Saturday, March 28, 2009

Now the royal flames of Pompeii bless all our senses

There are 4 minutes to go between the Magic and the Celtics. The Magic have the ball and, if we're being honest, we can admit we all know what's about to happen. The Magic will stand around the three point line while Dwight sets picks for every member of the Magic, 4 members of the Celtics, both head coaches, 6 ushers and a beer vendor. In the end, either we'll jack up a contested three, or Hedo will drive into 4 defenders and throw the ball up without ever looking at the basket. And I know this, and you know this. We know it because we've just watched it happen.

On 6 consecutive possessions.

And I shouldn't need to tell you that it happened again and again that night. The Magic scored 14 points in the 4th and only made 3 FGs the entire quarter. As in, one more FG than 2. That's embarrassing.

It got so bad that with under a minute to go, I got a text message from a friend of mine in Connecticut that simply read: "The Magic's offense blows," and I couldn't really disagree with it.

The Magic offense is a conundrum: an offense full of quality scorers who can't create a shot for themselves or anyone else. Rashard Lewis can play the post but seems afraid to be a go to post player in the 4th. Dwight Howard seems ready to be a go to scorer in the 4th from the post, but no one will give him the ball in the last 18 minutes of games. Hedo thinks he can take people off the dribble, but anyone who has watched him play this year could attest to that being untrue. Rafer Alston can't finish at the rim. Courtney Lee is a rookie.

In the end, the Magic don't have anyone who can, when defenses tighten, can take their man off the dribble and create instant offense, be it for himself or his teammates.

Except one.

This is where Jameer Nelson is missed the most.

Nelson had proven time and time again throughout his career that, when motivated to, he can penetrate on any point guard in the league. That ability to penetrate, combined with his incredibly high FG% on jumpshots made him an absolutely awesome force in the 4th quarter on ISO plays. Play off him, he'll hit 20 footers all day. Crowd him, and he'll walk up, down over and all into the paint like you weren't even there. And if he gets to the paint and help comes, the Magic have a small army of shooters eagerly waiting for the ball.

And there was also this guy in the middle named Howard waiting for rebounds/alley-oops.

That's all I could think about watching those last few minutes against Boston:

Watching as Derek Fisher repeatedly backed off Nelson, only for Jameer to bury jumper after jumper in his face.

Remembering how Nelson spent so much time going into the paint against the Raptors in last year's playoffs, you'd have thought he was investing in real estate there.

I thought about his clutch shots earlier in the season, his constant creating during the 4th quarters when the Magic's offense would bog down. How he'd create wide open looks for Lewis and Turkoglu. How he'd find Courtney Lee slashing for midrange jumpers. How when it got too bad, he'd just take it to the hole himself.

And then I thought: "Oh sweet God, we just turned the ball over again."

Get well soon, Jameer.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Vote for Stan Van Gundy!

As you can tell, we here at TPASTBM kinda like the coach of the Orlando Magic. The guys over at BDL are having a tournament of sorts, consisting of 32 things that we the fans may or may not love about the NBA. A matchup of No. 4 seed Stan Van Gundy is taking on No. 5 seed Jeff Van Gundy in the 1st round.

We ask you to go and show your support for our beloved coach, and keep the frontrunning alive.

Shaq Proves he is still a big tool

Remember all the talk from Shaquille a few weeks ago? Remember all the stupid name calling and put downs? The guy is getting old fast, and his ego won't admit it. He can't just let go.

Here's a few quotes from the big Shaqtus himself after last night's loss to the Blazers.

You don't like the floppers do you, asked one reporter.

"No. It just shows you are giving in. The referees are probably going to go for that every time. You've got to now (flop). It's the only way you can stop a person. It's kind of crazy the refs go for that."

No Shaq. You don't have to flop to stop a person. You are just getting old, and heavier, and you can't move around as you used to. Plain and simple. You are like the old polar bear that is too old to hunt and have to rely on scavaging for food. I'll give you this, this season you have played pretty good. I mean for an old dinosaur you aren't bad. But just admit it man. You have to flop to be competitive these days. Its ok. Seriously. No one will hate you for it. Stop being so proud and just say it. It would make it much better, and will make you look much better if you play that angle. Come on and say, hey man, I'm old, fat and slow. I'll do whatever I have to do to still compete and win. I think we would all respect you for that. Instead you keep sounding like a little kid in the playground that just won't let any other kid play with his brand new ball.

At least he did say this right after.

So what did Shaq think of Oden?

"I don't. I'm a Shogun. You can't ask me about a low level ninja. I still have to worry about Yao Ming, Dwight Howard."

He finally gave Dwight Howard some love. Well some weird twisted respect and love. I guess Dwight Howard is a high level Ninja in the league. Baby steps Shaq. Baby Steps.

Dwight in a Foul Mood!

Wednesday's Boston game had all the makings of playoff basketball, including the refs swallowing their whistles and letting the teams get very physical. When seeing his young star center again not get a call when the defender was INTENTIONALLY trying to foul to prevent an easy basket Stan Van Gundy did what good coaches do and blasted the officials until they gave him a technical foul. Part of me also felt Stan did it to ensure he got the tech and not Dwight who this season has joined a club he has never been a part of.

Looking at the NBA stat leaders in this category makes it one that is very easy to identify. Rasheed Wallace, Carmelo Anthony and Stephan Jackson present and accounted for, but where is Mr. Iverson and why is his seat filled by this 6-11 physical phenom who always seems to be smiling? Yes, oddly enough our own comical, smiling, media friendly Dwight Howard has suddenly joined the usual foul tempered league leaders in getting technical fouls. His total of 13 for the season ties him with Carmelo Anthony for third and is only 3 away from a one game mandatory suspension. In fact Dwight's sudden rise in this category has nearly matched his entire previous four year career total of 16.

Why the sudden rise you say? Dwight has become such a handful in the paint that teams have resorted to flopping (that includes you Shaq), clubbing, and grabbing along with the double and triple teams he receives on a nightly basis. Teams have decided that the best defense against Dwight is to put him on the line (Dwight leads the league in free throw attempts per game) to test his career 60% free throw percentage or try to get him in foul trouble by drawing offensive fouls. This treatment unfortunately leads to a lot of missed calls because the sheer volume of the fouls but quite often calls are blown. The refs need to be made aware that although Dwight looks like a man of steel he can still be injured when teams send 2,3 and sometimes 4 people after you during a game with the full intent of using their full allotment of six fouls.

Quite honestly, I believe other star big men like current Magic coach Patrick Ewing have told him that sometimes he has to put aside his bubbly personality and let the officials know they still have a job to do in protecting him... Even if it means getting technical fouls! Unfortunately in the NBA it is a well known fact the "squeaky wheel gets the grease" which is why you see the "who's, who" of NBA stars and coaches spending a good deal of game time complaining to officials.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"They live and die by the 3!"

Yep, if you are a Magic fan I'm sure you have heard that one about 100 times this season."All they do is shoot 3's and when they are not falling in the playoffs, and when the game slows down, they will lose." Sure, the Magic shoot a lot from behind the arc (they currently lead the league with 10.3 made per game on 26.6 attempts) and there certainly will be games when it is not falling. However, as so many people fail to notice, it really isn't the 3 that is leading to all these wins.

It's the freaking defense!

Just ask Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard which is more important. So many talking heads fail to see that Orlando ranks towards the top in almost every important defensive category:
  • Orlando gives up only 5.4 3's a game... 4th in the NBA.
  • Teams only shoot 34% from beyond the arc against Orlando... 2nd in the NBA.
  • Opponents average 43.0% from the field... 3rd in the NBA.
  • Orlando scores the 8th most points in the league (102.1), but at the same time they give up the 8th least amount of points (94.8).
  • Orlando leads the league in the amount of points per shot they give up (1.14).
  • The Magic lead the league in adjusted field goal percentage (explanation here).
  • And to tap into Hollinger's numbers, Orlando is right behind Boston in defensive efficiency... That's the number of points a team scores per 100 possessions.
Hmm... It sure does seem that their defense is what carries these boys. The scary thing about this team is that there is really only one defensive star on the team, Mr. Dwight Howard. Jameer Nelson and Rafer Alston were never known for their lockdown defense. Courtney Lee has a ton of potential but is only a rookie. Who knows what Hedo does. Rashard Lewis has met the challenge of playing out of position and has improved his defense but certainly isn't going to make any all-defensive teams any time soon.

That leaves us with Dwight, who is undenyably the best defender in the league. Anyone who tries to argue that anyone other than Dwight should win the Defensive Player of the Year award should be publically humiliated.

ESPN's Daily Dime... Swing and a miss

The Magic are getting all sorts of ESPN love this morning... Too bad they don't check their facts. According to ESPN, "Dwight Howard had 24 points and 21 rebounds -- his eighth 20-20 game of his young career."


Last night was his eighth 20-20 game of the season, not his career.

Credit the Orlando Sentinel for the photo.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thorpedo Chat Wrap

Our favorite ESPN chatterbox David Thorpe had a chat today over at Here are some Magic related highlights.

David (Italy) [via mobile]: Does SVG have a point about Ewing?

David Thorpe: (12:03 PM ET ) No.

Daniel (Broadalbin, NY): Orlando Playoffs, I feel depend on Courtney Lee. He has been incredible for a late round draft pick.

David Thorpe: (12:21 PM ET ) Yes he has, and he'll only get much, much better.

Alex (Orlando, FL): Who do you foresee be the upcoming drafts "Courtney Lee". Also, is Brandon Roy-lite shooting too high for Courtney's ceiling?

David Thorpe: (12:28 PM ET ) Actually, B Roy is who I had C Lee study last spring and summer. I think Wayne Ellington can play like Lee, Henderson too.

Zack (Akron, OH): David, I want to apologize. Last week I asked you for predictions for the Cavs-Magic game and you said "big fun." You were right.

David Thorpe: (12:34 PM ET ) See, I'm not so dumb.

And another reason why we like Thorpe.

Chris (Boston): Dave, if you enjoyed Forgetting Sarah Marshall, give I Love You Man a shot. Good story about how you don't have to lose your life once you get engaged/married. Really a story all men should see.

David Thorpe: (12:41 PM ET ) Can't wait to see it.

Tonight: Celtics @ Magic

Tonight at 8 PM on the ESPN Orlando will host the Boston Celtics in what might be the biggest game of the year for both teams. At stake is the 2nd spot in the Eastern Conference and thus home court against the other team should both advance past the first round. Currently both are tied in the loss column with 18 losses. Kevin Garnett will be back for Boston, as he logged 12 points in 18 minutes against the Clippers on Monday.

Boston has taken 2 out of 3 this year from Orlando, with the Magic's only win being in Boston against a Celtic team missing both Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo.

Again, for those of you who will be in attendance, it is an 8 PM game and be loud enough to drown out those damn Celtic fans.

Here is what the internet has to say about tonight's game:

  • The Canadian Press notes that Doc Rivers is more concerned with getting his team healthy than gaining homecourt advantage.
  • The Boston Herald reminds us that Orlando's magic number to clinch the division is 1.
  • John Denton of the Florida Today understands the importance of tonight's game.
  • As Ray Allen told the Boston Globe, "We've been talking about Cleveland and Orlando all year, [The Magic] beat us last time here on our floor, so this is a big game for us."
  • If you gamble, the line is Magic +3.5.
  • Even the LA Times is talking about tonight's game.
  • HoopsWorld touches in the amount of hype Cleveland and Boston gets.
  • And finally, here is the Orlando Sentinel preview and Schmitz blog post on the game.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Frontrunning with Stan Van Gundy

If there is anyone we love almost as much as the Warlock here at the PUNS it's our head coach Stan Van Gundy. Besides wearing suits way to small for him and absolutely refusing to wear a tie he has really been bringing the zingers lately.

I present to you in chronological order our 10 favorite Stan Van Gundy quotes which give a nice blend of hilarity and honesty:

1. On the NBA's player dress code:

I thought it was funny they can't wear any of the jewelry and stuff like that. That's stricter than the dress code in a lot of office buildings.

2. On Dwight's Lack of Defense Last Season:

When you're a great player and a franchise guy, there's more on you. He's got to accept it. He may not like it. He may not like the way I did it. But I've also done it before many times in private --- just he and I. I didn't think it was making an impact, so now it's out there for everybody. We'll see what happens. I think Dwight wants to be a great player. I think Dwight wants to be a winner. But we're in Year 4 and he hasn't won a playoff game.

3. On the BCS:

At the end of the day, we're going to get one win or one loss, We're not the BCS, where the polls and the power ratings and all of that ridiculous stuff matters. This is a legitimate sport. If this were the BCS, I'd have to be lobbying. In the BCS, an undefeated team doesn't get a chance to win a championship. I'm just glad we're in a legitimate sport where it's decided on the court, not one where it's a beauty pageant, where preseason rankings matter as much as anything to winning a championship. It's the most ridiculous thing in sport. For me as a fan, Florida has no more claim to the national championship than USC, Texas, Utah, a bunch of them. Why? Because a bunch of guys in the media or a bunch of coaches say they're better. That's not the way sports is supposed to be. I'm not buying it. But if that's the way they want to run their sport -- with a beauty contest -- that's fine. But it doesn't make it legitimate and doesn't make them (Florida) any more of a national champion than any of those other teams.

4. On Hedo Turkoglu becoming a father:

"We took a vote and there are a few of us that are concerned with Hedo being responsible for another human being so we'll see what happens." The 29-year-old’s coach, Stan Van Gundy, jokingly shared that he hopes the couple’s first child "looks like his [Hedo's] wife and has her personality."

5. Stan on Shaq flopping:

I was shocked, seriously, shocked, And very disappointed cause he knows what it's like. Lets stand up and play like men, and I think our guy did that tonight.

6. Stan on Shaq's reaction:

That's not his normal comments. Obviously I struck a nerve and hurt his feelings. Shaq's a very sensitive guy. If I hurt his feelings, I'm sorry.

7. Stan on Dwight's MVP chances:

For a lot of different reasons it's a perimeter league. Leading the league in rebounding and blocked shots while still averaging 21 points a game is just not as sexy as those guys going out and having 40-point nights. It's just tough and I think people are failing to recognize the other end of the floor defensively and his contribution.

8. On Cleveland's 3 second call:

You won't see that call again. That, I guarantee you. You will not see, with the game on the line, a 3-second call in the last 10 seconds. That's part of the reason they're 30-1 at home. They're a very good team, and when you get calls like that [expletive], you're in pretty good shape.

9. On the Patrick Chewing Commercial:

These guys are really hard on him with that commercial. I mean they are really hard on him with that commercial. He gets imitated on that several times daily. They’re on (the wig he wears in the commercial) too. They’re on every aspect of that; believe me. It’s been well commented on here.

10. On the Knicks celebration for Patrick Ewing pre and post game:

Patrick just went into the Hall of Fame. He's had nights there before anyway. I think they'll continue to honor him as times as they possibly can until they get good enough to put people in the seats on their own. I'm not trying to needle anybody or tell them their business. What's amazing is they honor the guy, I don't know, every year. They honor him, but while they've got a lot of ex-players in their organization, they've never made any move to try to hire him. That to me is amazing.

11. Like the Hemmingway cats, I was born with an extra digit, and it impacts my ability to properly count to ten with my shoes off. So here is a random Stan quote from some game at some point against the New Jersey Nets:

I like that title, by the way. George Bush, you know, is the decider. I can be the decider in Orlando.

As an added bonus here is a video quote from Stan on his catch at the Lakers game this season.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Magic at Knicks Preview

Hey these guys look oddly familiar. No need to do the formal preview aside from the fact that Patrick Ewing will be honored at halftime tonight. If you have not heard or seen by now not only is Pat an assistant with the Magic but he has filmed one of the funniest commericals to ever hit television.

Here is Patrick Chewing in all his glory.

The players seem to be having fun with it as well as evidenced by the comments from the Magic's official team website via Stan Van Gundy.

"These guys are really hard on him with that commercial. I mean they are really hard on him with that commercial. He gets imitated on that several times daily. They’re on (the wig he wears in the commercial) too. They’re on every aspect of that; believe me. It’s been well commented on here."

So here is to Patrick and another Magic victory.

Familiar faces may come back to threaten us in the playoffs

The Magic have all but locked up the 3rd seed in the playoffs this year, with a chance they may steal the 2nd seed from the Celtics down the stretch. Seeds 6-8 are an entirely different story, with nearly 6 teams battling it out for their respective spots. Let's take a look at how some of these teams are linked back to the Magic, and how much of a threat they really are.

Miami Heat: We all know the connection here, Stan Van Gundy. The one time coach of the Heat, SVG "resigned" after nearly leading the team to the NBA Finals. One player that he coached up and put the team on his shoulders, was Dwyane Wade. Wade had an amazing playoff run as a rookie, hitting the game winning shot in the 1st round of the series against the Hornets. Wade seems to always turn it up a notch while playing against his former coach, as evidenced by dropping a combined 110 pts (36.6ppg) in 3 games this year.

Threat Level:

Philadelphia: Currently the 6th seed and set to play us if the playoffs started today, the Sixers wouldn't appear to have any Magic ties at first glance. However, if you look closely, you will see one name on the roster that was linked to the Magic last June. Forward Marreese Speights was said to be targeted with the 22nd pick, as the Magic brought him in for workouts with 4 other forwards. Many fans were mixed about the idea of drafting Speights, who was known for having a lack of work ethic and heart. The rookie is currently averaging 7.8 ppg and 3.8 rpg, which are promising numbers for coming off the bench playing under 20mpg.
Threat Level:

Detroit Pistons: Despite having a mental stronghold, the Pistons actually have a player on their team the Magic could have had. Guard Rodney Stuckey was drafted by the Pistons using the pick they acquired from the Magic in the Arroyo/Milicic/Cato trade. In his rookie year, he averaged 7.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, and 2.8 apg, numbers which Magic fans would have loved to see him put up as their backup PG. The rookie also came through big in the playoffs against the Magic, starting 2 games, and helping win both of them to eliminate the Magic in the 2nd round.

Threat Level:

Chicago Bulls: While this team doesn't have any specific former Magic player on their team, they do still have alot of history with the current Magic squad, and teams of the past. The young Magic team of 94-95 actually beat the Bulls to advance to the ECF, eventually winning that series as well before losing in the Finals that year. Also, who doesn't remember "the steal"? The next year, the Bulls got their revenge, sweeping the Magic in the conference finals, and winning the NBA title. Most recently, the Magic have been taking care of the Bulls rather easily, though the Bulls did manage to score a blowout victory due to an embarrassing effort by the Magic in February. Will the Bulls have revenge on their minds if we meet them in the playoffs? I'd bet yes.
Threat Level:

Charlotte Bobcats: The Bobcats have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time in team history this year due to an improved roster by trades, and the arrival of coach Larry Brown. One thing that has shaped this team was back in 2004, when they drafted Emeka Okafor. With the 1st pick in the draft, the Magic took a chance on a raw, but talented high school prospect named Dwight Howard. You may have heard of him. Passing on what was a sure thing from UCONN, the Bobcats quickly drafted Mr. Okafor, and the rest is history. Dwight has gone on to be a multiple all-star, slam dunk champion, and has led his team to back to back 50 win seasons. Okafor has...averaged double doubles. Will Okafor try to make a statement and try to shutdown Dwight if they meet in the playoffs?

Threat Level:

Milwaukee Bucks: Last, but not least, the Bucks. The 2003 draft not only brought us the stud known as Reece Gaines, but also a solid contributor in Keith Bogans. Bogans was actually drafted by Milwaukee with the 43rd pick in the draft, only to be traded on draft night to the Magic. As a rookie, Bogans put up a solid 6.8 ppg and 4.3 rpg. Despite the rookie success, the Magic traded him to the Bobcats for Brandon Hunter and the Bogans era was over in Orlando. Or was it? Resigned via free agency in 2006, Bogans joined the team again and become a role player off the bench, even starting at the SG spot in the beginning of the 07-08 season under Stan Van Gundy. However, the team parted ways with Keith again this season, in exchange for current 3rd PG Tyronn Lue after the Jameer Nelson injury. There was said to be hard feelings between the organization and Keith, until recently when Keith decided it's all good. In the first meeting against the Magic this year since being traded, he had 0 pts, 4 boards, and 3 assists, while going 0-3 from the arc.

Threat Level:

Welcome Back Adonal!

Kyle Hightower of the Orlando Sentinel is reporting that big man Adonal Foyle will rejoin the team today in New York.

Foyle, who will most likely join the team in New York on Monday, was waived by the Memphis Grizzlies earlier this month after a buyout agreement was reached for his contract.

Foyle was dealt to Memphis in a three-team trade deadline deal Feb. 19 that also involved the Houston Rockets and brought the Magic Rafer Alston.

Magic officials have previously lauded Foyle as a good practice partner for center Dwight Howard. His re-signing is likely for those purposes.

I for one am glad the Big Charity (that's going to be my Shaq-esque name for Mr. Foyle) is back with the Magic... As we certainly like him here at TPASTBM. In a few previous blog posts we have discussed his presidential abilities and an ad he took out in the Sentinel after he was traded thanking the people of Orlando. Welcome back!

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Credit "Sebi" from the Orlando Magic Message board for the title graphic.

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