"Just the way he dominated the game," Howard said. "He changed things. He changed how teams played the game. Everything, the paint used to be real short. It wasn’t wide like it is now because of him. He would just stand in the paint he could just do like this (spreading his arms out wide) and he’d be bigger than the paint so nobody could go in there. They had to change that. Blocking, back then you throwup a shot you could just block it. Then the free throw line. I read up on it. He used to just throw the ball up at the free throw line and dunk it. nobody could stop him. So they had to change the rules, so that’s why I like him."
"We are not optimistic an agreement will be in place with Bright House on Jan. 1 so fans should begin making alternative plans to see Sun Sports’ Magic telecasts and other local sports programming airing on Sun Sports."
Magic TV partner Sun Sports is bundled in with this Fox/Bright House contract which expires Dec. 31. If no deal is reached, Sun Sports will go dark on Bright House on Jan. 1, meaning 25 of the Magic’s final 50 regular-season games won’t be available to Bright House Networks subscribers. That includes the Magic’s upcoming three-game road trip, which begins Friday night at Minnesota.
Darko Milicic, Greg Oden rank among worst draft picks of the decade
Chad Ford of ESPN.com takes a look at the busts of the decade.
7. Fran Vazquez, Orlando Magic, No. 11 overall in 2005
This list is beginning to read like the perils of drafting international players. In this case, Magic GM Otis Smith just didn't do his homework. Vazquez was a big, bouncy forward in Spain having a breakout season. Every scout in the league was high on him. But there was a problem. Several weeks before the draft, Vazquez began having doubts about playing in the NBA and started getting lucrative offers to stay in Spain. Virtually every team in the league got the message, and Vazquez plummeted on our Big Board.
The Magic didn't know what was going on, didn't interview Vazquez before the draft or talk to his agent and then -- surprise! -- found out a few days after drafting him that he didn't really want to play in the NBA. Five years later, he is still in Spain without any real desire to play in the league. Players the Magic passed on to get Vazquez include Danny Granger, David Lee and Monta Ellis.
SB Nation's NBA Power Rankings: Beware The Rising Cavaliers
UPDATE (from Ben): SB Nation.com editor Mike Prada, who also runs the Wizards blog Bullets Forever, explains why he put the Magic sixth in the latest edition of SB Nation's NBA Power Ranking:
In my mind, though, the Celtics' win over Orlando on Christmas was the statement game of the year. It reaffirmed Boston's place at the top of the East and pushed Orlando down the list until they figure out how to score against a great defense. They'll probably figure it out eventually, but not now, which is why, at the moment, they're just sixth.
Mapping the NBA: Inside Out
UPDATE 2 (from Ben): Tom Ziller of NBA FanHouse takes some shot-location stats from Hoopdata.com and plugs it into a map to show which teams maximize their offensive efficiency potential by shooting layups and three-pointers the most. Interesting that the Magic have Dwight Howard (one of the league's dominant low-post scorers) and Vince Carter (a dynamic All-Star shooting guard), yet attempt fewer shots at the rim than all but 4 teams. But as I wrote this morning, Orlando's offense has improved slightly this year, and isn't really a concern right now.
Orlando Magic notes: Small forward Matt Barnes is demonstrating his toughness by fighting through painful hand injuries
UPDATE 3: Josh Robbins states Matt Barnes is a tough player ...
Barnes is playing despite a couple of painful injuries to his left hand. Barnes said he has torn ligaments in both the palm and top of his hand near his middle finger and ring finger. In addition, Barnes also dislocated his hand's pinkie recently.
"Rebounding the ball, touching the ball, trying to strike the ball — it's all painful," Barnes said. "It just knocks the wind out of you."
Barnes said the damage won't worsen if he continues to play and that rest, not surgery, will heal the injuries. But as he noted, there's no time to rest. The only good news for Barnes is that he's right-handed, so the injuries don't affect his shooting.
NBA Insider: With parity reigning atop the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics saw their Christmas Day matchup against the Orlando Magic as a "benchmark game"
UPDATE 4: ... talks about the parity in the Eastern Conference.
"It definitely was a benchmark game for us because we've talked about this game for the last month or so," Allen told reporters afterward.
You can understand why Boston's veteran players wondered how their team stacks up against the other elite teams in the Eastern Conference. A third of the season has passed, and the Celtics, Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers are exactly where most analysts predicted they would be: in a tight cluster atop the conference standings. The only major surprise in the East is that the Atlanta Hawks have battled their way into the picture.