Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 92

Dec 03

Monday’s Magic Word

  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “There is no real revenge for Dwight Howard, but that win Sunday night sure tasted good to Magic fans. As it should.”
  • Will the Orlando Magic, after winning an emotional game against Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, suffer a letdown in tonight’s game against the Golden State Warriors?
  • Marc Stein of “The Magic would naturally be thrilled if Sunday night’s events at Staples Center plunged the Lakers into some sort of lasting crisis. Yet even if the misery doesn’t last, Central Floridians won’t soon forget the night that Orlando not only beat Dwight’s new crew but exposed his every flaw.”
  • Glen Davis had the play of the night in Sunday’s game against the Lakers — blocking Pau Gasol’s dunk attempt in emphatic fashion midway through the third quarter.
  • J.J. Redick on Twitter: “Sweet win. That’s for Orlando. On to the next one!”
  • Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated says Orlando was hell-bent on getting revenge on Howard: “Given all the damage Howard wrought — demanding a trade, undermining a general manager, forcing out a coach — it was not enough for the Magic to simply beat him. They had to humiliate him in the process.”
  • Jameer Nelson reflects on the Magic’s win against Howard and the Lakers, noting that the team really wanted to win the game because of what it meant to the city of Orlando and the franchise as a whole.

Dec 03

Recap: Orlando Magic 113, Los Angeles Lakers 103

Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images


Before Dwight Howard was ultimately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team deal in August, for months, Magic fans had to endure endless chatter surrounding Howard’s future with the Orlando Magic, given that he had an early termination clause in his contract that allowed him to become a free agent after the 2011-2012 season.

And during that time, Howard further tortured the fan base by being indecisive about his trade demands, his trade wish list, and his opt-out clause, while also wanting Stan Van Gundy fired behind the scenes. Hence the reason why “The Indecision” and “Dwightmare” became a part of the sports lexicon.

Magic fans endured a lot of grief because of Howard. Which is why the Magic’s 113-103 win against Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday proved to be a cathartic experience for the fan base.

Orlando was able to come away with a victory thanks to an offensive explosion in the fourth quarter, in which they eviscerated the Lakers’ defense in the period with dribble penetration, particularly in pick-and-rolls, while simultaneously slowing down Los Angeles offensively by employing the hack-a-Howard tactic.

The players of the game for the Magic were Redick (14 points and seven assists), Nelson (19 points, 13 assists, five rebounds, and two steals), and Afflalo (30 points on 11-for-18 shooting, five rebounds, and five assists) — two former teammates of Howard’s, as well as the player who was the centerpiece of Orlando’s trade package for Howard.

Afflalo did much of his damage in transition, where he was able to make layups and PUJITS (pull-up jumpers in transition). And in half-court sets, Afflalo — who has struggled with his shot selection early in the season — eschewed midrange jumpers in favor of corner threes. All four of Afflalo’s three-point field goals made were corner threes. When Afflalo optimizes his shot selection, as he did on Sunday, he’s capable of putting up points in a hurry.

As for Nelson, there’s something about Staples Center that gets him going (see January 16, 2009). Maybe it had to do with playing against a former teammate. Maybe Nelson was due for a big game. Regardless, Nelson was one of the architects of the Magic’s 40-point fourth quarter, using his dribble penetration to put pressure on the Lakers’ defense. Not only that, but Nelson’s two three-pointers in the late stages of the period proved to be back breakers as Los Angeles was unable to recover from the Magic’s scoring surge.

And lastly, Redick put on a clinic in the first half on how to score off the ball, using a variety of screens and cuts to the basket to score with relative ease. But it was Redick’s passing in the fourth quarter that proved to be a game-changer. Redick had seven assists for the game, with five of them coming in the fourth quarter. Like Nelson, Redick used dribble penetration to break down the Lakers defensively.

Whatever happens the rest of the season, rest assured that this is a night that Magic fans won’t soon forget.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Despite trailing for most of the game, Orlando kept fighting and put together a fourth quarter rally for the ages. This was the Magic’s best performances of the regular season and a group effort in every sense of the term.

Defining Moment

Trailing 84-83 midway through the fourth quarter, head coach Jacque Vaughn employed the hack-a-Howard tactic until the two minute mark in the period. During that stretch, Orlando went on a 20-9 run while Howard shot 5-for-12 from the free-throw line.

That Was … Liberating

After all the things the Magic fan base went through with Howard, this was a win they deserved to have. Ask any fan and they’ll probably take this victory and put it up there with any in franchise history.

Dec 02

Preview: Orlando Magic at Los Angeles Lakers


  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Los Angeles Lakers
  • Date: December 2, 2012
  • Time: 9:30 p.m.
  • Television: NBA TV
  • Arena: Staples Center


  • Magic: 5-10
  • Lakers: 8-8

Probable starters


  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic


  • Darius Morris
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Metta World Peace
  • Pau Gasol
  • Dwight Howard

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 92.1 (15th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 98.3 (29th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.0 (15th of 30)


  • Pace: 93.9 (4th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 107.1 (9th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 102.2 (8th of 30)

Read about the Lakers

Forum Blue & Gold

Dec 01

Recap: Brooklyn Nets 98, Orlando Magic 86

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images


There was a hint of inevitability in the air during this game. The Magic weren’t playing badly and the Nets weren’t playing well, but we often see this happen in the NBA: an overwhelming favorite plays down to the level of its opponent, eventually pulling away for the win when talent and execution inevitably overcome the numbness of getting up for another NBA night.

Not to be overly glum, but this was not an enjoyable contest. Both teams struggled offensively early on. The Nets were missing Brook Lopez, who has served as a first quarter focal point all season long, and even though they have several other weapons on the team, his absence seemed to throw everything off rhythm. Only Joe Johnson, who hit six of his first seven shots, kept the team’s head above water.

On the other side, the Magic were clearly missing Jameer Nelson’s guiding hand. E’Twaun Moore actually had a decent game filling in, scoring 13 points on 10 shots and only taking a couple of spine-chillingly bad pull-ups, but he’s pretty much limited to creating looks for himself. As such, most of the game ran through and Nikola Vucevic and Big Baby in the post, with the former struggling against the lengthy Andray Blatche and the latter not much of a creator himself. The lack of movement especially hurt Arron Afflalo and J.J. Redick, who went a combined 2-for-14 from the floor.

Both teams sludged towards a 45-44 Brooklyn lead at the half, at which point the Nets seemed to remember how both rosters are constructed and ended things in the third quarter.

Deron Williams woke up from his slumber to get into the lane and kick out to open shooters, most of whom were Gerald Wallace. Crash hit four of the Nets’ six triples in the quarter, most of which were of the wide open variety, with Deron and Joe adding one each. The game wasn’t blown completely open — the quarter ended with the Nets up 11 — but the stagnant offense and Reggie Egans doing crazy-beard-man work on the offensive boards was enough to lock this one away.

The true value of these games -- other than the resulting draft pick -- will be the young guys learning how to deal with these situations. I assume Jacque Vaughn's scouting report mentioned not to leave Gerald Wallace wide open in the right corner, or how much Evans can change a game just by muscling his way towards misses, but the execution can often lack without a few years of getting to see why exactly those scouting reports are there.

In the meantime, Magic fans can be soothed to sleep by the serene sounds of Andrew Nicholson mid-range jumpers calmly swishing away. More of that, please.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Crash finished with 20 points on 7-for-9 shooting (including 5-for-6 from three-point range). His four three-pointers in the third quarter proved to be the straw that broke the Magic’s back.

LVP (Least Valuable Player)

It’s not the back-up. It’s the back-up’s back-up. With E’Twaun Moore promoted to the starting lineup, Ish Smith got 17 minutes off the bench and spent most of them taking bad shots, going 2-for-7 from the floor with one of his makes being an unlikely buzzer beater to end the third.

Defining Moment

After a nice Moe Harkless dunk put the Magic up three early in the third, the Nets hit three triples in 57 seconds sandwiched around a Vucevic layup to put the Nets up four. The game wouldn’t be close again.


Andray Blatche continues to play shockingly well now that he’s no longer suckling destruction from the Wizards’ teat. The big man played great post defense, got to the rim for some nifty layups, and genuinely looks in shape — faint praise, but an accomplishment given his past.

Nov 30

Preview: Brooklyn Nets at Orlando Magic


  • Teams: Brooklyn Nets at Orlando Magic
  • Date: November 30, 2012
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center


  • Nets: 10-4
  • Magic: 5-9

Probable starters


  • Deron Williams
  • Joe Johnson
  • Gerald Wallace
  • Kris Humphries
  • Brook Lopez


  • E’Twaun Moore
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 88.1 (30th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 107.7 (6th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 102.2 (7th of 30)


  • Pace: 92.7 (12th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 98.0 (28th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 103.1 (12th of 30)

Read about the Nets

The Brooklyn Game

Nov 30

Friday’s Magic Word

  • How much longer can head coach Jacque Vaughn used the Orlando Magic’s current starting lineup of Nelson-Afflalo-Harkless-Davis-Vucevic? Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post ponders that very question with this revelation: “In 45 minutes together–the third-most minutes of any Magic fivesome this season–the current starting group scores 92.1 points per 100 possessions while allowing 99.7. The latter number isn’t a problem, but the former indicates a serious lack of offensive firepower.”
  • Don’t expect a change in the starting lineup in tonight’s game against the Brooklyn Nets, however.
  • Matt Dollinger with this money quote in his latest power rankings at Sports Illustrated: “Due to injuries and an offseason overhaul, Orlando is currently boasting more amusement parks than offensive playmakers.”
  • The Magic and Nets face off against each other for the third time already this season.
  • Noam Schiller makes an appearance at The Brooklyn Game today, previewing tonight’s game between Orlando and Brooklyn.

Nov 30

#ORLrank 6: Ryan Anderson


Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images


2011-2012 61 1964 21.2 3.72 14.0 11.9
Ryan Anderson’s best season with the Magic

The Orlando saga for Ryan Anderson was really a story with two parts.

When Anderson first came into the league, scouting reports on him said his quickness was a concern and he wasn’t big or physical enough. His size was a plus and he did show excellent range with his shot, but scouts and analysts alike seemingly had him destined for marginality.

The second half of the story is all about how Anderson improved his game, blew presuppositions of himself out of the water, and became one of the most productive players in Orlando franchise history. Moreover, it’s about how he adapted to the league and put himself, by all accounts, as one of the more valued players in the entire Association.

Some players come into the league and have all the tools to find their way almost immediately. Others have to change their approach, add new tools, and totally reconstruct their game to find success. For Anderson, finding success in the league was merely a matter of expanding on his tools, maximizing existing parts of his game, and making sure he did everything in his power to be where he needed to be when his (or anyone else’s) number was called.

What no scouting report could have predicted was Anderson’s drive and niche-finding ability. He worked on his shot, improved on his footwork, and, most importantly, got extremely crafty on the boards. We saw this eclipse last year in what was his most productive year yet. His PER of 21.2 and WARP of 14.0 were a career-best, firmly placing him in the “must-have” category for stretch fours in the league.

As for his three-point shooting? Anderson completed his last two seasons with the Magic shooting 39.3 percent from deep and has already started this season in New Orleans at 44.7 percent after 11 games. While he’s not torching everyone in the league by any means, Anderson finds himself as one of the top three-point shooters in the NBA, which only makes him more dangerous as a stretch four.

The best part about Ryan Anderson has less to do with his numbers and individual standing in the league, though. Rather than one outstanding statistic that tells us all we need to know about him, the fact that Anderson, in just four seasons (now entering his fifth season in the league), transformed himself from an average bench player to an excellent role player and starter (and a guy who you really want on your team), is amazing. It’s the biggest reason he ranks in the top 10 of #ORLrank.

To find your role is one thing. To fill a role that basically stems from Stan Van Gundy’s 4-out, 1-in offensive system and excel at that role is something else altogether. Anderson did that, and that is why, even if his time with Orlando was brief, he belongs in the same conversation as those tenured names we think of when we talk about great players in Magic franchise history.

Voter breakdown for Ryan Anderson

Drexler Highkin Rivera Schiller Scribbins
Scale (1-to-10) 5 8 6 6 10
Average rank: 7.0

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 29

Jacque Vaughn’s bright future

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

When the Magic announced the hiring of Jacque Vaughn to replace Stan Van Gundy this summer, I wrote that it made sense for a team that was, more or less, completely starting over from scratch to hire a coach with an equally clean record.

As soon as Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson were traded during the offseason, it was clear that this team was headed for the cellar of the Eastern Conference and that this season would be more about finding and developing young talent than trying to make the playoffs.

That reality could have led to this season being an unwatchable disaster. In some instances, it’s been all too apparent that this team doesn’t have the talent to compete with the better teams. But I’ve enjoyed following this team a lot more than I anticipated and Vaughn deserves a lot of the credit for that.

In watching the way this undermanned team start at a better-than-anticipated 5-8 record and lose some competitive games, I’m reminded of the impact Monty Williams had last season on a New Orleans Hornets team in a similar situation.

Williams was a lot like Vaughn when he was first hired by the Hornets in 2009: a relatively young former player who had nothing but endorsements as an assistant under one of the more respected coaches in the league. Williams cut his teeth under Nate McMillan in Portland. Vaughn came from the unassailable Gregg Popovich factory.

Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 28

Recap: San Antonio Spurs 110, Orlando Magic 89

AP Photo/John Raoux


Under Stan Van Gundy, the calling card for the Orlando Magic was not only their defense but their three-point shooting. In four of the five seasons that Van Gundy coached the Magic, they ranked first in three-point field goal attempts. And in the year Orlando didn’t rank first (which was Van Gundy’s first season in 2008), they ranked second.

Not coincidentally, the Magic avoided long twos like the plague. Orlando finished with the fewest field goal attempts from 16-23 feet in four of the five years spent under Van Gundy’s watchful eye. Last season, the Magic finished with the second-fewest attempts behind the Denver Nuggets.

Consequently, Orlando ranked seventh, 11th, fourth, 14th, and 15th in Offensive Rating during Van Gundy’s tenure.

This season, the Magic rank 27th in three-point field goal attempts and seventh in field goal attempts from 16-23 feet. Orlando’s Offensive Rating as a result? 28th as of Wednesday.

What does this all have to do with the Magic’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs?

It’s a microcosm of how Orlando lost to the Spurs.

It’s not a shock that San Antonio won. The Spurs are better than the Magic — plain and simple. But what stood out the most in tonight’s game was the contrast in approaches offensively. San Antonio looked to shoot three-pointers, while Orlando looked to score in the paint. At the end of the game, the Spurs had shot 11-for-25 from three-point range, while the Magic shot 2-for-15. With San Antonio winning by 21, that 27-point differential in three-point shooting is the reason why Orlando got blown out.

It’s hard not to see the irony in the Magic losing because the Spurs outgunned them from behind the three-point line. Unfortunately for Orlando, that trend likely will continue. And this should come as no surprise, given that the Magic’s three-point shooting identity went out the window the moment Van Gundy was fired.

Orlando’s inability to get to the free-throw line (dead-last in free-throw rate this season) compared to previous seasons has also been an issue. Case in point — the Magic shot eight free-throws against San Antonio. With no Dwight Howard earning trips to the free-throw line, that’s another source of offense that has dried up.

For Orlando, games like these shed light on that change in offensive philosophy and the negative repercussions that come with it.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Manu Ginobili finished with 20 points, five assists, and four rebounds to lead the way for the Spurs. Ginobili’s shot distribution resided strictly behind the three-point line, as all six of his field goals were three-pointers.

Defining Moment

After trailing 14-10 midway through the first quarter, San Antonio finished the period on a 19-4 run. Ginobili was the catalyst, scoring 12 of the Spurs’ 19 points. From there, San Antonio cruised to a double-digit victory.

That Was … Expected

The Spurs entered the game as one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Facing off against an inferior opponent in the Magic, it’s no surprise that San Antonio won handily and extended their winning streak to five.

Nov 28

Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Orlando Magic


  • Teams: San Antonio Spurs at Orlando Magic
  • Date: November 28, 2012
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Amway Center


  • Spurs: 12-3
  • Magic: 5-8

Probable starters


  • Tony Parker
  • Gary Neal
  • Danny Green
  • DeJuan Blair
  • Tim Duncan


  • Jameer Nelson
  • Arron Afflalo
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Glen Davis
  • Nikola Vucevic

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 92.7 (10th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 108.6 (5th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 101.5 (5th of 30)


  • Pace: 92.5 (12th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 98.4 (28th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 102.2 (8th of 30)

Read about the Spurs

48 Minutes of Hell

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