- The Magic continued their slide in Marc Stein's weekly NBA Power Rankings at ESPN. Last week, they were at no. 11, which dropped them out of the top 10 for the first time since the preseason. This week, they check in at no. 13. Just for fun, I checked to see where the team stood at this time last season. Oddly enough, they were ranked 13th after 11 weeks last season, too. Check out Stein's comment from that entry:
Road losses to Lakers, Suns showed young Magic can play with top teams. The trouble is beating them: Orlando has one win over a winning team since its 13-4 start.
More checking reveals that story is similar this season. Since defeating the Warriors on December 3rd, the Magic have not beaten a winning team, unless you count a 97-92 victory at Houston on December 19th which dropped the Rockets to 12-13. New coach, new players, same result. What is it with this team?
- The Magic need a solid power forward. Fran Vazquez might have been that guy two years ago, but ESPN's Ian Whittel reports in today's Daily Dime that Vazquez might not be that guy, at least not given the way he's playing in Europe right now:
"He is a real enigma," says one European-based NBA scout. "You never know what you are going to get with him. I saw him in one Euroleague game this season score 10 points in the first half, all on dunks. If you did not know who he was, you would have been blown away by him. Then, the next time you see him, he might play five minutes and not score a point. The bottom line is, I don't think he's a real smart player."
An inconsistent and enigmatic power forward with a questionable basketball IQ. Remind you of anyone?
The article goes on to mention that Vazquez and the Magic are in regular contact and that Vazquez likes the Magic's style of play.
(Hat-tip to MagicMadness the poster at MagicMadness the forum for passing this story along)
- Speaking of power forwards, Chris Webber expects to be back in the NBA within 2 weeks. That's what he told a Sacramento TV station yesterday, anyway (Hat-tip: Ziller at FanHouse). I doubt Otis Smith will be in touch with C-Webb, though. Before he made the trade that brought Brian Cook and Maurice Evans over from the L.A. Lakers, Smith told the Orlando Sentinel's Brian Schmitz that he had no interest in any available free-agent power forwards. Given how awful Cook has been (2.2 points per game, 1 rebound per game, and .344 field goal shooting), and given that he's under contract for the next two seasons, and given that Webber would have only cost us $2 million or so for one season... that move doesn't look so wise now. You be the GM: Would you rather have Brian Cook for three seasons or Chris Webber for one? Keep in mind that you're a strong Eastern Conference team that expects to contend for a title for the next several seasons.
- With a disastrous 1-3 road trip that saw his team surrender 100 points in each game, Stan Van Gundy is focusing intently on defense in practice today, writes Tim Povtak. The team won't have a chance to impress me with its defense until Saturday's game against Portland, though. We play the Bulls and the Bobcats this week, and they are not very good offensively: 27th and 22nd in Offensive Efficiency this season, respectively.
- In case you're interested in some other perspective on the weekend's games, check out Basketball John's recap and liveblog of the Magic/Jazz game; Biased Fan's recap of the Magic/Jazz game; and Pickaxe and Roll's recap of the Magic/Nuggets game.
- Hardwood Paroxysm's Play Call today featured a brief essay on the value of scoring in the NBA. Matt asked the writers of The Dream Shake, 3 Shades of Blue, and BlogABull for their thoughts. I also contributed to the discussion. Head on over there for some basketball philosophizing.
There should be more to add to this later, including the latest round of MVP/Rookie of the Year voting as determined by bloggers. If you're reading this post after 5 PM today, do not adjust your monitor; it's still Third Quarter Collapse you're reading. It just looks different. More details on that front later.