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.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Magic/Nuggets preview

The Magic (28-30, 10-18 road, T7th East) try to make it 2 in a row on the road against DEN (27-28, 14-15 home, 7th West). The Magic have lost 7 of their last 10, while DEN has lost 11 of their last 16, and are just 3-7 with F Carmelo Anthony and G Allen Iverson in ther lineup together. However, DEN is coming off a 111-107 win at MEM om MON. Anthony led with 33 pts and F/C Nene, with a career-high 27 pts.

DEN is led in scoring by Anthony, averaging 30.6 ppg and 6 rebs; Iverson 26.2 ppg, 7.5 asts; injured G J.R. Smith, who will not play tonight, 15.4 ppg; C Marcus Camby 11.6 ppg; 11. 9 rebs; and Nene 11.1 ppg. However, Nene has averaged 17.3 ppg and 6.8 rebs since starting the last 12 games. DEN is averaging 105 ppg, while allowing 104.2. ORL averages 94.1 ppg, while allowing 93.7 ppg.

The Magic have won 20 of the last 24 games against DEN, including a 108-99 victory in NOV, but have lost the last 3 in DEN. DEN is 0-18 this season when scoring fewer than 100 pts. Magic are in a virtual 3 way tie for the 7th seed with NJ and MIA. DEN is a 5 1/2 pt favorite (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Magic pull off upset over Bulls

Despite committing 26 TOs, the Magic (28-30, 10-18 road), playing their 3rd game in 4 days, parlayed a huge rebounding advantage and excellent FT shooting into a 94-87 victory over CHI (32-27, 22-8 home), which was playing its 4th game in 5 days and missing top reserve Andres Nocioni.

The Magic were led by DHoward with 21 pts (7 of 10 FGs), 16 rebs. Howard also committed 11 TOs. DMilicic was huge with 14 pts, 16 rebs, 5 blocks; JNelson 18 pts, 4 asts; and GHIll 15 pts. TAriza led the reserves with 7 pts. KDooling chipped in with 5 pts, 4 rebs, 2 steals, and a block. CHI was led by the hot outside shooting of Ben Gordon with 32 pts; Luol Deng with 23 pts, and Kirk Hinrich was held to just 10 pts. Malik Allen and Chris Duhon each scored 6 pts off the bench.

CHI (32 of 81, 39.5%) outscored the Magic (32 of 73, 43.8%) from the field 71-67. CHI hit on 7 of 18 3 pt FGs, while the Magic were 3 of 9. The Magic (27 of 33) had a big advantage at the FT line over CHI (16 of 20). The Magic dominated the boards 49-31, including 19-12 on the offensive boards. The Magic had 22 asts to go along with their 26 TOs, while CHI had a 25/17 AST/TO ratio. The Bulls reserves edged the Magic reserves 18-17.

The Magic now move 1/2 game ahead of NJ for the 8th spot, and remain 2 games ahead of NY. The Magic get a much-needed day off TUE, then head West to face DEN.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Magic/Bulls preview

The Magic (27-30, 9-18 road, T8th East) start a very difficult 4 game road trip MON night in CHI (32-26, 22-7 home, 5th East). The Bulls are coming off a tough 95-93 loss SUN at DET, where CHI could not hold on to a 16 pt 3rd quarter lead. G Ben Gordon led the Bulls with 21 pts. The Magic have lost 14 of their last 16 road games.

CHI is led in scoring by Gordon at 20.8 ppg; F Luol Deng 18.8 ppg, 7.2 rebs; G Kirk Hinrich 16.0 ppg, 6.3 asts; F Andres Nocioni, who has plantar fasciitis and is out indefinitely, 14.8 ppg; and C Ben Wallace 6.3 ppg, 10.5 rebs, 2.2 blocks. CHI averages 98.9 ppg while allowing 94.7 ppg. ORL averages 94.1 ppg, while allowing 93.8 ppg.

This will be the first meeting of the 2 teams since opening day NOV 1st, when the Magic dominated the Bulls 109-94 and made the hopes so high for Magic fans, only to see those hopes come crashing down over the last month. CHI has won 6 of the last 8 over the Magic. Bulls are favored by 6 1/2 pts (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ariza's return not enough for Magic in loss to HOU

HOU (35-20, 15-13 road), led by Tracy McGrady's 34 pts (15 of 18 FTS), got out to a 12 pt halftime lead and held on in the second half to send the Magic (27-30, 18-12 home) to their 4th straight defeat and 16 of their last 21 overall 97-93. The Magic got to within 2 pts with under 2 minutes remaining, but could get no closer.

The Magic were led by GHill with his best performance since coming back from his injury with 21 pts, 7 rebs; DHoward 18 pts, 16 rebs; TAriza off the bench, playing for the first time since JAN 10th, with 14 pts (10 of 12 FTs), 5 rebs in just 20 minutes; and JNelson 12 pts (3 of 5 3 pt FGs), 4 asts. Along with TMac's 34 pts, HOU was led by Rafer Alston with 20 pts, (5 of 9 3 pt FGs), Luther Head off the bench with 15 pts (3 of 5 3 pt FGs), and Shane Battier 14 pts.

HOU (29 of 67, 43.3%) outscored the Magic (31 of 79, 39.2%) from the field 72-66. HOU shot lights-out from 3 pt range, going 14 of 27, while the Magic were just 4 of 12. The Magic (27 of 41) held a slight edge at the FT line over HOU (25 of 34). The Magic won the rebound battle 44-38, including 18-9 on the offensive boards. The Magic took decent care of the ball with 12 TOs, compared to 18 TOs for HOU. The Magic also had the better AST/TO ratio of 15/12, compared to 17/18 for HOU. The HOU bench edged the Magic bench 27-26.

With the MIA win over CLE, the Magic now fall to the 8th spot 1 game behind MIA. If NJ beats NY later on tonight, they will be tied with the Magic for the 8th spot. In the meantime, the Magic will have to prepare for a tough game MON night in CHI.

Rockets/Magic preview

Former Magic star Tracy McGrady returns to ORL in a rare SUN afternoon game as the slumping Magic (27-29, 18-11 home, 7th East) take on HOU (34-20, 14-13 road, 5th East). HOU has won 6 of their last 10 games, but is coming off a 105-99 loss at ATL FRI night. TMac led HOU with 37 pts. The Magic have lost 7 of their last 9 games.

HOU is led in scoring by injured C Yao Ming, who has missed 2 months with a broken fibula and won't return until sometime in MAR, with 25.9 ppg, 9.4 rebs; McGrady 24.4 ppg, 6.1 asts; G Rafer Alston 13.8 ppg; G Luther Head 11.1 ppg; F Shane Battier 10.3 ppg; Former Magic F Juwan Howard 10.3 ppg, 6 rebs; and C Dikembe Mutombo 3.6 ppg, 7.3 rebs. HOU averages 96.2 ppg, while allowing a league-low 90.8 ppg. The Magic average 94.1 ppg, while allowing 93.8 ppg.

HOU has won its last 4 games in ORL, and 7 of 8 over the Magic overall. The Rockets are also 15-3 this season against the East. HOU is a 2 pt favorite (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Friday, February 23, 2007

Magic fade in 4th to lose rematch with Pistons

Despite going into the fourth quarter with a 4 pt lead, the Magic (27-29, 18-11 home) could not build on it and DET (35-19, 17-9 away) came back to beat the Magic 94-89. It was a much better effort by the Magic after their embarrassing loss WED to DET, but not quite good enough. DET outscored the Magic 27-18 in the fourth.

The Magic were led by DHoward with 20 pts on 7 of 12 FGs and 13 rebs; HTurkoglu also scored 20 pts; GHill 15 pts; JNelson 10 pts, 6 asts, but 5 TOs; and CArroyo off the bench with 8 pts. DET was led by Chauncey Billups with 28 pts; Rip Hamilton 22 pts; and Raheed Wallace 14 pts, 10 rebs.

DET (28 of 71, 39.4%) outscored the Magic (29 of 62, 46.8%) from the floor 62-61. DET hit on 6 of 17 3 pt FGs, while the Magic were 3 of 8 from long range. DET (32 of 37) had the edge at the FT line over the Magic (28 of 36). DET had the edge at rebounds at 39-37 over the Magic, including 12-6 on the offensive boards. The Magic committed 18 TOs to 15 TOs for DET. DET had a 15/15 AST/TO ratio, while the Magic's ratio was 15/18. The Magic bench had a slight advantage over the DET bench 16-13.

The Magic now fall into a virtual tie with MIA for the 7th seed, and are only 1 game ahead of NJ and 2 games ahead of NY, with both teams winning FRI night.

Grant Hill had this to say after the game: "We have to correct those mistakes (turnovers) down the stretch, but we competed. If we do that for the rest of the way, then we give ourselves a chance."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Smith isn't finished fixing Magic

I decided to post Brian Schmitz's column. As today the trade deadline passed, and the Magic made no deals. So we're left with a talented mess, a clueless coach, and a questionable GM. What good can come out of the rest of this season? What should we be hoping for?

Smith isn't finished fixing Magic

The Magic might not be engineering a trade as they did last season --- a deal that sparked a late-season run --- but this team still needs pleny of tinkering.
If GM Otis Smith's goal is to build a championship, he need to unfold the blueprints again and roll up his sleeves.
Certainly, they need to make the playoffs or this season has been a waste of Dwight Howard's marvelous progression.
But they're looking at a No.6, 7 or 8 seed at best. That's far from a championship path.
The Magic need more consistent players. They need better defenders. And they need some guys who have a different mental make-p, players who get serious before desperation (missing playoffs) sinks in.
At a time Howard, in his third season, is putting things together, the Magic are wasting his efforts.
Sure, they've been injured.
But they've blown games agaisnt the Hawks and Hornets and Bobcats and suffered another loss to the Knicks on Tuesday night.
The shooting guard and small-forward positions are a mess, to put it bluntly.
SF Hedo Turkoglu, whether it's the mystery virus or not, has not had a season you'd expect from a veteran. Trevor Ariza is ready to return this weekend, and while he's a difference-maker, he's far from polished.
SG Grant Hill simply can't be counted on night in and night out. That's no revelation. How can the Magic go through another season, with Grant always a question mark?

Magic provide little resistance in loss to DET

The Magic (27-28, 9-18 road) fell below .500 in a listless 110-88 loss to DET. The Pistons outscored the Magic in the second and third quarter 60-38. Fortunately for the Magic, MIA, NJ, and NY all lost also.

The Magic were led by DHoward with 26 pts on 11 of 15 FGs and 15 rebs; JNelson 14 pts on 3 of 9 FGs; GHill 10 pts; and CArroyo off the bench with 9 pts. DMilicic, in his return to DET for the first time since last season's trade, scored just 7 pts with 7 rebs. DET had a balanced effort, led by Chris Webber and Rip Hamilton who each scored 18 pts; Chauncey Billups 17 pts; Antonio McDyess off the bench with 14 pts; and Lindsey Hunter also off the bench with 13 pts.

DET (39 of 75, 52%) outscored the Magic (31 of 66, 47%) from the floor 83-64. DET made 5 of 17 3 pt FGs, while the Magic hit on just 2 of 9. DET (27 of 33) shot FTs much better than the Magic (24 of 39). DET won the rebounding battle 36-35. The Magic committed 22 TOs to just 13 TOs for DET. DET had a superior AST/TO ratio of 27-13, compared to 16/22 for the Magic. The DET bench easily outscored the Magic bench 45-25.

A forgettable effort for the Magic. Coach Brian Hill after the game: "We were beaten in all facets of the game tonight. Once we came out of the first quarter, we didn't play very well."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Magic/Pistons preview

The Magic (27-27, 9-17 road, T7th East) begin a home-and-home series with the surging Pistons (33-19, 17-10 home, 1st East) tonight. DET is coming off a tough 84-83 win at MIL TUE night. Chauncey Billups led DET with 19 pts. DET has won 6 of their last 7 home games and 8 of their last 9 games overall. Magic have lost 5 of their last 7 games and 13 of their last 15 road games. DET has held 7 of their last 9 opponents to 90 pts or less.

DET is led in scoring by G Rip Hamilton at 21.5 ppg; G Chauncey Billups 17.8 ppg. 7.6 asts; F Tayshaun Prince 14.6 ppg, 5.6 rebs; F Chris Webber 12.7 ppg on 56.8% FGs, 7.3 rebs; and F Rasheed Wallace 12.6 ppg, 8.2 rebs. DET averages 96.3 ppg, while allowing 92.6 ppg. The Magic average 94.3 ppg, while allowing 93.5.

DET beat the Magic 97-83 in DEC at ORL. They did not have Webber then, so they will only be tougher now, as Webber has proven to be a valuable pickup. ORL has lost 4 straight at DET, and 9 of their last 11 overall in DET. DET is a 7 1/2 pt favorite (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Grant Hill's return fails to spark Magic in loss to NY

The Magic (27-27, 9-17 away), beginning a very difficult stretch of games, were unable to overcome the host Knicks (24-30, 14-13 home) and lost 100-94, despite the return of GHill after missing 3 weeks.

The Magic were led by DHoward, who continued his impressive string of games with 27 pts on 9 of 13 FG and 14 rebs; JNelson 16 pts on 7 of 21 FGs; HTurkoglu 14 pts, 6 rebs; DMilicic 12 pts, 7 rebs; and KDooling off the bench with 11 pts. NY was led by Eddy Curry with 20 pts on 8 of 9 FGs; Jamal Crawford also with 20 pts; Quentin Richardson 15 pts; Stephon Marbury 14 pts; and David Lee off the bench with 14 pts, 16 rebs. Former Magic G Steve Francis scored 7 pts with 3 asts, and 4 TOs in reserve.

The Magic (36 of 85, 42.4%) outscored NY (31 of 63, 49.2%) from the field 77-70. The Magic made 5 of 13 3 pt FGs, while NY hit on 8 of 21. NY (30 of 37) had a solid edge at the FT line over the Magic (17 of 25). NY edged the Magic on the boards 42-40. NY had 21 TOs to the Magic's 16 TOs. NY had a 14/21 AST/TO ratio, while the Magic had a ratio of 14/16. The Knicks reserves outscored the Magic reserves 31-20.

Magic now fall back to .500 and a 7th place tie with MIA. NY is now just 3 games behind the Magic for the 8th seed. The Magic need to bounce back quickly, as they play the Eastern Conference leading Pistons in DET WED night.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Magic/Knicks preview

After six days off due to All-Star Weekend, the Magic (27-26, 9-16 road, 7th East) get started on a very busy 8 games in 12 days stretch that starts TUE night against the NY Knicks (23-30, 13-13 home, 10th East). NY is coming off a 120-101 loss WED night at GS. G Nate Robinson led NY with 23 pts, and former Magic G Steve Francis, in his third game back from injury, had a season-high 9 assists.

NY is led in scoring by C Eddy Curry, who is averaging 19.6 ppg on 58.1% FG and 7 rebs; G Jamal Crawford 17.9 ppg; G Stephon Marbury 14.1 ppg, 5.6 asts; G/F Quentin Richardson 13.2 ppg, 7.4 rebs; F David Lee 11.2 ppg on 61.2% FG and 10.6 rebs; F/C Channing Frye 10.2 ppg, 5.4 rebs; and Francis 9.7 ppg, 4.1 asts. NY is averaging 100.1 ppg while allowing 102.2 ppg. The Magic average 94.3 ppg while allowing 93.4 ppg. In DHoward's last 5 games, he is averaging 25.6 ppg on 81.2% FG and 11.2 rebounds.

Despite a win over POR in their last game, the Magic have lost 4 of their last 6 games and 12 of their last 14 road games. However, GHill should be ready to return after missing over 2 weeks due to injury. NY has already matched its season win total from last season, and is 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Knicks beat the Magic 94-86 in ORL earlier this month. The Magic have beaten NY in 4 of their last 6 meetings, and 6 of their last 9 meetings in Madison Square Garden. No line out for the game yet (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Monday, February 19, 2007

Magic's Howard makes successful All-Star debut in Las Vegas

Dwight Howard was one of the few bright spots for the Eastern Conference All-Stars in a game that the West dominated 153-132.

Howard's stat line: 20 pts on 10 of 14 FGs and 0-5 FTs in just 20 minutes... 12 rebs... 1 assist... 1 block... and 3 TOs.

Only Lebron James scored more for the East with 28 pts.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Howard's sticker slam wins buzz but not contest

Twelve and a half feet is very high.

I walked down on the court after the dunk contest and looked up at the custom sticker Dwight Howard had stuck way up there. It was a little dizzying. Not to be gushy, but it was way up there. I suspect that if I stood on Dwight Howard's shoulders, I still wouldn't be able to even reach it. And I'd be scared to be up there.

I peered up at that sticker. Unfathomable, but apparently real -- as the whole thing was on international TV and exceedingly well documented. All the same, I urge you to look up at the top of the backboard from down below some time. Imagine a sticker a few inches shy of the top, and wonder: Could a human put that up there? Without divine intervention?


Or no.

A photographer with a telephoto lens helped me get a good look at that sticker, and in addition to a pre-printed image of Howard's face, his initials, and his number, there was handwritten marker. Not too big. In fact, even with the lens it was very tough to read.

In this life, you always have to read the fine print. And the fine print on that sticker made clear that Howard, at least, doesn't believe he did it alone.

"All things through Christ" Howard had written in marker. Then "Phil 4:13." That's Philippians 4:13.

Asked about it, Howard recited in a heartbeat: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Strengtheneth indeed.

Remember, Dwight Howard's Plan A for this contest was to dunk on a 12-foot rim, but the league nixed the idea earlier in the week. So Howard needed an inventive way to demonstrate his singular advantage: combining his height, his reach, and his hops to get a hand up higher than anybody else.

It was so inventive that at first plenty of people here in the arena couldn't even understand it. This was an idea from Mars, or Lovetron, or wherever it is the good dunks come from. It stretched the mind. For a few seconds, nobody knew exactly what happened. He put a sticker up there? He had a sticker? In his hand? What?

ESPN.com contributor David Thorpe of Scouts Inc. text-messaged me seconds after it happened: "I hate dunk contests," he wrote. "But that was the coolest dunk I've ever seen."

Who can disagree?

No one I have talked to, except, apparently, the judges. Howard got a measly 42, the second-lowest score of any dunk in the first round. Julius Erving and Michael Jordan both gave it an 8. I don't know what criteria they were judging by, but whatever it was, I say inventiveness was undervalued.

Hats off to 2007 Slam-Dunk champ Gerald Green, a worthy champion, but a year from now that sticker dunk is the one we're all going to remember.

Abbott: Wow factor? Howard a slam dunk

John Hollinger's scorecard

Magic Efficiency Ratings

A statistic that I really like to use is one that I heard of some time ago but don't see it used too often... the efficiency rating (ER) of a player. The ER is a good indicator of a player's all-around effectiveness in a game. The formula is relatively simple... add a player's points, assists, rebounds, steals, and blocked shots. Take that number and subtract missed FGs, missed FTs, and TOs. Take that number and divide by minutes played to arrive at the ER. This formula does not measure any intangibles, but measures a player's efficiency pretty good.

As an example, let's use DHoward's stats for the recent Magic game against POR to see what his ER was for that game. 20 pts + 16 rebs + 2 asts + 2 blocks + 1 steal = 41 - 4 missed FGs - 0 missed FTs - 4 TOs = 33 divided by 36 minutes played = 91.7 ER. What do the ratings numbers mean? 80 + outstanding; 60-79 very good; 45-59 good; 35-44 average; 30-34 below average; 10-29 poor; under 10 horrible. So Dwight's 91.7 ER against POR was outstanding. It is possible to have an ER of higher than 100 or lower than 0 for a game.

I did the math for every Magic player that has played at least 10 games so far this season to come up with ERs for the whole season. I took the average per game of each player's stats divided by the average number of minutes played per game for each player to come up with the season ERs.

1) Dwight Howard 64.0
2) Grant Hill 47.9
3) Trevor Ariza 45.2
4) Darko Milicic 42.0
5) Jameer Nelson 41.6
6) Carlos Arroyo 41.4
7) Bo Outlaw 41.2
8) Tony Batie 35.8
9) Hedo Turkoglu 34.1
10) J.J. Redick 33.7
11) Keith Bogans 30.9
12) Travis Diener 30.3
13) Keyon Dooling 27.3
14) Pat Garrity 24.4

Any surprise that Howard is first and Garrity is last? Dwight will always be among the best in the league in ER because of his solid rebounding, ppg, FG pct., and blocks. Overall, we have 3 players who are in the very good/good category, 5 players who are in the average category, 4 players in the below average category, and two players in the poor category.

One could always check a player's stats to see which stats that player needs to improve on that would make his ER higher.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Can the Magic secure a playoff spot in the final two months?

Hard to believe that the NBA season is already 3 1/2 months old, and that there is just 2 months remaining in the regular season. To say that the Magic have had their ups and downs so far is putting it mildly. What I will try to do on this post is analyze the remainder of the Magic schedule, and what it might take at the bare minimum for the Magic to make the playoffs. So here goes.

Let's assume for the sake of argument that the Magic will need a minimum of 40 wins to secure a playoff spot. They are currently a 7th seed at 27-26, 2 1/2 games ahead of 9th seed NJ. Of course, only the top 8 teams are awarded a playoff berth. The Magic have 29 games remaining (16 away, 13 home). To finish with 40 wins, the Magic would have to finish their remaining games 13-16.

Let's try and project how the Magic might finish to get to that 40 win mark. Out of their 16 remaining road games, ten of those games are against teams currently at or above .500. Let's project the Magic finish 2-8 in those games (to clarify, the only team the Magic will face that is currently exactly at .500 is MIA). Six of those road games are against sub-.500 teams. Let's project the Magic finish 3-3 in those games. That gives the Magic a 5-11 record in their remaining away games.

Of their 13 remaining home games, seven of those games are against teams currently at or above .500. Let's project the Magic go 3-4 in those games. Six of those home games are against sub-.500 teams. Let's project the Magic go 5-1 in those games. That gives the Magic an 8-5 record in their remaining home games, and a 13-16 record overall in their remaining 29 games, which would come out to a 40-42 record and a likely playoff spot!

Remember, I'm just projecting the minimum amount of wins that I think it would take for the Magic to earn a playoff spot. There's always the possibility of a couple upsets either way that could make the Magic's final record either better or worse than 40-42.

A final note... after the All-Star Break, 12 of the Magic's first 16 games are against teams at or above .500 (10 road, 6 home), but after that, 8 of their final 13 games are against teams below .500 (7 home, 6 road). It's possible the Magic could wind up with a mediocre 6-10 or 5-11 record in the upcoming 16 game stretch, and then win 7 or 8 games out of the last 13 against weaker competition to close the season and give them their 40 wins.

If the Magic do finish at 40-42, MIA would have to finish 15-15 to overtake them at Number 7, NJ would have to finish 16-12 to overtake the Magic at Number 8. If NJ falters, NY would have to go 18-11 to overtake the Magic. The Magic would likely have to finish over .500 to overtake any of the teams currently ahead of them.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Offensive Basket Interference

I have had a problem with this offensive basket interference from the start, and still do. The simplest analogy to it may be "You could have your cake but you can't eat it". I understand the logic behind the defensive basket interference being for the sake of higher scoring outputs, as well as allowing shorter players to have more chances against taller ones. As for the offensive basket interference, what is wrong with an offensive player to make sure that the ball is going through the basket even though it is around the rim?

As these kind of calls, whether defensive or offensive interference, have some tendency to depend on the view of the referees, I am for abolishing both types of interferences. I am weighing the uncertainty of the calls against lower scoring outputs, and some shorter players being at a disadvantage compared to taller players, and in my view, removing the uncertainty of the calls weighs heavier. In all honesty, taller players are at a disadvantage against shorter players speed-wise; do we have to come up with some rules to level the playing field in that regard? Of course not.

Magic head to All-Star Break on positive note with win over POR

The Magic (27-26, 18-10 home) were able to get a much-needed win against POR (22-32, 10-18 away) 103-91 as they head into the All-Star break hoping to get a little healthier. Several players stepped up for the Magic in the absence of 4 regulars.

The Magic were led by HTurkoglu, who had been in a horrible shooting and scoring slump, with 24 pts on 10 of 16 FGs; DMilicic a career-high 21 pts, 8 rebs; DHoward 20 pts on 8 of 12 FGs, 16 rebs; and CArroyo, starting at PG in place of JNelson who was out due to the flu, with 15 pts, 7 asts, and just 1 TO. JRedick led the bench players with 7 pts on 3 of 5 FGs. POR was led by Zach Randolph with 28 pts, 10 rebs; and rookie Brandon Roy with 19 pts.

The Magic (40 of 76, 52.6%) outscored POR (34 of 84, 40.5%) from the field 86-71. The Magic made 6 of 16 3 pt FGs, while POR made 3 of 11. Both teams shot well from the FT line with POR at 20 of 22 and the Magic with 17 of 18. Rebounds were even at 41 apiece. The Magic had an outstanding AST/TO ratio of 22/11, while POR had a good ratio of 13/7. The Blazers bench outscored the Magic bench 30-17.

Good win for the Magic in closing out the road-weary Blazers. The Magic now have 6 days to rest and recuperate (with the exception of Dwight who will be very busy during All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas) before a very difficult stretch of games begin after the All-Star Break, starting at NY next TUE night. Also, the NBA trade deadline is FEB 22nd.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Questions and answers with Coach Clueless

The Orlando Magic close the unofficial first half of the NBA season tonight at home against the Portland Trail Blazers. Then it's a few days off for the all-star break. Orlando Magic Coach Brian Hill spent Tuesday afternoon with Sentinel Associate Managing Editor/Sports Lynn Hoppes to talk about the season so far, the 1997 player revolt, Dwight Howard and family time, among other topics.

Question: Are you a happy man?
Hill: Am I happy? You mean basketball happy? I think I'm a happy person in life. Because to me, the most important thing is health. Not just my own, but my whole family. Obviously, we've gone through a bunch of trials and tribulations in that area (daughter Kim received a lung transplant more than two years ago), and we have great health now. I'm very thankful for that.

Q: Then why do you get so cranky on the court?
Hill: When you're on the court, you're in a different world. The focus is on everything that is taking place on the court. I guess we all coach within our own personality, and mine is somewhat intense. I try to control it as much as I can. I'm constantly being reminded that by my daughter, Kim. She would say, "Dad, life is good. Relax and take it easy."

Q: Do you consider yourself a father figure to the players?
Hill: I don't think they look up to me as a father figure. I think I try to instill basketball skills and a sense of professionalism. I want to show them how to go about their jobs the right way and on a daily basis. I want to show them by example a strong work ethic and attention to detail. In turn, I expect that from them on the court.

Q: What are your thoughts on coaching Dwight Howard?
Hill: Dwight has progressed tremendously over the past couple of years. Outside of his God-given talent, we made him the focal point of the offense. He had to learn skills in the post, as a passer, as a defender and how to handle different situations on the floor. He is getting better in all those areas. That's why he's blossoming into one of the top players in the league.

Q: You coached Shaq, too. How different is coaching those two?
Hill: Both are supremely talented as young players. But there's a difference of a maturity level when they came into the league. Shaq benefited from three years of college. His demeanor when he came on the court was all business. He was fun-loving and a cut-up off the court, but between the lines, it was all business.

Q: And Dwight?
Hill: I think Dwight is getting to that point. Earlier in his career, it was more about coming out and having fun. I think he's reaching that point where he understands if you're going to be the best player on the team, there is a lot of responsibility with that. You set a tone every day with your work ethic and professionalism.

Q: How close are you to this team?
Hill: I enjoy this group of guys much more than any previous group. I'm talking 1 through 15. They are a great group of guys. I enjoy coming to work every day.

Q:: What about the player revolt and your dismissal in 1997? What are your thoughts on ring leader Penny Hardaway?
Hill: You learn from every situation that you go through in life. There is always one or two things you'd want to change if you had a chance to go back. Maybe in how you handle a particular situation, how you dealt with a player on a personal level. But there were so many factors that go into the situation that are out of your control.

Q: Have you cleared the air with Penny?
Hill: I've had no conversation.

Q: Do you want to?
Hill: I prefer not to get into it. It's just a personal thing.

Q: As your team sometimes struggles to score, what do you say to critics who say you're coaching like it's the mid-'90s?
Hill: I don't coach like it's 1996. It's a different group of guys. It was a different offensive philosophy. It's a different defensive philosophy. For someone to make that statement like that, they don't have an understanding of the game.

Q: When it comes to scoring, fans are screaming for more J.J. Redick. Your thoughts?
Hill: Critics don't come to practice. They don't coach this team. That's my responsibility. My decisions are predicated on what's best for the basketball team. It may not be what's best for the individual. What a lot of people don't understand is how much time Redick has missed, the entire summer, training camp and the exhibition season. He's worked extremely hard, and now he has earned the right to be on the floor. It's like anybody in any walk of life. Very few people are handed stuff without earning it. It's no different when it comes to a basketball team.

Q: We're getting close to the trade deadline. Any moves?
Hill: It's my obligation to always look to improve the basketball team. But at the same time, most people don't understand how difficult it is to make a trade in the NBA. To get a significant piece, you need to give up a significant piece. And our significant pieces are our young players. I don't feel in position to give up on any of these guys. We think that highly of them.

Q: What about moving Grant Hill?
Hill: In 37 years of coaching and 20 years in the NBA, Grant Hill is as classy an individual as I've ever been around. I would love to see him finish his career here. There aren't enough Grant Hills in the NBA. When you have a guy like that in your organization, you'll do everything you can to keep him.

Q: How good is this Magic team?
Hill: I think we're a work in progress. Obviously, our goal is to be a playoff team. One thing that has hurt is our health situation. Look at all the teams in front of us. They haven't gone through that. We still haven't played to our full potential yet. We hope to get all our pieces back after the all-star break, and we'll get better and better.

Q: Again, are you happy?
Hill: I don't do a lot of other stuff. I'm not a golfer. I'm not a tennis player. I'm not a skier. Do I have a greater appreciation of life? Yes. Do I have a greater appreciation for understanding that you can't control everything? Yes. You must have an appreciation for every moment that you can spend with your family. When you've gone through, what I call, a life-altering event like what we went through with Kim, you appreciate life a little more.

TrailBlazers/Magic preview

After 3 days off, the Magic (26-26, 17-10 home, T7th East) play their final game before the All-Star Break against POR (22-31, 10-17 road, 13th West). POR is coming off a 104-85 loss at MIA on TUE. F Zach Randolph led with 17 pts. Before that, the Blazers had won at WAS and CHA. The Magic should see the return of KDooling, but will still be without GHill, TAriza, and TBattie. JNelson may miss tonight's game also due to the flu.

POR is led in scoring by Zach Randolph, with 23.9 ppg and 10.2 rebs; rookie G Brandon Roy 15.3 ppg; G Jarret Jack 12.6 ppg, 5.6 asts; G Juan Dixon 9.2 ppg; and rookie F/C LaMarcus Aldridge 6.8 ppg, 4 rebs. POR averages 93.7 ppg while allowing 97.7 ppg. The Magic average 94.2 ppg while allowing 93.4 ppg.

The Magic are now tied with MIA for the 7th spot in the East, and just 1 1/2 games ahead of NJ. The oncoming NY Knicks are just 3 games behind the Magic.

The Magic won at POR on DEC 1st 91-89 on GHill's last second tip-in to improve the Magic's record to 13-4. Since then, as we all know, the Magic have fallen on hard times, going just 13-22, including 12 losses in their last 16 games. The Magic have beaten POR 3 of their last 4 games, and need this game to avoid falling below the .500 mark. The Magic are 6 1/2 pt favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Florida Magic Today

An article worth reading... Here's a glimpse of what the guys in charge of our team are thinking.

Magic hope win energizes team

General manager Otis Smith is quick to point out that Orlando's woes began on Jan. 10 when promising small forward Trevor Ariza slipped on a wet spot at Golden State's Oracle Arena. Ariza, Orlando's best defender and top reserve, tore a ligament in his knee. Not coincidentally, Smith said, the Magic have gone 4-11 since losing the blossoming Ariza.

Factor in the injuries to Grant Hill, Keyon Dooling (thumb ligament tear) and Tony Battie (chipped bone in thumb), and the Magic have had to try and survive with a skeleton lineup. The result has been a loss of confidence and continuity both offensively and defensively.

"I look at the fact that we were 19-31 at this point last year and I look at the fact that four of our top eight are injured," Smith said. "We could overanalyze it and say this needs to happen and this needs to happen, but I know what we need most of all. Most of it is getting guys healthy and continuing the maturation process of a young team."

Added Brian Hill: "Healthy teams win. If we can stay healthy, we have a chance to stay up in that upper echelon. If we don't, we'll continue to struggle."

No comeback for Magic as NJ pulls away in 4th

The Magic (26-26, 9-16 road), were unable to build momentum from their incredible win over SA FRI night and saw NJ (25-27, 14-12 home) pull away in the 4th for a 93-78 victory. The Magic have now lost 12 of their last 14 road games and 12 of their last 16 overall.

The Magic were led in scoring by DHoward with 25 pts, 12 rebs, 4 blocks, but with 7 TOs. Howard continues his great shooting as he shot 11 of 15; DMilicic, in a starting role again in place of the injured TBattie, added 16 pts, 12 rebs, and 4 blocks; JNelson added 14 pts, but shot just 6 of 19. Vince Carter led the Nets with 32 pts on 12 of 23 FGs; Marcus Williams 12 pts; and Jason Kidd 10 pts, 9 rebs, 6 asts.

NJ (40 of 84, 47.6%) outscored the Magic ( 31 of 76, 40.8%) handily from the floor 86-66. NJ shot 6 of 20 from 3 pt range, while the Magic were a woeful 4 of 16. The Magic (12 of 17) had the advantage at the FT line over NJ (7 of 11). NJ outrebounded the Magic 44-37. NJ had the better AST/TO ratio of 25/14, while the Magic's ratio was 16/15. The NJ bench easily outscored the thin Magic bench 34-14.

Against SA, the trio of Nelson, Redick, and Arroyo shot an amazing 24 of 40, combining for 59 pts. Against NJ, the trio combined to shoot 11 of 34 for just 28 pts. In fact, if you don't include Darko and Dwight who shot a combined 18 of 26, the rest of the team shot a horrific 13 of 50 (26%). The Magic are just 1 game ahead of both MIA and NJ for the 7th spot in the East. Magic have 3 days off before their final game before the All-Star break against POR.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Magic/Nets preview

The Magic (26-25, 9-15 road, 7th East) will try to build on their spectacular comeback win over SA with an important road game against NJ (24-27, 13-12 home, 9th East). The Nets are coming off a 92-78 win over BOS FRI night. Vince Carter led with 21 pts and rookie Marcus Williams added 17 pts.

Carter leads NJ in scoring with 24.8 ppg on 45.7% FG shooting. Jason Kidd, who was held scoreless by the Magic last week in the Magic victory, averages 14.4 ppg, 8.8 asts, and 8 rebs. DHoward has made 33 of 37 FGs (89%) in his last 3 games, setting an all-time NBA record over a 3 game span (with a minimum of 35 shots) by anyone not named Wilt Chamberlain. NJ averages 97.3 ppg, while allowing 98.2 ppg. The Magic average 94.5 ppg, while allowing 93.4 ppg.

NJ has beaten the Magic 3 straight times in NJ and 7 of 10 overall in NJ. The Nets are 5 pt favorites in tonight's game (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Friday, February 09, 2007

Magic edge Spurs in dramatic fashion

DHoward's spectacular catch and dunk over Tim Duncan with 0.2 seconds left off an inbounds pass from HTurkoglu gave the Magic (26-25, 17-10 home) an incredible come-from-behind 106-104 victory over SA (33-17, 17-9 away). The Magic trailed by as many as 18 pts in the first half. The key to the comeback was a 3 guard offense used by the Magic for much of the second half.

Heroes were abundant for the Magic in this game. JNelson led the Magic with a season-high 31 pts on 12 of 20 FGs, including a remarkable 16 pts in a row bridging the third and fourth quarter; DHoward with 30 pts on 11 of 14 FGs and 8 rebs; J.J. Redick with a career-high 16 pts off the bench on 6 of 11 FGs; and CArroyo also off the bench with 12 pts on 6 of 9 FGs and 7 asts. SA was led by Duncan's 24 pts, 16 rebs; Brent Barry with 21 pts; Michael Finley off the bench with 18 pts, and Tony Parker with 17 pts

The Magic (42 of 77, 54.5%) outscored SA (40 of 79, 50.6%) from the field 90-88. The Magic hit 6 of 14 from 3 pt range, while SA was 8 of 18 on 3's. Both teams were even from the FT line, with the Magic 16 of 20, and SA 16 of 24. SA won the rebounding battle 35-28. SA had a slightly better AST/TO ratio of 26-11, while the Magic's AST/TO ratio was a respectable 22/12. The SA bench edged the Magic bench 36-32.

Spurs coach Greg Popovic after the game: "That was a fantastic catch by a really dynamic young player. But Dwight was great the whole night. It was a fantastic win for Orlando."

Spurs/Magic preview

The Magic (25-25, 16-10 home, 7th East) will try to avoid falling under .500 as they face a very tough opponent in the Spurs (33-16, 17-8 road, 3rd West). SA is coming off a 110-83 rout over WAS on WED. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker each scored 20 pts.

SA is led by Duncan, averaging 20.5 ppg, 10.7 rebs, and 2.4 blocks; G Tony Parker 19 ppg on 52.9% FG shooting and 5.5 asts; G Manu Ginobili 16.7 ppg, and Brent Barry 8.5 ppg on 49.6% FG shooting. SA is averaging 98.5 ppg while allowing 90.9 ppg. ORL averages 94.2 ppg while allowing 93.2 ppg.

The two teams split their 2 game series last season, with each team winning on the other's home court. SA has beaten the Magic 5 of the last 6 games in ORL. SA is a 6 1/2 pt favorite (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Real Magic Make-Over

Point guards: Jameer is serviceable,the fact that this is his first year as a starting point guard in this league means the jury is still out,with a full year under his belt i think he'll be fine,he should be able to improve on his assists totals while getting his shooting percentage back up.Carlos in my opinion has no place here,he isnt a good fit at what were trying to do,if we were an offensive team than he would be ok because offensively he does pass the ball,but we're an inside outside team that preaches defense first,carlos is our weakest defender because of lack of speed and often times as you watch him defend his best defense is sticking his hand out and getting a hand check foul called against him,at least it isnt a free lay-up because carlos has to have the slowest footspeed in the nba.Travis is also serviceable,has good defensive footspeed,can shoot the three,and will pass,what more can you ask for in a back-up. Shooting guards:Grant isnt a shooting guard,but he's played there all year when healthy,he needs to move over to the three.Keyon has been the primary back-up and in my opinion he should have carlos's role as the back-up point guard,moving him to the point would preserve his defensive abilities which we can still use,at the back-up point he wouldnt have to shoot as much also.Which brings me to keith and JJ,keith should remain the starter even with grant and keyon healthy,and JJ his back-up enough said. Small forwards:Hedo isnt starter quality,usually a starter is someone who can be an effective scorer quality wise and not quantity wise when it comes to shooting % totals while being a good defender,hedo is neither,how is he our starter?.Posey,prince,butler,james,deng,bargnani and granger are all better small-forward starters,and all of their teams are currently ahead of the magic,except for poesy.Trevor has been hedo's primary back-up and should remain the back-up small-forward when everyone's healthy,trevor has alot of up-side so he's virtually untouchable.I would love to see grant be the starter here,that would get us back near the top of production offensively and defensively from the small-forward position in the east,with hedo and trevor as the back-ups,the fact that they are so different would give a coach the ability to use them in roles which is what this team needs,if you need offense bring in hedo,if you need a defensive presence bring in trevor. Power-forward/center:Dwight and darko should be the starters,with battie as the back-up,this is the only position on the team where we dont have alot of un-wanted bodies (except for maybe pat...LOL),but its the position where we probably could add a few or give some time to augustine,you dont score 16pts and grab 17 rebounds in a d-league game if you cant ball.And bo has a role untill he decides to retire,he's cheap,good presence in the locker room,he hustle's and is just an all-around good guy.I'm not gonna say a whole lot about pat as he hasnt been played,good for bsh finally getting something right. My starters: Jameer,keith,grant,darko and dwight. Second unit:keyon/trav,JJ,trevor,hedo and tony.Depth: Travis,james. Expendable: carlos,pat and bo.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Magic fall to .500 with loss to TOR

TOR's Chris Bosh scored a career-high 41 pts, 31 in the second half, as the Raptors (26-23, 17-7 home) pulled away in the fourth quarter to hand the Magic (25-25, 9-15 road) a 113-103 loss, despite a career-high 32 pts from DHoward on 13 of 14 shooting.

In addition to Bosh's 41 pts on 13 of 25 FGs and 15 of 17 FTs, Jorge Garbajosa added 15 pts; Anthony Parker 12 pts; Andrea Bargnani off the bench with 11 pts, Jose Calderon 10 pts, 11 asts; and T.J. Ford off the bench with 10 pts, 11 asts. The Magic, in addition to Howard's 32 pts 9 rebs, KBogans added 15 pts; J.J. Redick off the bench with 14 pts; HTurkoglu 12 pts; CArroyo off the bench with 11 pts; and DMilicic, making his first start of the season in place of the injured TBattie, 10 pts, 6 rebs.

The Magic (41 of 81, 50.6%) outscored TOR (39 of 75, 52%) from the field 91-83. The Magic hit 9 of 24 from 3 pt range, while TOR was 5 of 17. TOR (30 of 38) had a huge advantage in FTs over the Magic (12 of 15). The Magic had a slim edge in rebounds 39-37. TOR had a superior AST/TO ratio of 31/9, while the Magic's ratio was 23-17. The TOR bench outscored the thin Magic bench 29-25, as Redick and Arroyo were the only bench players for the Magic to score.

The Magic are now just 1 game ahead of the oncoming Heat for the 8th spot in the East, and just 2 games ahead of NJ, who are in the 9th spot. The Magic return home FRI night to face the tough SA Spurs.

Magic/Raptors preview

The Magic (25-24, 9-14 road, 7th East) will try to avoid falling to the .500 mark WED night against much-improved TOR (25-23, 16-7 home, 4th East). TOR is coming off a 122-110 victory over LAC on SUN. C Chris Bosh led with 27 pts. TOR has won 3 in a row and 8 of 10. The Magic have lost 10 of their last 13.

TOR is led in scoring by Bosh, who averages 22.8 ppg, 10.7 rebs; G T.J. Ford 14.7 ppg, 7.6 asts; G/F Anthony Parker 11.8 ppg; G/F Morris Peterson 11.2 ppg; and rookie F and number one draft pick Andrea Bargnani 10.1 ppg. TOR is averaging 98.4 ppg while allowing 98.3 ppg. The Magic average 94.1 ppg while allowing 92.8 ppg.

The Raptors have won 4 straight home games over the Magic, and 5 of 7 overall against them. In DEC, TOR beat the Magic 91-84 without Chris Bosh. Magic have lost 10 of their last 12 road games. TOR is a 6 pt favorite tonight (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Bucks find offense in win over Magic

MIL (19-30, 11-9 home), once again without the services of Michael Redd for the 16th straight game, had averaged just 90.5 ppg while losing 13 of the previous 15 games without Redd. TUE night, the Bucks broke out as four players scored 20 or more pts in a 116-111 win over the Magic (25-24, 9-14 road).

MIL was led by Rueben Patterson with 27 pts on 11 of 16 FG; Earl Boykins off the bench with 24 pts on 6 of 9 FG; Charlie Villanueva 22 pts, 9 rebs; and Charlie Bell with 20 pts on 8 of 11 FG. The Magic were led by DHoward with 21 pts on 9 of 9 FG and 11 rebs; KBogans with 19 pts on 6 of 8 FG; HTurkoglo 18 pts; CArroyo 14 pts, 7 asts; and TBattie 11 pts. DMilicic and J.J. Redick each scored 9 pts off the bench.

MIL (39 of 77, 50.6%) outscored the Magic (39 of 74, 52.7%) from the floor 87-85. The Magic hit 7 of 17 3 pt FGs, while MIL was 9 of 17 from long range. MIL shot poorly from the FT line (29 of 46), but outscored the Magic (26 of 38) from there. MIL edged the Magic on the boards 41-40. MIL had an outstanding AST/TO ratio of 28/11, while the Magic ratio was 26/17, as TOs hurt the Magic once again. The Magic bench outscored the MIL bench 37-30.

The Magic beat this same team by 25 pts just a week ago in ORL. MIL scored 43 more pts in this game than last week. Magic are in danger of falling to the .500 mark, as they play at the much-improved TOR Raptors Wed night.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Magic/Bucks preview

The Magic (25-23, 9-13 road, 7th East) begin a stretch of 9 of 13 games on the road with tonight's game against the struggling Bucks (18-30, 10-9 home, 12th East). However, MIL could have star G Michael Redd back in the lineup, after missing 15 games with a left knee injury. MIL is just 2-13 without Redd. MIL is coming off a 117-98 loss at MIA SAT night. G Mo Williams scored a career-high 38 pts for MIL.

MIL is led in scoring by Redd, averaging 27.7 ppg; Williams 18.2 ppg; G Earl Boykins 16 ppg since being acquired from DEN; F Ruben Patterson 13.7 ppg; C Andrew Bogut 12.2 ppg, 8.7 rebs; F Charlie Villanueva 12.2 ppg; and G Charlie Bell 12.1 ppg. MIL is averaging 99.2 ppg (103.2 ppg with Redd in the lineup), while allowing 103.4 ppg. ORL is averaging 93.7 ppg, while allowing 92.3 ppg.

MIL has beaten the Magic 6 games in a row in MIL, and also 14 of the last 15 in MIL. Magic will need to play especially tough if Redd does return for the Bucks, as he has averaged 22.1 ppg in 17 career games against the Magic. The Magic are 1 pt favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Monday, February 05, 2007

Is Trading Grant a Good Idea?

Trading any player with an expiring contract is, in general, more attractive to the team that is on the receiving end of the expiring contract assuming that they intend to rebuild, and like to reduce their pay roll. The team that owns the expiring contract is in the driver’s seat because that salary is coming off of their books anyway. The only attraction to them is the player(s) of interest that they are not able to acquire, or are not sure they may acquire in a free agency market, and have to get them via trade. The downside is that they may have to resume some hefty salaries above and beyond what is the player(s)’ worth in a free market environment.

Now that we have stated the basic parameters for any typical trade, let’s turn our attention to Grant’s trade, and my simple straight forward answer is: IT DEPENDS. Grant’s salary of $16,901,500, as well as Pat Garrity’s $3,525,000 are coming off the book next season. That means that we are going to have more than 20 million dollars to spend in the free agency market that could land us a very good SG and a good enough big man to back-up Dwight, Darko and Tony. The question is who is on the block, and whether or not he will be available by summer? Unless there is no other way but by way of trading to get the player(s) that we are interested in, I am not favoring Grant’s trading, and here are my reasons:

1. Grant is still a productive player, and past his current contract, he may sign with the Magic for a veteran’s minimum salary since he may feel that he has short changed the Magic due to injuries, although a large portion of his contract may have been paid through the insurance.
2. Grant is a role model and a leader by example. His presence will help in developing Dwight, Jameer and other young players until somebody emerges as the leader of the team, which at present time despite Jameer’s claim nobody is ready to assume that role, in my view.
3. After his playing time is over, Grant may become productive in any front office role since he is well respected and very articulate. He could then act as an ambassador of good will, so to speak, or any other role that he is needed at. It is possible that some kind of gentlemen’s agreement may have already been reached with Grant, spelling in principle what the future may hold for him in the Orlando Magic organization

Having all that said, I did not have the time to research who are the players in the SG, as well as C and PF positions that may be available in the free agency market, this summer. Having that researched, we may then look at what salaries they carry, and whether or not they are worthwhile at their respective salaries. At the next phase we may probe into their potential availability by summer, and whether or not there might be interests by some teams to acquire them via trade, thus impeding their availability come summer.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Cold-shooting Magic fall to Knicks

The Magic (25-23, 16-10 home) failed to build on the momentum of their last two wins and did not look anything like the team that was so dominant against NJ while losing to NY (21-28, 9-15 road) 94-86.

DMilicic had a career night off the bench with 19 pts and 6 rebs, but fouled out in 26 minutes. DHoward added 15 pts, 11 rebs; HTurkoglu (4 of 15 FGs) 13 pts, 7 rebs; and J.J. Redick off the bench with 11 pts, but 0 of 3 from 3 pt range. NY was led by Eddy Curry, who had his usual effective game against the Magic with 27 pts on 10 of 13 FGs and 6 rebs. Channing Frye added 18 pts, 7 rebs; and Stephon Marbury 14 pts, 6 rebs.

NY (31 of 62, 50%) outscored the Magic (29 of 77, 37.7%) from the floor 67-60. NY connected on 5 of 20 3 pt FGs, while the Magic were a woeful 2 of 16. NY (27 of 41) had a slight edge at the FT line over the Magic (26 of 36). NY outrebounded the Magic 46-36. NY had 18 TOs, while the Magic had 14 TOs, but NY had 17 asts, compared to just 15 asts for the Magic. The Magic bench outscored the Knicks bench 38-34.

HTurkoglu, JNelson, CArroyo, and KBogans combined to shoot an ice-cold 10 of 40. After running the offense so efficiently against NJ with 28 asts, the offense bogged down against the Knicks with just 15 asts. Magic now begin a stretch of 9 games out of the next 13 on the road, starting TUE night at MIL.

Knicks/Magic preview

The Magic (25-22, 16-9 home, 7th East) have won their last 2 games by a combined total of 61 pts, and will try to build on that momentum as they host the NY Knicks (20-28, 8-15 road, 10th East) for the first time this season SAT night. NY is coming off a 104-87 loss at CHA on WED night. Jamal Crawford led NY with 28 pts. NY has lost 3 road games in a row, and 6 of 9 games overall.

NY is led in scoring by C Eddy Curry, averaging 19.4 ppg, 7 rebs; G Jamal Crawford 18 ppg on 39.8% FG shooting, including a 52 pt outburst last week; G Stephon Marbury 14.5 ppg, 5.5 asts; F/G Quentin Richardson, who has missed the last 2 games with a strained elbow but may play tonight, 13.3 ppg; F David Lee 11 ppg, 10.9 rebs; and F/C Channing Frye 10.3 ppg. Former Magic G Steve Francis, averaging 10 ppg, has not played since DEC 29th. Rumor has it the Knicks are trying to negotiate a buyout of his contract. F Magic C Kelvin Cato is averaging just 1.6 ppg in 14 games. NY is averaging 100 ppg, while allowing 102.4 ppg. The Magic average 93.9 ppg, while allowing 92.3 ppg.

The Magic have defeated NY 4 of the last 5 games, while posting 100+ pts in each of those wins. They have also beaten NY 3 straight times in ORL. The Magic are 5 1/2 pt favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Hot-shooting Magic relentless in pounding of NJ

The Magic (25-22, 16-9 home), without GHill for the next 2 to 3 weeks, put on their most impressive performance of the season in a 119-86 beatdown of NJ (22-25, 9-14 road), as Nets PG Jason Kidd was held scoreless in 25 minutes. Seven Magic players scored in double figures, and 11 of the 12 players scored.

The Magic were led by HTurkoglu with 22 pts on 8 of 12 FG; DHoward returned to form with 19 pts on 8 of 11 FG, and 9 rebs; DMilicic off the bench with 14 pts on 6 of 9 FG; J.J. Redick also off the bench with 13 pts; JNelson 12 pts; TBattie 11 pts, 10 rebs; and CArroyo off the bench with 10 pts. James Augustine made his first NBA appearance and scored 2 pts with 3 rebs. NJ was led by Vince Carter with 25 pts, and Eddie House off the bench with 12 pts.

The Magic (45 of 72, 62.5%) outscored NJ (33 of 74, 44.6%) from the floor 97-72. The Magic shot well from 3 pt land, going 7 of 14, while NJ shot 6 of 17 from long range. The Magic (22 of 27) shot FTs well and outscored NJ (14 of 26) from the FT line. The Magic dominated the boards 47-22. The Magic had 14 TOs compared to 9 TOs for NJ, but moved the ball very well on offense with 28 asts, while NJ had 21 asts. The Magic bench outscored the NJ bench 47-42.

A very encouraging win for the Magic, who looked excellent in every phase of the game. The Magic have now won 2 in a row, and come right back SAT night to host the NY Knicks, as the Magic try to continue to gain momentum after losing 8 of 9 games.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Dear Otis

Hello Otis,

Do you know what that picture to the left represents?

It's your career. In the next couple of years you will either become known as the guy who put the pieces around Dwight and succeeded, or just another failure who settled for mediocrity plus one star. Trust us, we know all about the latter as we watched (or stopped paying attention) to teams that floundered and wasted the talents of Penny & T-Mac.

What do you want to be Otis?

We want you to succeed. Dwight Howard's time, and your time, is right now in 2007.

We are desperate for you to succeed. So please stop talking about how happy you are with your 24-22 team and go out and kick some ass. This team needs depth at the bigs and a world class shooter.

And hey! It sure was a big surprise that Grant Hill got injured. Maybe now is the time to trade his broken down contract for the help we need. Memphis could sure use the cap room and Pau Gasol wants out, probably the same with Seattle and Ray Allen. Just a thought if, you know, you're worried about your legacy here in Orlando.

Oh, and while were on the subject of improving things around here... Isn't it time for Darko to start?

Bogans To Start Friday

Don't get your hopes up just yet. Bogans will not be starting because Brian Hill got a clue. Bogans will be starting because there is no other choice. Grant Hill will be out two to three weeks with a Grade 1 sprain of the medial collateral ligament of the right knee.

He sustained it in Wednesday night's victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, but apparently did not inform the team or didn't believe it was serious at the time. But when he came to practice Thursday, Hill told the club his knee hurt and an MRI confirmed the sprain.

In addition, Keyon Dooling, out with a damaged thumb, said he expects to be out longer than originally thought. Dooling said Thursday it will be "another week."

What once looked like a break in the schedule just got a lot tougher. We should brace ourselves for some bumpy roads ahead. On a positive, all the injuries mean we'll actually have a true two guard starting in Bogans and another one in Redick backing him up. If Redick wants to play at all for the rest of the season, now is the time to show what he can do. Redick's role just got a lot larger.

Ariza Update

Magic forward Trevor Ariza said what the club had refused to say: He has a "two-degree tear" of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
"It's getting better. The swelling is almost gone, down to half a degree," Ariza said. "I don't think I'll be playing, though, until sometime after the all-star break (Feb. 15-20). It's bothering me that I can't get out there."
Ariza, injured Jan. 10 at Golden State when he slipped on a wet spot, said he was able to ride a stationary bike for the first time Thursday since he was hurt. The injury did not require surgery, but countless hours of rehab.
"This Sunday I get out of this brace," Ariza said, holding a huge,heavily constructed brace. "Then I go into a playing brace."
He said he would not wear a brace to play when he returns. "If I have to wear a brace, I won't play. That means it's not stable yet," he said.
The prognosis was originally for six to eight weeks. Ariza said he expects to be back sometime after the all-star break, perhaps to face his former Knicks team on Feb. 20 at Madison Square Garden.
More than likely, with practice time included, Ariza probably won't return until Feb. 25 against the Houston Rockets at home.
Magic General Manager Otis Smith said it was no coincidence that the Magic went into a slump with Ariza out. He gives the Magic a defensive, hustling presence and a magnet for offensive rebounds.
"That gives me a lot of confidence to hear that," Ariza said.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Was Matt at the Game?

Orlando Sentinel - Some Fans Wore Fire Brian Hill T-Shirts by

via Brian Schmitz Magic Basketblog...

A few fans attending the Magic-Milwaukee Bucks game Wednesday night wore "Fire Brian Hill" T-shirts they had made up --- and the Magic won, going away.

Wrote the fan who came up with the T-shirt idea, "It was kind of funny, all the responses from people wearing the Fire Brian Hill shirts. . . .Lots of people applauding --- and we talked to about 30 different people

"It was fun. And we cheered the Magic - nice to see Brian not posting up Dwight (Howard) for a change on every play."

The Magic are in deep need of either a trade or a new coach in the next three weeks. It's good to see the Sentinel covering this, even if it doesn't land on anyones driveway.

Magic start fast, cruise past MIL

Despite speculation, Coach Brian Hill did not make any changes to the Magic starting lineup, but did use the bench liberally, as the Magic (24-22, 15-9 home) built a 27 pt halftime lead and MIL (18-28, 8-20 road) could get no closer than 13 pts in the second half as the Magic won easily 98-73.

The Magic were led by HTurkoglu with 17 pts; TBattie 15 pts; DMilicic off the bench with 14 pts, 10 rebs; KBogans also off the bench with 14 pts, 7asts; and GHill 12 pts, 8 rebs. DHoward, in foul trouble most of the game, scored just 6 pts with 7 rebs. MIL was led by Mo Williams with 23 pts; Andrew Bogut 12 pts, and Charlie Bell 11 pts.

The Magic (34 of 73, 46.6%) outscored MIL (28 of 75, 37.3%) from the floor 74-64. The Magic shot 6 of 19 from 3 pt range, while MIL shot 8 of 18 there. The Magic (24 of 38) had a decided edge on FTs over MIL (9 of 13). The Magic also had a decided edge on the boards 51-39. The Magic also had the better AST/TO ratio of 21/15, compared to just 14/18 for MIL. The Magic bench dominated the Bucks bench 43-13.

The Magic took advantage of a slumping team in MIL that was missing their top scorer that had just played the night before. This win is a start for the Magic in trying to snap out of their recent funk, but they certainly have to build on this against better teams coming up. NJ visits ORL FRI night.