Orlando Magic Blog

Group Blog talking about the NBA 2009 Eastern Conference Champions. Due to the amazing success of the 2009 playoff run comments are now frequently deleted to kill offensive comments, incoherence, or asininity. Comments can no longer be anonymous and require either a Blogger or OpenID account.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

No Wade, No Shaq, No JWill for Heat makes for easy Magic win

Despite missing GHill (sore foot) and Keyon Dooling (sore achilles tendon), the Magic (18-14, 11-6 home) cruised past the injury-riddled Heat (13-17, 5-9 road) 97-68. Eleven of the twelve players for the Magic scored in this game.

DHoward led the way with 18 pts, 10 rebs; TBattie 12 pts, and HTurkoglu 11 pts. TAriza led the bench with 16 pts 10 rebs, including several highlight-reel drives to the basket. J.J. Redick scored a career-high 9 pts in 12 second-half minutes. KBogans, starting for GHill, added 9 pts. Jason Kapono led MIA with 15 pts (4 of 4 3 pt FG), and Dorell Wright added 12 pts.

The Magic (33 of 74, 44.6%) outscored MIA (23 of 67, 34.3%) from the field 70-53. The Magic shot 4 of 13 from 3 pt range, while the Heat shot 7 of 16. The Magic (27 of 33) had a big advantage at the FT line (MIA 15 of 17). The Magic dominated the boards 46-33. The Magic had their best AST/TO ratio of the season at 23-8, while MIA's was just 17-15. The Magic bench outscored the Heat bench 40-28.

Nice way to close out the calendar year for the Magic with a rare blow-out win. This was the Magic's first double-digit win since a 94-84 win at SEA on NOV 29th. Magic get two days off, then host the LA Clippers TUE night.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Heat/Magic preview

Coming off a hard-fought 1 pt loss to WAS, the Magic (17-14, 10-6 home, 7th East) take on rival MIA (13-16, 5-8 road, 9th East). The big question here is, will star G Dwyane Wade, recovering from a sprained wrist, be able to play? The Heat have lost their last 5 games when Wade hasn't played, and are coming off a listless 91-81 home loss to NJ FRI night.

Wade is having a tremendous all-around year, averaging 27.5 ppg on 47.9% shooting, 7.9 asts, 4.4 rebs, and 1.9 steals. However he also averages 4.1 TOs per game. Wade attempts an average of 10.4 FTs per game. It will be a game-time decision regarding Wade. If he can't go, Jason Kapono, averaging 8.1 ppg, wil start in Wade's place. F Udonis Haslem averages 11.8 ppg, 8.8 rebs. C Alonzo Mourning, playing in place of recuperating Shaq, is at 9.7 ppg, 5.8 rebs; G Jason Williams, who scored a season-high 28 pts against the Bulls earlier this week, 9.3 ppg, 4.5 asts; and F Dorell Wright 7.6 ppg, 6.2 rebs. MIA averages 94.2 ppg, and allows 98.4 ppg; the Magic average 93.3 ppg, and allow 93.7 ppg.

The Magic won at MIA earlier this season 107-104, as Wade scored 33 pts with 15 asts. However, MIA has beaten the Magic 5 of the last 6 games in ORL. The bookmakers are under the assumption that Wade won't play, as the Magic are 11 pt favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Magic fall just short in 1 pt loss to WAS

In a very entertaining game that featured 3 Magic players scoring 20 pts and 3 WAS players scoring 20+ pts, the Magic (17-14, 7-8 road) saw Keyon Dooling's last second running fifteen-footer fall well to the left in a 112-111 loss to WAS (17-12, 11-3 home). The Magic now trail WAS by 1 full game in the SE.

DHoward (20 pts 12 rebs), HTurkoglu (20 pts, all in the first half, 5 of 6 3 pters), and KDooling (20 pts off the bench on 9 of 13 FG shooting) all led the Magic. TAriza had 18 pts (8 of 9 FTs), and JNelson 15 pts, 5 asts, 5 rebs. Gilbert Arenas continued his hot streak of scoring with 36 pts, 9 rebs, 7 asts, but shot just 11 of 26 FG (13 of 14 FTs). Antawn Jamison added 25 pts, 11 rebs, Caron Butler 20 pts on 8 of 12 shooting, and Deshawn Stevenson 11 pts.

The Magic (42 of 81, 51.9%) outscored WAS (38 of 70, 54.3%) from the field 92-79. The Magic shot well from 3 pt range at 8 of 13, compared to 3 of 11 for WAS. WAS had a big edge at the FT line, making 33 of 41, compared to 19 of 25 for the Magic. WAS outrebounded the Magic 37-31. The Magic had a better AST/TO ratio of 23-13, with the Wizards at 18-16. The Magic bench, thanks mainly to Dooling and Ariza, dominated the WAS bench 47-14.

Certainly a tough loss, but the Magic can take a lot of positives from this game. When they fell down by 8 pts late in the third quarter, they could have been blown out, but they came back and almost pulled it out, without GHill, who had to leave the game with a sore foot. Magic host Miami SAT night, who may be without Dwyane Wade (sprained wrist).

Friday, December 29, 2006

Magic/Wizards preview

This game features 2 teams that are going in opposite directions. The Magic (17-13, 7-7 road, 6th East), losers of 3 in a row and 9 of their last 13, will face WAS (16-12, 10-3 home, 3rd East), winners of 4 in a row and 11 out of 14. WAS is coming off a 114-107 win over CHA on WED. Star Gilbert Arenas led with 39 pts, including 5 of 7 3 pt shooting.

WAS is led by the red-hot Arenas, who is averaging 30.5 ppg, including shooting 41.4% from 3 pt FG range, and 6.4 asts. Arenas is averaging 38.5 ppg the last 4 games, including 19 of 35 from 3 pt range. SF Caron Butler averages 20.2 ppg, 8.1 rebs; and F Antawn Jamison 19.3 ppg, 8.2 rebs. Former Magic SG Deshawn Stevenson is having a good year as well, averaging 10.1 ppg on 50.7% shooting. Stevenson leads WAS in 3 pt FG%, shooting 51.7% from long range (15 of 29). Last season, he only made two 3 pt FGs all season with the Magic.

WAS became the first team in 12 seasons to score at least 106 pts in 12 straight games. They are averaging 118.5 ppg in those 12 games, and are the third highest scoring team in the league at 107.8 ppg, while allowing 106 ppg. For the first time all season, the Magic are allowing more ppg (93.1) than they are scoring (92.7). In Arenas' last four games against the Magic, he is averaging 21.8 ppg on just 27.7% FG shooting. WAS is a 6 1/2 pt favorite (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Magic fall from first place after loss to Lakers

The Magic (17-13, 10-6 home) could not sustain a second quarter 12 pt lead and faded in the second half of a 106-93 loss to the Lakers (19-10, 6-6 road). Combined with the WAS win, the Magic are now % pts behind the Wizards in the SE.

Kobe Bryant led LA with 27 pts on 8 of 22 shooting. G Smush Parker added 20 pts, including 18 in the third quarter. C Kwame Brown had 10 pts, and C Andrew Bynum led the bench with 13 pts. GHill led the Magic with 20 pts, JNelson 15 pts, 7 asts; DHoward 12 pts 8 rebs; HTurkoglu 12 pts in his first game back from a sprained ankle; DMilicic off the bench with 13 pts, 8 rebs in just 19 minutes; and TAriza with 11 pts.

LA (38 of 76, 50%) outscored the Magic (35 of 79, 44.3%) from the floor 82-71. LA shot 6 of 16 from 3 pt range, while the Magic, with TDiener and J.J. Redick not seeing any playing time, shot just 1 of 6 from long range. LA (24 of 27) had the advantage at the FT line over the Magic (22 of 31). ORL won the rebounding battle 36-34. LA had the better AST/TO ratio of 22/15, compared to 18-16 for the Magic. Bench scoring was even at 30 pts apiece.

The Magic have now lost 9 of 13 games, and travel to red-hot WAS on FRI in a battle for first place in the SE.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Lakers/Magic preview

After a three-day Christmas break, the Magic (17-12, 10-5 home, 2nd East)) host the LA Lakers (18-10, 5-6 road, 5th West), as they make their only visit to ORL this season. LAL are coming off a 101-85 beatdown at the hands of MIA on Christmas Day, as star Kobe Bryant was held to just 16 pts on just 4 of 17 shooting. LAL are 2-2 on this 6 game road swing. Magic have lost 2 in a row and 8 out of 12.

LAL are led, of course, by Bryant, averaging 27.3 pts and 5.2 asts. F Lamar Odom is out with a sprained right knee. LAL are just 3-4 without Odom. F Luke Walton averages 12.1 ppg; G Smush Parker 10.2 ppg, F/C Kwame Brown 8.7 pts, 6.2 rebs; and 19 yr old C Andrew Bynum 7.2 pts, 5.3 rebs. LAL are averaging 102.8 ppg, while allowing 100 ppg. ORL is averaging 92.7 ppg, while allowing 92.6 ppg. The Magic have scored over 90 pts just 3 times in the last 12 games.

H Turkoglu is day-to-day with his sprained ankle. Lakers have won 13 of their last 15 games against the Magic, including 3 in a row. Bryant has scored over 30 pts just 4 times in his last 15 games against the Magic. Magic are 1 pt favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Monday, December 25, 2006

My Christmas wishes for the Magic

Here we are on Christmas Day with the Magic at 17-12 and in first place in the SE with the third-best winning percentage in the East. Yet all is not well, as the Magic have shown many flaws in losing 8 of their last 12 games. My Christmas wishes for the Magic:

- A division title, plus advancement into the second round of the playoffs
- DHoward continues his outstanding development
- DMilicic to start sometime before the season ends (as long as he plays better than he did against CLE)
- TAriza developing a jump shot to go along with his outstanding defense
- JNelson, CArroyo, and HTurkoglu to snap out of their recent funks and play as well as they did the final month of last season
- More playing time for TDiener and J.J. Redick
- Continued good health for GHill
- For Coach BHill to develop a better player rotation, and not being so inflexible and stubborn when it comes to several things

I may have forgotten some things, and I realize that some of my wishes don't have a good chance of coming true, especially the ones about BHill. But in the spirit of the season, one can always try and be optimistic, and be thankful we have such a young, talented, up-and-coming team.

To all you guys who contribute on a regular basis to the blog... Matt, Introvert316, Big Figure, WeRDevos, and Ken... and to everyone else who reads our blog... Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

An Idea Whose Time has Come...

Victor Hugo, the famous French poet and writer once said, "An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come." Those who ignore the power of public opinion may do so at the expense of their own peril.

With that prelude, I would like to submit the following questions for discussion:

1. Assuming that Brian Hill’s approach to coaching has been unacceptable by many facets of it, is there something that could be done to bring about the desirable changes?
2. What is the role of a general manager, and in particular, could we discount Otis Smith’s role, or lack thereof, in allowing the so-called coach to continue with his tyrannical approach?

My answer to the first question is a clear and emphatic YES.

a) The first and foremost element is the fan support, who fill the arena and bring revenue to the ownership. As we all know the fan, all over the nation with minor exceptions, have a short memory. It may take quite a bit to get them excited, but they may quickly lose interest if there is nothing interesting to look forward to. Therefore, the box office revenue is at the center of what the ownership is mindful of.
b) The power of repetition and persuasion go hand in hand on the way to consensus, and eventual change. I refer you back to the quote from Victor Hugo. We have many forums where our views could be reflected, individually as well as collectively. Persistence and perseverance are essential and despair is not an option.

In answering the second question, please note the following:

a) The extent of general manager’s involvement varies on case-by-case basis. It simply depends on the profile of the GM and the coach. Average GMs dealing with a high profile coach, would typically stay away from intervening in coach’s decision making with regard to many issues related to what happens on the court. On the contrary, high profile GMs dealing with average coaches, may intervene in many aspects of decision making that would typically fall in the realm of coach’s authority.
b) The situation in the case of Hill and Smith is not clear to me. Hill was rehired on an emotional basis by the ownership, supposedly making a wrong right. That by definitions means allowing a reasonable authority to Hill, extent of which could not be marked by any degree of certainty. Smith has been very successful in putting together a winning team, for which he should have earned some capital to spend. It seems that he is relatively involved with the decision making as it relates to personnel. For instance, we hear from Grant saying that Otis didn’t want me to play on back-to-back games, from time to time. Based on Smith’s personality, I do not expect him to impose the typical authority afforded to GMs over Hill unless the situation becomes drastically dire. In my view, Smith would not impose his own approach of on-court issues over Hill, most often than not, fearing it may backfire. I don’t think that despite his success he has a solid place in the organization to allow him to challenge Hill, if need be. That could change, however, if Hill becomes weaker as a result of losses piling up, or the box-office revenues dwindling. For what’s going on right now, I hold Smith accountable as much as I do Hill. For a while I was hesitant to do so, but I am willing no longer to hold on to this illusion that Smith may intervene to rectify Hill’s shortcomings. If one chooses to ignore the fact that these two should be held equally accountable, then one is missing a major element of bringing the desirable changes about. If Smith is left out of the loop for what ills the Magic, he may not feel compelled to intervene whereas he could get hurt himself. Remember the old say about “Doing nothing is the best way not to get hurt.”

There you have it. I honestly believe the time has come to ask questions with no hesitation. Like for example, why there was an offer on the table for Darko that was withdrawn? What was Smith and/or Hill's role in that? Or the team's struggles to beat the teams who can shoot 3-pointers; we lost to CHA and GS based on our deficiency to match their 3-point shooting, and almost lost to NO on the same basis; What is the Smith's view to change the rotation, as we know Hill has failed to address the issue?

LeBron's huge 4th quarter sinks Magic

The Magic held a 65-62 lead heading into the 4th quarter, when LeBron James decided to take the game over for the Cavs and no one on the Magic could stop him. James scored 19 pts in the quarter on 8 of 10 shooting to finish with 32 pts as CLE (15-11, 12-3 home) beat the Magic (17-12, 7-7 away) 86-83.

DHoward led the Magic with 17 pts 13 rebs. GHill added 15 pts, with 5 pts coming in the final seconds to make the game a little closer than it would have been. TAriza 13 pts; KDooling off the bench with 11 pts; and CArroyo with 10 pts 5 asts. Tough nights for DMilicic (0 pts) and TDiener (3 pts) who combined to score 3 pts. Poor game from JNelson (5 pts on 1 of 8 shooting). LeBron got help from Zydrunas Ilgauskas with a season-high 22 pts 10 rebs, and former Magic F Drew Gooden with 14 pts 12 rebs.

CLE (34 of 85, 40%) outscored the Magic (30 of 69, 43.5%) from the field 70-63. CLE was 2 of 9 from 3 pt range, while the Magic were 3 of 8. The Magic (20 of 27) had the edge at the FT line (CLE 16 of 29). CLE dominated the boards 51-39, including 23-10 on the offensive boards. Both teams had a similar AST/TO ratio, 17-16 for CLE and 18-16 for the Magic. The Magic bench outscored the CLE bench 29-12.

The Magic are now only 1 1/2 games ahead of the surging Wizards and 3 1/2 games ahead of MIA in the SE, and are 1 1/2 games behind DET for the best record in the conference with CLE and CHI right there with the Magic. The team has now lost 8 of its last 12 games. The Magic get 3 days off for Christmas break, then host Kobe and the Lakers WED night.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

No defense for Magic in loss to GS

For the first time in 14 games, since NOV 24th against MIA, the Magic (17-11, 10-5 home) scored over 100 pts. Unfortunately, they gave up a season-high 117 pts to GS (14-14, 3-9 road), including 69 pts in the second half, in a 117-108 loss. The loss was the Magic's 7th in their last 11 games.

Star G Baron Davis dominated the game for the Warriors, with 38 pts, 9 asts, 4 steals. Off the bench, Mike Dunleavy Jr scored 21 pts on 9 of 14 shooting, and Monta Ellis added 18 pts. Dunleavy and Davis combined to shoot 6 of 9 from 3 pt range. TAriza led the Magic with 23 pts, followed by JNelson (returning from injury) with 22 pts on 8 of 13 shooting, but only 1 ast and 4 TOs. GHill added 21 pts, 7 asts, 6 rebs. DHoward had a double-double with 15 pts, 13 rebs. KDooling led the reserves with just 9 pts.

GS (40-83, 48.2%) outscored the Magic (39 of 82, 47.6%) from the field 89-80. GS shot 9 of 24 from 3 pt range, while the Magic shot just 2 of 10 from long range (Diener 1 of 5). Both teams shot 28 of 37 from the FT line. The Magic outrebounded GS 46-37. GS had the better AST/TO ratio of 18-13, compared to 19-17 for the Magic. The GS bench dominated the Magic bench 47-25.

Brian Hill after the game: "We didn't have an answer for Baron tonight. We tried playing him straight up, we tried switching on him, it really didn't matter what we did, he beat everything we threw at him." Magic play in CLE SAT night.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Warriors/Magic preview

Golden State (13-14, 2-9 road) makes their only trip to ORL this season FRI night to face the Magic (17-10, 10-4 home). GS is coming off a 96-95 win at BOS WED night for only their second road win of the year. Star G Baron Davis led GS with 31 pts 8 asts. The Magic are going for their third win in a row.

GS has a deep roster, as 7 players average in double figures: Davis 21 pts, 8.5 asts; G Monta Ellis 17.6 ppg; F Mickael Pietrus 13.9 ppg; G Jason Richardson 13.6 ppg; F Mike Dunleavy 11.2 ppg; C Andris Biedrins 11 ppg, 9.4 rebs; and F/C Troy Murphy, who is out with a sore left foot, 10.8 ppg. GS is averaging 105.8 ppg, while allowing 105.9 ppg. The Magic average 92.5 ppg, while allowing 92 ppg. The Magic have gone 8 games in a row without scoring 90 pts or more.

JNelson and KBogans are day-to-day with their injuries, while HTurkoglu won't be back until probably next week. The Magic are 3 1/2 pt favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Magic hold on to beat Hornets

For the eighth game in a row, the Magic (17-10, 10-4 home) were held to under 90 pts, but hung on to beat another injury-plagued team, NO/OKC (10-13, 5-8 road) 86-83. JNelson, HTurkoglu, and KBogans all sat out for the Magic, while Peja Stojakovic, David West, and Bobby Jackson sat out for NO.

GHill had another good game, leading the Magic with 21 pts, 7 rebs. DHoward added a double-double with 16 pts, 13 rebs. TAriza, starting at SF, added 14 pts, and TDiener led the reserves with 13 pts (3 of 7 3 pt FG) including 10 4th quarter pts. CArroyo had a solid 6/1 AST/TO ratio. Chris Paul led NO with 19 pts 10 asts, Jannero Pargo led their reserves with 16 pts, Rasual Butler 15 pts, and Desmond Mason 14 pts.

The Magic (33 of 73, 45.2%) outscored NO (24 of 65, 36.9%) from the floor 69-54. NO shot 6 of 9 from 3 pt range, while the Magic shot 3 of 10 from long range. NO (29 of 38) had the edge from the FT line (ORL 17 of 25). The Magic had a slight edge rebounding 39-38. Both teams had 19 TOs, while the Magic had the better AST/TO ratio of 16/19, compared to 12/19 for NO. The NO bench outscored the Magic bench 31-21.

Again, not a pretty statistical game for the Magic, but a win is a win. Nice job by Diener sparking the team in the 4th quarter with a couple threes. GHill looks solid after sitting out a couple games. Golden St. visits ORL on FRI night.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hornets/Magic preview

After a sorely needed 3 day break and coming off an 81-74 win vs CLE, the Magic (16-10, 9-4 home, 2nd East) go up against the NO/OKC Hornets (10-13, 5-8 road, 13th West). NO started off the season 8-3, but due to key injuries they have lost 10 of their last 12. NO is coming off a 101-99 loss to MIA on MON night on a Dwyane Wade last second jumper. G Chris Paul led NO with 26 pts.

NO is without G/F Peja Stojakovic (17.8 ppg) and F David West (17.4 ppg) for an indefinite period, and could also be without G Bobby Jackson (10.9 ppg). They are led by talented second year G Paul, who averages 19 pts and 9 asts per game. G/F Desmond Mason is at 11.6 ppg; former Bulls C Tyson Chandler 5.7 ppg, 11.5 rebs per game; G Jannero Pargo (who burned the Magic last season with the Bulls) 8.4 ppg. NO is the lowest-scoring team in the NBA at 90.9 ppg, while allowing 94.2 ppg. ORL averages 92.8 ppg, while allowing 92.3 ppg.

The Magic are 10-1 in games in which they've held the opposition to 90 or less points. However, the Magic have not scored over 90 themselves in 7 games, and have not scored over 100 since Nov. 24th against MIA. The Magic are 7 pt favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Monday, December 18, 2006

Eastern Conference Standings

1) Detroit 15 8 .652 -
2) Orlando 16 10 .615 1/2
3) Boston 10 13 .435 5
4) Cleveland 14 9 .609 1
5) Chicago 14 10 .583 1 1/2
6) Washington 12 11 .522 3
7) Indiana 13 13 .500 3 1/2
8) Miami 10 13 .435 5
9) Toronto 10 14 .417 5 1/2
9) Milwaukee 10 14 .417 5 1/2
11) New Jersey 9 14 .391 6
11) Atlanta 9 14 .391 6
13) New York 9 17 .346 7 1/2
14) Charlotte 6 17 .261 9
15) Philadelphia 5 17 .227 9 1/2

This doesn't include the Monday night games.
The 3 division winners automatically get the top 3 seeds regardless of record; that's why BOS is at number 3 despite a sub-.500 record.
The top 8 seeds make the playoffs.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hill returns from injury to lead Magic over Cavs

Led by GHill's 21 pts and DHoward's 14 pts 16 rebs, the Magic (16-10, 9-4 home) outlasted CLE (14-9, 3-7 away) in a very low-scoring affair 81-74, despite 29 pts from LeBron James. The Magic move into 2nd place in the East, % pts behind DET.

The Magic bench contributed plenty. DMilicic had 12 pts 9 rebs, TDiener and KDooling 11 pts each, and J.J. Redick added 6 pts, including a 4 pt play. James got little help for CLE, as Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes were the only other Cavs players in double figures with 14 each.

The Magic (30 of 73, 41%) outscored CLE (27 of 75, 36%) from the field 65-57. The Magic shot well on 3 pters, 5 of 10, while CLE was just 3 of 13. CLE (17 of 25) had a slight edge on the FT line (ORL 16 of 25). The Magic won the rebound battle 48-38. Both teams had a poor AST/TO ratio, with the Magic at 13-19, and CLE at 12-16. The Magic bench dominated 40-8 over the CLE bench.

Talk about ugly stats... 81 pts, 41% FG shooting, 64% FT shooting, 19 TOs, 13 ASTS... but the Magic found a way to win the game over a quality team. With 3 players still out with injury and three starters struggling, the bench played well, and picked up the slack. The Magic finally get a break in the schedule and don't play until WED, hosting NO.

Cavaliers/Magic preview

CLE (14-8, 3-6 road, 1st East) and LeBron James make their only visit of the season to ORL SAT night to meet the injury-plagued and struggling Magic (15-10, 8-4 home, 3rd East). CLE is coming off a 106-84 rout of SEA FRI night. Larry Hughes scored a team-high 25 pts. The Cavs have won 4 of their last 5 games.

King James leads CLE with 26.2 ppg, 6.9 rebs, and 6.8 asts. Hughes, who recently returned after missing 10 games with a sprained ankle, is at 14 ppg. Former Magic F Drew Gooden 11.3 ppg and 8.4 rebs. C Zydrunas Ilgauskas 10.2 ppg and 8 rebs. Off the bench, Donyell Marshall averages 8.4 ppg and Anderson Varejao 8.1 ppg. CLE averages 96.1 ppg while allowing 92.4 ppg. The Magic average continues to slide, now down to 93.2 ppg, while allowing 93 ppg.

The Magic have now gone 12 games in a row without scoring 100+ pts, and 6 games in a row without scoring 90+ pts. It is not known if any of the injured Magic players (GHill, HTurkoglu, JNelson, KBogans) will return against CLE. CLE is playing its 4th game in 5 nights, while the Magic are playing their 10th game in 16 nights, and finally get a break in the schedule after this game. CLE has won 8 of their last 11 against the Magic, and are favored by 1 1/2 pts in this game over ORL (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Friday, December 15, 2006

Magic struggles continue with loss at CHA

Behind Sean May's career-high 32 pts, off the bench no less, CHA (6-16, 4-8 home) cruised past the turnover-prone and injury-plagued Magic (15-10, 7-6 road) 99-89. The Magic have now dropped 6 of 8 games, and are now in 3rd place in the East, percentage points behind DET and CLE.

Rookie Adam Morrison snapped out of his slump, scoring 22 pts on 7 of 12 shooting, also off the bench. Emeka Okafor added 13 pts 11 rebs. For the Magic, KDooling, starting at SG, led with 20 pts. TDiener led the bench with 16 pts on 5 of 6 shooting, including 3 of 4 from 3 pt range. CArroyo added 13 pts, and DHoward 10 pts 12 rebs, though he shot just 2 of 8 from the FT line with 6 TOs. J.J. Redick added 5 pts in 20 minutes.

ORL (34 of 69, 49.3%) outscored CHA (33 of 81, 40.7%) from the floor 74-71. The Magic were 6 of 10 from 3 pt range, while CHA was 5 of 14. The FT difference was the story of this game, as CHA shot an outstanding 28 of 34 from the FT line, while the Magic shot just 15 of 23. Also, 23 TOs cost the Magic, and many of them were just plain foolish. CHA had just 10 TOs. The Magic AST/TO ratio was a poor 16-23, while CHA was much better at 17-10. The CHA bench (May, Morrison) outscored the Magic bench 54-36.

GHill, JNelson, HTurkoglu, and KBogans all sat out the game due to injury. Diener looked really sharp from long-range, and the team shot much better as a whole. Hopefully this bodes well for the future for the Magic. CLE comes to ORL in a big early-season matchup SAT night.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Magic/Bobcats preview

The Magic (15-9, 7-5 road) will try to right the ship against struggling CHA (5-16, 3-8 home), who has the second worst record in the NBA, and has lost 4 games in a row. CHA is coming off a 104-101 loss at CLE WED night. Adam Morrison led CHA with 16 pts.

CHA is led by C Emeka Okafor, averaging 15.7 ppg, 10.3 rebs, 2.9 blocks. Rookie Morrison is averaging 13.3 ppg, but is shooting only 36.8%. Raymond Felton is at 13.1 ppg, G Brevin Knight 12.4 ppg, 7.2 asts, and F Sean May is at 11.7 pts, 6.8 rebs. May is another guy the Magic bypassed in last year's draft in order to draft Fran Vasquez. CHA is averaging just 91 ppg while allowing 99 ppg. The Magic average 93.4 ppg, while allowing 92.8 ppg.

DHoward has always played well against CHA . He has 2 career 20/20 games against them. Magic have lost 3 out of the last 4 games in CHA. Can BHill make the proper adjustments in the player rotation with the injuries? Can TDiener and J.J. Redick get hot from the outside? Magic are 2 pt favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com) in their first game on national TV this season.

TOR stuns slumping Magic

TOR (8-14, 3-11 road), without starting C Chris Bosh and on a 4 game losing streak, took advantage of another poor-shooting game and poor second-half showing by the Magic (15-9, 8-4 home). Final score TOR 91, ORL 84.

TOR was led by number one overall pick Andrea Bargnani, who scored 23 pts off the bench on 8 of 16 shooting, including 5 of 8 on 3 pt FG. Four other players scored in double figures for TOR. ORL was led by CArroyo, starting in place of JNelson, with 22 pts. DHoward added 17 pts 13 rebs, but shot just 6 of 17. TBattie added 11 pts, and KDooling led the reserves with 10 pts, but shot just 3 of 11. TDiener (6 pts) and J.J. Redick (0 pts) saw a combined 36 minutes of action, but shot a combined 2 of 14, including 2 of 8 on 3 pters. GHill scored just 3 pts, and had to leave the game early with left knee tendinitis.

TOR (31 of 66, 47%) outscored the Magic (32 of 85, 37.6%) from the field 69-66. TOR shot 7 of 17 on 3 pters, while the Magic struggled at 2 of 12. TOR (22 of 26) also had the edge at the FT line (ORL 18 of 23). The Magic won the rebound battle 43-39. The Magic had a poor assist/turnover ratio of 10-14, while TOR was at 14-14. The TOR bench soundly outscored the Magic bench 44-24.

Despite Nelson, HTurkoglu, and KBogans out with injuries, the Magic are still superior to a TOR team without star C Chris Bosh, but still managed to lose the game. Only 40 second half pts on 32% shooting and 9 second-half TOs for the Magic. ORL still leads the East by 1/2 game over DET and CLE, and 2 games over CHI. No time for rest, as they travel to CHA THU night for a national TV game on TNT.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Magic injuries force changes

Guard Jameer Nelson might join Hedo Turkoglu on the inactive list, and Grant Hill may be rested. In turn, expect Travis and J.J. to get some real playing time for the 1st time this season.

Magic injuries force changes

Raptors/Magic preview

The Magic (15-8, 8-3 home, 1st East), losers of 4 of the last 6 games, will host another slumping team in TOR (7-14, 2-11 road, 13th East). TOR has lost 4 games in a row, and will be without talented young C Chris Bosh, who has a bruised knee and did not make the trip to FL. TOR is coming off a 99-77 loss to MIA MON night. Anthony Parker led TOR with 18 pts.

Without Bosh, who is averaging 20.5 ppg and 12.2 rebs per game, TOR is led in scoring by PG T.J. Ford, averaging 14.2 ppg and 8 asts per game. G/F Morris Peterson averages 13.0 ppg, G/F Anthony Parker 10.7 ppg, G Fred Jones 9.7 ppg, F/C Jorge Garbajosa 8.9 ppg, and number one draft pick Andrea Bargnani averages 8.3 ppg. TOR averages 96.2 ppg, and allows 99.9 ppg. ORL averages 93.8 ppg, and allows 92.9 ppg.

DHoward should be able to bounce back in a big way after his 4 pt 3 reb effort against PHO. The Magic have beaten TOR 3 of the last 4 games at home. Magic are 9 pt favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Darko Milicic: "We think we can win the title this year"

After everything that happened to you in the last three years of your NBA career, does everything that’s going on right now in Orlando feel like a new beginning for you?

Darko Milicic: That’s definitely true, I agree. I didn’t have any playing time in Detroit, which changed when I arrived in Orlando. I feel really nice, you know, night in, night out coming to games knowing that you’re going to play. You’re not coming to the game thinking whether you’re going to play or not. Everything that’s expected of you is to be focused and ready to play when asked. That’s the best part of being here in Orlando.

How do you like it as a part of the Magic?

DM: I really like playing with the guys here. We have a young, talented team here which didn’t make the playoffs last season. This year, everybody expects a great deal from us, including ourselves. It’s really interesting being a part of this team right now.

How is this mix of youth and experience on Orlando’s roster working out so far?

DM: It is really great! Tony Battie and Grant Hill are the older statesmen who are trying to keep us young kids at bay. They’ve been through so much in this league that they can really help and push us when there’s need both on and off the floor. They can calm us, which we need sometimes, having such great expectations and all. They know that there are a lot of ups and downs throughout the season, but that it is important to know that our talent level is high and what our ultimate goal is for this season and how to reach it.

If Dwight Howard continues to play like this, he will be in the narrow circle of MVP candidates for this regular season. If elected, he would be the youngest NBA MVP ever. Do you think Dwight can do this?

DM: Absolutely, he is a terrific player! He deserves every bit of that award. He starts every single game with unbelievable focus and determination. He gives it all on the floor.

How do you two function as the so-called Twin Towers of Orlando Magic?

DM: I’m enjoying the time we spend together on the court. His style of game fits me very well. We get along outside of the court, too. He’s a really cool guy. Winning the games helps in all that a lot. It feels really good to relax and unwind a bit after the games.

The Eastern Conference being what it is right now, and your team playing well against the likes of Utah and Seattle from the Western Conference, do you think it is a realistic goal for your team to win the Eastern Conference and perhaps even get into the race for the NBA championship?

DM: We really try to think positive all the time. We think we can win the title this year. That’s how we prepare and get into every game we play, both on the road and at home. We think that we’re the best, and I think that this type of thinking is very good for a team like we are right now. We expect all the best, but we’ll see how it all will pan out in the end.

When you think of Orlando, can you imagine yourself staying here for long term?

DM: I’d like that, yes. I think we have enough talent to become a really good team. However, I’m really not thinking about what’s going to happen over summer. That’s just too far to think about right now. I would sincerely like to stay and play here for a long time, and I hope something like that can pan out in the summer. It would really be very interesting to stay in Orlando for the long term.

How important for you it is to sign this big contract over the summer?

DM: It’s just too far to think about right now. However, considering how great it is to be a part of this team, sometimes a player needs to balance his options; sometimes the money is not really the first priority when it comes to what I want to accomplish as a basketball player…

Can you compare the coaching styles of Larry Brown, Flip Saunders and Brian Hill?

DM: I’m not so sure that I’m competent enough to talk about basketball coaches. Larry Brown came to Detroit when the Pistons had a championship caliber team, while Brian Hill inherited a young team that needed a lot of teaching and improving. We’re just kids who need experience and Coach Hill seems to know how to make us all better as individual players and as a team. I’m glad that I have a chance to work with him.

Is there more trust between you and your team’s management now in Orlando comparing to the years you spent in Detroit?

DM: No, I think that the level of professionalism in both organizations is the same. The one thing I didn’t understand in Detroit is that Joe Dumars, as Detroit’s GM, didn’t want to influence the coaching decisions of Larry Brown and Flip Saunders. I just can’t buy that story that the GM is telling me that, if it is up to him, I would get more minutes, but since Flip is the coach, it’s his decision that I was benched almost all the time. Regarding Orlando, you probably know that I was offered a new four-year contract which I liked and I wanted to sign, but the very last day before the signing, they withdrew the contract. That’s all business, I know. For me, just one more reason to focus only on this year and strictly on basketball issues and leave this business side of it all aside.

A lot of American and international NBA players still feel the consequences of dedicating most of their summers to playing for their national teams at World Championships in Japan. How do you feel after leading the Serbian National Team to the Round of 16 last September?

DM: Realistically, the playing conditions in Japan were tough. Humidity was really bad over there. Of course, I haven’t played the NBA playoffs last season, and after two and a half months of resting, it was really great to play for the Serbian National Team. The other thing is that I honestly enjoy playing for the National Team, which is definitely not just a cliché. It’s just different from playing for your club here in the NBA or anywhere else.

HoopsHype.com Interviews
by Nebojsa Petrovacki / December 6, 2006

Suns surge in second half to rout Magic

It was a close game for a half, but the Suns (14-6, 6-4 road) broke open the game in the third outscoring the Magic (15-8, 8-3 home) 30-14 and cruised to a 103-89 victory, led by Amare Stoudemire's 30 pts and Steve Nash's 18 pts and 15 assists. The win was the 11th in a row for PHO.

DHoward, who was in foul trouble throughout, had his worst game of the year with 4 pts 3 rebs in just 19 minutes. Coach Hill was very upset with several calls against Howard and drew a technical for arguing. TAriza led the Magic with a season-high 19 pts. GHill, starting at SF, added 14 pts, CArroyo 12 pts, DMilicic 10 pts, and KDooling, starting at SG, added 10 pts. Shawn Marion added 19 pts 11 rebs for PHO, who saw all 5 starters score in double figures.

PHO (38 of 74, 51.4%) outscored the Magic (38 of 84, 45.2%) from the floor 80-78. PHO shot 4 of 16 on 3's, while the Magic struggled again shooting 2 of 12 on 3's (TDiener 1 of 5). PHO (23 of 27) had a decisive edge on the FT line (ORL 11 of 21). The Magic outrebounded PHO 42-36. PHO had the better assist/turnover ratio of 25-16, compared to 18-17 to the Magic. The Magic reserves were solid, outscoring the PHO reserves 52-13.

Magic had a chance to show how they would fare against the hottest team in the league, but after a good first half, they came out and played a horrible 3rd quarter, and have now lost 4 out of 6 games. Their lead in the East is now down to 1/2 game over DET, and 4 1/2 in the SE over MIA. TOR comes to visit WED night.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Suns/Magic preview

The Magic (15-7, 8-2 home) look to cool off the hottest team in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns. The Suns are 13-6 and 5-4 road, but have won 10 games in a row, 12 of 13 overall, and 5 consecutive road games. They currently hold the 6th spot in the tough Western Conference. PHO is coming off a 114-84 rout of CHA on SUN. Six players scored in double figures for the Suns, led by Amare Stoudemire with 22 pts 12 rebs. Boris Diaw added 17 pts.

PHO is led by All-Star G Steve Nash, averaging 21 ppg and 11.7 assists. F Shawn Marion averages 20.4 ppg and 9.3 rebs. G Leandro Barbosa 18.4 ppg, G Raja Bell 16.9 ppg, Stoudamire 15.8 ppg and 8 reb, and F Boris Diaw 9.3 ppg. Stoudemire has recorded a double-double in 7 of the last 8 games, while Nash has had 5 games in a row with a double-double. PHO is averaging 128 ppg in their last 5 games, and 112.2 ppg for the year, while allowing 106.3 ppg. The Magic is averaging 94 ppg, while allowing 92.4 ppg.

It's highly doubtful that the Magic will hold PHO to 92 pts, so they better bring their offense with them for this game. Magic have not scored over 100 pts the last 9 games, and 12 of their last 13. PHO has beaten the Magic in 6 of the last 8 meetings. Magic are 1 1/2 pt favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Sunday, December 10, 2006

If the Ship is Afloat, Should the Holes be Ignored?

What I am about to state should not be considered as a negative but rather as a realist point. We are very proud of winning many close games, but that number is misleading. Since we are a young and inexperienced team (saving for Grant's experience) those numbers are not expected to remain high, and eventually the law of averages will bring those percentages down. If we divide those numbers even equally, we would not be leading the East, right now, but will rather be in the middle of the pack hovering somewhere above 500.

The realization of this fact should be sobering in a sense that the shortcomings should be addressed right now or before we know the lead in the East would evaporate. That is why the shortsighted approach by Hill in his starting line-up and planning for the future rotation is a Formula For Failure (FFF). He has stated repeatedly, especially with regard to Darko’s starting, that he does not even think about change while winning. The comparable analogy would be “since the ship is afloat, we should ignore the holes in the bottom”.

If we accept the idea of implementing change, right now before the flaws catch up with us, the following should be the objectives for the near future:

1. Darko should be developed into the force that he is projected to be, sooner rather than later. His numbers right now are good enough (certainly better than Tony's) to push him into the starting line-up. That should provide for better defense from the start, even if Darko is limited in his scoring (which Tony is, as well). That also provides for a jolt of confidence in the kid.
2. The long-range shooting is an issue. Garrity, despite claiming to be healthy, has not provided any relief, and Hedo has been extremely inconsistent in his shooting, even throughout his career. Keyon and Keith are decent, but again inconsistent long-range shooters. So we should look for answers in Travis and J.J. Of the two I prefer J.J. for his size over Travis. Regardless, either of the two or both should be given a chance at the expense of Garrity and/or Bo. I admit that we would face glaring deficiency in the PF, but I never considered Garrity a true PF, and we can always play small ball with Hedo playing the role that Garrity plays.
3. If Hedo struggles, I recommend inserting Trevor in the starting line-up and bringing Hedo off the bench where he would be interchangeable to PF, if need be.

I admit that with Hedo and Keith being out, the proposed changes could not be implemented, right away. However, Darko could be inserted in the starting line-up without any further delay.

Magic barely hang on to edge 76ers

The 76ers (5-14, 2-10 road) playing without star G Allen Iverson, had several chances late in the game to tie or even take the lead, but failed. The Magic (15-7, 8-2 home), thanks to DHoward's 28 pts 12 rebs, survived 86-84.

GHill added 23 pts 7 rebs. TAriza off the bench was the only other Magic player in double figures with 13 pts. JNelson added 8 pts 7 assists. KBogans started in place of the injured HTurkoglu and played 6 scoreless minutes. PHI was led by Chris Webber and Andre Iguodala with 19 pts apiece. Kyle Korver scored 16 pts off the bench and Sam Dalembert added 12 pts. Howard, Hill, and Ariza combined to shoot 27 of 42 for ORL. The rest of the team, a mere 10 of 41.

The Magic (37 of 83, 44.6%) outscored PHI (34 of 65, 52.3%) from the field 74-70. PHI was 2 of 8 on 3 pters, while the Magic shot a horrible 0-9 on 3's. PHI (14 of 21) outshot the Magic (12 of 20) from the FT line, but Steven Hunter's 4 misses were killers for the 76ers. The Magic dominated the boards 45-31, including 23-8 on the offensive end. The Magic did have a good assist/turnover ratio of 20-11, compared to 21-14 for PHI. The Sixers bench outscored the Magic bench 28-25.

The Magic are now 7-1 this season in games decided by 3 pts or less. Give Philly credit for giving the Magic a hard, tough game and hanging around until the very end despite the rough times they are undergoing as a team. Things will get much tougher for the Magic, as the red-hot Phoenix Suns visit MON night.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

76ers/Magic preview

Team turmoil, also known as the PHI 76ers (5-13, 2-9 road, 14th East), make their last visit of the season to ORL (14-7, 7-2 home) SAT night, without star G Allen Iverson, who likely will be traded. PHI has lost 6 in a row and 13 of 15, and is coming off a 113-98 loss FRI night to WAS.

Without Iverson's 31.2 ppg average, PHI is led in scoring by F Kyle Korver, averaging 13.7 ppg (53.5% 3 PT FG). G Andre Iguodala averages 13.6 ppg, F Chris Webber averages 11.1 ppg and 8.5 rebs, and G Willie Green averages 10.9 ppg off the bench. C Sam Dalembert averages 8.5 ppg and 7.9 rebs. Former Magic C Steven Hunter averages 4.9 ppg. PHI averages 97.3 ppg while allowing 102.3 ppg. ORL averages 94.4 ppg, while allowing 92.8 ppg.

Magic have lost 3 of their last 4 games. PHI defeated the Magic in early NOV in ORL, but Iverson scored 39 pts that game and was the hero. He will not be in the building tonight, fortunately for the Magic. Magic are whopping 11 1/2 pt favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Horrendous 4th quarter sinks Magic in loss to DET

The Magic (14-7. 7-2 home) failed to take advantage of a DET team playing its second game in two nights. Magic shot a miserable 3 of 16 in the 4th quarter and lost a tough 87-83 decision to DET (13-7), spoiling DHoward's 21st birthday. 12 missed FTs in the game also hurt the Magic.

Dwight did his best to try to lead the Magic to a win, but didn't get much help. He had 25 pts and 10 rebs, along with 11 of 13 FTs. GHill added 12 pts and TAriza led the bench with 10. However, Ariza made just 2 of 7 from the FT line. HTurkoglu was scoreless in 10 minutes, and had to leave the game with an ankle sprain. Chauncey Billups led DET with 31 pts on 11 of 16 shooting. Rip Hamilton added 14 pts, including a couple of big shots late, Rasheed Wallace 13 pts, and Ronald Murray off the bench with 13 pts.

DET (34 of 72, 47.2%) outscored the Magic (29 of 65, 44.6%) from the field 74-61. DET shot 6 of 12 from 3 pt range, while ORL shot just 3 of 13 there. ORL (22 of 34, 64.7%) had the edge at the FT line over DET (13 of 20, 65%). The Magic were outrebounded 38-34, while TOs were even at 13. The Magic had a slightly better assist/turnover ratio of 18-13, compared to 16-13 for DET. The Magic reserves outscored the DET reserves 33-19.

A big difference in this game was that DETs starting backcourt outscored the Magic starting backcourt 45-21. Magic have now lost 3 of 4 games, and have seen their Eastern Conference lead dwindle to 1/2 game over DET, 1 1/2 over CLE, and 3 1/2 over the surging Bulls. The Magic hope to turn things around against the Iverson-less 76ers SAT night.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Pistons/Magic preview

The Magic (14-6, 7-1 home) play their first home game in nearly 2 weeks, facing DET (12-7, 6-4 road, 2nd East) for the first time this season. DET is coming off an upset win in DAL THU night 92-82. Tayshaun Prince scored 20 pts and Rasheed Wallace 19 pts.

DET is led in scoring by Rip Hamilton at 21.9 ppg. G Chauncey Billups is averaging 17.5 ppg and 8.6 assists. F Prince is averaging 16.8 ppg, and F Wallace is averaging 13.5 ppg and 9.7 rebs. C Nazr Mohammed is at 7 ppg. Off the bench, Ronald Murray is averaging 6.4 ppg, and Antonio McDyess averages 5.4 ppg. DET averages 96.8 ppg, while allowing 94.8 ppg. ORL averages 95 ppg, while allowing 93.1 ppg.

A quick look at the Magic shows that DHoward leads the Magic in 4 categories: scoring (17.3 ppg), rebounds (13.2), FG % (60.6%), and blocks (2.1). JNelson leads in assists (4 per game) and steals (1.3). KDooling leads in 3 pt % (37.5%), and CArroyo leads in FT% (84.8%).

Before the win against DAL, DET had lost 2 games in a row to last place teams (CHA, POR). They are starting to get used to life without defensive mainstay Ben Wallace. DET has beaten the Magic 10 of the last 13 games. Magic are favored by 4 1/2 pts (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Aw Crap! Orlando's Arena to become Amway Arena

InsideHoops.com - Amway Arena - Orlando's Arena becomes Amway Arena

I've not been a fan of the corporate logos that have gone up on all the arenas in America. But Amway! Will Darko have to commit to a garage full of laundry soap before he gets his contract? Will Dwight set up a multi-level marketing program to get voted to the All-Star game? Will Jameer show up at my dining room table explaining the benefits of building both sides of my distribution pyramid?

All you have to do is google "anti amway" to get a feeling for what the name envokes.

And to think I've been feeling so good about this management team lately. Some things never change...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dwight Howard turns 21 on Friday

HoopsHype - NBA Players - Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard turns 21 on Friday December 8, 2006. He should be a junior in college, instead he went straight to the NBA. In 2.25 years of NBA play he has already:

started 183 of 184 NBA games
played over 6400 NBA minutes
grabbed 2100 rebounds
scored 2600 points
blocked nearly 300 shots
had 105 double-doubles
started on the U.S. Team at the World Championships
finished last year as leagues 2nd best rebounder
led Magic from worst record in the East to first.

It used to be that players came into the league at 21 or 22 and entered their NBA primes in their third years from 25 to 29. Howard should be expected to continue to improve over the next 3 or 4 years. He doesn't seem to be the type to get sidetracked by the NBA lifestyle of strip clubs and entourages. Then again, he couldn't legally enter a strip club until tomorrow night.

Future ambitions include:
getting voted to All-Star team this year
participating in the slam dunk contest this year
leading Magic to the playoffs
leading Magic to first playoff series win since Shaq
leading league in rebounding
All NBA team before 25
NBA championships
League MVP
Finals MVP
NBA Hall of Fame

Magic end road trip on losing note

Despite a relatively flat performance against IND (10-10) that resulted in a 94-80 loss, the Magic (14-6, 7-5 road) finished their longest road trip of the season at a very respectable 4-2. They are 2 1/2 games ahead of DET and CLE in the Eastern Conference, and 4 1/2 games ahead of ATL in the SE.

DHoward led the Magic with 20 pts 8 rebs. GHill added 16 pts, but just 2 after the first quarter. JNelson scored 12 pts, and CArroyo led the reserves with 11 pts. However, Nelson and Arroyo had just 1 assist each. Darko was no factor with just 2 pts in 14 minutes. Rookie J.J. Redick saw 9 minutes of time and scored 4 pts. IND was led by Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson, who scored 26 pts each on 21 of 32 shooting. Jermaine O'Neal added 11 pts. 11 rebs, and C Jeff Foster had 18 rebs.

Not a good night for the Magic statistically. IND (37 of 77, 48.1%) outscored the Magic (30 of 73, 41.1%) from the field 81-61. The Magic were just 1 of 8 on 3 pters, compared to 7 of 16 for IND. The Magic (19 of 26, 73.1%) had the edge at the FT line (IND 13 of 17). IND dominated the boards 48-34, and had a much better assist/turnover ratio of 25-18, compared to the Magic's ratio of 12-14.

Not a good way to end a very good road trip for the Magic. They were pounded on the boards, did not distribute the ball well on offense with only the 12 assists, and shot poorly. The Magic have to like the position they are in now, however, being in first overall in the East, and with 12 of 15 games coming up at home, they can really establish themselves as a legit NBA power.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Magic/Pacers preview

With the season barely over a month old, this will be the third time the Magic (14-5, 7-4 road) and IND (9-10. 4-2 home, 3rd place Central) have played already. They won't see each other again until MAR 30th. The teams split the previous two games, with each team winning on their home court. IND is coming off a 101-87 road loss to the Lakers MON night. Jermaine O'Neal led IND with 18 pts.

O'Neal leads the Pacers, averaging 18.2 pts and 9.8 rebs. F Al Harrington averages 16.9 ppg, PG Jamaal Tinsley averages 12 pts 6.3 assists, F Danny Granger averages 11.5 ppg, and G/F Stephen Jackson averages 11.4 ppg. Former Magic G Darrell Armstrong averages 4.3 ppg (41.5% 3 pt shooting) off the bench. IND averages 95.6 ppg and allows 98.7 ppg. The Magic average 95.8 ppg and allow 93.1 ppg. The Magic are a fantastic 7-1 in games decided by 3 pts or fewer.

IND has had a road-heavy schedule so far, and should settle down at home. Pacers have allowed 100 or more pts the last 4 games. IND has beaten the Magic the last 3 times at home. Magic look to cap off a great road trip with a win here. Pacers are 1 1/2 pt favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

NBA.com NBA All-Star 2007

NBA.com NBA All-Star 2007

Don't forget to make a daily practice of voting for the All-Star team.

Dwight, Grant, Hedo & Jameer are on the ballot.

Nelson the hero in Magic last-second win over SAC

The Magic (14-5, 7-4 road) found another way to win a close game. This time, Jameer Nelson hit a 3 pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining to give the Magic a 92-89 win, after the Kings scored 6 pts in a row to tie the game at 89.

DHoward led the Magic with 18 pts on 7 of 9 shooting and 16 rebs. Nelson had 14 pts on 6 of 9 shooting with 7 assists, HTurkoglu also had 14 pts, and GHill, playing in back-to-back games for the first time this year, scored 10 pts, and CArroyo led the reserves with 12 pts. TBattie also had a good game with 9 pts and 9 rebs. Mike Bibby led SAC with 19 pts 7 assists, and John Salmons and Kevin Martin added 16 pts each.

The Magic (37 of 70, 52.9%) dominated from the field, outscoring SAC (30 of 76, 39.5%) 78-63. Magic were 4 of 11 from 3 pt range, while SAC was just 3 of 16. SAC (26 of 33, 78.8%) had a big edge at the FT line (ORL 14 of 25, 56%). The Magic had a slight edge rebounding 42-41, but were outrebounded 13-6 on the offensive boards. SAC had a slightly better assist/turnover ratio of 19-14, compared to 19-17 for the Magic. SAC also had a slight edge in bench scoring, 29-27 over the Magic bench.

The Magic's hot outside shooting and good defense won this game for them even though they had 17 TOs and only shot 56% from the FT line. Nice job winning at SAC after the loss to LAC the previous night and breaking an 11 game losing streak at SAC. The Magic are now guaranteed a winning road trip and have a chance to finish the trip 5-1 with a win at IND WED night.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Magic/Kings preview

SAC, 8-7 and 6-2 home and in third place in the Pacific Division, will provide tough competition for the Magic (13-5, 6-4 road) MON night. The Kings have lost 2 in a row and are coming off a close road loss to the Spurs 100-98 SAT night. G Kevin Martin scored 30 pts to lead SAC. F John Salmons added 20 pts. F Ron Artest did not play with a strained lower back and is listed as day-to-day.

Martin leads SAC in scoring with a 22.9 ppg average on 54.2% FG shooting. Artest is averaging 17.4 ppg, PG Mike Bibby 17.1 ppg and 5.9 assists, and F Shareef Abdur-Rahim averages 12.3 ppg and 6.1 rebs. Salmons averages 8 ppg, and C Brad Miller averages 5.3 ppg and 6.7 rebs. SAC averages 98.5 ppg while allowing 97.5 ppg. The Magic average 96 ppg and allow 93.3 ppg.

Magic will try to bounce back after the 116-91 beating at the hands of the Clippers SUN night. However, the Magic have lost 11 games in a row at SAC and haven't won there since DEC of 1993 (the Shaq and Penny days). Kings are 5 1/2 pt favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Toughness: Eastern Conference Rankings

I stole this idea from Clipperblog. Measure how your NBA team is doing based on the ability to protect its home court and to win on the road. It makes for a simple formula that is easy to track. It closely matches won/lost records, but does point out that Chicago is probably a top 4, and Atlanta and Miami are worse off than their record. Road Wins - Home Losses = "Toughness."

The rankings for the Eastern Conference as of today:

Team Wins Losses
Road Wins Home Losses Toughness
Orlando 13 5

6 1 5
Detroit 11 6
5 2 3
Indiana 9 9
5 2 3
Chicago 7 9
3 1 2
Cleveland 10 7
3 2 1
Toronto 7 10
2 2 0
Milwaukee 6 10
4 4 0
Atlanta 7 8
3 4 -1
New Jersey 7 9
3 4 -1
Philadelphia 5 11
2 3 -1
Miami 7 9
4 6 -2
Washington 6 10
0 2 -2
New York 6 13
5 7 -2
Charlotte 5 12
2 5 -3
Boston 5 10
2 6 -4

Last season final rankings:
Rank Team Wins Losses PCT Road Wins Home Losses Toughness

1 Detroit 64 18 0.780 - 27 4 23

2 Miami 52 30 0.634 - 21 10 11

3 Cleveland 50 32 0.610 - 19 10 9

4 New Jersey 49 33 0.598 - 20 12 8

5 Washington 42 40 0.512 - 15 14 1

6 Indiana 41 41 0.500 - 14 14 0

7 Chicago 41 41 0.500 - 20 20 0

8 Milwaukee 40 42 0.488 - 15 16 -1

9 Philadelphia 38 44 0.463 - 15 18 -3

10 Orlando 36 46 0.439 - 10 15 -5

11 Boston 33 49 0.402 - 12 20 -8

12 Toronto 27 55 0.329 - 12 26 -14

13 Charlotte 26 56 0.317 - 9 24 -15

14 Atlanta 26 56 0.317 - 8 23 -15

15 New York 23 59 0.280 - 8 26 -18

5 East teams had positive numbers last year, and 5 are positive so far this season. -1 earned the last playoff spot. Nice to see Magic leading the East in road wins and in home losses.

The Magic ended last year with the 7th best home record in the East and fourth worst road record. Only the top 2 teams in the East had winning road records last year. Magic 6-4 road record is best in the East so far this year and a huge improvement over last year.

Clippers end Magic streak with rout

The Magic (13-5) were due for a clunker one of these games, and this game was it. LAC (8-8), led by Elton Brand's 31 pts on 12 of 14 shooting, completely dominated every facet of the game in a 116-91 blowout win. The Magic trailed at the half by 17, made a brief run early in the third to cut the deficit to 8, but never came close after that.

DHoward led the Magic with 16 pts, but only 7 rebounds. HTurkoglu added 15 pts, JNelson 13 pts, and DMilicic off the bench with 11 pts. Tim Thomas added 20 pts for the Clippers, and former Magic F Corey Maggette scored 17 pts off the bench.

LAC had a decisive edge in every statistical category. LAC (44 of 73, 60.9%) outscored the Magic (37 of 79, 46.8%) from the field 93-79. LAC (23 of 28, 82.1%) had the edge at the FT line (ORL 12 of 19, 63.2%). LAC had the rebounding edge 35-32. LAC had a much better assist/turnover ratio of 26-11, compared to 18-16 for the Magic. The Magic reserves were soundly outscored by the Clippers reserves 50-31. PGarrity saw his first action in several games, going scoreless in 11 minutes.

A bad game all around, from the players down to the coaching staff. Tough game coming up MON night at SAC. Hopefully they will bring their normally outstanding defense with them to this game. Dwight was the only Magic starter to play more than 28 minutes. The Magic still lead DET by 1 1/2 games in the East and ATL by 4 1/2 games in the SE.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Magic/Clippers preview

The Magic (13-4, 6-3 road) are on a 4 game road winning streak for the first time since APR of 1999. They have won 6 in a row overall and 10 of 11. The Magic face the LA Clippers, who are struggling at 7-8, but are 7-2 at home. The Clippers are coming off a 97-88 loss to the Lakers SAT night. Elton Brand and former Magic G Cuttino Mobley scored 17 each.

Brand leads LAC, averaging 17.1 ppg and 10.5 rebs. G Sam Cassell averages 17.1 ppg also and 5.3 assists. Former Magic F Corey Maggette averages 14.9 ppg, and Mobley averages 14.5 ppg. F Tim Thomas averages 9.3 ppg. C Chris Kaman has not played in over a week due to a sprained ankle. THe Clippers average 96.5 ppg, while allowing 97.4 ppg. The Magic average 96.3 ppg, while allowing 91.9 ppg.

The Magic have lost 5 of their last 6 games overall to the Clippers, and are just 1-5 in their last 6 trips to LA. The Magic are coming off a last-second win at POR FRI night, thanks to the heroics of GHill and another outstanding performance from the bench. No line out for the game yet, but the Clippers will probably be a slight favorite. That won't bother the Magic, who will try to keep their roll going.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Hill's last-second shot wins it for Magic

The Magic, who had been doing such a good job closing out teams in the fourth quarter during their winning streak, let an 84-76 lead with 5 minutes remaining slip away to POR. However, GHill's 2 FTs tied the game at 89, and after holding POR, Hill took an inbounds pass to sink the game-winning shot.

The Magic won their 6th game in a row and 10 out of 11 overall. DHoward had his usual double-double with 18 pts, 16 rebs, 4 blocks. Hill added 16 pts, HTurkoglu 13 pts, and KDooling, DMilicic, and TAriza all chipped in with 10 pts off the bench. JNelson had his worst game of the year with 1 pt on 0-4 shooting, but had 5 assists. Zach Randolph led POR with 28 pts 13 rebs, and Jarret Jack added 14 pts.

The Magic (37 of 75, 49.3%) outscored the Blazers (32 of 78, 41%) from the field 77-66. The Magic shot 3 of 11 on 3 pters, while POR shot just 2 of 16. POR (23 of 30, 76.7%) had the edge at the FT line (ORL 14 of 19 73.7%). POR also had the slight edge on the boards 42-41. POR had just 10 TOs, the Magic 14, but the Magic moved the ball better with 22 assists, compared to 17 by POR. The Magic bench did well again, outscoring the Blazers bench 37-33.

The Magic are now 13-4, a game and a half ahead of DET in the East, and 5 1/2 games ahead in the SE over ATL. They are now tied with Utah for the best record in the NBA. Great job by Grant bailing the Magic out after blowing a late 4th quarter lead. The long trip continues in LA against the Clippers SUN night.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ah, Never Mind...

Hill and Howard earn top honors - Orlando Sentinel : Orlando Magic

About six hours after I post complaining about lack of recognition of the stellar Magic play this season the Sentinel reports this:
A fast start has brought the Orlando Magic rapid recognition.

Coach Brian Hill was honored by the league as the Eastern Conference's coach of the month and center Dwight Howard as the East's player of the month, the NBA announced on Friday.

Hill, in his second tour as head coach of the Magic, led the Magic to a 12-4 record in the month of November.

Oddly, it was the first time Hill had been recognized as coach of the month despite leading the Magic to a 13-2 record in November in 1995. The club, led by Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway, would go on to win a franchise-record 60 games.

Dallas Mavericks Coach Dick Motta won the award that month with a 6-6 record. The Mavs were the league's worst team the previous season.

"It's the first time," Hill said, laughing. "It's a reflection of our coaching staff and our players. Our road record (5-3, heading into Friday night's game at Portland) is what I'm most impressed with. And I'm really happy for Dwight."

Howard, named player of the week last week, averaged 17.1 points and a league-leading 13.6 rebounds for the month of November. He also had seven consecutive double-doubles, and a 24-point, 23-rebound game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Someone may have to Heimlich Matt because if this happy bunch keeps playing well Hill is in line to win Coach of the Year honors.

Now the Coach of the Month needs to remind the Player of the Month to not get a big head and assume Portland is going to roll over and quit tonight.

Orlando gets little respect...

I've been fascinated that Orlando's early season rise to the top has gone little noticed nationally. ESPN and other outlets would rather spend time worrying about Ben's headband, Shaq's knee, or the well worn story of Isiah not owning any clues. Utah, however, seems to get better press out west even as they slide back to the pack.

The general theme when they are noticed is that they are too young. Or Darko is still an enigma. It is assumed by the general wisdom that eventually they will fall behind Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Miami and probably New Jersey as well. And they rank no better than 8th in ESPN's power rankings. The other day a talking head on ESPN thought hurt Shaq is still more valuable thisyer than Dwight Howard because Howard is "too nice."

ESPN.com: SPORTSNATION - Chat-13797(Insider)

Keith (Grand Rapids): Hey Chad, do you have any idea what the Pistons got for that Darko trade? If a pick, what year?

SportsNation Chad Ford: They have Orlando's first round pick ... right now that's not looking so good. I don't think they regret losing Ben that much ... but Darko? That's another story.

Sly (Boston): Orlando and Utah are the two hottset teams in the league, do you think they will be able to sustain this and win their respected division?

SportsNation Chad Ford: Utah yes. I think they're the real deal. Great balance, well coached ... having huge years from Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer ... and we haven't really seen the real Andrei Kirilenko yet. Orlando will, for sure be a playoff team, and could win the Southeast if Shaq never gets back to 100 percent. But I still believe the Heat have some life in them and I think Orlando's a little young to sustain the pace that they're currently playing at. But make no mistake, Orlando's long term future is MUCH brighter than Miami's. By next year, the Heat will be looking up at Orlando in the standings for a long time.

Magic/Portland preview

The Magic (12-4, 5-3 road) face a struggling Blazers team that's lost 3 in a row and is 6-10, 4-4 at home. Magic are going for their 6th straight win and 10 out of 11 overall. Should the Magic win, they would tie Utah (13-4) for the best record in the league. POR is coming off a 105-97 home loss to IND on TUE. Zach Randolph led with 30 pts 11 rebs.

POR is led by F Randolph, averaging 25.4 ppg and 10.3 rebs. G Jarret Jack averages 12.5 ppg and 5.9 assists. Rookie Brandon Roy, averaging 11.6 ppg, will miss the game with a sore knee. G Juan Dixon averages 10.5 ppg and F Travis Outlaw 10.3 ppg. Rookie LaMarcus Aldridge averages 8 ppg. C Joel Przybilla is back in action after missing several games. POR averages 93.6 ppg while allowing 100 ppg. The Magic average 96.6 ppg, while allowing 92.1 ppg.

POR has beaten the Magic 6 of the last 7 games in POR. The Blazers are 5-0 when holding the opponent to under 100 pts. However, in 4 losses in their last 5 games, POR has allowed at least 105 pts in those losses. POR is allowing opponents to shoot 48.6% from the field this season. Magic are 4 pt favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).