Orlando Magic News for December 19th: The Team Gains Respect Now, But May Lose its Backup Center this Summer

Plenty of stuff around the internet regarding the Orlando Magic's defeat of the San Antonio Spurs. My favorite bit, though, comes from John Denton's game recap for Florida Today:

Tim Duncan scored 19 points for San Antonio (15-10), but he missed 10 of 17 shots. Once down as much as 23 points, San Antonio got within 71-65 with 7 minutes to play. But a 16-5 Magic spurt, keyed by eight points from Nelson, iced the game.

Muttered Duncan: "(Nelson) always seems to play great against us."

I have a lot of respect for Duncan, and I don't revel in the misfortunes of others, but the thought of the Big Fundamental sitting dejectedly at his locker after the game, mystified at Jameer Nelson's sterling performance, makes me feel good inside.

The recap also contains the usual quotes from Magic players about not getting any respect:

"We've got to play with a swagger because nobody believes in us and nobody out there really respects us," said Nelson, with the chip proverbially in place on his shoulder. "We have to play for ourselves and our fans, and we can't listen to what's on TV and in the newspapers because there are a lot of misconceptions out there."

With happiness, I point out that people who know what they're talking about are giving the Magic their due this morning.

  • Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports gives five reasons why the Magic "are beasts hat nobody should ignore. Number one on the list? Stan Van Gundy. THANK YOU. Nobody will deny that Stan is doing a great job with the Magic, but I don't think he receives enough credit for their success. Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu enjoyed breakout seasons in his first year on the job, and it appears as though Jameer Nelson will be this year's beneficiary.

  • J.E. Skeets and Tas Melas laud the Magic, particularly Nelson and Courtney Lee, in this morning's The Basketball Jones podcast. As they point out, the Magic's 20-6 start is good for second-best in franchise history. I'll add that the team's point differential, which was behind that of last year's team two weeks ago, has surged ahead of it.

  • Additionally, Basketbawful takes the Spurs to task for using fatigue as an excuse:

    Now, the popular justification for these two rather ugly losses -- in which San Antonio managed only 83 and 78 points while shooting 38 and 37 percent respectively -- is that they were due to weariness. After all, the Spurs are the oldest team in the league and were faced with a really difficult back-to-back situation against two division leaders. Heck, after last night's game, Gregg Popovich came as close as he ever comes to making an excuse. "Everybody gets tough back to back. The timing wasn't great. Coming in at 3:30 (a.m.) wasn't good. Orlando will have something in its schedule where they'll have a god-awful back-to-back. It evens out in the end."

    Fair enough. But reading between the lines, Pop seems to be inferring that we can expect the Magic to drop a couple the next time they're forced to play two toughies in two nights. (And they just might: Orlando's next back-to-back series is in mid-January, when they face the Lakers and Nuggets on the road on consecutive nights.)

    Bawful's last point is salient: the Magic will indeed be tested on a road back-to-back against two title-contenders soon enough. I'd like to point out that the Magic's recent five-game road trip featured two sets of back-to-backs; Orlando went 3-1 in those games.

  • Check out 48 Minutes of Hell for a Spurs-centered spin on things.

Two items not related to last night's game:

  • The Hoop cites an interview Marcin Gortat conducted with the Polish newspaper Republic in which Marcin discusses his possibly returning to Europe after this season. The Hoop says Gortat "is surely going to be highly sought after player in the european market," which bums me out. Gortat could stand to make more money, play closer to home, and have a more prominent role with a European team. No one can begrudge him for that. If he leaves, we'll miss him. On the bright side, Fran Vazquez may join Orlando this summer. If we're lucky, Vazquez will be able to do Gortat-like things.

    If we're lucky. Vazquez was the 11th overall pick in the 2005 draft; Gortat was the 57th overall pick in the same draft. Yup.

  • Brian Schmitz argues that Dwight Howard should rest his knee during the All-Star break, meaning he would not participate in the Slam Dunk Contest or the All-Star Game. Howard dismissed the possibility of skipping those events, and it's hard to blame him, given how much he loves the spotlight and the endorsement money that comes with it. But Schmitz is right on this one: if Dwight's knee is still ailing in early February, the team needs to prohibit his sitting out. Dwight's an investment they need to protect. Obviously.

  • Thanks to 3QC member coque429 for tipping this HoopsHype article about how Dwight can improve his free throw shooting. Apparently, Dwight could learn a lot by watching Magic season ticketholder Tiger Woods' golf swing. No, really.

  • Tune in to WKMG Channel 6 tonight after David Letterman for Magic Overtime with Dante & Galante. Nick Anderson is tonight's guest.

See you tomorrow to discuss Lakers/Magic.

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