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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Magic start 5 game trip at Kobe, Lakers

It's back on the road again for the Magic (20-35, 6-21 away), as they face the LA Lakers, who are barely holding on to the last playoff spot in the West. Phil Jackson is not finding things easy in his return to LA. The Lakers are 28-28, including 4-8 this month. They hold a 15-11 home mark, and have beaten the Magic 13 of their last 15 meetings. The Lakers won the only previous meeting this season, 104-88 on Dec. 23rd at TDW.

The Magic will have to control league-leading scorer Kobe Bryant (35.1 ppg). Lamar Odom, who was rumored to be possibly coming to the Magic before the trading deadline, is averaging 14 pts and 9.3 rebs per game. Smush Parker (11.4 ppg) and Chris Mihm (10.2 ppg) also average in double figures. Brian Cook (8.3 ppg) is the leading scorer off the bench.

Here's a quote from Coach Hill from Monday's Sentinel regarding the Magic's young players playing the bulk of the 4th quarter minutes against the Rockets: "You got to do it. It's part of who we are now. These guys need to be put in those situations. You got to do things the right way. Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a step forward. You want to win, you want to be competitive... but it is what it is." Could it be that Coach is finally getting a clue about giving the younger players more playing time?

The Magic are 8 1/2 pt underdogs to the Lakers (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Monday, February 27, 2006

O Boys Need To Start In O-Town

Hed-O & dark-O,need to be starters now! Darko is our best big-man,i love dwight but darko does so many things well offensively that dwight has to take a back seat when it comes to darko,but b/c of dwights low post game,i wouldnt start anyone else beside's dwight playing along side darko,the last two games have shown that if dwight and darko play together as starters,this will probably be the last season for the next 10 years that we dont make the playoffs! Hedo is our best perimeter player,grant would get the claim if he was injury free over the last 5 years,but hedo's three point shooting & freethrow shooting make him our most dangerous player,its hard to believe that our best players dont get best player minutes,just like dwight with darko,grant would be the player that i would start with hedo,the reason is simple,in both cases the players compliment each other,while having our best players on the court at the same time! Darko plays the outside while dwight plays the inside,darko can shoot and pass,while dwight uses his drop steps and dunks on poeple all night long,hedo plays the outside and can take it to the basket,and grant has a hell of a mid range game and we've seen still has that killer first step taking it to the basket,grant as a two guard would also allow him to be alot more aggressive,and would allow hedo guard the lesser of perimeter opposition around the league,while grant becomes our stopper! These four players on any other team probably would start,but b/c BSH is loyal to uninjured players we may never see our best four together,IT WILL BE A SHAME!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Frantic comeback attempt by Magic falls just short

The Magic, looking horribly flat and trailing HOU 74-54 early in the fouth quarter, all of a sudden came to life and twice cut the deficit all the way down to 3 pts late in the game but could get no closer, falling to the Rockets and T-Mac 89-84. CArroyo, GHill and HTurkoglu and even Darko led the big Magic comeback.

One can point to two main things as to why the Magic lost this game: bad FT shooting (25/39), and DHoward (7 pts, 1/5 FG, 4 TOs, 5/12 FT) having probably his worst game of the year. Yao Ming (29 pts 11 rebs) could not be stopped by the Magic. McGrady (19 pts 9 rebs) also had a good game against his ex-mates. RAlston (13 pts) and JHoward (12 pts) also scored in double figures.

GHill led the Magic with 22 pts, followed by Arroyo (17 pts 5 rebs 3 assists) and Hedo, back from a sprained ankle, who scored 10 pts, all in the fouth quarter. In 17 minutes, Darko scored 6 pts and had 4 blocks. HOU, on 42% FG shooting , outscored the Magic (41.8% FG) from the field 63-59. HOU did well at the FT line, making 26/33 (78.8%), compared to the Magic's woeful 25 of 39 (64.1%). Rebounds were even at 40, and the Magic had a poor assist to turnover ratio of 14-18. The Magic's bench continues to play well, outscoring HOU's bench 37-8. At least Coach Hill is not relying on Garrity so much, as he played only 8 min (2 pts).

The Magic now go out West for 5 games. The new lineup and bench rotation needs to continue to develop chemistry, and hopefully GHill can continue to stay healthy. Arroyo is picking up where JNelson left off, playing brilliantly at the point. Darko needs to be given more minutes, and Dwight needs to work on his FT shooting. A winning road trip is possible if BHill can motivate the team properly; but the Magic can't start games as flat as they did against the Rockets.

Will T-Mac be with Rockets for today's game vs Magic?

Houston, with a record of 24-31 (14-15 on the road) and winners of 9 out of their last 11 games, come to TDW for a Sunday matinee. However, the status of T-Mac is unknown as he missed the Rockets last game Friday because of a death in his family. This has been a really difficult year for Tracy, as he has had to deal with injuries and personal problems. However, he is still averaging 25.2 ppg. Yao Ming is back from his injuries, and is averaging 20 ppg and 9.6 rebs. He is coming off a 22 pt 21 reb game against GS. Two other former Magic players, Juwaan Howard (11.1 ppg) and Keith Bogans (8.5 ppg) contribute. Rafer Alston (11.4 ppg) and David Wesley (11.1 ppg) average in double figures.

The Magic (20-34; 14-13 at TDW) snapped their 8 game losing streak against SEA, and several players were impressive, including newcomers CArroyo and Darko. To beat HOU, the Magic need to do what they did against SEA: shoot well, pass the ball well, outrebound the opponent, play good D, and take good care of the ball, while not having Coach mess things up. Coach Hill was very impressed with Darko and Arroyo, saying that they "both executed our offense well and made no mistakes as far as where they were supposed to be on the floor." So hopefully, both players will continue to get more minutes than veterans like Garrity and Augmon.

The Rockets won their first game all season without T-Mac on Friday over GS. They were previously 0-13 without Tracy. The Magic, coming off a win against a shorthanded SEA team, have to build on that against a HOU team that is tough to beat when they are on the road. HOU is a 3 1/2 pt favorite to beat the Magic this afternoon.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Good team effort helps Magic beat shorthanded Sonics

Led by DHoward (23 pts 16 rebs), four Magic players scored in double figures to help them beat the Sonics 102-89. SEA had only 7 available players for the game and were without star guard Ray Allen, due to stomach flu. The Magic finally broke their 8 game losing streak and a string of 12 losses in 13 games.

Finally, in Darko's third game with the Magic, he played more minutes than PGarrity, and played relatively well also, with 8 pts, 5 rebs, and 2 blocks in 22 minutes. Carlos Arroyo was very impressive, with 18 pts and 4 assists in 26 minutes. GHill, who wasn't even supposed to play, had a nice game with 19 pts. Deshawn Stevenson had 14 pts and 6 rebs. Five SEA players scored in double figures, led by DWilkins (21 pts) and CWilcox (20 pts).

Nice stats for the Magic this game: 52.5% FG shooting, they outrebounded SEA 45-31, and had a brilliant assist-to-turnover ratio of 21-7 (KDooling 5 assists 0 TOs), which shows our guards moved the ball well and took good care of it (in contrast to when Steve was here). Our bench, led by Arroyo, outscored theirs 37-8 (Garrity 7 pts). The Magic's FT shooting was only 72.7%, but it didn't really matter as Seattle made only 3 more FTs than ORL.

Basically, this was a must win for the Magic as the Sonics were so shorthanded, and they came through, and Coach Hill really didn't do anything to mess things up. Maybe we could go on a nice run now!


A Penny For Your NBA Thoughts - Deadspin

I'm quoted in the article for a post I left on TrueHoop.

Seattle to visit Magic Friday night

The Magic and the Sonics have one thing in common... both teams were expected to be serious playoff contenders this season, but instead are both having terribly disappointing seasons. The Sonics are 21-34, and despite a win at Atlanta Wednesday night, have lost 8 of 10. The Magic are 19-34, and have lost 8 in a row and 12 of 13.

The Sonics fired new coach Bob Weiss earlier this season, but Bob Hill hasn't fared much better. The Sonics were involved in a 4 team trade Thursday, acquiring Earl Watson and Bryon Russell while losing Reggie Evans and Vitaly Potapenko. Ray Allen (24.8 ppg), and Rashard Lewis (21.2 ppg) are having nice years. Luke Ridnour (11.7 ppg) also contributes. The Sonics do not play good defense, as evidenced by the fact they have given up 106.7 ppg this season. But they also average 101.6 ppg, compared to the Magic's 92.8 ppg.

We should have a nice crowd at TDW tonight, as a lot of tix have been sold since the Magic acquired Darko and Carlos Arroyo. How long before the "we want Darko" chants start tonight? Will BHill finally get a clue and play Darko, since we do have a lot invested in him and he needs to play after rotting on the bench for 2 and a half seasons in Detroit, or will Hill go with Garrity as he has been doing? Don't expect to see GHill or Hedo in action due to injury.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Pat Garrity

Pat Garrity 82games.com

I've avoided commenting on Garrity since this blog started because the chatter on the Sentinel chatroom was so ugly and boring.

But Garrity has got to go. Either run him over with a bus, or fire the coach who plays him so much.

According to 82games.com (the internet basketball site for geeks) Garrity pretty much sucks the life out of the team when he enters the game.

He plays 34% of the available minute which is now 5th on the team behind Howard, Stevenson, Turkoglu, and Battie. (Was 6th when Francis was here.)

While he is on the court the team is worse at every defensive level. Opponents shoot better, rebound better, create more turnovers, turn the ball over less.

It means nothing when you hear the coach say he is the most fundamentally sound player on the squad. He is slow, rotates poorly (to not at all) on defense, doesn't rebound, and can't create his own shot. The only thing he is good for is playing on those end of quarter/game 3 point teams that rotate in for the hail mary's.

17.4 minutes, 5.3 points, 2 rebounds, and virtually no steals or blocks. Greg Kite had better numbers and at least pushed the opposition around.

Hey Bob, speak to your coach and make sure he sits Garrity and plays Darko. We know what we have with Garrity, which is mostly lost 13 point leads in the 3rd quarter, let's find out what we have with Darko.

Hill might not be around

It's the Slantinel, so take it with a grain of salt..


I still think he's make a good assistant coach, or get rid of the 2 frick and frack co-dependents and make him a GM. Heck, he's got just as much experience as Otis has.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Magic play NJ tough but lose 8th in a row

The Magic could not hold a 10 pt halftime lead against the Nets, and scored only 37 second half pts in a 96-93 loss to NJ. It was the 12th loss in the Magic's last 13 games.

I guess Coach Hill lied yesterday when he said that the 3 minutes Darko saw against CLE would be the fewest he would ever see, because he played no minutes at all against NJ. There's no excuse at all for not giving Darko at least 20-25 minutes a game, and gradually build it up as he becomes more familiar with the offense. The kid needs to play, and there's no excuse not to play him. Look how well Carlos Arroyo played... 13 pts, 4 assists in 27 minutes.

The Magic outscored NJ from the field 74-72, while outshooting them 52.9% to 42.3 %. But the Magic struggled from the FT line, as they were outscored 24-19 while shooting only 61.3%, while NJ shot 88.9%. Magic were outrebounded 41-36 (15-8 on the offensive glass) and had 16 TOs to NJ's 12. Like last night, 3 members of the opposing team scored over 20 pts (Kidd 28, Jefferson 23, and Carter 22). Four ORL players scored in double figures, led by KDooling, who had an outstanding game as the starting PG (23 pts 6 assists but 5 TOs). Magic bench scored 28 pts, led by Arroyo's 13.

We should have known that Hill would play a veteran like Augmon for 37 minutes ( 7 pts 6 rebs), and also play Garrity 21 minutes (7 pts), while not playing Darko. Will Darko get meaningful playing time at home on Friday vs Seattle? Knowing how stubborn BHill is... I don't know.

Stevie Knicks

MAGIC: Magic Acquire Ariza, Hardaway for Francis

Waive Bo Outlaw.

Ariza (6’8”, 200, 6/30/85) has played in 36 games this season with the Knicks, averaging 4.6 ppg., 3.8 rpg., 1.3 apg. and 1.19 stlpg. in 19.7 minpg. He has made 10 starts, averaging 5.6 ppg., 4.5 rpg., 2.1 apg. and 1.80 stlpg. in 24.9 minpg. Ariza has scored in double figures three times, including a season-high 13 points on Nov. 13 @ Sacramento. More active on the defensive end, he has recorded at least one steal in 22 games and two-or-more steals 14 times.

You can't have a rumor without Francis

HoopsHype - NBA Rumors: "Francis" appears 24 times on the HoopsHype rumors page.

NY -- likely
Denver -- Carmelo hates him and would pout.
Lakers -- keeping Odom for now
Minny -- waiting for Marbury this summer?

Marbury & Francis would be a $30 million backcourt this year, then $33, $36 and finally $39 million in 2008/2009!

Knicks' Deal for Francis Is More Likely Than Not

New York Times Say Francis/Garrity for Crawford, Ariza & Taylor is very likely today or tomorrow.

I guess we'll know sometime during the next 28 hours...

More bad news for Magic heading into NJ

As if the Magic, losers of 7 in a row and 11 of their last 12, didn't have enough problems, they will be without Hedo Turkoglu (sprained ankle), and GHill (groin soreness related to his surgery), for tonight's game. Also, JNelson will be out at least 3 more weeks, as he was diagnosed with cartilage damage in his foot. And, of course, the drama around Francis continues... a trade with the Knicks is said to be imminent.

NJ, 29-23 overall, coming off a road win at MIL last night, has been nearly unbeatable at home since mid-December, going 13-1 (17-7 overall at home). The Magic are a dismal 6-20 on the road. NJ is led by star Vince Carter, who is coming off a 45 pt night against MIL, and is averaging 24.1 ppg. Richard Jefferson (18.9 pts), Jason Kidd (14.4 pts 7.9 assists) and Nenad Krstic (12.7 ppg) are all key players.

If one good thing comes out of the game tonight, it's that Darko and Arroyo should see way more action than they did against CLE. Even BHill admitted that the 3 minutes Darko played will be the fewest minutes he'll ever see. Hill will be finally forced to use a different starting lineup and bench rotation with the injuries to Hedo and Grant, and the possible trade of Francis. Here's my idea as to who he should start tonight: PG Arroyo, SG Dooling, SF Stevenson, PF Dwight , C Battie. Bench rotation: Diener at either guard spot, Darko at PF/C, Kasun at C, and Garrity and Augmon at F or SG. If Steve plays, start him at the 2 and Dooling at the point.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Magic go down at CLE for 7th loss in a row

The Cavs played a very efficient game tonight, as 3 of their players scored over 20 pts, and cruised to a 105-92 win over the Magic, who lost for the 11th time in their last 12 games.

The Magic did a relatively good job on LeBron, holding him to 26 pts, 5 under his average. But Z. Ilgauskus (24 pts) and Sasha Pavlovic (21 pts) hurt the Magic . Yes, the same Sasha Pavlovic who was averaging 5.6 pts a game before tonight. DGooden had a solid game against his old team (16 pts 11 rebs). CLE outscored the Magic 86-73 from the field on 51.9% shooting. ORL shot 50%. Both teams made 19 FTs, as the Magic shot 76% from the line. CLE outrebounded ORL 38-34, and also had a fantastic assist-to-turnover ratio of 25-7. The Magic had 22 assists to 12 TOs. ORL had 5 players in double figures, led by DHoward (23 pts 14 rebs). The bench, led by Dooling (12 pts) and Garrity (11 pts) outscored CLE's bench 31-12. Francis had 13 pts in just 25 min. of action.

GHill struggled, scoring only 4 pts in 14 min. of action. Darko made his long-awaited Magic debut, and scored 2 pts in just 3 first-half minutes. Arroyo did not score in 5 minutes. The Magic's defense let them down tonight, as evidenced by CLE's solid shooting, and the fact CLE only had 7 TOs. They didn't have an answer for Ilgauskus, as he was a force offensively and grabbed 13 boards too. Yet another fringe player (Pavlovic) has a breakout scoring night against us. Not the way the Magic wanted to start the second half, and are now 6 games behind PHI for the 8th spot.

Marty Burns: Francis close to making Broadway debut

SI.com is saying Francis for Crawford and Maurice Taylor.

Ugh. Please no. Questionable talent and no cap relief.

Sun Sports :: Whit Watson Blog

Whit Watson wants Odom for Francis.

From DimeMag.com

Speaking of Stevie Franchise, apparently Shaq is not a big fan. The Orlando Sentinel had Shaq quoted that Dwight Howard won’t reach his potential "as long as Steve Francis is there." The article also quoted Shaq as saying, "Nothing needs to be groomed. He (Howard) needs to be fed. Can’t do it with Francis pounding the ball." We actually bumped into DH over the weekend and he said when the Magic played the Heat before the break, Shaq was telling him the same thing during the game. In Steve’s defense, he was starting to play like a real point guard in the short time between his team-imposed suspenision and these latest trade rumors ...


A silly article on Darko from Foxsports.com

Magic return to action against Cleveland, LeBron

The Magic have a 19-32 record coming off the All-Star break, and have lost 6 in a row and 10 out of 11. The Cavs are a solid 31-21, holding down the fourth spot in the East, and have a 19-7 home record. The Magic are just 6-19 on the road.

CLE, of course, is led by star LeBron James, who averages 31.2 pts, 7 rebs, and 6.6 assists per game. Former Magic power forward Drew Gooden is having a solid year, averaging nearly 11 pts and 9 rebs per game. Zydrunas Ilgauskas averages 16 pts, and Donyell Marshall nearly 10 pts a game. Larry Hughes, who is averaging 16 pts, is injured and out for the year with a dislocated finger, which really hurts CLE's depth.

The Magic have 6 players averaging in double figures, led by Francis who is averaging 16.3 pts. But might this be Steve's last week in a Magic uniform? Grant Hill, trying to stay healthy, is averaging 15.6 ppg. Of course, all us Magic fans are really looking forward to the Magic debuts of Darko Milicic and Carlos Arroyo. Don't expect either player to start until they get more familiar with the offense.

Lots of questions to be answered tonight. Will Francis's struggles continue as the trading deadline approaches? Will Coach Hill be more flexible with the starting lineup and bench rotation now that the Magic are deeper? Will Grant Hill get more minutes now that he is healthy? How many minutes will Arroyo and Darko get? The Magic are 9 1/2 pt underdogs for tonight's game (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Monday, February 20, 2006

9 Lives

These next nine games for the magic,are pretty much gonna sum up the season,its like having nine lives left in the season,we'll know after those nine whether we're still living and breathing within the playoff race,b/c out of the next nine games,only two are at home. Up first,back-to-back's on the road against playoff bound Cleveland and New Jersey,then two winnable home games. After those four,the magic go on a five game west coast trip,if the magic come back from that trip with a losing record (1-4,2-3 or the worst 0-5),then we can all forget the playoffs and start wondering which pick we'll have in the draft. Bottom line is the magic have to start making up some games,one or two here and there every so often,and they dont have to get everything back all in one night,just play consistent basketball and dont worry about who's in front of you in the standings. Being only 6 or 7 games back means,the magic dont even have to be perfect,just try and stay away from the losing streaks,if you lose a tough one,get right back going and win the next one. I dont wanna see any lackluster performances from the magic,getting down by ten or fifteen points and have to come back at the end,the magic have to play like they're backs are against the wall,max effort from start to finish is what it's gonna take over these next nine lives,oops i mean games!

Speaking of coaches

It is well documented here of our concerns that BSHill is not the coach who can bring our group of young, talented players to the next level. We all know that BSHill just happen to be lucky enough to be the coach of the Magic at the time they drafted Shaq, and Hardaway instantly elevating Hill into coaching stardom. But his win/loss record since his first coaching this team speaks volumes about his inability to communicate with his players and develop a winning attitude and record. He couldn't get along with Hardaway for whatever reason, and now we wonder about his ability to get along with Francis, and just hope our group of young talent dosn't develop a distain for him as well.

Thinking about this during the all-star game tonight, I thought about a couple other coaches who walked into situations where they are getting all this praise for teams that they had absolutely no part in building..

Such as: Flip Saunders, Sure he did an ok job in Minnesota, he had Kevin Garnett and a decent supporting cast, and even took them to the Western Conference Finals, I know that is no small feat, but you know the old saying about being "close".
So now he is in Detroit, and you hear about great he has this team playing and everyone was wondering if they will break the old Bulls win/loss record blah blah blah.... What has he done? Nothing! He walked into a ready-built team and as long as he dosn't screw with it a whole heck of a lot, should walk away with a championship trophy...

Avery Johnson, Same scenario, He walked into a postition in Dallas that was helped put together by Don Nelson and crew, and now everyone is singing praises to him how he has the team playing and how good the Mavericks are. When in all actuality, all he has to do is not mess with the chemistry thats already there, maybe add a play or two that he desighed, and just let them play.

I won't even get into the whole Phil Jackson side of it tonight...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Slam Dunk Fiasco?

Watching slam dunk competition reminded me of a circus where no rules applied. In any organized competition you have a certain number of times to try any routine and if failed would be disqualified. Athletes need to practice whatever it is that they are supposed do, so that such embarrassing mishaps are not repeated. On top of every thing I believe that Igoudala got a bad wrap.

Depth Chart

Assuming Francis stays, what does the depth chart look like? Is Hill bringing Darko off the bench or starting him? Where does Arroyo fit?

My preference would be something like:

C - Darko, Kasun
PF - DH, Battie (C/PF)
SF - Hill, Turk
SG - Francis, Stevenson, Diener
PG - Arroyo, Nelson*, Dooling (PG/SG)

Inactive: Outlaw, Augmon, Garrity

Kasun probably continues to DNP so there is a 3 man rotation at C/PF. No need for Garrity as Darko carries the big man shooting skills. At some time we need to see the international front line of Kasun/Darko/Turkoglu just for grins.

If Darko starts I'd lean towards having Hill start on the court with him if he's physically able. Kind of like having a coach on the court to guide him along.

I'm guessing Arroyo starts based on the reaction from the ticket office. (yes that is yet another dig at the Magic lack of basketball management, but it might work in spite of that.)

I will not be surprised if Nelson is shut down for the rest of the year, rather than risk permanent injury.

I'm sure the actual lineup will be quite different.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Can the Magic make a second-half playoff run?

Going into the All-Star break, the Magic have a record of 19-32. They are currently in 12th place in the East, but just 5 and a half games behind the 76ers, who, at 25-27, hold the last playoff spot. CHI, BOS, and TOR are all ahead of the Magic also, with ATL only 2 and a half games behind the Magic.

Let's analyze the remainder of the Magic schedule. They have 31 games remaining, 15 at home (only 4 of which are against teams over .500), and 16 games on the road (9 of which are against teams at or above .500). So only 13 of their remaining games are against teams at or above .500.

Let's assume for the sake of argument that it will take a 41-41 record to make the playoffs (last year's 8th place team, NJ, had a 42-40 record). That means the Magic would have to finish 22-9 to finish at .500 and the last playoff spot. Certainly a tall order to ask of the Magic, but not impossible, considering they are just 5 1/2 games out with 31 games left.

The Magic have a rough 5 game west coast trip from 2/28-3/6, where they will be the underdog in all 5 games. But between 3/15-3/29, the Magic play 9 games in a row against sub .500 teams (4 home, 5 road). Between 3/31 and 4/13, they have to play DAL, DET, MIA, and SA.

Realistically, I don't think the Magic will make the playoffs, but I'm not giving up hope until they are mathematically eliminated. It certainly promises to be an interesting second half for the Magic, with the Darko trade and the impending trade of Francis. The return to health of GHill and hopefully JNelson will improve the Magic.

My prediction... the Magic will finish with around 35 wins, while CHI, with their nice young talent coming around, will overtake PHI for the last playoff spot. On April 20th, we'll see if I'm right.

Francis for Odom?

Orlando Sentinel reports that LA Lakers is "aggressively" pursuing a trade of Lamar Odom for Steve Francis. This may not produce salary cap relief but creates an intriguing scenario. Since Odom's salary does not match Francis's, Lakers have to throw in another player, most attractive of all is Chris Mihm, whose contract at just over 4 million expires after next year. Read the full report at the following link:


The good news is that there are a few teams who are interested to take Francis. They probably know more than a few dumb sports writers.

See You After the All-Star Break

Free Tickets

Just got off the phone with the Magic sales office. The free tix from the survey are lower bowl, against Utah on the 15th.

Darko & Arroyo join and meet the team in Cleveland after the break. The team is meeting there rather than gathering in Orlando first.

From a ticket sales perspective it's all Arroyo. There are 400,000 Puerto Ricans in Orlando and the phone is ringing off the hook for tickets to see him play including lots of group inquiries.

One of the guys in the ticket office was recently hired after working for the Pistons. He is telling everyone that Darko has quick feet, decent ball handling and a nice shot in practices.

Just as we are, everyone in the office is waiting to see what the team does with Francis. They have been told that nothing will happen until after this weekend. (He thinks there is an NBA moratorium on trades to keep the focus on the All Star activities.)

And there are plenty of tickets available for every remaining game this year.

SI.com -- On Darko and the Cost of Winning in the NBA

SI.com - Writers - Poor investment (cont.) - Friday February 17, 2006 10:53AM

Interesting article on the trade, and a table worth studying.

One of 5 points on the Darko trade:

4. Milicic couldn't be entering a better situation. Because the Magic gave up so little for him, he no longer has to live up to the expectations of the No. 2 pick. The Magic will be happy if he emerges as a secondary option alongside Dwight Howard, who will occupy the opponent's best defender and make life relatively easy for Milicic.

The High Price of Victory:

The average cost per victory, as of Wednesday, was $2.4 million (based on player salaries totaling $1.88 billion this season divided by the 777 games played thus far).

The leader is no surprise: The Pistons are spending $1.4 million per victory, followed closely by the third-place Spurs at $1.6 million per win.

San Antonio and other franchises pay attention to this ratio with the ultimate goal of spending fewer than $1 million per win by the end of the season. Based on current winning percentages, only the Pistons, Hornets and Spurs are on track to limbo under the $1 million level.

This ratio also suggests that it's OK to spend big as long as you win big. Dallas' $94 million payroll is second only to New York's, yet the Mavericks are more efficient than half the league because their expensive talent produces results.

Unfortunately, the Magic are currently ranked 29th at the moment with each win currently costing $3.9 million vs. a league average of $2.4 mil. But wait until you see where NY is!

Chad Ford Chat on Darko & Francis

ESPN.com: SPORTSNATION - Chat-10841(Insider)

Most of the chat covers Darko & Francis.

Includes these tidbits on Darko:

The good news is that I think Orlando is the right place for him to try. Small market. Bad team. Nothing to lose. And he's paired up in the frontcourt with a budding superstar, Dwight Howard. If he ever finds himself, Orlando got a steal and will have one of the biggest frontcourts in the league. But it's still a big if right now.

And on Francis going to NY:

Is there any other team dumb enough to take Steve Francis off their hands? A deal that sends Francis, Keyon Dooling and DeShawn Stevenson for Penny Hardaway's expiring contract and Jamal Crawford works. I know Orlando is still trying to see if their willing to put up with Crawford's shoot first, ask questions later approach to basketball ... but at least they get some major salary relief and can move on with a nice young core. As for the Knicks, I haven't talked to anyone who thinks it's a good idea to pair Francis and Marbury together in the backcourt. Say it can't get any worse? Yes it can? I can see Francis and Marbury coming to blows at mid-court over who gets to over dribble the ball for the first 20 seconds of the shot clock.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Daily Dime

Some good stuff and interesting views like the one below on Detroit, Orlando, and Darko.

Darko is a calculated risk. But the Magic have little to lose at this point. And it's easy to see the upside, still.

Had Darko stayed in Serbia the past two years and continued to produce the numbers that he produced when he was 17 years old, he likely would've been the No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft. The hype around him would only have grown, assuming a normal progression. So the Magic ended up trading a lottery-protected pick for a guy who likely would have gone No. 1.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Magic trade with Detroit now official

The Magic have acquired the number two pick of the 2003 draft, center Darko Milicic, and PG Carlos Arroyo from Detroit in exchange for Kelvin Cato and the Magic's first round selection in either 2007 or 2008

Heat send Magic staggering into All-Star Break

With a trade for DET's Darko Milicic apparently imminent, the Magic went out and lost their 6th game in a row and 10th out of their last 11th 110-100. The Magic trailed by 21 at the end of 3, but scored 41 pts in the 4th qtr to make the final respectable.

MIA dominated from the field, outscoring the Magic 90-62 on 54.1% shooting, including 10 of 21 from 3 pt range. The Magic shot just 40.5% and only 2 of 9 from long distance. The Magic did well at the FT line, making 38 of 47 (80.9%). MIA shot 20 of 29 (69%). Rebounds were about even (40-39 MIA). The Magic had 21 assists, which is better than they had been doing, to just 12 TOs. MIA had 18 TOs.

Even though Shaq had just 7 pts and 11 rebs, DWade (36 pts) and AWalker (26 pts) had superb games. Six Magic players scored in double figures, including the 5 starters, led by DHoward and TBattie, who each scored 16. Even though Francis scored 12 pts with 6 assists and 6 boards, he shot only 3 of 15. The Magic bench, led by KDooling (11 pts), outscored MIA's bench once again 28-24. The Magic are now 6 games behind the last playoff spot, but with the imminent arrival of Darko, the eventual return of JNelson, the continued development of DHoward, if GHill could stay healthy, and if Francis could play like he's capable of (if he's not traded), maybe the Magic can have a decent second half and give all of us hope for next season and beyond.

ESPN: The Daily Quickie

Two Words For You:FREE. DARKO.

It's not Darko's fault he's an NBA punch line. In fact, riffing off the ESPN Classic show, here are "Five Reasons You Can't Blame Darko":

(1) Hype: Chad Ford's legacy at ESPN.com might be tied to his bullish pronouncements about Darko, at the time a mysterious Eastern Euro big man with Dirk-ish skills.

(Darko's draft status also coincided with the height of Euro speculation, which didn't just include Ford, but the entire NBA. But how can you really question Pistons GM Joe Dumars?)

(2) Larry Brown: Brown hates rookies. He hates rookies without college experience even more. Dumars underestimated how much playing for Brown could (and would) constrain Darko's development.

(And if you want confirmation of Brown's contribution to Darko's problems, just take a look at the young Knicks this season, the NBA's worst team.)

(3) The 2003 Draft Class: LeBron. Wade. Bosh. Anthony. May go down as the most top-heavy class of all time, making Darko's unfulfilled potential all the more frustrating.

(Keep in mind, most fans howled when the Pistons didn't take Carmelo; today, those critics would be kicking themselves for not taking Wade or Bosh. The lesson? Hindsight is the best draft guru.)

(4) Pistons starters: For Darko's 3 seasons in the NBA, Detroit has been a 3-time NBA Finalist. Four of the starters are All-Stars, with the 5th making a strong case. No young player would have wedged their way in, least of all one with as little experience as Darko.

(Make no mistake: If Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh or Carmelo Anthony were drafted by Detroit, Brown would have parked them at the end of the bench, and they would have had as little chance to crack Detroit's lineup as Darko.)

(5) (Well, maybe a little.) There's no widespread perception that Darko is doing the things that make you believe he wants to fulfill his potential. He gripes a lot (but under Brown, wouldn't you?) -- yet everyone who watches him in practice says he is improving.

Hopefully, for Darko's sake, the Magic's deal with the Pistons gets done and he gets a fresh start in a promising young lineup with a defined position, low expectations and a coach willing to give him playing time.

It's not too late for Darko.

And it's not all his fault.

Pistons close to deal that would end Darko experiment

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Magic no match for Heat, lose 5th in row

Led by DWade (38 pts) and Shaq (25 pts), the Heat were never seriously threatened in this game by the Magic as they lose their 9th game of their last 10 107-93.

The Heat had a great shooting night, as they outscored the Magic from the field 75-68 on 58.1% shooting. The Magic shot just 40.7%. The Heat also feasted from the FT line, as they hit 32 of 47 (68.1%), and the Magic hit just 25 of 37 (67.6%). MIA also dominated on the boards 46-33. The Magic did do well from the bench, outscoring the MIA bench 38-12. But all the Heat starters scored in double figures and dominated, so it didn't matter much that the Magic bench played well. At least the Magic took better care of the ball, committing only 8 TOs, compared to 19 for MIA. But only 13 assists for the Magic on 33 baskets, which indicates not very good ball movement. Five Magic players scored in double figures, led by Turkoglu, Francis, and Dooling who each scored 15.

GHill had another good game off the bench, scoring 12 pts in 20 minutes, along with 3 steals. Mario Kasun was finally given playing time, and scored 9 pts and had 6 rebs in 15 mins. Here's a real sore spot: PGarrity plays 24 minutes, goes 0 for 5 from the field (all from 3 pt range), and grabs 1 rebound. Can BHill explain why all this playing time is being given to Garrity when he is so shockingly ineffective, and Diener plays only 1 minute? And can Hill explain why he refuses to change the starting lineup, even though loss after loss is piling up? The Magic are now 5 games behind PHI for the last playoff spot, with BOS and TOR now moving ahead of them.

ESPN Insider on Francis

From ESPN's pay area:

ESPN.com - NBA - Sheridan: Knicks looking to pair Stevie Franchise with Starbury: "Steve Francis is being strongly sought by the desperate New York Knicks, who want to pair him in the backcourt with Stephon Marbury in a bid to save their season.

Two sources involved in the Francis trade discussions told ESPN.com on Tuesday that New York is actively pursuing Francis, who is being shopped full throttle by the Orlando Magic.

The Denver Nuggets remain in the hunt for Francis, but they are not the leading option as they were a few days ago. The Minnesota Timberwolves also were trying to stay in the mix, looking for a third team to take on players Orlando is not interested in.

New York was believed to be offering Penny Hardaway, Jamal Crawford and at least one other player, likely Trevor Ariza, David Lee or Nate Robinson, in a deal in which the Knicks would also take back center Kelvin Cato, whose $8.64 million salary comes off the cap at the end of the season.

Cato would have to be included along with Francis ($13.7 million) to provide a match for the salaries of Hardaway ($15.75 million), Crawford ($6.5 million) and the third player, be it Robinson ($1.2 million), Lee (860,000) and/or Ariza $640,000).

The trade, if it were to come to fruition, would provide Orlando salary cap relief"

Detroit News on Cato for Darko/Arroyo

Risk taker - 02/14/06 - The Detroit News

It would include a partially protected first round pick from the Magic... And requires the Magic completing a trade with NY/Denver to rid itself of Francis.

More here New York Daily News - Sports - Frye off the market as Martin trade bait

And here Otis denies everything: Rocky Mountain News: Nuggets & NBA

Magic to face Shaq, Heat in back-to-back games

The Magic, losers of 8 of their last 9 games, go into Miami tonight with a 19-30 record and a 6-18 road record. Miami, coming off their best win of the year over DET, is 31-20 with an 18-6 home record. The Magic beat the Heat on Nov. 26th 80-77, but the Heat were without Shaq that game.

The Magic will need to be at their best defensively to stop Shaq (19.6 ppg, 9.2 rebs), and Dwyane Wade (27 pts, 7 assists and 6 rebs per game). Wade is coming off a great game against DET, as he scored the Heat's final 17 pts and finished with 37 pts to give the Heat a last-second win. Shaq scored a season-high 31 pts. Jason Williams (13.1 pts) and Antoine Walker (11.8 pts) also average in double figures. Miami has solid veterans like Gary Payton, Alonzo Mourning, and Udonis Haslem.

Since the Magic are really struggling, I would love to see BHill try a new starting lineup: Keyon Dooling at the point and Francis at shooting guard, with Stevenson at small forward. Dooling has averaged over 10 pts and just under 3 assists a game in only 20+ minutes per game in the last 5 games, so I think he deserves a chance to start until Nelson comes back. Putting Steve at the 2 might snap him out of this horrible 4 game stretch where he has been a shadow of his former self. Have GHill and Hedo come off the bench; that would really improve the depth on the bench along with Garrity, Diener, and Kasun. I wish BHill would at least think about changing something, with the team going so bad and desperately needing a win.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Despite Grant Hill's return, Magic lose again

Unfortunately, the blizzard that ravaged the NE was not enough to cancel the game in BOS tonight, as the Magic lose their 8th game out of 9 102-94.

The Magic were outscored from the field just 76-72, but the key stat came from the 3 pt line as the Magic made only 2 of 12 3 pt FGs, while the Celtics made 10 of 14. Both teams shot .500 from the field. The Celtics outscored the Magic 26-22 from the FT line, as the Magic shot an impressive .846 and BOS shot .839 from the FT line. The Magic were also solid on the boards, outrebounding BOS 37-24. For the second game in a row, the Magic opponent had a much better assist-to-turnover ratio, as BOS had 21 assists to 10 TOs, and the Magic 16 assists to 16 TOs. Thanks to GHill's return, the Magic bench outscored the BOS bench 30-3. However, all 5 BOS starters scored in double figures, led by Pierce (31 pts) and Szczerbiak (24 pts).

The Magic had 5 players in double figures also, led by DHoward (24 pts 11 rebs) and Turkoglu (16 pts). GHill did a good job off the bench, scoring 15 pts in just 20 minutes. Yet another poor scoring game by Francis, as he had his 4th game in a row of under 10 pts on 4 of 11 shooting. The Magic's defense was not as good tonight as it has been, as it really hurt to have BOS shoot 10 of 14 from long distance. PHI lost earlier, so the Magic still trail them by 4 and a half games for the final playoff spot. The Magic have 2 games coming up with Shaq and the Heat, so things will not get any easier.

Salary Math & Trade Considerations

I don't know if Cato for Darko/Arroyo would be a good trade or not. Darko could prove to be the best player in the deal. That rarely happens for the Magic. Cato is best for giving his body and 6 fouls to Haq-a-Shaq and could come in handy to Detroit in the playoffs. So it could make sense.

Finances, however, do not allow it unless it is followed closely by a second trade that creates a significant salary reduction. Here's the logic:

Next years salary cap approximately: $50 million per team.

The Luxury Tax start at about $60 million.

Assume the Magic want to create a perennial winner with a payroll in the $40 to $50 million range and always below the luxury tax threshold.

Current Payroll:
$75 million (taxable portion is $67 million after not counting Doug Christie.) Likely tax payment is $8 million.
Next Year:
6 contracts, $47 million for Hill, Francis, Turkoglu, Howard, Dooling, & Nelson. (If Stevenson does not opt out, as is his option then Magic have 7 contracts and $50 million on the books. I assume he will opt out in search of a longer, more lucrative deal. For sake of argument, he might be worth 3 years & $4 million each like Arroyo.)

Expiring contracts: Cato $8.6, Christie $8.2, Battie $5.2, Garrity $3.2, Outlaw, Augmon, Morris, Kasun, Diener.
Assume that the Magic want to resign:
Stevenson $4 million, 3 yrs guess
Battie $5.5 million, 3 yrs guess
Diener $640K second year salary
The Magic are at 9 contracts and $57 million in salary. Add $3 million for a likely top ten draft pick, $300k for a 2nd rounder, you are at 11 contracts and $60 million.

All without improving the team much unless you can count on a rookie to come through in year one. This still leaves Orlando to find a starting Center and offensive SF/SG specialist with the $5 million exception and $3 mill veterans exception if they are willing to keep the payroll inflated and pay luxury tax. I'd say it's doubtful.

If the Cato for Darko/Arroyo trade were to come through you would have 13 contracts and $70 million on the books. In 2007 Hill comes off the books, but Darko is a restricted free agent.

It doesn't make much sense. You get a potential starting center in Darko, move Battie to backup PF/C, but wind up with a 4th point guard in Arroyo, and are still well over the luxury threshold.

This trade requires a big salary dump to work. Either Hill retiring, or Francis for an expiring contract. If either happens, the payroll drops to $55 million next year. If Francis is gone, the team payroll is under $50 million in 2007 just as Howard & Nelson are entering their 4th years.

Bottom line: together Hill & Francis are strangling the Magic's ability to make any moves. Together next year they will account for $32 million of payroll. If neither are moved you have to expect a minimum of moves to be completed and are forced to consider that next year will likely be a repeat of this years disspointment.

Magic/Boston game Sunday likely to be cancelled

Due to a raging blizzard that is supposed to dump 18-24 inches of snow along with 50 MPH winds on the NE including the Boston area on Sunday, expect the game, which was scheduled to start at 6:00 this evening, to be cancelled and rescheduled at a later date.

This would certainly benefit the Magic, as they would have an additional 2 days to rest and prep for back-to-back games against Miami Tuesday and Wednesday. Maybe even GHill will be ready to return after a month off. The Magic are currently 4 and 1/2 games behind the 76'ers for the last playoff spot.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Magic may do a deal with Pistons

Friday, February 10, 2006

Magic's offensive woes continue in loss to Pistons

A rare sellout crowd in TDW failed to help the Magic as they saw their record fall to ten games under .500 and lost their 7th game of their last 8 overall in an ugly offensive display as the Pistons win 84-73.

The Pistons pulled away in the second half after leading by just 1 at the half. Rasheed Wallace (26 pts) and Rip Hamilton (23 pts) led the way. Ben Wallace (10 rebs) and Billups (14 assists) also had solid games. Only 3 Magic players (Howard, Turkoglu, and Stevenson) scored in double figures, led by Howard (19 pts 17 rebs). Howard grabbed 12 of those boards in the first qr, setting a Magic record for most boards in a quarter. The Magic, even though they outshot DET 45.6% to 40.5%, were outscored from the field 78-63. The key stat here is that DET was 10 of 22 from 3 pt range, while the Magic were a mere 1 of 5 (why didn't Diener play?). The Magic were also woeful from the FT line, shooting a laughable 52.6% on 10 of 19 FT (Howard, Battie, and Stevenson shot a combined 2 of 10). DET was held to 6 of 9. Once again, the bench had a poor game, as Dooling and Garrity scored only 13 pts on 5 of 17 shooting. Augmon was the only other reserve to see action, as he scored 2 pts in just 3 minutes. The Pistons bench also scored 15 pts.

Perhaps the most telling stat as to how poorly the Magic offensively played is this: only 10 assists the whole game, compared to 17 TOs; that's how badly they're struggling on offense. The Pistons had a whopping 26 assists to just 11 TOs. Francis had his third straight game of scoring under 10 pts (9 pts on 4 of 12 shooting). Howard and Turkoglu combined for 11 TOs. Again, BHill has no clue on how to use the bench. What an ugly loss in front of a sellout crowd.

Struggling Magic to host Pistons

DET, with an NBA-best 40-8 record, comes to TDW tonight, to play the Magic who are 19-28 and have lost 6 of their last 7 games. The Pistons bring a road mark of 18-6 in, but have lost their last two road games to ATL and IND. The Magic are 13-11 at home.

The Pistons are led by Rip Hamilton, averaging 21.6 ppg. Three other players, Chauncey Billups (18.8 ppg), Rasheed Wallace (15.1 ppg), and Tayshaun Prince (14.8 ppg) average in double figures. Of course, Big Ben Wallace (12.4 rebs, 2.3 blocks per game) is an imposing defensive presence. Antonio McDyess and Maurice Evans are key players off the bench. New Pistons coach Flip Saunders has done an outstanding job in his first season, as the Pistons have proven they are much better offensively than under the Larry Brown regime, while their defense remains just as imposing as before.

The Pistons are favored by 7 pts tonight (www.pinnaclesports.com), and rightfully so. The Magic are coming off a 94-89 2 OT loss to MIL. Poor FG shooting and 21 TOs really hurt the Magic. TDW should be just about sold out tonight, as I'm sure many people want to see the Pistons in action. If the Magic get energized by the big crowd, maybe somehow they could pull off a huge upset. If ATL can bet DET, so could the Magic (even though ATL beat the Magic also). They will have to play almost a perfect game to have a chance, which means fewer TOs, better offensive execution, good contributions off the bench, and solid defense. Will BHill ever make good use of his bench instead of wearing down the starters? I'd like to see Diener get some good minutes... he could really energize the crowd and the team with his dead-eye shooting.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Sad truth: If an All-Star doesn't fit, somebody must sit

That is the title of Tony Mejia, CBS Sportsline.com's staff writer's article on how Dwight Howard was snubbed for an All-Star spot. The whole article could be read at:


Politics is a dirty thing!!!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Agonizing 2 OT loss for Magic

All the recent trends indicated that the Bucks would have an easy time of it against the Magic Wednesday night. The Magic tried their best to pull off a stunning upset, but despite a game defensive effort, still lost in 2 OT 94-89. The Magic have now lost 6 of their last 7 games after a 5 game winning streak.

The Magic missed an astounding 58 shots from the field, shooting just 32 of 90 (35.6%). They also shot just 18 of 26 from the FT line (69.2%). 21 Magic TOs really hurt and they were outrebounded by the Bucks 52-47. The Bucks bench outscored the Magic bench 34-22. A good defensive effort by the Magic kept them in the game, as they held the Bucks to just 39.8% shooting (35 of 88). Michael Redd led the Bucks with 27 pts on just 10 of 30 shooting. Four Magic players scored in double figures, led by Hedo Turkoglu's 27. However, Howard, Dooling, and Garrity combined to shoot just 8 of 33 from the field. Francis was held to single figures ( 8 pts) for the second straight game and committed 5 TOs, though he did have 7 assists and 6 rebs.

Again, 7 players played the bulk of the minutes for the Magic as Augmon, Diener, and Kasun received just a few token minutes. Overall, a nice defensive game by the Magic, but their problems on offense continue. The starters continue to play heavy minutes, as Coach Hill's reluctance to give the bench more playing time is starting to wear down the starters. The Magic remain 4 games behind PHI for the last playoff spot, and guess who's next up for the Magic... the best team in the NBA, Detroit.

I won free tickets

I just checked my voice mail.

"This is Brian from the Magic. You won two tickets to Magic vs. Jazz on March 15th for filling out that survey."

I have to call him back to collect them. I wonder how that conversation is going to go.

The Blog's Temperature

I've spent a week on the road driving through Ohio and didn't think it could be more depressing. It's cold and snowy here, and it's unhappy and blue on this blog.

When I started posting on the Sentinel chat area last summer I was very negative on the organization and its total lack of preparation for this year. I'm unhappy to say that I was accurate in that assessment.

My gripe all along was the lack of professional basketball management employed by the team. That leads to a lack of vision of what the team intends to accomplish and it leads to hiring one cast-off coach after another without a plan. From Hockey Guy to Co-GM's. Brian Hill's return for no good reason -- he is such a loser without Shaq & Penny.

There are a few slivers of hope that can come from this season:

1. They lose enough to "earn" a top 5 selection. Magic history in the top 5 includes: D. Scott, Shaq, Chris Webber, Mike Miller & D. Howard. I'm tired but can only really think of Nelson & Anderson as decent picks outside of the top 5.

2. Howard makes the All-Star team which boosts his confidence and continues his growth.

3. A valuable trade -- the kind where the Magic wind up with the best player in the deal. Someone help me here and show me where in the Magic's history this has happened. (I'm tired)

4. A salary dump. -- Latest Francis rumor said the Knicks would take Francis for Hardaway. I would love this, especially if they activated Penny just to annoy Hill.

5. They actually hire a basketball president with a clue. Or how 'bout this one. Get G. Hill to retire and hire him to try and fill the Joe Dumars role on the team. Get a salary dump and someone who has a 50/50 shot of having a clue to run the team.

6. Team sold.

The playoffs seem pretty far away to dream about at the moment. They would likely need to go at least 21-15 to earn a thrashing from Detroit.

Back to the road...

Magic face another tough test in Milwaukee

The Magic, at 19-27, are coming off a very sluggish offensive performance against WAS where only 2 of the 5 starters scored in double figures, have lost 5 of their last 6 games. The Bucks have had great success against the Magic at Milwaukee. Since the 1997 season, MIL is 13-1 at home vs Orlando.

The Bucks bring an overall record of 24-23 into the game, with a 14-9 home record. They are a very talented team, led by Michael Redd averaging 25.1 ppg. 4 other players (Mo Williams, Bobby Simmons, TJ Ford, and Jamaal Magliore) average in double figures. Ford is averaging 6.5 assists per game and Magliore is averaging 10 rebs. With Joe Smith returning from injury to the lineup, the Bucks have a formidable front line of Smith, Magliore, and top pick Andrew Bogut.

The Bucks are favored by 5 and 1/2 pts (www.pinnaclesports.com). The Magic posted a home win over them Dec. 26th, but not have beaten the Bucks 2 in a row since the '98-'99 season. The Magic will have their hands full, and will have to be at their best if they hope to have a chance. How will the Magic counter the Bucks' big, aggressive front line? How will Francis play after his awful game against WAS? He has averaged 20.8 ppg in his career against the Bucks. How will Hill use the bench? The Magic are now 4 games behind WAS/PHI for the last playoff spot.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Wizards outhustle lethargic Magic

This one wasn't even close. If not for KDooling and DStevenson, and to a lesser extent DHoward, it would have been even worse. Tonight, Turkglu couldn't hit water if he had fallen out of a boat, but our illustrious BSHill had the forthought to continue playing him. I hope SFrancis hasen't fallen into another funk with all of these trade rumors running around. Honestly, who could blame him if he has, wasn't he assured by the team that they intended to keep him? SFrancis - 5 shots, 5 points, 4 turnovers, 4 fouls.

And can someone tell me why BSH continues to use only Garrity and 1 other player in his rotation? Sure Kasun, Diener and Morris saw time, but it was just meaningless mop up minutes. He says its for match-up reasons, but come-on.... You can't tell me that he thinks this is an effective rotation. It is obvious his method isn't working, but he continues to stick by it. Playing Garrity and watching him flounder around the floor looking lost an being ineffective. Set Garritys ass on the bench and leave it there! Take a bold step and play someone else besides Garrity. Who knows? It may work, obviously his current game plan isn't worth a crap. Come on BSHill... grow some balls! Your whole method of so-called coaching is getting really tiring.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Magic try to move a game closer to Wizards

The Magic bring a road record of 6-15 (19-26 overall) to WAS, which has a 14-9 home mark (22-23 overall), and has won 3 home games in a row. The Wizards have a 3 game edge over the Magic for the last playoff spot in the East, and are a 6 pt favorite (www.pinnaclesports.com) to win tonight.

The Magic is 2-1 this season against WAS, and their 2 wins have come in part to a great defensive effort on Wizards' leading scorer Gilbert Arenas, who has shot only 28% in the 2 Magic wins, and has averaged just 20 pts per game in those 2 Magic wins, well under his 28 pts per game season average. Antawn Jamison averages 19.3 ppg and 10 rebounds, while Caron Butler averages 16.2 ppg. Dwight Howard has struggled against the Wizards in the 2 Magic wins, scoring a total of only 14 pts on 4 of 13 shooting. Thanks to his recent strong play, Steve Francis is averaging 17.3 ppg, and Howard is averaging 15.3 ppg and 12.6 rebs.

This game starts a five-game stretch for the Magic in which they play 4 on the road, with the lone home game against the Pistons. It looks like both JNelson and GHill will miss at least another few games. BHill will have to continue to make better use of the bench, and make better coaching adjustments during the game if necessary.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Today's Francis Rumor

Courtesy of ESPN. I expect Francis trade rumors will become a daily excercise now that the Magic have suffered their backslide.

ESPN.com - NBA - NBA Rumor Central: Francis Heading to Denver?: "Francis Heading to Denver?
Feb 5 - Steve Francis is on the verge of being sent from Orlando to Denver, reports the New York Post.

According to the newspaper, the Nuggets would give up Nene and Earl Watson, who would either wind up in New York or Seattle. The Knicks would have to give up one of their young players, while the Sonics would part with Reggie Evans, Ronald Murray and Vitaly Potapenko.

A source tells the newspaper that 'something's either going to get done or it'll be dead within the next 48 hours.'

The New York Post also reports talks are ongoing between New York and Portland, which would send Theo Ratliff and Ruben Patterson to the Knicks for Penny Hardaway."

Team effort helps Magic end 4 game losing streak

Led by Steve Francis and Dwight Howard, who scored 18 pts each, the Magic had 6 players in double figures and were able to overcome Boston's Paul Pierce pouring in 37 pts to beat the Celts 100-91.

The Magic shot well for the second night in a row, outscoring BOS from the floor 78-73 on 50.7% shooting. Their FT shooting was much better than against ATL, as they outscored the Celtics 22-18 from the FT line on 78.6% shooting. They outrebounded BOS 43-33, took fairly good care of the ball with just 13 TOs and dished out 20 assists. The bench, which had been a very weak area during this losing streak, came to life, outscoring BOS 23-12. Mario Kasun played just 7 minutes off the bench, but grabbed 5 rebs (4 offensive) in that short amount of time. Garrity and Dooling combined for 17 pts and 13 rebs.
Another good effort by all the starters, and the bench finally played a decent game. Maybe Coach is finally seeing that it would be to the team's benefit to use more guys off the bench. Maybe next week we'll see JNelson and GHill back, which would be a tremendous lift. The Magic, at 19-26, remain 3 games behind WAS for the final playoff spot, and only trail CHI by a half game for the 9th spot.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday everyone!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Road Ahead for the Magic

From tonight on Magic has 38 games left out of which 15 games are winnable (3 each against BOS and ATL). All they need to do is to win 7 more, and at 40-42 they will make it to the playoffs. It is not beyond the realm of reality to win some games against quality teams at home when the team gets all injured players back. The pros of such success would be the inertia entering the next season and increasing the possibilities of recruiting free agents. The cons would be that the inadequacies of the front office and the coach would be masked from exposure. Regardless, in my view, the pros outweigh the cons, especially in terms of increasing the odds of the franchise remaining in town.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Marc Stein of ESPN.com Chooses Howard

Marc Stein of ESPN.com Chooses Howard and Bosh as his reserve forwards from the Eastern Conference for the All-Star game. The following is how he justifies his choice:

"THE CASE: The two best young big men in the game not named Amare have been so good that I can look past the fact that neither plays for a team with a winning record. Given how much time Grant Hill has missed in Orlando, and considering Toronto's more-than-decent play (15-15) since a 1-15 start, Howard and Bosh are irresistible. Especially in an Eastern Conference that, Detroit aside, has been wholly disappointing. I have a bigger problem with the Nets sitting at a mere two games over .500 (injuries only explain so much) than I have with rewarding Howard and Bosh. The only disclaimer here is that going with the kiddies, as backups to starters LeBron James and Jermaine O'Neal, means that I'll have to exclude Paul Pierce or Vince Carter."

Magic travel to Atlanta to try and end 3 game slide

The Atlanta Hawks are looking for their first 3 game winning streak for the first time in nearly 2 years tonight against the Magic. The Hawks bring a 13-31 record and a 9-14 home record into the game, while the Magic are 18-25 overall and 9-14 on the road.

The Hawks are probably playing their best basketball of the year, as they are 3-3 in their last 6 games. Earlier this season, they even beat defending champ San Antonio in Atlanta, so the Magic better be ready for this game. The Hawks are led by former Suns star Joe Johnson, who is averaging 19.8 pts and 5.8 assists per game, and who is coming off his first career triple-double against Charlotte. Johnson is also averaging over 26 pts a game his last 6 games. Al Harrington is averaging 18.9 pts and 7 rebounds per game. Two other players, ZaZa Pachulia and Tyronn Lue (both former Magic players) are also averaging in double figures. Pachulia has been particularly impressive, averaging 11.3 pts and 8.3 rebs per game, quite an improvement from his rookie year with the Magic 2 seasons ago.

The Magic are favored by 1 and a half pts tonight (www.pinnaclesports.com). However, the Hawks have a young, very athletic team who are playing well, and if Coach Hill doesn't have the team properly prepared for the game tonight, the Magic will be left to explain yet another disappointing loss. Defense is critical for the Magic, along with better offensive execution. I hope Coach Hill uses more than 2 guys off the bench tonight!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Seattle playing the New Arena or Move game

Sonics owner grows impatient

"Sonics chairman and principle owner Howard Schultz vowed Wednesday to look at moving or selling the team if the state Legislature fails to earmark $200 million for the Sonics to refurbish KeyArena or build a new home

The Legislature meets until March 9 in Olympia but has not indicated it will hear the Sonics' proposal for a new arena. "With less than a month to go, it's very clear to us that the city and state officials are not showing us the kind of respect we feel we deserve," Schultz said."

The Sports Illustrated article said San Jose city officials have contacted the Sonics and Oklahoma City, Las Vegas, Norfolk, Va., and Anaheim, Calif., are also possible destinations.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

No defense for Magic in loss to LAC

Elton Brand (35 pts) and Sam Cassell (26 pts) proved to be a lethal one-two punch for the Clippers against the Magic as the Clippers cruise to a 106-94 victory, the Magic's 3rd straight loss after a promising 5 game winning streak.

All of us agreed that the Magic really needed to step up their defense against the Clippers, but that simply didn't happen. The Clippers could do whatever they wanted on offense, as they outscored the Magic from the field 86-62, shooting a blistering 53.2%, compared to only 38.5% for the Magic. The Magic did well at the FT line, outscoring LA 32-20 on 86.5% FT shooting. The Magic also took better care of the ball, committing only 10 TOs, and out-rebounded the Clippers 40-38. Only 2 Magic players, Dooling and Garrity, played off the bench and outscored the Clipper bench 18-17. But the Clippers' dominant offense, led by Brand and Cassell, was the story of this game. Cuttino Mobley (16 pts) and Chris Kaman (10 pts) also contributed for LAC. The Magic, led by Steve Francis's 21 pts, had 6 players in double figures, but were no match for the Clippers.

The only good thing that happened for the Magic was that both WAS and CHI lost Wednesday night. The Magic remain a game behind the Bulls and 2 and a half games behind WAS for the last playoff spot. With GHill and Jameer Nelson almost ready to come back, the Magic must make their move soon, because as we all know, they face a very difficult schedule this month.

Magic in for tough game against Clippers

The much-improved LA Clippers, on the second game of a 6 game road trip, come to Orlando with a 25-17 record. They are 8-3 in their last 11 games and have beaten the Magic 4 out of the last 5 games, including a 90-73 thumping (without Elton Brand) on Jan. 10th in LA. The Clippers are 5-11 all-time at TDW. The 73 pts was the second-lowest pt total for the Magic this season.

Brand will be ready tonight, and he is coming off a 31 pt performance against the Heat Monday night in a close 118-114 loss. He is averaging 24.6 pts and 10.4 rebs per game. Cuttino Mobley, Sam Cassell and Chris Kaman also average in double figures. Mobley, traded by the Magic last season to Sacramento (in one of the worst trades ever by the Magic), is having a good year averaging 16.4 pts. Former Magic player Corey Maggette is averaging over 21 pts, but is injured and out indefinitely.

The Clippers are 2 pt favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com) to beat the Magic. A key stat: the Clippers are just 2-12 when allowing the opponent 100 pts or more. The Magic are coming off 2 disappointing losses where they were badly outplayed and outcoached. The Magic have to regain their focus and execute the game plan much better. Coach Hill has to get the team ready to play this game, as he did a very poor job of that the previous 2 games. Jameer Nelson should return for the Magic, and he will provide much-needed help. How will Francis perform against his best friend Mobley? Can the Magic keep Brand under control? The Magic are now 2 and a half games behind the Wizards for the last playoff spot.