41. Half Way Home: The View from Orlando



It's 9:30 AM sharp and Professor Timbo enters the room and addresses the class...


"Good morning to all of you...

"Well, we've reached the midway point of the term and that means it's time for midterm grades. We've had a lot of dropouts this semester, some of what seemed to be the most promising students are going to have to repeat the course next year. Hopefully they will all be able to come back and do that. Congratulations to those of you who have stuck it out so far — the worst is behind you, I'm happy to say.

"All in all, this class is doing well. Your work through the first half of the season has been entertaining and there have been more than a couple very surprising endings delivered. Everyone has performed with a good level of fundamental competence and understanding of the task at hand. This set of generally favorable grades reflect that.

"After a little edginess during the first few weeks, everyone has faced the situation and their own responsibilities and worked hard. Nobody has had to be bailed out of jail for getting drunk and taking a dump on the lawn in front of the administration building, which is more than can be said about a few previous groups who have attended here. People have showed up for class on time and every single one of you seems like you're prepared to do work at this level. All in all, this team has been a pleasure to watch.

"This is not to say that there's no room for improvement. Several very winnable games have slipped away and in the very tough Western Conference, there is no room for that kind of failure. It's going to be a challenge just to make the post-season this year, given the injury situation.

"Remember, class the first midterm counts only 25% towards your final grade. The second midterm will come at the end of game 82 and will count for an additional 25%, with the final exam at the end of the playoffs accounting for a full 50% of your grade. So by by all means keep working, even if things aren't going altogether swimmingly at this point.

Well, I can see from your anxious expressions that you want to see how you each did, so let's get to the individual grades, shall we?" 



Brandon Roy — A

The sky is the limit for you, Brandon, the only question is how hard you are willing to work in the off-season to add new wrinkles to your game. You can ride bikes or you can learn a couple new moves, it's up to you. You are a true savant at getting to the rim as well as generating open shots off the dribble — two extremely valuable and complementary skills that will serve you well as long as you are in this league.

Ever since your rookie year you have been the unquestioned team leader, of whom most is demanded. The start of this season was rather woeful, marked by excuse-making and finger-pointing and under-performance. Then came the injury flood and you got down to business and became the steady star we have all grown to love.

Work needs to be done on maintaining the handle on the ball, there has been a tendency towards dribbling errors leading to turnovers and even getting picked in the open court, which should not be happening to a superstar.

You are all but certain to be rewarded with a 3rd consecutive All Star berth, Brandon, and well deserved. You aren't the straw that mixes the drink, you're the glass that keeps it from spilling all over the counter and making an unspeakable bloody mess all over the floor. 

     Games Played: 39 (of which 39 were starts)

     Scoring: 23.4 PPG — 21.7 Points Per 36 Minutes.

     Shooting Percentages: 2 Pointers: 52.3%; 3-Pointers: 34.8% (effectively 53.0%).

     Rebounding: 4.6 RPG — 4.26 Rebounds Per 36 Minutes.

     Assists: 5.1 APG — 4.71 Assists Per 36 Minutes.

     Points Per Possession Used †: 1.04



Juwan Howard — A

Juwan, no player has surprised more than you. Coming to this team, I didn't know you from Adam — legendary college hoopster and grizzled NBA vet though you were. People laughed and rolled their eyes and moaned and complained when you were extended a roster spot over Option B or Option C. I was just happy KP locked in another PF rather than going hungry again at the position.

It looked like you were gonna be nothing more than a rather more highly compensated version of Blaze the Trail Cat, decked out in team colors and cheering on Portland while spreading joy and good cheer amongst the youth. But you knew something that virtually nobody else in the city, in the state, in the NBA did — YOU CAN STILL PLAY AT A HIGH LEVEL.

Sure, you don't have the size or the hops to be blocking people at the rim like Oden or Przybilla. But when both of those guys when down for the year with knee injuries, you were thrust into the spotlight to sink or swim, forced to face every opposing Center from Man-Mountain Shaq to Superman Dwight. Thank god for all of us that you swam — marvelously.

Your midrange jumper to 15 feet is excellent and you understand the One Big Lesson of rebounding: it's not just size, rebounding is as much about technique and will. Last year's Blazer MVP Not Named Brandon was Joel Pryzbilla. You are well on the way to being This Year's Model. Keep up the good work and stay healthy, new found friend!

     Games Played: 33 (of which 11 were starts)

     Scoring: 5.5 PPG — 10.0 Points Per 36 Minutes.

     Shooting Percentages: 2 Pointers: 56.8%; only took 1 3-pointer and missed.

     Rebounding: 4.0 RPG — 7.29 Rebounds Per 36 Minutes.

     Assists: 0.7 APG — 1.34 Assists Per 36 Minutes.

     Points Per Possession Used †: 0.98



Martell Webster — A-

Early in this season, when nobody was happy with their lot in life, everybody had a theory about what was so "wrong" with the Blazers, everybody wanted this change or that change made for the betterment of the team, there was one guy who was a veritable Rock of Gibralter. That was you, Marty Blazer. You told Nate in essence "Whatever you need me to do, I'll do. I'll start or I'll come off the bench or I'll work in a souvenir stand on the concourse selling 'I LOVE RUDY' shirts to teenage girls. Just say the word." That was an absolutely perfect heart-felt expression of true team-first attitude at a time when the Blazers really needed it — and the fans will always remember you for it.

Your year on the floor didn't start as well — you struggled to find your shot, you struggled to make an impact on the boards, you struggled to defend, you looked very, very mediocre instead of the elite young star wing which we hoped you would become. With Nic and Travis out, it was your chance to shine. Yet you did not seem to be equal to the task.

Then a few weeks ago, something seemed to click for you. I don't really know what that was. Coach Nate attributes it to your "getting comfortable with the league." All the sudden you became a highly effective on ball defender on the perimeter, you began crashing the boards and racking up rebounds, your 3-point stroke returned to you. Maybe it just took a while for your game to return to you after missing a full season. No matter, a job well done and a much needed contribution to this undermanned team.


      Games Played: 41 (of which 32 were starts)

     Scoring: 10.4 PPG — 13.5 Points Per 36 Minutes.

     Shooting Percentages: 2 Pointers: 45.0%; 3-Pointers: 38.1% (effectively 57.2%).

     Rebounding: 4.1 RPG — 5.31 Rebounds Per 36 Minutes.

     Assists: 0.7 APG — 0.95 Assists Per 36 Minutes.

     Points Per Possession Used †: 1.00



LaMarcus Aldridge — B+

Okay, LaMarcus, let's be frank. This is not high school or college ball any more, where you can get by on your size and speed and athleticism. This is the NBA, where there are LOTS of Bigs who are truly big, and where championships are not won by teams that have big men with fluid 20-foot jumpers but rather by those who control the paint.

We all appreciate your silky smooth jumper. It's pretty. You can get your shot on anybody. We love your little turnaround fadeaway from 15. It's a good move. It's pretty. You're a swell guy, not a donkey, and trust me when I say that that will get you a long way as a Power Forward with this franchise after Hashweed and Statbo.

But you know what? THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!! We don't care if you're a borderline All Star for your lovely jumpers that you can get over anybody. THAT IS NOT WHAT WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS!!! Here's what we need from you: defensive rebounding, putback buckets, and solid defense in the paint.

You have the size and athleticism to be very good at these things. But do you have the will? We don't need an overpaid, marginally superior variant of Channing Frye. We need a Power Forward who, while being capable of stretching out a defensive team with a fluid perimeter stroke, is not afraid to mix it up on either end of the floor for rebounds and ugly putbacks.

Are you that guy? Can you channel just a little DeJuan Blair or Zach Randolph to go with that svelte jumpshot? Please........

      Games Played: 38 (of which 38 were starts)

     Scoring: 15.8 PPG — 15.9 Points Per 36 Minutes.

     Shooting Percentages: 2 Pointers: 49.3%; 3-Pointers: 62.5% (effectively 93.75% — only 8 shots taken though).

     Rebounding: 8.1 RPG — 8.14 Rebounds Per 36 Minutes.

     Assists: 2.0 APG — 1.99 Assists Per 36 Minutes.

     Points Per Possession Used †: 1.00



Jeff Pendergraph — B

I saw you in Summer League, Pendy, and I was pretty convinced that you were a stiff. And then you went out with hip surgery and you were a crippled up stiff. Wasted draft pick. What was KP thinking?

Then you worked your way back into game shape and something funny happened — we all saw the real you on the floor for the first time. You're not just the silly goofus that "wants to get paid" (as you rather stupidly told the Oregonian on camera), you're TOUGH and INTENSE and a little bit NASTY on the floor. You know how to rebound and you WANT to rebound. Wow, what a revelation that was!

If Portland has survived and surpassed expectations in the post-Oden, post-Przybilla period thanks to the low post play of Juwan Howard, you're the steady, capable backup in that task. A rookie, doing man's work — THAT rookie, who looked like a wooden klutz during Summer League. Wow.

You're on the right path, for sure, little teasers of a fluid offensive game have been shown. No more are you being seen as KP's Folly (aka The-Guy-Who-is-Not-DeJuan-Blair-But-Could-Have-Been). Now you're OUR guy, Joel Pryzbilla Version 2.0.

Keep mashing!

     Games Played: 12 (of which 2 were starts)

     Scoring: 4.5 PPG — 9.87 Points Per 36 Minutes.

     Shooting Percentages: 2 Pointers: 68.8%; no 3 Point Shots taken.

     Rebounding: 4.2 RPG — 9.14 Rebounds Per 36 Minutes.

     Assists: 0.0 APG — 0.00 Assists Per 36 Minutes.

     Points Per Possession Used †: 1.35



Andre Miller — B

Okay, Dre, I've made a study of you. You can't fool me with your act.

You pretend that basketball is "just a business," you repeat that line endlessly, but you don't really believe that at all. You're a very sensitive and proud athlete. You're just trying to recapture the perfect high, a Utah State team that truly meshed and played the game the right way and was all on the same page and which succeeded at a high level. I understand completely, I was a witness of something similar at Oregon State, way back in the day...

Nothing else in your basketball life has come close to matching that little dose of perfection, so you shrug your shoulders and pretend that everything else is "just business." You were drafted by a crappy team, you wanted big bucks and forced a trade to a team which looked like it was on the verge but imploded (because they WERE the Clippers, after all). You made your big bucks as a free agent with the crappiest team in the league, and when you were instrumental in making those Nuggets a contender, you were done dirty and shipped out for Allen Iverson. Then THAT team used you for a couple years before ingloriously waving goodbye because they thought you were finished.

Your available options were limited. You wound up, ironically, on one of the two or three teams around the league in which it is possible for you to once again taste the nectar of a team of good guys doing it the right way, with no ulterior motives, and succeeding at a high level. Yes, these Blazers can be your Utah State again if you can put all ego aside and buy in completely. Watch Marty Blazer and learn.

Yet, sadly, you came into this potentially optimal situation just as a contradiction was emerging between your ernest desires and your declining physicality. The adjustment has been difficult for all concerned.

Your game includes some things you do really well — posting up smaller players, sliding through the lane and getting to the rim like Brandon Roy, throwing outlet passes and clever alley oops, moving without the ball to get open for midrange jumpers, you can beat a trap 10 times out of 10. Your game also includes great defects — you have no hops whatsoever, your perimeter jumpers are actually setshots which can not be hit unless they are largely uncontested, you are prone to attempt to make exceptional passes by taking exceptional risks (thereby causing stupid turnovers). The defects aren't fixable at this point — you are what you are — but they can be recognized and minimized.

You started slowly but have steadily been integrated into the team and are showing signs of being the player we all thought you were. Can you learn to be happy and truly love your status as "one option of many" on the Blazers? That's the ultimate question.

     Games Played: 41 (of which 25 were starts)

     Scoring: 12.4 PPG — 15.4 Points Per 36 Minutes.

     Shooting Percentages: 2 Pointers: 45.9%; 3-Pointers: 20.9% (effectively 31.4%).

     Rebounding: 2.9 RPG — 3.57 Rebounds Per 36 Minutes.

     Assists: 5.0 APG — 6.27 Assists Per 36 Minutes.

     Points Per Possession Used †: 0.89



Steve Blake — B-

Glad you're feeling better after the pneumonia. We all missed you, believe it or not.

Much of the grief you have been given so far this year, Steve, isn't your fault. OF COURSE you're going to want to play 113 minutes a game if it's possible — it's not on you that you've been grossly overutilized at the cost of stifling the development of Jerryd Bayless or delaying the integration of Andre Miller. You're Nate's binky, after all — a comfortable, safe, pretty okay option at the PG position. And early in the year, when the team seemed to be going to hell in a handbasket, comfortable, safe, and pretty okay were good things indeed.

Of course, now time has passed and we know a lot more about what Messrs. Miller and Bayless can and can't do. It seems obvious to virtually everyone that Andre Miller is a starting caliber PG, that you are an excellent spot-up 3-point bomber who is capable of handling the ball, and that Jerryd Bayless is a special circumstances energy weapon off the bench capable of driving and dishing with the best of them. It's now on Coach Nate to use all three of you appropriately.

It will be interesting to see if you stay or if you go at the end of this season. I can see you retiring a Blazer and I can see you going home to Miami — it will be one of those two things. Since your optimal function in the Blazer offense is more or less the same as that of Rudy Fernandez, it will probably be hard for you both to be retained. Is "comfortable, safe, and pretty okay" more highly valued than "zazzy"? I guess we'll all find out.

      Games Played: 37 (of which 25 were starts)

     Scoring: 7.8 PPG — 9.7 Points Per 36 Minutes.

     Shooting Percentages: 2 Pointers: 41.1%; 3-Pointers: 40.5% (effectively 60.8%).

     Rebounding: 2.5 RPG — 3.09 Rebounds Per 36 Minutes.

     Assists: 3.6 APG — 4.46 Assists Per 36 Minutes.

     Points Per Possession Used †: 0.95



Dante Cunningham — C+

Only a C+ for you, Dante, due to circumstances beyond your control. For whatever reason you haven't fully gained the confidence of Coach Nate and your playing time has been truncated to the point that we really haven't been able to see all you can do.

Your defense seems excellent, your willingness to rebound is first-rate, and your midrange jumper is sweet. Yet we really haven't been able to see you run or take it to the rim hard in traffic. The passing which you have shown has been functional but pedestrian. I can look at you play and envision a REALLY GOOD Laker, playing in the triangle and hitting 10 foot jumpers all night long, but something so far hasn't quite clicked in Portland.

Part of the problem, no doubt, is your size. The coaches insist you're a Power Forward, but your size and style of play is that more of a Wing. The coaches, for whatever reason, have decided to go small ball with increasing frequency this season, replacing the One Uninjured SF Marty Webster with a slightly out of position Third Guard. One can't argue with success — but this choice has left you the odd man out, more often than not.

Still, by this point it is clear that you're gonna be a keeper in the NBA and that has to be some consolation. We'll see what transpires in the second half of the season. If nothing else, this year we've all learned not to plan too far ahead or to assume that we know everything about anything. Stuff happens and new circumstances arise on a weekly basis and it could well be that your critical role on this team lies just around the corner.

     Games Played: 27 (of which 1 was a start)

     Scoring: 3.4 PPG — 12.3 Points Per 36 Minutes.

     Shooting Percentages: 2 Pointers: 48.8%; only took 1 3-pointer and missed.

     Rebounding: 2.4 RPG — 8.53 Rebounds Per 36 Minutes.

     Assists: 0.2 APG — 0.80 Assists Per 36 Minutes.

     Points Per Possession Used †: 0.91



Jerryd Bayless — C

Well, Rex, it can be summed up with your two starts. The first start in place of a tweaked Brandon Roy you racked up 33 points and basically won the game singlehandedly. The second start for Brandon saw you go 0-for-6 for 1 point and riding pine. You put an A and an F together and divide by 2 and you come up wth............. a straight C.

I don't mind that you're extremely confident because that's what it's gonna take to succeed in this league. And chances are, you ARE going to succeed in this league. You have learned an enormous amount compared to last season: no more are people yammering the idiotic line about you not having the essential court-vision or passing acumen to be a Point Guard. You've shown us all that you can see the floor and make the passes you need to make to generate easy buckets for others.

You have the superskill of getting to the rim although not necessarily that of finishing. On a good night, against the Lakers, for example, you head for the foul line frequently. On a bad night, you get capped and crushed at the rim. Bottom line, you've got to work very very hard on your finishes: reverses using the rim for protection and making better use of your left hand.

Your skill driving the lane makes your ability to drive-and-dish a highly effective weapon. Your perimeter shot remains extremely sketchy, however. I'm not quite sure what the trouble is there, but you miss far too many open looks from 20+ feet. And if you take another 3-pointer with your foot on the line, Coach Nate should do some leg lifts with his boot into your butt...

Ultimately, you're just a college Junior this year. We all need to remember that and be patient — both the Blazer Maniacs and you. Keep working hard, you'll get there.

      Games Played: 34 (of which 2 were starts)

     Scoring: 8.6 PPG — 17.5 Points Per 36 Minutes.

     Shooting Percentages: 2 Pointers: 41.3%; 3-Pointers: 31.7% (effectively 47.6%).

     Rebounding: 1.4 RPG — 2.89 Rebounds Per 36 Minutes.

     Assists: 2.2 APG — 4.46 Assists Per 36 Minutes.

     Points Per Possession Used †: 0.92



Rudy Fernandez — INC.

So you think you can cut class for about half the term and then pop back in to ace the midterm, do you? Not in my class!

Rudy, we love your attitude and your panache. We love your ability to pass with flair and to hit long bombs from 3-point land. You're cute as a bug and the poster boy for the poster industry — the team marketing department must simply adore the possibilities.

But what are we going to do with you?

You're not a Point Guard, you're too gangly.

If you're a Shooting Guard, and it looks like you are, you're gonna ride pine forever behind Brandon Roy, the third best at the position in the league, after Kobe and D-Wade.

You're too skinny to play Small Forward on the defensive end, nor are you solid enough to mix it up as an effective weak-side rebounder. Nic Batum and Marty Webster are going to get those minutes.

So let me ask you this: are you really going to be happy coming off the bench for 15 minutes a night and draining a few triples from the corner while the crowd goes wild? That's your lot in life here, now and for the foreseeable future. That's admittedly not a huge problem at the moment, but eventually it's gonna be contract time and the NBA's CBA-induced gross financial exploitation of you will be over. You'll need to play to be paid. Is this really the team?

     Games Played: 22 (none of which were starts)

     Scoring: 8.4 PPG — 13.3 Points Per 36 Minutes.

     Shooting Percentages: 2 Pointers: 49.1%; 3-Pointers: 37.1% (effectively 55.7%).

     Rebounding: 2.5 RPG — 3.98 Rebounds Per 36 Minutes.

     Assists: 2.1 APG — 3.33 Assists Per 36 Minutes.

     Points Per Possession Used †: 0.92


†: Points Per Possession Used =  TOTAL POINTS SCORED / {SHOTS TAKEN + (.9 * FTs TAKEN / 2) + TURNOVERS}

The "discount" on Free Throws taken is to account for AND ONES, which add points without using possessions. No credit is given here for Assists, so bear in mind it understates the value of those who generate Assists at the cost of turnovers.

A true "possession" continues if an offensive rebound is obtained, an event which this statistic ignores. 


Ranking of Offensive Efficiency after 41 Games:


  • PGs: 1. Blake; 2. Bayless; 3. Miller.
  • Wings: 1. Roy; 2. Webster; 3. Fernandez.
  • Bigs: 1. Pendergraph; 2. Aldridge; 3. Howard; 4. Cunningham.


Prowling around YouTube I decided to see what was around for Patty Mills. I spotted a few decent interviews, not too much in the way of quality game footage. This first video is a long piece featuring the 18-year old Point Guard in an interview for Australian television. This was made just prior to his heading off to college in the United States...


Here's a piece done by Aussie Sports America showing Patty on his college team, including interviews with the coach of St. Mary's College, where he went to school.... (Best part is watching him kick butt on the Ducks...)


Here's an interview with conducted with Patty just before the 2008 Beijing Olympics Games...




Channel Surfing.

Friday, Jan. 15.


Orlando Magic (26-13) at Portland Trail Blazers (24-16).

No Brandon with the strained hammy and his replacement Rex picked up two of his patented Rookie Dumbski Handchecking Fouls in less than 4 minutes. LMA had just 2 points in the 1st Quarter on 1-for-5 shooting. So the Blazers were doomed from the get-go, right?

Not exactly.

Marty Webster racked up 10 critical points and the whole Magic team managed just 14 of their own as Portland went to the first break with a 24-14 lead. Portland shot 46% from the field to Orlando's 31%, which was the story of that story. Magic, a bunch of jumpshooters with a monster masher in the key, couldn't find the range.

Portland went cold (opening 2-for-11 from the field) and allowed Orlando to speed up the tempo during the first half of the 2nd Quarter as Andre and Marty — designated stars of the evening — both watched helplessly from the sideline. But with 6:30 remaining the cavalry charged in from the scorer's table and the Blazers reestablished their double-digit lead. With 4:38 remaining, Fat Stan felt compelled to call a timeout. His team had just 26 points on the scoreboard, the 3-point bombing visitors just 2-for-15 from beyond the arc.

Bayless looked like crap, Blake looked like crap, Rudy looked like crap, Juwan and Inferno were sketchy — yet somehow 40% shooting was getting it done. LMA racking up 9 fast rebounds was pitoval. But Orlando returned Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis off the timeout, and the game seemed to be entering another phase. But it really wasn't. LMA and Andre continued to work their magic against Orlando.

At halftime, the Blazers led by 20, 52 to 32. The entire Magic team was being outscored by just 3 Blazers: LMA had a double-double at the break, 10 points and 11 boards; Marty was 13 and 7; Andre had 12 points and 5 assists, with only 1 turnover. Portland was out-rebounding Orlando 22 to 9.

Orlando came out in the second half playing like the Orlando Magic. A lead of 22 was down to 15 faster than Mike Rice could unscrew a hip flask. Portland was flinging unsucessfully and the Magic hit their open looks, dropping a 10-0 run on the leaden Blazers. A good time out by Nate switched momentum, and Portland came back with a 7-0 run of their own, featuring some smooth jumpers by the Blazer bigs, Juwan and LMA.

It was, interestingly, the Blazers hitting open look 3s and the Magic getting to the rim in the latter part of the 3rd Quarter. J.J. Redick was particularly effective. "That defense will loosen up," ESPN commentator Mark Jackson noted. The Blazers closed the 3rd Quarter in the catbird seat due to made triples by Marty and Blake, up 77 to 59.

During the initial minutes of the 4th Quarter, the jumpshooting Blazers went cold with Orlando clogging the paint and keeping Andre away from the cup. Orlando made an effort to get the ball low, with Dwight Howard hitting a couple nice buckets in the paint and leaving a couple more points on the free throw line (he was just 1-for-8 from the charity stripe with just under 6 minutes remaining). The Blazer lead dwindled to 14 points.

Ultimately, it was the 3-point bombing skills of the..................... BLAZERS that won the game. Portland shot 11-for-21 from the arc, while the Magic jacked up 30 attempts from downtown and hit only 7. The Blazers also astonishingly out-rebounded Dwight Howard & Co., 42 to 38. They won big despite being outshot by the visitors from the field, 48% to 47%.

Portland went wire-to-wire in the win: Blazers 102, Magic 87.  "And it wasn't even that close," noted ESPN play-by-play man Mike Breen. Marty was team-high for Portland with 24 points and 9 boards, Andre Miller added 19 and 9 assists, and Steve Blake chipped in 18 off the bench. Jerryd Bayless finished with just 1 point on 0-for-6 shooting as the starting SG, definitively answering some question or other.


Well, let's pay a little visit to The Popcorn Machine GAME FLOW SUMMARY and see what else there is to figure out... Please give that link a little click if you would...

Observation 1: Wire to wire demolition of one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference...

Observation 2: This is the sort of game where +/- tells ya something. Andre Miller, +26; Marty Webster, +22; LaMarcus Aldridge, +21. Next highest guys on the team: Blake and Pendy at +8.

Observation 3: Stan Van Gundy is generally a mad professor of player matchups, but in this game he was very pedestrian, basically using complete 1st Team/2nd Team unit substitutions. The Orlando 1st Team gave up the run that put the Heat in the hole in the 1st Quarter, while it was mostly the 2nd Team that got plastered in the 2nd Quarter, resulting in the insurmountable 20 point deficit at the half.

Observation 4: A terrific rebounding game for LMA, but once again he was nearly silent in the second half on the offensive end, scoring just 4 points on 2-for-6 shooting.

That's all for now...



Tas and Skeets are skipping the Friday morning show and filming their 500th episode live at a party in Toronto Friday night. This will be up next week.


On with the show... This is the show, you know... Here's the clippage from our Magical Florida pals of cyberspace...



Portland Trail Blazers Burn Orlando Magic: Orlando was walloped again on the road in Carter's return

by Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Orlando Magic lost the game, their division lead and probably any mystique carried over from their NBA Finals appearance last season.

The Magic were manhandled by the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers 102-87 on Friday night at the Rose Garden, falling for the sixth time in the past eight games. * * *

The Blazers (26-14) roared to a 20-point halftime lead and beat the Magic at their own game, drilling 3-pointers. The Blazers shot 52.4 percent and made 11-of-21 3-pointers, with Martell Webster nailing five.

Carter, Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis played together as starters for just the 11th time this season. But Carter was no factor, going just 1-of-7 for five points and Howard finished with 11 points. * * *



Orlando Magic Notes: Coach Stan Van Gundy has long talk with struggling Rashard Lewis

by Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel

Coach Stan Van Gundy said he met with PF Rashard Lewis on Thursday "for quite a while" to discuss his frustration - and the team's.

Lewis said after Wednesday night's game loss to the Denver Nuggets that he wasn't getting quite enough shots. * * *

"I think he's frustrated. That's a bit of the problem. There's sort of a frustration running through our team. Rashard had made a comment that sometimes it feels like we're a last-place team. That sort of sums up a little bit of where our guys are right now." * * *



Magic vs. Trail Blazers: Live Blog

by Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel Magic BasketBlog

* * *
11:43 p.m.: Well, this half is even worse for Orlando than its first half against the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day. The offense is nearly as bad, and the defense is far worse.

11:44 p.m.: Interesting tiff between Dwight Howard and Steve Blake. Clearly, Howard is frustrated. Can't blame him for feeling that way. But he's got to be careful that he doesn't pick up 16 total technicals this season or he'll face an automatic one-game league suspension.

11:45 p.m.: Is that the worst first half the Magic have played all season? I say yes.

11:51 p.m.: Magic finish the half shooting 36.1 percent from the field and 11.8 percent from 3-point range. The Blazers are shooting 44.4 percent from the field and from beyond the arc. * * *



Trade Dwight Howard for Gilbert Arenas!

posted by "Boca G" to the Orlando Magic BasketBlog live blog

Enough is enough, the Magic has been playing out of Sync since the they got rid of Turks and added Vince Carter, Bass, Barnes, J Will, and Anderson.

A few pieces like Jason Williams, Barnes, and Anderson seem to have found their roll with the Magic, Bass does not even play.

Carter takes way too much shots and leaving Rashard to stay cold and out of rhythm; Van Gundy seems confused at this point as to how to solve it. Shaq may have been right about him, when things start to go sour he get's confused.

I think the 2nd unit gives a better effort than the first, they play listlessly like they are on sleeping pills.

The Magic is very far from Championship material, Vince ma boy you only have this season and the next, may be to get it going.

Otis if it's not broken don't fix it, you tried to fix a good team that took you to the finals, where is the logic.
As other times are on the rise The Magic is declining and is becoming a pain to watch.

"Hard Work beats out Talent when talent does not work hard" The Magic has talent but they are Lazy.



Good Ol' Orlando Magic

posted by "Magic12Ball" to Orlando Pinstriped Post live game thread

heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere we go again

and for our first trick, we'll disappear in the 1st!




Something's the Matter, Anyway

posted to Orlando Pinstripe Post gameday open thread


I think yall need to stop over-reacting.

by pookeyguru on Jan 15, 2010 8:42 PM PST

you're overreacting by not overreacting, we're down by 22!!!!!

by magic12ball on Jan 15, 2010 8:42 PM PST

22 pot deficit to a crippled blazers team and we're over-reacting?!
I beg to differ my friend.

by blue-blood on Jan 15, 2010 8:43 PM PST

I'm beginning to wonder if the pressure of playing for a championship is something that this team thinks about too often rather than going out and just playing
It just seems they are too tight for no real reason...

by pookeyguru on Jan 15, 2010 8:52 PM PST

I think you're on to something pookey. And you can blame Otis on that one, he's the one who always talks about and puts pictures of trophies everywhere I read.

by derekk on Jan 15, 2010 8:53 PM PST



Magic Uninspired, Credit to Portland

posted by "Mad Balla 15" to Real GM Magic message board

* * *
This team plays such uninspired ball for a championship contending team. There's no heart, no hustle, no desire, no killer instinct etc. I'm hoping they can pick up their play but you can't just be the kind've team to turn it on and off.

The thing that's most disappointing about this team is the defense. Honestly, if this team could play defense even remotely as good as last year, they would have won many of these games that they lost.

At the same time I'll give credit to Portland, it didn't seem like they missed a shot out there tonight.



Jameer and Vince Don't Work

posted by "Phoenixmolochia" to Real GM Magic message board

Jameer and Vince don't work. It flat out doesn't work. Two ball dominating players is assinine.

It's like putting **** versions of Iverson and Kobe together. Nobody in their right mind would. You take the ball out Vince's hand and he's useless. You take the ball out of Jameer's hand and he's useless.

Start J-Will or start Redick. Something's got to give.



Stop Super-Chucking

posted by "Gino Glode" to Real GM Magic message board

We win two big games vs the Hawks and Kings, and lose huge vs Nuggets and Blazers....

The former we did by playing inside, the latter we did by super chucking....

Imagine if we had been playing inside ball the WHOLE game instead of going 2-17 from 3 like in the first quarter.... How does Stan even allow that to happen? Does the man call out plays for people or does he take the Phil Jackson approach and just let the players decide how to do things?

Andre Miller having his way with us on the PnR I can stomach, but allowing Webster, Fernandez, and Aldrige open shots after open shots is bonkers.

Nice job of Rashard and JJ recognizing they needed to drive even if they have the open shot HOWEVER let's not let them off the hook for some truly **** defense. * * *

Jameer looked fine, and he had some nice cross over moves that probably would have worked if he was longer. His shot looked fine but he needs to pressure the defense from the get go by driving and of course play like a PG and set your guys up.

Vince played awful just chucking away, and was slow going under screens, and of course getting caught fouling the 3pt shooters. Though again I don't think he had enough chances to get it going for his first game back.

Dwight needs to seriously step up as the leader and demand the ball. He gets an attempt in and then the rest of the guys on the court try their hand chucking. Then when Dwight actually gets the ball in good position you pretty much realize it was pointless since they'll just gang bang him in the paint and Dwight's so much of a pussy he has to sing a song to himself to make the free throw go in! USE YOUR KNEES YOU MUSCLE FREAK DUMBASS! * * *

We played a seriously undermanned team w/o their centers or best wing player yet we refuse to take advantage and challenge their depth in drawing fouls. * * *



Some, uh, WORTHY stats...

posted by "Maxwell CD-R" to Magic message board

"Seriously, Wince Carter so far this month, he is a black hole with the ball: (21%)12-56, (10%) 2-19 from three"

Haha, that is really bad, you want some sh_t-worthy stats?

Magic's shooting from Three (7-30) = 23.3%

At the rim? (20-25) = 80.0%

Well there is a stroke of genius, drive to the hoop against a team without a Center. Wonder why no one thought of that before the 4th-Quarter? Ironically Lewis was (6-6) at the rim after having only been able to make 47% at that distance (0 Feet).

Oh, also, this loss was due in part to the defense, more so than the offense. I mean 9 of their 11 3-Pointers came from 2 guys, how many do those two guys have to make before you decide NOT to help off of them?



Portland Trail Blazers 102, Orlando Magic 87

by Ben Q Rock, Orlando Pinstriped Post (SBN)

The Orlando Magic were helpless to contain the Portland Trail Blazers' outside shooting Friday night, couldn't exploit their obvious height advantage, and dropped their second straight game, 102-87. Lightly-regarded role player Martell Webster led everyone with 24 points on 14 shots, with 5 three-pointers, filling in admirably for All-Star shooting guard Brandon Roy, who sat out with a sore hamstring. Point guards Andre Miller and Steve Blake combined for 37 points, 15 assists, and just 4 turnovers. * * *

An undermanned Portland team was just too much for the Magic, who are reasonably healthy, to handle. As was the case Wednesday in Denver, the Magic could not rotate quickly enough defensively, especially on the perimeter, which resulted in several wide-open looks for the Blazers. There's only so much a defense can hope to accomplish against a team that moves the ball as well as Portland does, which Orlando learned the hard way tonight.

Offensively, the Magic continued to struggle. They couldn't get their three-pointers to drop, no matter how clean their looks were. In what should have been taken as a sign of things to come for Orlando, Vince Carter — in his first game back after missing the previous three with a sprained shoulder--bricked his first three-point attempt long and to the left. An ugly, ugly result... on a solid attempt within the rhythm of the offense. It was just that sort of night. * * *




posted by "Slick W 143" to Orlando Pinstriped Post

I was extremely frustrated watching this game.

The reason? As soon as I found out that Roy was out (and that Vince was playing), I just knew that this was the kind of game the Magic were not going to perform in. And that's not a good feeling to have about your team.

This Magic team almost feels like a parody of last year's. Even in most of their wins, they have looked listless or arrogant. I fully expect the Lakers to kill us if Pau is still out, and I expect us to get beat down even moreso if Kobe has to miss any of the game due to his injuries. * * *



Another Puzzling Effort for Magic

by Philip Rossman-Reich, Orlando Magic Daily (TrueHoop)

With Blazers star Brandon Roy out with a sore hamstring and Vince Carter making a surprise return from his shoulder injury of a week ago, things seemed to be in the Magic's favor as they continued their West Coast trip in Portland on Friday. Dwight Howard was surely licking his lips knowing that both of Portland's centers — Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla — were out for the game, leaving an undersized front line to deal with Howard.

Things are never that easy in the NBA.

The shots did not fall for Orlando as the team scored 32 points in the first half and dug itself a pretty hefty hole. Portland, on the other hand, seemingly could not miss as they hit on 11 of 21 3-point attempts and easily held off Orlando 102-87.

The Magic just did not have the right effort to win this one. While LaMarcus Aldridge was diving all over the floor for loose balls and outworking Orlando for offensive rebounds, Orlando was slow on rotations to shooters and could never get over the hump enough to make a serious run. * * *



Game Review: TrailBlazers (25-16) 102, Magic (26-14) 87

(by Mike from Illinois?), Orlando Magic Blog

The absence of Portland star Brandon Roy, along several other Blazers' injuries, and the return of Vince Carter to the Magic starting lineup, did nothing to help the Magic Friday night. Portland, led by Martell Webster's 24 points, led from start to finish, leading by as many as 23 points, as the Magic fell from first place in the SE with Atlanta taking over the top spot in the division.

After the Magic tied the game 8-8 early, it was all downhill from that point on for the Magic. The Blazers led 24-14 after one and outscored the Magic 21-6 to end the half as their lead swelled to 52-32. * * *



A Tough Watch

posted by "Vinnie" to Magic Madness message board

I'm just starting to think this team isn't that good. Plus they are a tough watch.

It's amazing how different the feel with this team is this year as opposed to last year but we did make a ton of changes and honestly none of them has really worked out to well.



Magic Blown Out in Portland

by Andrew Melnick, Howard the Dunk (Fansided)

The Orlando Magic were dominated by the Portland Trail Blazers Friday night and lost for the second time in a row and the fifth time in seven games. The Blazers, playing without leading scorer Brandon Roy, took it to the Magic from start to finish. Martell Webster was on fire and led the Blazers with 24 points. Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson each scored 15 points in the loss. * * *

Orlando's entire starting lineup was awful. Vince Carter played just 17 minutes, was not aggressive at all and finished with just 5 points on 1-of-7 shooting. Six of his 7 attempts were 3-pointers. Sure, Vince was coming back from an injured shoulder, but his willingness to sit back and take long jumpers rather than attack the basket has been a problem all season. * * *

The Magic had a huge edge in height and seemingly should have had a huge advantage in rebounding, but that was not the case. Portland collected 42 rebounds to Orlando's 38, but that doesn't tell the real story. In the first half, while Portland was building their lead, they grabbed 64% of the available rebounds. For the game, Orlando missed 38 shots and Portland had 34 defensive rebounds. Keep in mind Portland had no true Center. Starting Center Greg Oden is likely out for the season and his backup, Joel Przybilla is also out for the season. * * *


The Bottom Line:

1.  This team prides itself on its 3 point shooting, but tonight was a classic example demonstrating that an unflinching marriage to that one strategy is disastrous. Our Magic scored well at the rim, but kept chucking and chucking.

2. Despite the very good win-loss record, this team is not firing on all cylinders. There are 5 new members or the rotation and the team clearly is not meshing as well as last year. They are coasting on reputation, it seems.

3. Dwight Howard needs to dominate on nights like this. He needs to FORCE the team to let him dominate on nights like this.

4. With the Blazers this dinged up, with no Centers, with no Brandon Roy, there is no reason whatsoever that we should have lost this game — let alone suffering another embarrassment on national TV.



Next up is a British band who has been spat upon due to the later career of its insufferable frontman, Billy Idol. Their self-titled first album is drop-dead killer though... Second album, not so much... I present to you GENERATION X...

One of the worst videos ever made? Perhaps. Great song, though — one of their best... From the MARC BOLAN Show in the UK...

"Your Generation" (live version, c. 1977)


Here's a lip-synch of the third single as seen on Top of the Pops...

"Ready, Steady, Go" (studio version, 1978)


Another one of the hits from the first album...

"Wild Youth" (live version, claimed 1977 on YouTube, probably 1978)


Here's the last good GEN X song, later wankified in a rerecording by Billy Idol for one of his lamentable solo albums...

"Dancing With Myself" (live version, 1979)

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