Posts Tagged ‘Orlando Magic

Raptors continue to tempt fate but Magic don’t have the experience yet to close games; Red hot Ross providing a boost; Bench the difference again

- November 11th, 2014

The Raptors are playing with fire, but until they get burned, things might not change. Until they start losing games that they “half-ass” at the beginning, they probably won’t alter the script. They were the best fourth quarter team a year ago and have picked up where they left off. They have all the confidence in the world that even if they coast early on, they will find a way to win games in the end. It’s a very dangerous game to play. Try it Thursday against Chicago and it is extremely doubtful the record gets to 8-1.

- The first quarter woes extended through the entire opening half against Orlando. The Magic shot 53%, had 16 assists (to seven by Toronto) and just five turnovers. It was basically a walk in the park for Elfrid Payton, Channing Frye, Nikola Vuvevic and the rest of the visitors. The Raptors were a first place team in name only.

- Assistant coach Bill Bayno made a good point at the break: The Raptors are a known team now. They have a large target on their backs. Teams go at them hard from the jump. It’s not an excuse, it’s reality. If the Raptors don’t come out aggressively early, you can bet most other teams will, because nobody is looking past the Raptors anymore. Those days are long gone.

- Top to bottom, Toronto just has a deeper, better team than Orlando. That depth carried the day on Tuesday, with Patrick Patterson, James Johnson, Lou Williams, Tyler Hansbrough playing the biggest roles, with some help from Greivis Vasquez, who had a poor game, but played well late. The reserves scored 11 straight points to tie the game, setting up the eventual victory. Not a lot of reserve units can match up with Toronto’s group.

“I like the resolve of our team. The second unit came in and did what they were supposed to do and really competed,” head coach Dwane Casey said afterward.

- Terrence Ross continues to sizzle. The third-year swingman has put a tough start behind him, rebounding with three straight strong offensive games. Ross has scored 18, 17 and 17 points in the games, and averaged nearly five rebounds. He has also hit 12-of-18 three-point attempts after hitting just six, total, over the first five games. By hitting 67% of his threes over the past three games, Ross has raised his average from outside to an outstanding 47%.

- Kyle Lowry was excellent and by far the best of the starters. DeMar DeRozan had a rough night. Johnson had a good offensive night and got better defensively as the game went on.

- Early on, Orlando simply outworked and outran the home side. Toronto’s big men were particularly disinterested in competing. Jonas Valanciunas has had some good games against Nikola Vucevic, but this certainly wasn’t one of them. He failed to run the floor and again looked a step slow defensively. Amir Johnson’s typical frenetic energy was absent early.

- Valanciunas has missed a lot of makeable shots so far this season and especially against Orlando. Valanciunas shot 61% on shots within five feet last year, but has been 10% worse so far. It is early, he has time to correct whatever is going on.

- Lowry has not been drawing as many charges as he did last year when he was right near the top of the NBA’s leaderboard, but he took a couple against Orlando at key moments.

- Not sure why exactly, but Toronto really has Orlando’s number. The games are usually pretty tight, but Toronto has won nine straight meetings, the closest being the one DeRozan won at the buzzer in Orlando a couple of years ago. It is the longest streak Toronto has against any team.

- Yes, the Raptors sit alone at the top of the NBA. Yes, it feels a little weird to type that.

At Magic PPG: A win, but nothing to be proud of; No excuse for that defence; DeRozan/Lowry again wouldn’t let loss happen; Valanciunas’ growth heartening but where’s Ross?

- March 31st, 2014

Perhaps it can be considered progress that a Raptors win is no longer a cause for celebration the way it was when victories were harder to come by. Now, a win in a game played so wretchedly by the Raptors can only be slagged. Orlando’s horrible, worse than the Boston team that gave Toronto some trouble. There’s no excuse for letting that group shoot 55% from the field, collecting 24 assists (to Toronto’s 13, a low number not seen since the Rudy Gay trade). Only a huge edge at the line (27 attempts to 14) and an 18-9 edge on second chance points allowed the Raptors to escape after blowing a 21-point lead.

- The positives first: DeMar DeRozan wasn’t going to let the Raptors completely blow this one. He was in attack mode again, just as he had been against the Celtics, drawing more trips to the line than the entire Orlando team (Orlando head coach Jacque Vaughn, who is crusty on a good day, wasn’t too pleased about that fact). He also hit a clutch three. Backcourt partner Kyle Lowry did his usual thing as well, upping his workload considerably in the fourth, mostly driving the ball into the heart of the Orlando defence.

- Jonas Valanciunas continues to be a first half all-star. More often than not, he’s excellent early in games, than doesn’t see much of the ball when DeRozan and Lowry take over (Valanciunas has averaged 7.1 points in the first two quarters of games since the all-star break, half of that in the final two). Ideally, there would be a better balance, but you can’t argue much with the results. Valanciunas is really coming along lately, averaging 13.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, 55.7% shooting from the field and 90.2% shooting from the line over his past 10 games. Going beyond those stats, he’s also been noticeably better rotating on defence.

- The bench stepped up, Landry Fields and Nando de Colo particularly. Fields has been a true vet, ready to produce when called upon. He’s earned some of the minutes given to John Salmons. Fields played twice as many minutes as Salmons on Sunday. We’ll see if that continues. With the starters struggling to defend, the bench did a good job of providing more resistance.

- The bad: The defending. The lack of ball movement. Letting a bad team keep its confidence and claw back. No Terrence Ross for the final 15 minutes of the game (even though Orlando was shooting the lights out. Ross is Toronto’s best perimeter defender …)

 

Canadian Junior Women’s team doing well; NBA luxury tax teams revealed

- July 24th, 2011

Nice to see Canada’s Junior Women’s team playing very well at the FIBA U-19 World Championship for Women.

The ladies went undefeated in the first round claiming top spot in Group A. The top three teams from each group (12 in total) will meet in the next round and the top eight will go to the quarterfinals. The tournament resumes on Monday.

In NBA news,it was revealed this weekend that the Dallas Mavericks once again paid the luxury tax – this time they got a championship for their troubles. The Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic also had to pay about $20 million U.S.

The New York Knicks actually avoided paying the tax for the first time in more than a decade.

Orlando is in terrible shape. The team has spent a ton in order to appease Dwight Howard but has a terrible roster and is nowhere close to being a contender so everybody expects Howard to leave as a free agent, unless the new CBA helps Orlando keep him.

Carter continues to disappoint

- May 25th, 2010

That Orlando-Boston game Monday night was great entertainment. Back-and-f0rth, hard fouls, determination (aside from one guy that I’ll get too) and even an overtime session. Even the usually insufferable Mark Jackson didn’t grate on me.

These playoffs have been pretty terrible, overall, so it was nice to see. Looks like the Lakers-Suns series is picking up too.

Jeff Van Gundy called out Vince Carter a couple of games ago and thousands of people have been saying it for years. What a waste of talent. Nothing separated Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter talent-wise 10 years ago. Vince could have been just as good. He was a better jump shooter at the time and an even more ridiculous natural athlete. But, he never put in the work and just doesn’t have the mental makeup to take advantage of his gifts. He was atrocious in game 4 Monday. He almost shot the Magic out of the game and he haphazardly fought through screens all game and generall let Paul Pierce have his way with him.

After five years, nobody would have said Pierce would have the better career than Carter, but pretty clearly, he has. It’s a shame for fans of the game that Carter’s will never came close to matching his phsyical gifts. He could have been an all-time great.

It’s ironic that Hedo Turkoglu, a complete flameout in year one in Toronto, yet, is exactly what the Magic is missing right now. Jameer Nelson is the only facilitator on the floor. He can’t do it all himself. When the ball was in Turkoglu’s hands, everybody else looked much better offensively, particularly Rashard Lewis and Turkoglu’s defence wasn’t any worse than Carter’s has been. If I’m both sides, I find a way to send Carter to a third team and return Turkoglu to Orlando for something like Gortat and Bass. It will never happen because Otis Smith badmouthed Turk and who really wants Carter at this point, but it would help both teams a lot.