Tag:Orlando Magic
Posted on: January 31, 2012 8:13 pm
 

NBA Power Rankings: Breakdown, Takedown Vol. 7

Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver

Not the best of weeks for Dwight Howard and the Magic. (Getty Images)

The 2011-2012 NBA season continues. Here's the seventh weekly installment of CBSSports.com's NBA Power Rankings by Eye On Basketball's Matt Moore.

What did he get right? What did he get wrong? We're here to break it down and take it down.

1. Too High: Atlanta Hawks at No. 9. Somehow, despite losing probably their best player, the Hawks aren't just keeping their head above water but soaring. They've won four of five games since the Al Horford injury. However, not exactly against marquee opponents -- New Orleans, Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee. It's a little hard to tell if the Hawks are actually going to overcome Horford's injury or if they're just getting by as a result of a soft spot in the schedule. I tend to think it's the latter and as the season drags on, we'll see the Hawks are mediocre at best and not a top 10 NBA team. -- RY

2. Too Low: Orlando Magic at No. 20. Last week, I had a little fun at Matt's expense when he dropped the Magic after their ugly loss to the Celtics. In hindsight, he was correct. But, unfortunately, he made the same mistake again! The Magic have had by far their worst stretch of the season -- pointing fingers at each other during a 4-game losing streak -- but they're still 12-9 and they're still safely in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. By comparison, the Trail Blazers, who Orlando beat in Portland, are also 12-9, barely in the West playoffs, and ranked No. 11 in this week's Power Rankings. Where's the consistency? These guys shouldn't be below 15, despite how ugly things have gotten of late. -- BG

3. Most Overrated: Washington Wizards at No. 26. This one isn't a disaster but it's hard to really make a case that there are four worse teams than the 4-17 Wizards. Sacramento, for example, is 6-14 despite being in a 4-game losing streak. The Kings have three quality wins over the Lakers, Spurs, Pacers and a sort-of quality win over the Bucks. That's pretty bad for a team in the basement. Washington, meanwhile, had that one shocking, pretty fluky win over the Oklahoma City Thunder plus three wins against patsies (two against the Charlotte Bobcats, one against the Toronto Raptors). Their body of work just screams lower than No. 26. -- BG

4. Most Overlooked: Utah Jazz at No. 10. It's natural to just assume the Jazz are overachieving and will eventually come back to Earth. That's not a team built with any stars or big names, and yet in the toughest division in basketball, they're 12-7 and in the thick of the West. Their point differential and efficiency numbers aren't great. But they are winning consistently. Not that the Jazz should be higher than 10, but I think we're all quick to discount them for whatever reason. Much in the same way we all wanted to ignore last season's Nuggets, the Jazz could be for real. -- RY

5. Sure Thing: Miami Heat at No. 1. Sunday's showdown against the Chicago Bulls made it clear that these two teams, if healthy, are the clear, clear, clear favorites to repeat as Eastern Conference Finalists. That series will be a blood bath, too. Miami played very well at times but it was far from a flawless victory. With a few days to let it sink in, they're probably feeling pretty fortunate given Dwyane Wade's shooting struggles and LeBron James' predictable late-game free throw gaffes. The TV ratings for the potential Chicago vs. Miami East Finals are going to be absurd. -- BG

6. Wild Card:
Indiana Pacers at No. 8. It's not fair to say the Pacers aren't exceeding expectations and having a great season. They are. They just beat the Lakers, Magic and Bulls last week. But one thing that's unshakeable for me is their bad losses. For example, a loss Jan. 18 to the Kings and then a whipping by Orlando Jan. 24. The Pacers are a bit erratic with their play and while absolutely a good team, I'm not so sure they are in true contender territory, which is normally reserved for the top eight. They're good, but just how good? -- RY
Posted on: January 31, 2012 4:21 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 5:34 pm
 

Rose apathetic on Howard coming to Bulls

Sure, Derrick Rose would like to play with Dwight Howard. Whatever. (Getty Images)

Derrick Rose never really tried too hard to recruit Dwight Howard or Dwyane Wade in 2010. He wasn't out front lobbying to add Carmelo Anthony last year. And now that Dwight Howard is saying he wouldn't oppose going to Chicago (but it's not his favorite, is the unsaid component), Rose is playing it the same way as he has in the past. 

Basically, "Uh, sure, I guess."

From CSN Chicago: 
“Me and Dwight definitely have a relationship, especially because of adidas. I know our market and the city speaks for itself, if someone was interested to come to the Chicago Bulls,” Rose said of the Magic’s All-Star center. “Dwight, he’s a great player. Who wouldn’t want to play with him, but you never know what’s going to happen.”
via Rose on possibility of playing with Dwight Howard.

 

As always, Rose is pretty much like "eh, whatever." Rose wants good teammates, but his attitude publicly has always been that he'll go out there and focus on what he does and win with his guys. 

It begs the question if he'd be like this if he had been drafted elsewhere. If he hadn't landed on a Bulls team that if not phenomenal, did have a playoff core with Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, and Joakim Noah before adding Carlos Boozer and the current roster, would he still be so supportive of teammates and would he still avoid clamoring for help like every other star seems to? If Derrick Rose were in Charlotte, would he sill have his head down, going into the lane and playing at such a high level? Or has his support altered his approach and kept him from complaining about help like every other All-Star does if they can't lift their team up on their own?

It's one of the things that makes Rose an admirable star. Whether it's because of how things worked out or not, he doesn't complain. He supports his guys. He thinks his players can win. Dwight Howard is criticizing his teammates and saying they should not be affected by him talking about how great it would be to play with any other contender. Rose has backed his guys and when the Bulls have struggled, he's put it on himself to be better. 

It's a shame for the small markets. Not only do the big markets get the best players, but they get the kind of guys the small markets need, while the small markets wind up with guys constantly looking for help and brighter lights.

If the Bulls acquire Dwight Howard, they'll be the favorite to win the title (and they're pretty close to that now). It'll be a phenomenal combination of talent, two of the three best players in the league. But if not, there will be no grousing from Rose. That's just not who he is.
Posted on: January 31, 2012 12:05 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 12:39 pm
 

Stephen Jackson the key to getting Dwight Howard?

Dwight Howard wants to play with... Stephen Jackson? (Getty Images)
Posted by Royce Young

The Dwight Howard rumor mill might be reaching an all-time low. And this teaming up with other players thing is getting a little out of hand.

Because ESPN reports that Dwight Howard wants to play with... Stephen Jackson? Wha?
"If the Nets want to improve their chances, my understanding is that Stephen Jackson and Dwight Howard have talked several times about playing together. And [they] would love to do so with the Nets with Deron Williams at the point guard setting them up. If the Nets want to improve their chances of getting Howard, making a deal for Stephen Jackson as well ... should be on their menu."
You hear about Deron Williams and Howard wanting to pair up or maybe Rose with Howard or at a time Chris Paul with him, but Stephen Jackson definitely wasn't to be expected. I suppose they're friends and people like to work with friends, so I guess it makes sense.

Jackson though hasn't been happy with the Bucks as they won't extend his contract. Jackson is on an expiring deal paying him $10 million this season. Said Jackson, "Everybody knows the situation. My situation is going to get better soon. Until then, I'm going to support these guys and continue to collect my check." Doesn't exactly sound like the happiest man in the world with his situation.

As Howard Beck of the NY Times tweeted: "Possibly relevant: They have the same agent." Yep, that could potentially be a major part of this. And it could give an idea where this rumbling is coming from.

But you can be sure that the Nets will have an eye toward Jackson if that really means an edge to get Dwight Howard. That franchise has basically sold its soul to build around a Williams-Howard combo. So if Howard said he had to have Leonardo DiCaprio as his power forward, I can guarantee Billy King would be getting on the phone to see what he could do.
Posted on: January 30, 2012 11:45 pm
 

Report Card 1.30.12: The back to back blues

The Magic collapse continued against the Sixers Monday night. (Getty Images)

Your nightly report card wraps up the performances of the NBA night and provides grades on a curve. Monday night LeBron did his thing, the Magic continued their separation from decency, and the Deer continue to become frightening. 

LeBron James


Trevor Ariza is going to have nightmares. 22 points in 29 minutes, along with 11 rebounds and 8 assists for James. That's at least, even if none of the assists were threes, 44 points in 29 minutes produced or contributed. That's absurd. To havethat kind of influence on the game in just 30 minutes is ridiculous. And hey, he didn't have to play in the fourth so he couldn't miss free throws. Bonus. 




Brandon Jennings


All of a sudden, the Bucks gunner is playing efficiently. 21 points on 8-15 shooting, 4 rebounds, 5 assists. Four turnovers is not great but overall, Jennings is making the Bucks motor go as they win again without Andrew Bogut. The Deer have officially re-entered fear territory, even against the Pistons



Philadelphia 76ers


They were not worse than the Magic. That's pretty much all we've got on that. 


 

 

Memphis Perimeter Defense


Matt Bonner can only do one thing. Hit threes. The Grizzlies surrendered fifteen points from beyond the arc to Bonner alone, and 30 points overall from the perimeter. This against a team coming off overtime on a road back-to-back. Memphis is broken in all sorts of ways right now, but the perimeter defense was the culprit Monday night. 



Orlando Magic


The Orlando Magic have been an offensively efficient team for the duration of this run with Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard. And this week has been a massive cratering we haven't seen since the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs. But Monday night may have been the point where they actually blast a hole to the other side of the Earth. The Magic scored 9 points in the third quarter vs. the Sixers. Philly scored just 74 points... and won. This isn't the end of the world for the Magic... but you can see it from here.




Posted on: January 30, 2012 5:58 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 6:02 pm
 

Baseline Awards: 1.30.12: Jumping over dudes

Lebron James is very good at basketball, it turns out. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore


The Baseline Awards hand out congratulations and criticism for performances in the last week and provide standings for the major awards. This week the Heat are flying again, Rubio's dishing, Kyrie Irving is ridiculous, and the Magic are a train wreck. 

Eastern Conference Player of the Week: Best Overall performance by Eastern Player

LeBron James

He jumped over a dude. Yes, the dude is short. No, it was not Vince Carter over Weiss. He still jumped over a dude on an oop. Oh, and he averaged 26.5 points (only drug down by a poor game vs. Cleveland), 6 assists, 7.5 rebounds, and one steal. So, yeah, that guy's pretty good at basketball.

Western Conference Player of the Week: Best Overall performance by Western Player

Ricky Rubio

Wins over the Spurs and Mavericks, averaging 12 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds. The wunderkind keeps impressing everyone from coast to coast. He's getting killed by Kyrie Irving in overall production and yet I'm betting a high number of people consider Rubio and Irving neck and neck in the rookie of the year race, that's how good Rubio has been.

Down on the Upside of the Week: Player with worst performance qualified for expectations

Raymond Felton

Felton's a better player than this. He really is. Felton is struggling from the field and finding teammates. He's not settled in, and seems unsure of his role. He hasn't established a chemistry with any of the Blazers' weapons. Andre Miller is flourishing in Denver, which only makes this worse.

DOMINATOR AWARD: Most dominant performance

Kyrie Irving

Irving's numbers are literally unheard of for a rookie. He's in rarefied air. Now, Tyreke Evans pulled this same trick and regressed, but after sinking the Celtics Sunday, Irving has put himself on the map. The kid is doing it all in every position. There's something special happening in Cleveland.

The "Titanic In 3-D: It's a disaster inside a disaster" award

Orlando Magic

This team was talked about as a sleep title contender (not by us, but "around") last week. This week they're a flaming pile of wreckage covered in sewage. Fifty-six points versus a struggling Celtics team, then a nice, comforting win over the Pacers... only to blow a 27-point lead at home to the Celtics on Thursday, followed by a shellacking by the Indiana Pacers. I would say this team is trying to force Dwight Howard to put them out of their misery, but that would be too easy on Howard who has also disappeared at key times. The Magic are taking on water right now in a season in which they have no margin of error.

The Puzzling Enigma Award: Strangest week from player or team

Memphis Grizzlies

Just when you think that team has it together, they get walloped by the Blazers on the third night of a back to back, and that was fine. But losing to Phoenix was an outright disaster. This team looked like it had found its footing, only to fall through the cracks. Three straight losses to end the week for the Grizzlies.

The Horde Award: Team you should fear

Milwaukee Bucks

We don't get it either. This team should, and probably will, fall apart without Andrew Bogut. But they miss Bogut with an injury and Stephen Jackson with a suspension, and go out and drop 100 points on the Lakers. Milwaukee's now won four of their last six and have scored 100 or more three times. Their offensive efficiency is up. No, we do not understand it, but we're starting to be concerned about the deer again.

Cub Scout Troop Award: Team you should not fear

Charlotte Bobcats. We thought they might not be so bad for a while there. Turns out, no, no, no, they are bad, bad, bad.

Searching For Bobby Fischer Award for Stratagem

Gregg Popovich for benching his starters and going solely to his bench unit vs. the Mavs. The young guns wound up scoring on 8 of 9 possessions in the fourth quarter and sparked a huge run that would have won them the game had it not been for Jason Terry's dramatics. There are only a handful of coaches that bold in this league, and Popovich is like, three of them.

Awkward Water Cooler Conversation Award for Coaching Struggle

Stan Van Gundy

We're not partial to the ridiculous superlatives or nicknames tossed out about SVG, who is truly one of the best coaches in the league. But it has not been a good week. His team has lacked discipline, composure, and effort. Things are unraveling in Orlando due to forces far beyond his control, but he's also unable to hold the reins this week.

Blog of the Week: 48 Minutes of Hell

This Spurs blog talks in nuanced terms about the silver and black, and features a video chat after each game. Interesting design as well.

MVP Rankings:

1. LeBron James: Again, he jumped over a dude.
2. Derrick Rose: Injuries are slowing him down and he's still doing this.
3. Dwight Howard: He's also LVP for sabotaging his team's season.
4. Kobe Bryant: By hook or by crook, Mamba will score 30.
5. Kevin Durant: Durant's a jumpshooter and he's shooting 51 percent. Think about that.
6. Chris Bosh: We know. We're stunned, too. But Bosh has honestly been the most consistent Heat player.
7. Russell Westbrook: On most any other team we're talking about how badly he deserves help.
8. Kyrie Irving: Oh, you think this is crazy You tell us how Cleveland's in the playoff picture.
9. Chris Paul: You get the feeling that if Paul wasn't saving himself for the playoffs he coul be right at the top with the Clippers.
10. LaMarcus Aldridge: Aldridge does everything for the Blazers and deserves a nod here.

Honorable Mention: Kevin Love

ROY Rankings:

1. Kyrie Irving: There has literally never been a rookie putting up the numbers Irving has, at least in the modern era of tracking stats. The fact that a horrid Cleveland team is competitive and Irving is taking over down the stretch should make traditional fans happy.
2. Ricky Rubio: You have never seen a player like this.
3. MarShon Brook: Brilliant scorer who scores.
4. Iman Shumpert: He is what he is.
5. Jon Leuer: Leuer has fallen off quite a bit and may not be listed next week.

6th Man of the Year Rankings:

1. James Harden: Just start him, Scott Brooks. You're ruining the curve.
2. Louis Williams: Louis' on fiyah.
3. Al Harrington: Still doing it all while Denver racks up wins, but a bad game against L.A. Sunday.
4. Jason Terry: Needs to go down as one of the best sixth men, ever.
5. Gary Neal: One of the most productive scorers off the bench in the league, who no one had heard of until last year.
Posted on: January 30, 2012 8:00 am
Edited on: January 30, 2012 10:45 am
 

Dwight Howard open to playing in Chicago

Howard says he would love to play with Rose in Chicago. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore

Oh, thank goodness. It had been almost 24 hours without a prospective landing place for Dwight Howard popping up. I was starting to feel alone and sad. 

Thankfully, the Chicago Tribune spoke with Howard this week on the question all Bulls fans want to know. Does he really not want to play with Derrick Rose? The Magic's big man says as long as the Big Guy upstairs is down with it, he'd absolutely play next to the MVP. 

"If I could play with Derrick right now and God wanted that to happen, it will happen," Howard told the newspaper. "It has nothing to do with me not wanting to play with Derrick Rose. I love him. That's my brother."

via ChicagoTribune.com's "Dwight Howard: Orlando center Dwight Howard on long-shot trade to Chicago Bulls: If God wanted that to happen, it will happen."

Howard also denied any sort of marketing complication with Adidas would keep him from wanting to join the Bulls. Previous reports said Howard was possibly resisting the idea of playing in Chicago, whether due to complications with being "the man" next to Rose or the market when compared to New York or Los Angeles, or some other issue, like the weather. Howard could simply be playing the PR game to leave all of his options open. He's likely amiable to playing in Chicago, but still prefers the warm spotlight of L.A. or the fuzzy fur coats in Brooklyn.

But Howard would be wise to consider Chicago -- both for himself and the franchise he's likely dumping. A trade with the Bulls would be easiest to facilitate because they have quality veteran players to package in exchange for Howard, which the Magic are said to covet. With a full stock of draft picks, young players and sub-stars like Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, the Bulls could take on Howard's salary and one of the Magic's overpaid contracts. For Chicago, putting Howard next to Rose would be phenomenal -- and giving Tom Thibodeau the best defensive player in the league could create the best defense in league history, depending on whether Luol Deng were sent away in such a trade. 



Posted on: January 28, 2012 12:08 pm
Edited on: January 28, 2012 12:09 pm
 

Dwight Howard calls out teammates in a big way

Howard has had about enough of his teammates in Orlando. (Getty Images)
Posted by Royce Young

Like a burrito stuffed way too full, the Orlando Magic are falling apart. After starting the season well at 11-4, the Magic were embarrassed by the Celtics last week when they scored only 56 points.

Then they beat the Pacers, which was nice, but lost again to Boston Thursday, blowing a 27-point lead. But things hit an all-time low Friday with a 26-point loss to the Hornets -- a not good team -- in which Orlando scored only 67 points.

After the game, Dwight Howard unleashed on his teammates. Via the Orlando Sentinel:
“Looked like guys didn’t want to play,” he said. “I told them at halftime, if you don’t want to play, just stay in the lockerroom. It doesn’t make sense for a teams we should beat to just demolish us.

“You bring everything down,” Howard said, referring to a player who isn’t playing with heart and soul.

“It hurts me to get out there and play your hardest. I expect everybody to play the same. I’m not calling anybody out by no means because we all have to get better … but if you don’t want to be out there, don’t dress up.

“If you don’t want to play, stay home. People work too hard. I want to win a championship. I work too hard every night for anybody to not want to go out there and play hard. … None of the — whatever, trade stuff — none of that stuff matters. Play basketball. That’s why we all get paid to do this, because we love the game and it’s basketball, so why not give it your all.”

You could make the case that Howard was the only player that brought anything for Orlando Friday as he scored 28 of the Magic's 67 and grabbed 16 rebounds. After that, Orlando didn't have a single player in double-figures and went 15-47. Other than Howard, the Magic were awful. And not against just any team. Against a Hornets squad that had lost nine straight and was 3-15 coming into last night's game.

Howard wasn't finished ripping his team though.

“The team we played tonight, they’ve been playing hard all season. They just haven’t won. And then they played hard tonight and they killed us. They killed us because they just played hard and they wanted it. Everybody on that team wanted to win tonight. That’s the only thing that matters,” he said.

“We are winning. You can’t just go out every night and expect a team to just fold because you’re winning, because you’re having a good record.”

Howard's frustrations ring extra loud with his pending free agency on the horizon. He clearly has had just about all he can take of not having help. When he gets supplementary scoring from J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson and Jason Richardson, the Magic are a really tough team. They look like an Eastern contender. But when it's Dwight and nobody else, the Magic aren't a good team. Not even a player of Howard's caliber can carry them.

These aren't the words you want to hear if you're GM Otis Smith or a Magic fan, but Howard's frustrations are boiling over. Things were looking up for Orlando for a while, but this past week has been a low point. It can either completely unravel, or it can just be a bump in the road. Howard is trying to get his team's attention and while the media might not be the best place to do it, he's just had enough. He wants to win. Plain and simple.
Posted on: January 27, 2012 2:53 pm
 

NBA Podcast: Where Howard stands with the Magic

Posted by EOB


Getty Images

Matt Moore and Ken Berger go over Kevin Love's extension, where Dwight Howard stands with the Magic and the huge game Sunday between Chicago and Miami.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com