Create-a-caption: This Magic moment
Orlando Magic guard Anthony Johnson and Vince Carter have a laugh in Ball Don't Lie's latest C-a-C contest. Their mood in the photo is reflective of the team's as a whole, if the subsequent links in this news post are any indication.
I love my team!!!
Magic center Dwight Howard is quite happy with the way his team has played lately, as he writes in today's blog post:
My main job as a captain was to make sure that we get better every day as a team. And I just feel like now that we’re doing that. We just want to make sure we peak at the right time. We’re taking all the right steps in the right direction to become a great team. But like I tell everybody, everything we do starts on the defensive end of the floor. The last eight games have been very good defensively and we’ve done a good job of taking care of every detail.
It’s all coming together for us
Rashard Lewis agrees with Howard about the team beginning to jell. Here, he writes about the shooting groove he got into against the New York Knicks last night, in which he scored 17 points on 5-of-5 shooting, including 4-of-4 on three-pointers:
That was just one of those zones that shooters get in sometimes. I was hoping the ball would come to me every time down the court because my shot was really feeling good. I had a really good rhythm going and it’s almost like guys were looking to me to shoot the ball because they knew I had my stroke going.
NBA's Top 50 Players: All-Star Panel Picks Kobe Bryant No. 1 Over LeBron James
I wonder if Howard and Lewis would be so happy if they knew only 2 Magic players were selected in The Sporting News' list of the NBA's best players. Howard (4th overall) and Vince Carter (30th) are the only ones to appear on the list.
Road trips haven't been a problem for the Magic
Then again, the Magic might appreciate the extra motivation. They relish being disrespected, as Tania Ganguli writes, which might contribute to their success on the road.
Denton: Magic-Knicks Postgame Analysis
John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com draws comparisons between Magic players of different eras in recapping last night's win over New York, in which Orlando wore its black throwback uniforms.
The Magic wore the jerseys modeled after the ones Orlando donned in the late 1980s and early 1990s. And if you squinted just right, Howard looked like Shaquille O’Neal dominating the paint and Lewis and Pietrus resembled Dennis Scott and Nick Anderson raining in 3-pointers.
J.J. Hickson among supporting players to emerge this season
Mark Montieth of Sports Illustrated writes that Ryan Anderson has proven to be a key role-player in the NBA this season.
Ryan Anderson, Orlando. Most people didn't pay much attention when he was tossed into the deal that brought Vince Carter to the Magic from New Jersey. They should have. After a solid rookie season with the Nets, when he averaged 7.4 points, the 6-foot-10 forward is averaging 10.9 points and hitting 38.7 percent of his three-pointers. Carter has provided a major upgrade at shooting guard, and Anderson has helped make the loss of Hedo Turkoglu go virtually unnoticed, putting the Magic in position to reach the Finals again.
To which former Magic player would you compare Anderson? Resist the temptation to respond, "Pat Garrity." Please.
More links after the jump.
New Nets Owner Could Make a Splash With Ewing as Coach
Magic assistant coach Patrick Ewing wants very badly to be a head coach in the NBA one day, and the New Jersey Nets' coaching vacancy appeals to him. Here, he expresses his interest in the job to Tim Povtak. This story is one to watch going forward, especially at the end of the season.
"I'm not just a big-man's coach. I'm a basketball coach. And I could be a good head coach somewhere,'' he said after a morning workout. "It's just a matter of getting a chance.''
Raja Bell Trade Target Update
Marc Stein of ESPN.com lists San Antonio and Cleveland as potential teams intereste in acquiring Raja Bell from the Golden State Warriors. Bell has a reasonably sized contract which expires at the end of the season, and his skills (on-ball defense, three-point shooting) will be in demand during the postseason.
The results are already in on the wrist surgery we covered in a blog post early Thursday morning about Raja Bell and the inevitable interest contenders would have in trying to trade for him if he made it OK through the operation.
The Magic already have "three-and-D" specialists Mickael Pietrus and Matt Barnes (though Barnes' three-point touch has been way off this season), so they might not be interested in Bell. But should they be?
Won't see too many games like this one
Count me among the many basketball observers skeptical that Shaquille O'Neal can really help the Cleveland Cavaliers get over the hump, so to speak, and back to the NBA Finals, where the Spurs swept them in 2007. Maybe my skepticism is a touch unfounded. Here's Brian Windhorst writes about what Shaq's presence means for the Cavs on the offensive glass:
In the last three games, the Cavs have averaged 12 offensive per game. In the six games Shaq missed, they averaged about six offensive rebounds. Not only does Shaq get rebounds, but he forces defenders to stay on him and not go help to the ball. So they aren't in position to get as many defensive rebounds.
Magic 118, Knicks 104
Finally, I'll let this excerpt from Posting and Toasting's recap of the Magic's game against the Knicks last night speak for itself:
At the risk of sounding psychotic, I'd really like to cook and eat Dwight Howard's shoulders, and then do the same with Brandon Bass's to compare taste and texture. I'd bet Anthony Johnson would make a fine cut of meat as well. Word has it they hand-feed him beer and massage him daily to marble the fat.