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.

Monday, April 30, 2007

What is Ahead?

It is funny that Sentinel is getting involved in all aspects of off-season maneuvers but no mention of Brian Hill's moronic line-ups and substitutions. Otis Smith is talking about "creative financing" which shows how far off he is, as is expanded here later. Financial calculations, or the simple term of number crunching, is not called financing. One finances when he or she buys a car or a house.

The first priority, in my view, must be finding the right coach, no ifs or buts about it. We have not seen what Darko is capable of the way Hill used him behind Battie. Had he been thrown in with the starting unit - meaning practicing with that unit, as well - it would have not only improved his consistency, but would have given the young kid with a history of misuse and neglect a sense of belonging and responsibility. The kid needs motivation, and one of Hill's main shortfalls throughout his career has been poor communication, thus lack of ability to inspire. So, in my view, the second priority would be signing Darko. Now that is not in conflict with signing a top free agent and my preference is Rashard Lewis. Granted we may have to go over the salary cap if we don't find takers for players who become expendable after signing Rashard or Vince. But why is that a sin if we look at the history of some teams whose owners were willing to go way above salary cap with the intention of long-term success and even profitability? If I get a chance, I would like to crunch the numbers to see how far above the salary cap we may have to go while achieving the objectives as set above. On top of my head, I can tell you not much. It does not take creative financing by people who are not experts in that field. It starts with the willingness to go above the cap if need be. Then trying to crunch the numbers on added-values for the long-term, and how they translate to long-term profitability. Now if one starts with the premises of staying under certain numbers to avoid luxury tax, we will end up with the same results in Orlando, year after year, namely mediocrity which is the by-product of preserving the bottom-line in the short-term.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Swept! Detroit ends the Orlando Magic's season

I should start this out by quoting a comment Dwight Howard made before game 4.

Friday after practice at RDV Sportsplex, Howard was asked whether he was getting the ball often enough in this first-round playoff series.

After a weighty pause, he said, "I have an opinion on that, and I'll wait until the end of the season to express that."


The Detroit-Orlando postseason series ended just like the regular-season series: with a sweep.

Chauncey Billups scored 25 points, Richard Hamilton added 19 and the Pistons overcame a lackluster fourth quarter to beat the Magic 97-93 Saturday and sweep the first-round series.

The sweep was Detroit's first in the playoffs since 1990, when the "Bad Boys" won a second consecutive NBA title.

The Pistons handily won the first three games of the best-of-seven series, but the finale was much more difficult -- mostly because Detroit went cold to start the final period.The Pistons were ahead 78-69 early in the fourth, but missed 11 of 13 shots and found themselves trailing 85-80 with about 3 minutes remaining.

But the veteran team, which has advanced to four consecutive Eastern Conference finals, took control down the stretch.

Rasheed Wallace hit a 3-pointer that made it 85-83. Chris Webber followed with a hook shot in the lane. Then Billups and Hamilton took over, combining to score Detroit's final 12 points.

Hamilton hit a jumper in the lane to put the Pistons ahead 87-86, then Billups sank a driving layup high off the glass. Hamilton followed with another jumper that made it 91-88.

The duo also went 6-of-6 from the free throw line in the final 21 seconds.

Dwight Howard had 29 points and 17 rebounds -- dominating the post for the only time in the series -- to lead the Magic. Wallace, Webber and others bottled up Howard in the first three games but had less success Saturday.

Howard was 10-of-15 from the field and 9-of-17 from the free throw line.

Grant Hill added 17 points for Orlando and Darko Milicic had 14 -- half of them in the closing minutes.

It wasn't enough, though.

All five Detroit starters scored in double figures. Tayshaun Prince and Wallace had 13 points apiece, and Webber finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

The Pistons can only hope their starters continue playing the way they did against Orlando.

Detroit will face the winner of the Chicago-Miami series. The Bulls lead 3-0 heading into Sunday's Game 4.

No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit.

The Magic looked like they would send the series back to Detroit, but the Pistons closed out the final three quarters strong -- much like they did in Game 3.

They got an unlikely basket to close the half -- Hamilton went coast-to-coast in 3.2 seconds for a layup -- and Prince had a 3-pointer and two free throws in the final minute of the third. Prince's unanswered points gave the Pistons a 73-67 lead heading into the final 12 minutes.

The Magic sliced into the lead with a 12-0 run, but had two big turnovers in the final 2 minutes that allowed Detroit to pull away.

Orlando led 25-22 after the first quarter, its first advantage at the end of any period in the series.

The Magic made it a 10-point game, 37-27, with a string of drives and dunks to open the second. But Carlos Delfino, Webber and Flip Murray put the Pistons back in front.

The trio combined to carry Detroit on a 13-2 run and to a 40-39 advantage. Delfino scored eight points in a 3-minute span, Webber had two buckets and Murray had four steals that sparked much of the spurt. Billups then hit a 3-pointer, and the Pistons had all the momentum.

But Orlando went back inside to quell the storm. Howard had a dunk, and Hill followed with a driving basket and three free throws that seemingly put the Magic up 46-45 heading into the locker room.

Hamilton had other thoughts with 3.2 seconds remaining.

Wallace's inbound pass bounced near midcourt before Hamilton picked up -- smartly conserving the clock -- and then Hamilton dribbled a few times before slashing to the hoop for the layup and the lead just before the buzzer sounded.

Hamilton finished the first half with 11 points. Billups had 12 points and five assists.

Notes: We now head into one of the biggest off season's in franchise history. Both Howard and Nelson could land contract extentions. Darko is a restricted free agent. Grant Hill's contract is up. And the coaching staff needs to be addressed.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Magic Fall Into Code Blue

A medical emergency in which a team of medical personnel work to revive an individual in cardiac arrest.

Who is going to revive the Magic? The answer is nobody.

Pistons roll in Orlando

"Game 4 is a pride game," Brian Hill said. "This is our building. We let them come in and get a win. We've got to try to establish ourselves and not let them end the series here."

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Rick Carlisle Anyone?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Pistons Hang On for Game 2 Win

Just when it seemed the Magic were mounting a late rally to get back into their Game 2 matchup with the Pistons, Chauncey Billups showed why he has earned the moniker "Mr. Big Shot."
Billups converted a three-point play with 59.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter to push Detroit's lead back to nine points and seal a 98-90 victory Monday that gave his team a 2-0 advantage in their first-round series.
Billups finished with 21 points, and Richard Hamilton scored 12 of his 22 in the final frame. Rasheed Wallace tallied 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Hedo Turkoglu led the Magic with 22 points, while Grant Hill had 21. Darko Milicic scored all 10 of his points in the fourth to augment the comeback try.
The series swings to Orlando for Game 3 on Thursday. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.

Magic fall to Pistons, trail series 2-0

Darko should be bigger part of the Magic's offense

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Despite poor FT shooting, TOs, Magic give DET big scare in Game 1 loss

The Magic, shooting just 50% from the FT line, having committed 20 TOs, and trailing 91-77 with under 5 minutes remaining, went on a 13-2 run to cut their deficit to 3 pts with 53 seconds remaining, but could get no closer as DET held on for a 100-92 win in Game 1.

Five players scored in double figures for the Magic, led by HTurkoglu with 17 pts on 8 of 13 FGs; GHill with 14 pts; DMilicic off the bench with 14 pts on 5 of 6 FGs; DHoward with 13 pts, 19 rebs but just 3 of 11 FTs and 6 TOs; and JNelson with 10 pts, all in the second half. DET had all 5 starters score in double figures, led by Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups with 22 pts each. Billups added 11 asts.

DET (36 of 73, 49.3%) outscored the Magic (36 of 62, 58.1%) from the field 77-74. DET shot 5 of 14 on 3 pt FGs, while the Magic shot 2 of 5 on 3s. DET (23 of 31) shot FTs much better than the Magic (18 of 36). The Magic had the rebounding advantage 39-33. DET had the superior AST/TO ratio of 29/9, compared to just 18/20 for the Magic. The Magic bench had the solid advantage over the DET bench 30-16.

Game 2 MON night in DET.

Comparing the DET and ORL rosters statistically

Here are the 2006-07 statistics of the starters and key reserves from both teams:

Jameer Nelson------- PPG: 13.0 FG%: 43.0 3PT%: 33.5 FT%: 82.8 AST: 4.3 TO: 2.4 REB 3.1 STL: 1.0
Chauncey Billups---- PPG: 17.0 FG%: 42.7 3PT%: 34.5 FT%: 88.4 AST: 7.2 TO: 2.0 REB 3.4 STL: 1.2

Grant Hill----------- PPG: 14.4 FG%: 51.8 3PT%: 16.7 FT%: 76.5 REB: 3.7 AST: 2.1 TO: 2.2
Richard Hamilton--- PPG: 19.8 FG%: 46.8 3PT% 34.1 FT%: 86.1 REB: 3.8 AST: 3.8 TO: 2.1

Dwight Howard:-----PPG: 17.6 FG%: 60.3 FT%: 58.6 REB: 12.3 BLK: 1.9 AST: 1.9 TO: 3.9
Chris Webber------- PPG: 11.3 FG%: 48.9 FT%: 63.6 REB: 6.7 BLK: 0.6 AST: 3.0 TO: 1.7

Hedo Turkoglu-------PPG: 13.3 FG%: 41.9 3PT%: 38.8 FT%: 78.1 REB: 4.0 AST: 3.2 TO: 2.0
Tayshaun Prince-----PPG: 14.3 FG%: 46.0 3PT%: 38.6 FT%: 76.8 REB: 5.2 AST: 2.8 TO: 1.2

Tony Battie------------PPG: 6.1 FG%: 48.9 FT%: 67.5 REB: 5.2 BLK: 0.5 AST: 0.5 TO: 0.9
Rasheed Wallace------PPG: 12.4 FG%: 42.4 3PT%: 35.1 FT%: 78.8 REB: 7.2 AST: 1.7 TO: 1.3

F Darko Milicic------ PPG: 8.0 FG%: 45.4 FT%: 61.8 REB: 5.5
F Trevor Ariza------- PPG: 8.9 FG%: 53.9 FT%: 62.0 REB: 4.4
G Keyon Dooling---- PPG: 7.9 FG%: 41.1 FT%: 80.9 AST: 1.7
G Carlos Arroyo------PPG: 7.7 FG%: 42.5 FT%: 79.5 AST: 2.8
G J.J. Redick---------PPG: 6.0 FG%: 41.0 3PT%: 38.8 FT%: 90.0

F Antonio McDyess---- PPG: 8.1 FG%: 52.6 FT%: 69.1 REB: 6.1
G Ronald Murray------PPG: 6.7 FG%: 40.4 3PT%: 28.9 FT%: 72.5
C Nazr Mohammed--- PPG: 5.6 FG%: 53.2 FT%: 61.0 REB: 4.5
G Carlos Delfino------ PPG: 5.2 FG%: 41.5 FT%: 78.7 REB: 3.2
F Jason Maxiell------- PPG: 5.0 FG%: 50.0 FT%: 52.6 REB: 2.8

PPG: 94.8
FG%: 47.2
3PT% 35.6
FT%: 70.2
REB: 40.7
AST: 18.6
TO: 16.3
STL: 6.9
BLK: 5.1

PPG: 96.0
FG%: 45.4
3PT% 34.4
FT%: 77.4
REB: 40.5
AST: 21.6
TO: 11.7
STL: 7.1
BLK: 5.8

Friday, April 20, 2007

A breakdown of the Magic's 40-42 record

Here is how the Magic did in various categories recordwise this season, with last season's records in parenthesis for comparative purposes:

The Magic's W/L record: 40-42 (36-46)
Home: 25-16 (26-15)
Away: 15-26 (10-31)
vs East: 26-26 (24-28)
Home vs East: 17-9 (17-9)
Away vs East: 9-17 (7-19)
vs West: 14-16 (12-18)
Home vs West: 8-7 (9-6)
Away vs West: 6-9 (3-12)
NOV: 12-4 (7-7)
DEC 6-10 (5-8)
JAN 6-8 (6-9)
FEB 4-9 (2-12)
MAR 6-8 (9-8)
APR 6-3 (7-2)
Games decided by 3 pts or less: 10-7 (4-6)
between 4-5 pts: 2-6 (6-8)
between 6-9 pts: 8-10 (11-13)
between 10-14 pts: 8-12 (6-10)
15 pts or more: 12-7 (9-11)
Record vs teams that finished season .500 or better: 17-25 (12-29)
Record vs teams that finished under .500: 23-17 (24-17)
Home record vs teams that finished season .500 or better: 10-11 (9-11)
Away record vs teams that finished season .500 or better: 7-14 (3-18)
Home record vs teams that finished under .500: 15-5 (17-4)
Away record vs teams that finished season under .500: 8-12 (7-13)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Magic win easily, but face DET in playoffs

The Magic did what they had to do, easily defeating a Heat team that had nothing to play for and was resting five of its regular players, including DWade and Shaq. IND needed to defeat WAS in order for the Magic to finish in the 7th seed and avoid DET in the first round. IND gave WAS a good battle, but lost 98-95.

The Magic (40-42, 25-16 home) broke open a close game in the third quarter and coasted to a 94-68 win. All 12 players scored for the Magic, led by GHill with 17 pts, HTurkoglu with 15 pts, and DHoward 12 pts, 14 rebs. JRedick added 10 pts off the bench.

The Magic (35 of 79, 44.3%) outscored MIA (26 of 69, 37.7%) 76-56. The Magic hit on 6 of 17 3 pt FGs, while MIA was 4 of 13 from long range. The Magic (18 of 29) had the edge at the FT line over MIA (12 of 14). The Magic dominated the boards 52-31. The Magic had a very good AST/TO ratio of 23/9, compared to 16/15 for MIA. Both benches scored 38 pts apiece.

Magic play in the playoffs for the first time in 4 seasons, starting this weekend in DET.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Loss Of Darko Could Be Big Blow To Magic, His Wallet

The way Magic power forward Darko Milicic left the Verizon Center Tuesday night --- grimacing, balancing crutches and wearing a protective boot --- it doesn't look as if he'll be ready for the playoffs this weekend.
Milicic severely sprained his right ankle in the second quarter and did not return. He will get an MRI today in Orlando.
"The doctor said it’s a bad sprain," Milicic said. "I can’t tell you now if I can play."
It's a blow for the Magic, who could use another big man to go with Dwight Howard, Tony Battie and Milicic.
And it would be a shame for Milicic to miss matching up against his old team, the Pistons, who drafted him, soured on him and finally traded him last season to the Magic.
But the injury could also be bad timing for Darko, who is trying to land a whopper contract as a restricted free agent this summer. He might not be able to showcase himself on the big playoff stage.
Here's an update on the Magic-Milicic contract situation I wrote before he got hurt:
While Magic General Manager Otis Smith doesn’t foresee a problem re-signing power forward Darko Milicic, Milicic’s agent said Tuesday that the biggest issue might not necessarily be financial.
Marc Cornstein, Milicic’s agent, says Milicic’s decision also depends on which teams will allow him to display more of his his shooting and passing skills. He has been used more as a post-up player with the Magic.
"I know Darko," agent Marc Cornstein said by phone from Philadelphia. "Wherever he winds up for his second contract, it has to be somewhere where he’s going to be allowed to do what he can do. That’s extremely important to him.
"I think that has to be part of the recruiting pitch. That, to me, is the key to this summer, to find somewhere where he is a central figure or can maximize his talents."
Milicic said he hasn’t played as well as he can, but also feels his skills could be utilized better.
"I still don’t think we’ve tapped into what Darko can do," Smith said. "He’s still learning how to play. He’s 21."
Cornstein hasn’t talked about Milicic’s contract status with Smith since October, but Cornstein said he’d "a little surprised" if Milicic isn’t re-signed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Magic move to within a game of WAS after close win

Despite blowing a 12 pt halftime lead, trailing by 4 pts going into the 4th quarter, and losing DMilicic to a sprained ankle in the first half, the Magic (39-42, 15-26 away) scored 7 of the final 8 pts of the game to beat injury-plagued WAS (40-41, 26-15 home) 95-89. Of course, WAS has been without All-Stars Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler. The Magic have won 8 of their last 12 games, while WAS has lost 9 of their last 11.

The Magic were led in scoring by HTurkoglu with 26 pts, 6 rebs; DHoward 17 pts, 12 rebs, 3 blocks but 6 TOs; GHill 13 pts; and KDooling off the bench with 9 pts. The Magic survived a season-high 48 pts from WAS's Antawn Jamison. Jamison added 9 rebs, but shot just 15 of 24 from the FT line. Jarvis Hayes was the only other WAS player in double figures with 15 pts. Former Magic G Deshaun Stevenson added 9 pts, but shot just 2 of 14.

The Magic (33 of 66, 50%) outscored WAS (28 of 80, 35%) from the field 69-64. WAS shot 8 of 26 from 3 pt range, while the Magic shot 3 of 9 from long range. The Magic shot FTs well (26 of 31) compared to WAS (25 of 44). The Magic had a slight edge rebounding 43-42, even though WAS had a 18-10 advantage on the offensive boards. WAS had the better AST/TO ratio of 16/9, compared to 16/17 for the Magic. The Magic bench had the decisive edge 28-10.

The Magic will get the 7th seed in the playoffs if they can beat MIA WED night and WAS loses at IND.

Hill's job never was in doubt

Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith said Sunday that Brian Hill was never in a make-the-playoffs-or-else jeopardy as far his keeping his head coaching job with the franchise.
Hill's future with the Magic seemed somewhat in jeopardy coming down the stretch as the Magic struggled, particularly against some of the NBA's worst teams. One disgruntled fan even started a Web site calling for Hill's firing.
But Smith said he never lost confidence in his coach and fully expects him to return next season. Hill has said all along he sees no reason why he won't honor the four-year contract that he signed two-season ago.
"He's our coach now and whether we were in the playoffs or not this season he's still going to be our coach next season," Smith said before Sunday's game. "It was never a make-the-playoffs type of thing with him."
Hill said he never had the feeling that his job was in jeopardy even though the Magic nearly became the first team in NBA history to miss the playoffs after starting the season 13-4.
"My goal all along was to help this team get back into postseason play," Hill said. "If we're in the postseason after not making it last season, then that's a step up for us. Now does that mean I'm happy with how this entire season has gone? No. But getting in the playoffs would be one of our goals accomplished."
No fear. While some in the Magic organization are hoping that Orlando can move up to the seventh seed and avoid a possible matchup against the Detroit Pistons, Smith said he would actually welcome such a first-round playoff matchup.
Smith said the goal of this playoff run should be entirely about getting playoff experience for Magic youngsters Dwight Howard, Darko Milicic, Jameer Nelson, Trevor Ariza and J.J. Redick.
Smith said he wouldn't mind playing Detroit even though Orlando was 0-4 this season against the Pistons as opposed to going 2-1 against the second-seeded Chicago Bulls.
"If you want your guys to get experience, don't you want it to be experience against the best?" Smith asked. "You remember what happened (Wednesday) with Dwight against Detroit? They practically beat him to death. You don't think those old, veteran players weren't sending him a message?
"To me, it really doesn't matter who we play because we're going against the same team every night. If the real Magic show up, we'll be just fine against any team. If we don't, we'll get beat."
Free throws. Hill was on the phone with NBA vice president Matt Winick Sunday to voice his displeasure with the Magic's hectic closing schedule. Orlando spent all of last week on the road, playing in Milwaukee, Detroit and Philadelphia. And Orlando closes the regular season by playing four games in five nights. Said Hill: "We talk to them this time of year before they start putting together next year's schedule. If you don't have a line of communication with them, they don't know what your concerns are." . . . Redick was back on the active list after missing Sunday's game with a bruised thigh muscle. The rookie shooting guard arrived at Amway Arena almost three hours before Sunday's game to test out his sore leg and pronounced himself ready to play. . . . Hill has been critical of Jameer Nelson's play at point guard at times this season, but he said Nelson is largely responsible for the Magic's improved offense of late. Said Hill: "He's a big reason why we're doing such a good job lately. He's making sure we stay organized. And if we don't have good numbers he's pulling the ball out and getting us into our offense."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Magic clinch playoff spot after near late collapse against BOS

With the NJ win over IND earlier SUN, the Magic just needed to beat BOS SUN night to clinch their first playoff appearance in 4 seasons. The Magic seemed to be well underway to another easy victory over a team they were clearly superior to, leading BOS by 19 pts entering the 4th quarter, and by 85-68 with 6:43 remaining. From that point on, the Magic were held to just 3 FTs and were plagued by TOs and missed shots, as BOS outscored the Magic 18-3 the final 6:43, but the Magic (38-42, 24-16 home) were able to hold the Celtics (23-57, 11-29 away) on the game's final possession to hang on for a narrow 88-86 win.

The Magic had 5 players in double figures, led by HTurkoglu with 20 pts; GHill and JNelson with 16 pts each; KDooling off the bench with 12 pts; and DHoward 10 pts, 14 rebs. However, Howard shot just 3 of 8 FGs, 4 of 12 FTs, and committed 5 TOs after his career game against PHI SAT. BOS, without Paul Pierce, Wally Szczerbiak, and Tony Allen, was led by Al Jefferson with 28 pts, and Delonte West with 19 pts.

BOS (35 of 78, 44.9%) outscored the Magic (28 of 63, 44.4%) from the field 72-61. BOS hit on 2 of 11 3 pt FGs, while the Magic were 5 of 11 from long range. The Magic, even though they shot FTs poorly (27 of 40), had the decided edge at the FT line over BOS (14 of 20). The Magic had the rebounding edge 40-31. The Magic had a horrible AST/TO ratio of 13/22, while BOS had a more respectable ratio of 15/15. The Magic bench outscored the BOS bench 26-11.

Along with the awful finish to this game, there was more bad news for the Magic even though NJ eliminated IND. With the NJ win, the Magic have to win their remaining 2 games (at WAS, MIA), while NJ loses their remaining 2 games (at NY, CHI), for the Magic to finish in the 7th seed and avoid a first round matchup with number one seed DET.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Career Day for Howard in big Magic win

Led by DHoward's career-high 35 pts (26 in the first half) on 14 of 15 FGs and 7 of 10 FTs along with 11 rebs and 5 asts, the Magic (37-42, 14-26 road) started out fast with a 35 pt first quarter and maintained control throughout the game in a 104-87 victory over PHI (33-46, 21-19 home). The 76ers are now eliminated from playoff contention.

In addition to Howard, four other Magic players scored in double figures: DMilicic off the bench with 14 pts, 7 rebs; HTurkoglu 13 pts, 7 rebs; GHill 11 pts, and JNelson 10 pts, 5 asts. PHI had 5 players in double figures, led by Andre Miller with 18 pts; Andre Iguodala and Kyle Korver, who were questionable going into the game because of injuries, both played and scored 14 pts.

The Magic continue their outstanding shooting (43 of 81, 53%) and outscored PHI (29 of 74, 39.1%) from the field 91-64. ORL shot 5 of 12 from 3 pt range, while PHI shot 6 of 11 there. PHI (23 of 32) had the advantage over the Magic (13 of 18) at the FT line. The Magic had the rebounding edge 42-38. The Magic had a good AST/TO ratio of 25/14, compared to 16/15 for PHI. The PHI bench edged the Magic bench 35-33.

Magic now move 2 games ahead of IND with a "Magic Number" of 2 to clinch a playoff spot. The Magic trail NJ by 1 game for the 7th seed. Magic come back to ORL and host the reeling, injury-plagued Celtics on SUN.

"Magic Number" now down to 3 for clinching playoff spot

With the IND loss to MIA FRI night, the Magic are now 1 1/2 games ahead of the Pacers for the 8th seed with 4 games remaining for the Magic and 3 left for IND. With the NJ win over NY, the Magic are 1 1/2 games behind the Nets for the 7th seed. With the WAS win over ATL, the Magic can no longer catch WAS. If NJ wins 2 of their last 3 games, the Magic cannot catch NJ even if the Magic win their remaining 4 games.

The Magic (36-42, 13-26 road) play a SAT afternoon game at PHI (33-45, 21-18 home). The 76ers could still catch the Magic, but a Magic win today would eliminate them. PHI is playing good basketball, having won 3 in a row and 16 of 25 since the All-Star break, and is coming off a 102-94 victory over BOS WED. Former Magic draftee Steven Hunter scored a career-high 20 pts.

PHI is led in scoring by G/F Andre Iguodala, averaging 18.3 ppg, 5.8 rebs; F Kyle Korver 14.4 ppg on 42.5% 3 pt FG shooting; G Andre Miller 13.3 ppg, 7.4 asts; C Sam Dalembert 10.9 ppg, 9.1 rebs; and G Willie Green 10.7 ppg. PHI averages 94.6 ppg, while allowing 97.7 ppg; the Magic average 94.7 ppg, while allowing 94.6 ppg.

The Magic may catch a big break again, in terms of opposing team injuries. PHI leading scorer Iguodala is questionable with a strained lower back, and second-leading scorer Korver is doubtful with a strained wrist. Promising rookie Rodney Carney is day-to-day with a sprained knee.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Hill not over the hump

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Orlando Magic President Bob Vander Weide will not address Brian Hill's future as coach of the team specifically, saying he wants the franchise to concentrate on making the playoffs.

Magic General Manager Otis Smith told the Sentinel on two different occasions recently that Hill's job was safe even if the club failed to qualify for the postseason. Vander Weide called Smith's comments "appropriate."

Hill, who also has said he is not "worried about my job security," has two more years remaining on his contract.

"I'm not going to comment on that (Hill) or the arena. All I'm focusing on -- all I want the team focusing on -- are these last games," said Vander Weide, a Grand Rapids, Mich., resident who watched the Magic's 104-99 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.

Vander Weide said not to read anything into his comments as they apply to Hill, adding, "What Otis has said is appropriate."

Vander Weide would not comment publicly on the franchise's quest to secure funding for a new arena, but those close to him say Vander Weide is extremely frustrated. A final vote by city and county commissioners is expected next month.

Vander Weide is expected to be designated as the Magic's owner when -- or perhaps if -- the arena deal gets done.

Along that line, he arranged a get-together at his Grand Rapids home Thursday so some of the "second-generation" family members who are inheriting ownership of the team from patriarch Rich DeVos "can get to know the guys (the players) better," Vander Weide said.

The Magic were expected to practice today in Philadelphia to prepare for Saturday afternoon's crucial game against the 76ers.

The Magic are in the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race and will face the No. 1-seeded Pistons in the first round if they hold on to their position. But Orlando's loss to Detroit, coupled with the Indiana Pacers' victory against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night, left the Magic with a one-game lead over the Pacers.

The Magic are one game behind the No. 7 New Jersey Nets, who lost 94-76 to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.

The Pacers and the Nets both hold the tiebreakers over the Magic, meaning the Magic can't finish with identical marks as those teams if they want to claim a playoff spot. The loss to the Pistons also meant that the Magic (36-42) cannot finish the season with a .500 record.

Their next victory will improve upon the record (36-46) they posted the past two seasons.

After playing the Sixers, the Magic will meet the Boston Celtics on Sunday at home. They then will face the Wizards in Washington on Tuesday night before wrapping up the regular season against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night at Amway Arena.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Magic upset bid over DET falls short

Facing deficits of 18 pts in the first half and 16 pts in the second half, the Magic (36-42, 13-26 away) came all the way back to tie game at 95 with around 1:30 left in the game, but DET (51-27. 25-14 home), thanks to a 3 pt dagger by Chauncey Billups, scored 9 of the final 13 pts to beat the Magic 104-99.

The Magic were led by GHill with 22 pts (17 in the first half) on 10 of 12 FGs; JNelson 17 pts (all in the second half), 7 asts; KDooling off the bench with 17 pts; and DHoward 12 pts, 16 rebs, but just 6 of 16 FTs; TAriza added 9 pts, 5 rebs off the bench. DET was led by Billups with 28 pts on 10 of 13 FGs and 8 asts; Rip Hamilton 21 pts, 6 asts; Tayshaun Prince 17 pts; and Antonio McDyess off the bench with 14 pts.

DET (41 of 75, 54.7%) outscored the Magic (37 of 74, 50%) from the field 90-78. DET hit on 8 of 15 3 pt FGs, while the Magic were 4 of 7 from long range. ORL, even though they did not shoot well from the FT line (21 of 35), had the advantage over DET at the FT line (14 of 16). The Magic outrebounded DET 37-31. The Magic had a very good AST/TO ratio of 22/10, but DET's was even better at 31/11. The Magic bench outscored the DET bench 35-26.

With IND beating MIL, the Pacers now trail the Magic by just a game for the 8th seed. The Magic trail NJ by 1 1/2 games for the 7th seed, and WAS by 3 games. Magic get 2 days off, then play at PHI on SAT, which trails the Magic by 3 games. Just one more week left in the season.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"Magic Number" down to 4 for clinching playoff berth

With PHI beating IND TUE night, the Magic are now 2 games ahead of IND for the 8th seed. With NJ beating WAS, the Magic trail NJ by 1 game and WAS by 3 games.

The Magic (36-41, 13-25 road) take on DET (50-27, 24-14 home) WED night, in a game that has been added to the ESPN schedule. DET needs one win to clinch the best record in the East. DET is coming off a 91-83 win over NY on MON. G Chauncey Billups led the Pistons with 22 pts. DET has won 7 of their last 10 games.

DET is led in scoring by G Rip Hamilton, averaging 20 ppg; Billups 17.2 ppg, 7.2 asts; F Tayshaun Prince 14.6 ppg, 5.4 rebs; F Rasheed Wallace 12.9 ppg, 7.5 rebs; and F/C Chris Webber 12 ppg, 7 rebs. DET averages 96.1 ppg, while allowing 91.8 ppg. ORL averages 94.7 ppg, while allowing 94.5 ppg.

DET is 3-0 against the Magic this season, with the Magic scoring an average of just 86.7 ppg in those losses. DET has beaten the Magic 5 games in a row at DET. This game is a possible playoff preview if the Magic finish in the 8th seed.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Magic take care of business, trounce MIL

Taking advantage of another injury-depleted, bottom-feeding team, the Magic (36-41, 13-25 away) broke open a 7 pt halftime lead by outscoring MIL (26-51, 17-21 home) by 14 in the third quarter and cruised to their second consecutive 20+ pt victory by shooting a sizzling 62.5% in their 117-94 win over the Bucks.

As in the MEM game, all 12 Magic players scored. They were led by HTurkoglu with 25 pts, 6 asts; TAriza off the bench with 16 pts on 7 of 8 FGs; DHoward 15 pts, 11 rebs; JNelson 12 pts along with a season-high 9 asts; DMIlicic 11 pts, 9 rebs; and KDooling chipped in with 8 pts off the bench. Ersan Ilyasova led the Bucks with 18 pts.

The Magic (50 of 80, 62.5%) outscored MIL (34 of 77, 44.2%) from the field 105-73. The Magic made 5 of 14 3 pt FGs, while MIL was 5 of 19 from long range. FT shooting was the only negative for the Magic, as they shot just 12 of 23 from the FT line, compared to 21 of 29 for MIL. The Magic outrebounded MIL 42-37. The Magic had their best AST/TO ratio of the season at an outstanding 36/14. MIL had a 18/14 ratio. The Magic bench did well again, outscoring the MIL bench 52-45.

The Magic are now 1/2 game behind NJ for the 7th seed, and 1 1/2 games ahead of IND in the 8th seed. The "Magic Number" for the Magic to clinch a playoff berth is now 5 (any combo of ORL wins and IND losses totaling 5 the rest of the way). Magic will have to face a real basketball team at DET WED night.

Bucks' Redd to miss game tonight against Magic

The Magic (35-41, 12-25 road, 8th East), coming off an easy win against injury-depleted MEM, will face the injury-depleted Bucks in MIL (26-50, 17-20 home, 14th East). Not only will MIL be without C Andrew Bogut and F Charlie Villanueva, they will be without high-scoring G Michael Redd, as MIL is holding him out the rest of the season as a precaution due to pain in Redd's left knee.

MIL is coming off a tough 118-113 OT loss to NY SAT night, as MIL's Ruben Patterson hit a 3 pt FG with less than a second left, only to have the Knicks' Eddy Curry tie it at the buzzer with a 3 pt FG. Patterson led the Bucks with 27 pts. With Redd out, Mo Williams leads MIL with 17.2 ppg; Patterson 14.7 ppg; and Earl Boykins 14.1 ppg. MIL averages 99.8 ppg, while allowing 103.8 ppg. ORL averages 94.4 ppg, while allowing 94.5 ppg.

The Magic have lost 7 games in a row at MIL, not winning since NOV of 2002, and they have also lost in 15 of the last 16 games in MIL. Magic have beaten MIL 2 of 3 this season, losing at MIL in FEB. Magic are 6 pt favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Front Page Sentinel

If the Magic don't make the playoffs, Brian Hill and his staff must go, says Tim Povtak on today's Listen In. (more)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Finally... an easy win for the Magic

Taking on the bottom-feeding, injury-depleted Memphis Grizzlies, the Magic (35-41, 23-16 home) jumped out to a 21 pt first quarter lead enroute to a 32 pt lead after three quarters and cruised to a 116-89 victory over MEM (19-59, 7-33 road), who were playing without regulars Mike Miller, Rudy Gay, and Damon Stoudamire.

All twelve Magic players scored, and no Magic player played more than 31 minutes or less than 7 minutes. The Magic were led by DHoward, who had his best offensive game in weeks with 31 pts on 10 of 13 FGs and 11 rebs; GHill and HTurkoglu each scored 15 pts; TAriza added 14 pts off the bench, and DMilicic and JRedick each chipped in with 8 pts off the bench. The five Magic starters combined to shoot 25 of 32 from the field. MEM was led by former Magic G Chucky Atkins with 18 pts.

The Magic (39 of 67, 58.2%) outscored MEM (28 of 74, 37.8%) from the field 81-59. Both teams shot 3 of 9 from 3 pt range. The Magic (35 of 44) also had the FT edge over MEM (30 of 45). The Magic outrebounded MEM 40-37. The Magic did have 16 TOs, but had a better AST/TO ratio (23/16) than MEM (14-13). The Magic bench outscored the MEM bench 47-39.

With IND and NJ also winning SAT night, the playoff standings remain the same, with the Magic in the 8th spot one game behind NJ and one game ahead of IND. Magic finish up with 4 of their final 6 games on the road, beginning with a 3 game trip MON night at MIL.


It's increasingly clear that speculation about Brian Hill's imminent demise in Orlando isn't going away, even with the Magic pretty much down to one team that can knock them out of the playoffs (Indiana) and no matter how many times Magic general manager Otis Smith insists that Hill will be back next season.
Yet even if the rumblings are true about Hill's approval rating with his players sinking to 1997 levels, there are no indications that any dissatisfaction Dwight Howard has with Hill is prompting the 21-year-old future of the franchise to start plotting a Shaquille O'Neal-style departure from Central Florida.
"He doesn't want to leave Orlando," one Magic insider insists. "He just wants the ball."
Howard is averaging just 10.6 shots per game and has attempted 10 or more shots in just three of nine games since rumbling for 30 points and 15 rebounds in a home win over Utah on March 14. His free-throw woes and turnover problems -- Howard averages 3.9 giveaways per game, compared to 3.8 for a guy like Steve Nash who has the ball in his hands all night -- have made Hill reluctant to go to Howard in the fourth quarter.
The Magic (or at least Hill) appear to be operating on the premise that making the playoffs, at any cost, is the priority over Howard developing better skills dealing with double teams and making use of his considerable physical gifts.
It's still considered a lock, though, that Howard will sign a max contract extension this summer just like LeBron James did last summer in Cleveland.
Perhaps he'll opt for the three-year extension introduced by James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as opposed to the full five-year extension preferred by Carmelo Anthony, but it's difficult to imagine a scenario where Howard leaves so many millions on the table when he'd still have to play out two more seasons to get to unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2009.

Brian Hill "Bothered" By Rumors
Magic Coach Brian Hill tells us he is not "worried" about whether he will be back as coach next season, meaning he has been given an assurance by management.
Hill said he's made mistakes this season, but believes the slumping Magic will improve once they mature.
Hill, though, said hearing about published reports (ESPN The Mag) intimating there's a rift between him and the players "bothers me.
"Of course it does. I'm human."
Despite his critics, Hill says he is confident in "my job security" whether the Magic reach the playoffs or not.
An item in ESPN The Magazine said that Magic players unanimously wanted Hill out and that Hill had a sour relationship with star Dwight Howard.
Hill and GM Otis Smith said that was news to them.

Grizzlies/Magic preview

The Magic (34-41, 22-26 home, 8th East) host the team with the worst record in the NBA, MEM (19-58, 7-32 away, 15th West). MEM has lost 4 straight, and is coming off a 116-104 home loss FRI night to GS. Rookie G Tarance Kinsey led MEM with 28 pts. C Pau Gasol added 21 pts, 11 rebs.

MEM is led in scoring by Gasol, who averages 20.9 ppg, 9.7 rebs; former Magic G Chucky Atkins 12.9 ppg; F Hakim Warrick 12.7 ppg; and rookie F/G Rudy Gay 11 ppg. Former Magic first-round draftee Mike Miller, averaging 18.5 ppg, is injured and is likely out the rest of the season. MEM averages 101.2 ppg, while allowing 106.8 ppg. ORL averages 94.1 ppg, while allowing 94.5 ppg. In their four game losing streak, MEM has allowed an average of 118.5 ppg.

The Magic have lost 4 games in a row to MEM, and 8 of their last 9 meetings overall. Magic are 1 game ahead of IND for the 8th seed, and 1 game behind NJ for the 7th seed. Magic are a whopping 12 pt favorite over MEM (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Might the Bulls be interested in acquiring Darko?

The following column was written by Chicago Sun-Times NBA writer John Jackson on March 11th. I thought I would highlight the key parts of the column in light of Darko's recent comments about not being happy the way the Magic are using him in games.

Orlando's Milicic might be low-post guy Bulls need

Once their playoff run concludes sometime this spring, the Bulls will resume their pursuit of a big man capable of scoring in the low post. Once again, the top targets figure to be Minnesota's Kevin Garnett or Memphis' Pau Gasol, but there's another 7-footer the Bulls should seriously consider:

Darko Milicic of the Orlando Magic.

Yes, that Darko Milicic.

Right now he's considered a bust by many after being selected with the second pick in the stellar 2003 draft class, but Milicic is a highly skilled big man - offensively and defensively - with tremendous potential.

Still only 21, Milicic has the length and athleticism to be a force on either end of the court. In addition to his quick feet and long arms on defense, he has a nice mid-range jumper and a developing low-post game on the offensive end.

Milicic will be a restricted free agent this summer, which means the Magic has the right to match any offer he might receive from another team. Orlando has every intention of keeping him because it envisions Milicic and the 6-11 Dwight Howard forming an inside duo well into the next decade.

The only way the Bulls could acquire Milicic is through a sign-and-trade deal over the summer, and the price won't be cheap - in terms of money and personnel.

He makes a little more than $6 million and will command an annual salary in the $8 million-to-$10 million range for at least three or four years. As for what it will take to tempt the Magic to pull the trigger, a package of Andres Nocioni (also a restricted free agent-to-be) and the Bulls' 2008 first-round pick might do the trick.

The Bulls would hate to lose Nocioni - his toughness and selfless attitude are great intangibles - but you have to give up quality to make the deal attractive to the Magic.

Joining the Bulls likely would aid Milicic's development. Instead of being a focal point of a rebuilding team, he'd be playing on a veteran playoff team and wouldn't face the daily pressure of trying to live up to his draft position. He also would be playing in an area with a large Serbian community and could simply get back to playing and having fun.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Darko: Magic Haven't Used Me Best They Could

Magic power forward Darko Milicic was asked if he were happy with his season --- the most games he has ever played in the NBA in one season --- and the answer was no. "Not really," he said.
Milicic, 21, who will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, intimated that the Magic haven’t utilized all his skills this season.
"I don’t blame nobody. . . .People say that maybe the Magic haven’t used me the best they could," he said. "I think they can use me more and I can give the team more. But it’s been good because in Detroit I never played.
"I hope that we can get together with Otis (Smith) after the season and get something worked out and stay here. "
The Magic would prefer to re-sign him to a short-term deal.
Darko: Magic Haven't Used Me Best They Could

Smith Denies ESPN Mag Item About Hill-Player Rift
Magic General Manager Otis Smith on Wednesday discredited an item in the recent issue of ESPN The Magazine that said players unanimously wanted Coach Brian Hill replaced and that Hill has a poor relationship with star Dwight Howard. “It’s not true,” Smith said. An item in a notes column next to writer Chris Broussard’s “NBA Insider” read, “Despite Magic GM Otis Smith’s vow to keep coach Brian Hill, the players are unanimous in wanting him gone. Hill’s relationship with star Dwight Howard turned irrevocably sour, a source says, when the coach told his center not to be late for the Monday practice after All-Star Weekend.” Smith told the Sentinel in late February that Hill would return next season and was expected to fulfill his contractual obligations (through 2008-09). He said “nothing has changed” in the Magic’s view of Hill, despite a season that has not met the franchise’s expectations. About Hill’s relationship with Howard, Smith said, “I don’t see anything there. I was on that plane with Dwight back from Las Vegas (site of the All-Star game).”
Smith Denies ESPN Mag Item About Hill-Player Rift

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Magic waste huge first quarter in yet another tough loss

Despite scoring a season-high 37 pts in the first quarter on a sizzling 15 of 18 FGs, the Magic (34-41, 22-16 home) cooled off and were unable to catch TOR (42-33, 15-23 away) late in a 111-108 loss. The largest Magic lead was 15 pts early in the second quarter. Four of the five Magic starters scored in double figures.

The Magic were led by a career night from HTurkoglu with 37 pts on 12 of 22 FGs, including 6 of 10 3 pt FGs. Turk, however, missed the potential game-tying three in the closing seconds; GHill 19 pts, 5 rebs; DHoward 18 pts, 15 rebs, but 7 TOs; TBattie 13 pts on 6 of 7 FGs; and KDooling off the bench with 10 pts. DMilicic was scoreless in 7 minutes and was ejected from the game in the third quarter for arguing a foul call. TOR was led by Chris Bosh with 28 pts on 14 of 15 FT and 10 rebs; Anthony Parker 20 pts; Joey Graham 18 pts, and T.J. Ford 16 pts, 8 asts.

The Magic (39 of 75, 52%) outscored TOR (35 of 71, 49.3%) from the field 84-79. TOR hit on 9 of 19 3 pt FGs, while the Magic were 6 of 12 from long range. TOR (32 of 39) had the decided edge at the FT line over the Magic (24 of 30). The Magic held a solid rebounding advantage 41-27. TOs once again hurt the Magic with 23, and TOR had the better AST/TO ratio of 19/15, compared to 20/23 for the Magic. The TOR bench outscored the Magic bench 22-15.

Grant Hill after the game: "I'm tired of saying we're still in it, because at some point if you keep saying it and you keep losing you won't be in it."

Magic only shot 24 of 57 (42.1%) after the first quarter, and are now 1 1/2 games behind NJ for the 7th seed, and 1 1/2 games ahead of IND for the 8th seed. Magic host MEM on SAT night.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Raptors/Magic preview

Coming off one of their toughest losses of the season, the Magic (34-40, 22-15 home, 8th East)) will try to avoid a season sweep at the hands of TOR (41-33, 14-23 away, 3rd East). TOR is coming off a 92-89 loss to MIA TUE night. F/C Chris Bosh led the Raptors with 24 pts, 11 rebs.

TOR is led in scoring by Bosh, who averages 22.7 ppg, 10.7 rebs; G T.J. Ford 14.3 ppg, 8 asts; G Juan Dixon 12.1 ppg; G/F Anthony Parker 11.6 ppg; and G/F Morris Peterson 9.3 ppg. Rookie Andrea Bargnani is out indefinitely recovering from an appendectomy, as is F/C Jorge Garbajosa with a bad ankle. TOR averages 99.2 ppg, while allowing 98.4 ppg. ORL averages 93.9 ppg, while allowing 94.3 ppg.

TOR has beaten the Magic in their previous 3 meetings this season, with Bosh scoring 41 pts and 34 pts in the two games he played against the Magic. DHoward has averaged 22 pts, 11.3 rebs against TOR this season. Because of the fact TOR played last night and are missing 2 regulars, the Magic is a 5 pt favorite (www.pinnaclesports.com).

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Career game by Davis helps MIN edge Magic in OT

Despite another tremendous effort from their bench, the Magic (34-40, 22-15 home) failed to hold a 6 pt lead with under 1:30 left in regulation and lost 105-104 in OT to MIN (31-42, 11-27 away), as Ricky Davis scored all 7 MIN pts in the OT, including the game winning 3 pointer with 11 seconds left. JNelson's game winning running layup attempt was blocked by Kevin Garnett.

Davis wound up with 36 pts on 13 of 21 FGs and 7 of 7 FTs, and scored the final 13 MIN pts in regulation and OT. Kevin Garnett had his usual solid effort with 22 pts, 14 rebs, and 8 asts. Mike James added 12 pts.

For the Magic, GHill was the only starter to score in double figures, with 23 pts on 10 of 16 FGs. Off the bench, DMilicic scored 18 pts with 10 rebs; TAriza also had 18 pts with 6 rebs; KDooling 11 pts; and JRedick added 9 pts. DHoward was held to 8 pts, but with 19 rebs; JNelson also scored just 8 pts, but added a season-high 8 asts. However, Nelson missed the potential game-winning shots at the end of regulation and OT.

The Magic (41 of 87, 47.1%) outscored MIN (37 of 80, 46.2%) from the field 83-82. MIN connected on 8 of 16 3 pt FGs, while the Magic were a woeful 1 of 11 from long range. MIN (23 of 28) had the edge at the FT line over the Magic (21 of 31). The Magic rebounded well, with a 50-38 advantage over MIN. The Magic cut down on their TOs with 15, but MIN still had the better AST/TO ratio of 21/12. compared to 18/15 for the Magic. Magic bench had the huge advantage over the MIN bench 56-18.

Magic now trail NJ by 1/2 game for the 7th seed, and are only 1 1/2 games ahead of IND for the 8th seed, as IND surprised SA. The Magic are now 0-3 in OT this season. They have 2 days of rest to shake off this very tough loss before TOR comes to ORL on WED.

T-Wolves/Magic preview

The Magic (34-39. 22-14 home, 8th East)) host another struggling, sub-.500 team tonight, MIN (30-42, 10-27 away, 13th West). MIN is coming off a 92-77 defeat in MIA on FRI night. Star F Kevin Garnett led MIN with 22 pts, 20 rebs, while F/C Mark Blount added 18 pts. MIN has lost 7 of their last 10 games, and 13 of their last 14 road games. The Magic, despite struggling at times, have won 5 of their last 8 games.

MIN is led in scoring by Garnett, averaging 22.8 ppg, 12.9 rebs; G/F Ricky Davis 16.6 ppg; Blount 13 ppg, 6.1 rebs; G Mike James 10 ppg; and rookie G Randy Foye 9.4 ppg. Former Magic G Troy Hudson averages 5.9 ppg. MIN averages 95.9 ppg, while allowing 98.6 ppg. ORL averages 93.8 ppg, while allowing 94.2 ppg.

The Magic will try to reclaim the 7th spot in the East with a win over MIN, and beat MIN earlier this season, back in NOV, 109-98, with DHoward scoring 21 pts with 22 rebs. Magic are 6 1/2 pt favorites (www.pinnaclesports.com).