he brings — offensive rebounds, two-point shots, the occasional free throws — have vanished in this series.”

May 07

Ryan Anderson wins NBA’s “Minutes Increased Per Game” Award

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

On Friday, Ryan Anderson became the fifth player for the Orlando Magic to win the Most Improved Player award in the franchise’s 23-year history (the other four players? Scott Skiles in 1991, Darrell Armstrong in 1999, Tracy McGrady in 2001, and Hedo Turkoglu in 2008).

Except there’s one problem. Anderson didn’t deserve to win the award.

That statement has nothing to do with Anderson’s struggles against the Indiana Pacers in the Magic’s first round playoff series, either. The Pacers have gameplanned against Anderson, almost always accounting for him while he’s roaming on the perimeter as well as using their collective length to disrupt him offensively (and using that length to limit his effectiveness on the offensive glass). Head coach Frank Vogel and Indiana’s coaching staff is well aware that, with Dwight Howard out, Anderson is Orlando’s best player and they have done everything in their power to contain him — something they’ve done successfully in the first four games of the series so far.

That speaks to the level of respect that coaches and players around the NBA have for Anderson. It says something about the voting contingent, too, that they voted for him as the league’s Most Improved Player.

Anderson is a very good player. The problem is that it seems like people are just realizing Anderson is a very good player, perhaps because the Magic have been on national TV quite a bit this season, Anderson himself participated in the 2012 NBA Three-Point Shootout during All-Star Weekend in Orlando, and he’s taken on a more prominent role as a starter. In other words, Anderson’s national profile has grown over time, which certainly helps in being considered for a major NBA award as more of the media is aware of who he is.

The reality is that Anderson has been a very good player, not just this season but last season as well.

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May 06

Recap: Indiana Pacers 101, Orlando Magic 99 (OT)

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

BOX SCORE

With 8:14 left in the fourth quarter, the Orlando Magic were down by 19 points with the score at 82-63 in favor of the Indiana Pacers.

The Pacers, just like in Games 2 and 3, used a strong third quarter surge (outscoring the Magic by 10 points in the period) to increase their lead to double-digits heading into the fourth quarter. And early on in the period, it seemed like Indiana was going to blow Orlando out of the water and put them out of their misery.

Staring at a 19-point deficit and also a 3-1 series deficit, things were looking bleak for the Magic. But instead of rolling over, head coach Stan Van Gundy — ever the fighter — didn’t give up. Coming out of an official timeout, Van Gundy made an adjustment that sparked a 26-7 run to end the fourth quarter, culminating in Nelson getting a chance to win the game on Orlando’s final possession in regulation.

What adjustment was that?

With Ryan Anderson continuing to get bottled up by the Pacers in Game 4, just like in the first three games of the series, Van Gundy went small and rolled the dice with a 5-man unit of Nelson-Redick-J. Richardson-Turkoglu-Davis. It’s a lineup that played a total of one minute together in the regular season.

So you can forgive head coach Frank Vogel for not being prepared and expecting that lineup to take the floor for the Magic.

That small-ball unit for Orlando rolled off 14 consecutive points, to cut their deficit to five points with the score at 82-77, before Indiana responded with a basket of their own. At that point, the Magic — echoing the fighting spirit of Van Gundy — made it clear that they weren’t going to go down without a fight.

Which brings things back to Orlando’s final possession of the fourth quarter with the ball in Nelson’s hands. The Magic had burned their final timeout on the previous possession so after they forced a shot clock violation on the Pacers, Van Gundy could not call a timeout to draw up a play on the ensuing possession. That can be seen as a good or bad thing depending on your crunch time philosophy.

Nelson took Leandro Barbosa off the dribble, dribble penetrated into the lane, stopped on a dime (which made it tough for Barbosa to contest the shot), and hoisted up a fadeaway jumper that fell way short.

Could Orlando have gotten a better shot?

Maybe. It’s always easy to second-guess in retrospect.

Let’s fast-forward to overtime. After Hill’s two free-throws, which came after Nelson reached in as Hill dribble penetrated into the lane and tried to kick the basketball out to the perimeter (a foul was the correct call), the Magic had the ball with 2.2 seconds left with a chance to tie or go for the win.

Orlando tried to get the basketball to Redick off a double screen set by Anderson and Davis at the top of the key, but Indiana defended it perfectly. Davis simultaneously slipped the screen but the Pacers were prepared for that, too. Ultimately, Davis got the ball at the right elbow and hoisted up a fadeaway jumper over Paul George that missed short. It’s hard to say the Magic could have gotten a better shot on that possession.

So here we are. Orlando trails 3-1 in their first round playoff series against Indiana with elimination looming in Game 5 on Tuesday. No matter what happens, whether the Magic win or lose that game, they should be commended for fighting throughout the series. It speaks volumes to how the players have played hard for Van Gundy.

In turn, Orlando (the city and the franchise) should be proud.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

David West was the standout performer for the Pacers in Game 4, doing most of his damage in the third quarter (scoring 12 of his game-high 26 points in the period) while also chipping in offensively during the overtime session.

Defining Moment

Hill drew a reach-in foul on Nelson with 2.2 seconds left in overtime with the Magic in the penalty, making both free-throws to give Indiana a 101-99 lead. That proved to be the game-winning sequence for the Pacers.

That Was … an Instant Classic

Orlando was down by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter, yet rallied and forced overtime thanks to a 26-7 run. The Magic ultimately fell short after Davis missed a game-tying fallaway jumper with time expiring.

May 05

Preview: Indiana Pacers at Orlando Magic, Game 4

Essentials

  • Teams: Indiana Pacers at Orlando Magic
  • Date: May. 5, 2012
  • Time: 2:00 p.m.
  • Television: ESPN
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Pacers: 42-24
  • Magic: 37-29

Probable starters

Pacers:

  • George Hill
  • Paul George
  • Danny Granger
  • David West
  • Roy Hibbert

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Jason Richardson
  • Hedo Turkoglu
  • Ryan Anderson
  • Glen Davis

Advanced stats

Pacers:

  • Pace: 90.7 (19th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 106.7 (7th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 103.1 (9th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 89.0 (29th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 105.0 (15th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.1 (12th of 30)

Read about the Pacers

8 Points, 9 Seconds

May 04

Ryan Anderson wins NBA’s Most Improved Player award

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Via an Orlando Magic press release:

Ryan Anderson of the Orlando Magic is the winner of the 2011-12 Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award, the NBA announced today. The annual award is presented to a player who has made a significant improvement from the previous season.

Anderson received 260 of a possible 605 points, including 33 first-place votes, from a panel of 121 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks (159 points, 21 first-place votes) and Nikola Pekovic of the Minnesota Timberwolves (104 points, 10 first-place votes) finished second and third, respectively. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third place vote received.

Anderson established career highs in scoring (16.1 ppg), rebounds (7.7 rpg), field goal percentage (.439) and free throw percentage. He also paced the league and established personal bests in three-pointers made (166) and attempted (422). He increased his scoring from the previous season by 5.5 ppg and his rebounds by 2.2 rpg. Orlando averaged 107.5 points per 100 possessions with Anderson on the court, compared to 94.1 points with the 6-10 forward on the bench.

May 04

Glen Davis and being a champion

Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images

The single biggest argument any chump on the street has that gives him the decisive edge in an “anti-LeBron James” argument is the fact that LBJ has no rings. Why, then, do we not use that same logic when talking about non-superstars who also have rings?

Maybe some do, but you don’t hear it often. If winning championships is the end-all rubric of your standing in the NBA, then what about the NBA champions who aren’t in the MVP discussion?

Does the “if you win championships, you’re better than the guys who don’t win championships” logic only work for top five players? Put differently, is Jason Terry better than James Harden? Or is just once you have passed a certain amount of years? Maybe we can only compare players who have been playing for more than five years?

My answer is no to each of those questions, but it’s tricky to know when to draw the line when we make the “but he’s a champion” argument. Glen Davis is an NBA champion. In fact, he’s the only NBA champion in the Magic locker room. It’s astounding to see people so taken aback by his playoff performance thus far considering his pedigree.

By now you know his team-leading playoff numbers. Davis is averaging a playoff career-high 18.7 points and 9 rebounds a game so far, a clip that outdoes his previous postseason career-best of 15.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in the 2008-2009 NBA season (the year after the Celtics won the championship). Though Davis is performing inefficiently on offense in the playoffs this season, with a True Shooting percentage of 46.5 percent with a usage rate at 28.2 percent so there’s that to take into account.

Obviously the injury to Dwight has put Glen in a position to play more and score more, but if players automatically “get theirs” the moment a big centerpiece hits the bench, then why aren’t we seeing the same production from the other Orlando bigs?

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