FanPost

22. Andre is Back: The View from Orlando

Snips and clips from the Orlando camp, plus:

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  • Interview with super stats dude Jacob Krall
  • Haiku Game Review
  • Fried Rice
  • Blazers/Magic Recap
  • Popcorn Machine 
  • The Basketball Jones

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What I Was Afraid Of

posted by Manny55 to Orlando Pinstriped Post gameday open thread

It's not going yo be a 2-game "skid"; it's a 4 to 6 game pit. It started with the virus, then the slow recovery from the virus (Nelson is OBVIOUSLY not in shape yet), and NOW it's the long tough road game trip.

The saddest part is that the Magic will waste one of the best Howard games this season... *  *  *

 

Clearly, anyone can have a bad couple of games. But the WAY our shooters miss, it’s depressing: Carter is halfway decent at home, but can buy a shot FOR HIS LIFE on the road. Lewis makes just ONE 3-pointer; misses a lot more… Pietrus is hot/cold… been all cold since the virus. Bass had ONE great game; been lousy ever since… *  *  *

Tommorow… against the Jazz? I see another beating coming our way. I tell you; this FEELS like a 4 to 6 game slide. Oh, we’ll come out of it but the Celtics, Heat and, yes even Atlanta will be ahead by then.

Man… two years is a loooong time to get rid of Lewis contract! But Carter's is another matter…

One thing though… WHY do they keep saying "it was the defense", when the Magic score fewer than 90 points; when our Team MISSES clearly OPEN shots??? That’s NOT defense; it’s LOUSY shooting, BAD decision making. There were NO Portland players within MILES of Lewis, Nelson or Pietrus when they missed open 3 and 2 pointers… BOTH of last two losses were on OUR offense sputtering.

 

 

(2)

Bad Place

posted by blue-blood to Orlando Pinstriped Post gameday open thread

Wow 3 game losing streak . . .

Which will probably be 4 if they play like this tomorrow.

The Magic are in a baaaaaad place!

 

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Orlando Magic Waste Big Night from Dwight Howard, Lose to Trail Blazers

 [early report]

by Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel

Stan Van Gundy said before the Orlando Magic played their first game on this West Coast road trip that the team would learn something about itself.

Thursday night provided the first lesson: Dwight Howard can't win a game all by himself

Howard scored a season-high 39 points, but his teammates struggled on offense and with their defensive rotations as they lost 97-83 to the Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden.

The Magic led 28-14 early in the second quarter, but they faded after that.

Now, they're in the midst of their first three-game losing streak of the season. * * *

 

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Magic Start Road Trip On The Wrong Note, Fall To Blazers

by Andrew Melnick, Howard the Dunk (Fansided)

After a first quarter that saw Dwight Howard (18) outscore the Portland Trail Blazers by himself and lead the Magic to a 22-14 lead at the end of the quarter, the Blazers took over the game. The Blazers were very active on the defensive end and cut Orlando's lead to one before the end of the first half. They took the lead in the third quarter and never looked back. Andre Miller led the Blazers with 22 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds and 2 steals while Wesley Matthews added 20. Dwight Howard led the Magic with a season-high 39 points, while also adding 15 rebounds and 3 blocks.

Dwight Howard was absolutely fantastic and looked like a guy who could definitely be the NBA MVP this year. Howard had everything going on the offensive end, especially in the first quarter. He was hitting jumpers, looking great on his running hook and of course, finishing with authority. He shot 13-of-20 from the field and got off to a hot start from the free throw line. He cooled off a little bit but still shot 13-of-18 from the charity stripe, which is fantastic for Howard. He also managed to pull down 15 boards and block 3 shots.

It seemed like the Blazers didn't mind Howard's big number and often played him one-on-one. Instead of focusing on Howard, the Blazers decided to limit Howard's teammates and it worked perfectly. No one could get into any kind of flow for the Magic and the rest of the team wound up shooting 17-of-51(33.3%). They were also 6-of-22 from downtown (27.3%). Orlando's backcourt of Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter scored 16 points on a combined 6-of-26 shooting (23.1%). * * *

 

(5)

Really Gross

posted by Gino Giode to RealGM Orlando Magic message board

What's really gross is that our ugly offense was showcased on national television. Complete lack of off ball movement, screens for backdoor cuts, just flat out nothing

I know the players get the biggest blame but c'mon now, you can't tell me that our only plays consist of 3pt line ISOs and toss it into Dwight or whoever for a post up.

I think we're all in denial and blaming the sickness for pushing us back, but I think that teams are wising up to our system. And given the jumpshooting nonchalant nature of this team, which feels like it can switch it on in a second, we always dig ourselves in a hole and never play with urgency until we realize we lost the game.

For me Stan deserves the most blame. I mean Lawrence Freakin Frank was smart enough to post Vince up consistently, we see it work twice tonight and abandon it. Shard got good looks posting up, abandon it. Ya ya, Dwight was on so who cares, but in the grand scheme of things we can't rely on a shaky FT shooter to methodically work his offence only to be sent to the line.

Ugh, I just don't know anymore. End rant

 

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What I Don't Understand

posted by raf008 to RealGM Orlando Magic message board

What i don't understand is Stan was present when Boston handed our asses to us in the playoffs using the same strategy Portland used tonight and that was LAST SEASON!!!!

I'm kinda shocked that nothing has changed since then....
No backdoor cuts.... No V-cuts... Barely any screens not involving Dwight... No effective double screens.... No Midrange game.... and especially no slashers....

Just a bad offense that only looks good when we are hitting 3's

 

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Recap: Portland Trail Blazers 97, Orlando Magic 83

by Eddie Rivera, Orlando Magic Basketball (TrueHoop)

The Portland Trail Blazers were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 97-83. For the Magic, they're now on a three-game losing streak.

An item of note is that this is the first time, in the Stan Van Gundy era, that Orlando has lost three games in a row without scoring more than 85 points in each game. Not sure if that anecdote carries any significance, but it's something worth pointing out.

The Blazers were led by Andre Miller, who flirted with a triple-double and finished with 22 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, and two steals. Wesley Matthews continues his strong play in the starting lineup for Portland, finishing with 20 points and three steals. Nicolas Batum chipped in with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

For the Magic, it was all Dwight Howard - 39 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks. Yes, four other players for Orlando scored in double-figures but they got their points when the game was no longer in contest. * * *

 

Stop back for more material as it becomes available.

 

The Bottom Line:

1. Well, that was certainly terrible. And on national TV to boot...

2. An awesome, dominating, amazing performance by Dwight Howard — he the man.

3. Beyond that: a terrible offensive showing from a bunch of guys that couldn't hit a jumper with a bazooka from five paces. U - G - L - Y ! ! !

4. It's a 3 game losing streak now and it's back-to-back in Utah tomorrow. Uht-oh.

 

 

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JKSnake99

A Pace-Adjusted Interview with Stat Man Jacob Krall

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So hello there, Mr. Snake! What's your name, where'd you grow up, and where are you living these days? Would you rather own a Ford pickup or a Prius? How did you get into the Portland Trail Blazers?

My name is Jacob Krall, I was born in Salem, moved to Portland when I was about 10 and graduated from Wilson High. These days I'm in grad school working on a PhD in Hydrology in the Bay Area. I'm definitely a Prius guy — don't drive one these days but my folks do. I've been a Blazer fan since I can remember, and grew up idolizing the Drexler/Porter Blazers, and stuck with them even when going to college on the East coast during the leanest years in recent memory — just prior to the Roy/Aldridge draft.

You're widely recognized as one of the preeminent statistics gurus on Blazers Edge. But before we get to that — what is it about the sport of basketball that appeals to you as a fan versus say the pastoral sport of baseball or the high speed action of hockey?

Well, I'm kind of an all-sports nerd who watches a bit of everything, but basketball is my favorite sport. I think that is mostly due to growing up in Oregon with no connection to OSU or UO at a time when the Blazers were good. I enjoy that something is always happening — the players and the ball are always moving (yeah, yeah, unless it's the Blazers) and the way that the game can be broken down and analyzed on a possession by possession basis.

In what ways does a familiarity with statistics enhance the fan experience of a basketball viewer? Is there a danger of the art and random events of the game being lost beneath a wall of mathematics?

I could see that being a concern for some folks, but it's not for me. I like to be able to know what to look for — am I watching a team that gets a high percentage of their points from the 3 point line, that dominates the offensive glass, and so on. Perusing all sorts of stats certainly isn't a requirement to enjoy sports, but I've always been a numbers guy and have been fascinated by statistical analysis of sports since I read Moneyball, about the Oakland Athletics and their embracing of so-called "sabermetrics."

Basketball, being a game where team play is more important than baseball, is harder to break down and give appropriate credit to individual players, but in some ways that difficulty makes basketball advanced stats even more interesting to me. Basketball on Paper by Dean Oliver is the first book I'd point people to if they are interested in this stuff.

Most basketball fans are familiar with basic statistics -- Points Per Game, Rebounds Per Game, Assists Per Game, Turnovers Per Game. All of these have some usefulness in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each given player. Many fans don't have an inkling about what "advanced statistics" even are. How would you define the term?

As I see it, an advanced stat is anything more in depth than what can be found in a traditional boxscore. I think that the most important feature of good advanced statistics, both for teams and for players, is that they be adjusted for pace — this allows us to look at how teams and players do on a per possession basis and allows for fair comparisons between people who play on a run and gun team like Golden State versus a plodding team like Portland or Detroit.

What advanced stats do you find particularly illuminating?

In my opinion, the most important advanced stats by far are team Offensive and Defensive Ratings — the number of points a team scores and allows per 100 possessions. Understanding these numbers and why they are better than points scored and allowed per game is key — there is a difference between an excellent defensive team and one that allows few points per game because it plays at a slow pace and gets a lot of offensive rebounds.

Then defense and offense can be broken into what are known as the "Four Factors" — Effective Field Goal Percentage (the same thing as Field Goal Percentage but counting a made 3-point shot as 1.5 instead of 1 for a made two point shot), FT/FGA (how many Free Throws a team gets per Field Goal Attempt), Turnover Percentage (the number of turnovers per 100 plays for a player), and Offensive Rebound Percentage (the percentage of available offensive rebounds a player gets when on the floor). These stats help us understand why a team is an efficient offense or defense.

In terms of player stats, the numbers I'd add to WARP and PER would be Usage Percentage and Offensive Rating, which I think are most useful when looked at together. Usage Percentage is a measure of the percentage of a team's plays used by player while on the floor, and a player's Offensive Rating (available at basketball-reference.com) is a measure of how many points a player produces per 100 possessions. While a simple concept, it ends up being a pretty complex formula but Dean Oliver does a good job of explaining it in his book Basketball on Paper.

The reason Offensive Rating shouldn't be used by itself is that its much easier to have a high O-Rating when you have a low usage — for example, the current O-Rating leader is Tyson Chandler, who's contributions on offense are largely offensive rebounding and dunking. His relatively small role on offense is seen in his low Usage Percentage of 12.5. However, I find that comparing the offensive ratings of two players of similar usage is very useful, especially if the two players play similar roles on their teams.

One of the reasons I like the combination of Usage Percentage and offensive rating is that they are completely offensive stats, allowing us to separate offense from defense, which isn't true of PER.

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Speaking of which, ESPN journalist John Hollinger has created a superstatistic called "Player Efficiency Rating" — a magical medley that purports to weigh the entire range of positive and negative activities on the court (shooting percentages, turnovers, missed shots, personal fouls, and on and on) to generate a single pace adjusted, per minute quantity summarizing, so Hollinger claims, "a player's statistical accomplishments in a single number."

Oh, my god, how convenient! Now even the most simple fan of the NBA game can "objectively" tell whether Derrick Rose is "better" than Deron Williams or whether Carlos Boozer is "better" than Paul Millsap with a quick glance at one number. This sounds like an idiotic joke, but that really is how PER is used by some people...

What I find surprising is that such an overwhelming percentage of advanced stat geeks ABSOLUTELY LOVE Hollinger's PER. So tell us — why is PER useful?

It is interesting that PER is so widely used. I think it speaks to the presence ESPN has become in the world of US sports. I use it all the time myself. While it has some clear strengths, its not clear that its better than other advanced metrics that are out there, and indeed there have been some notable critiques of it, including one by David Berri, whose own metric "wins produced" is also controversial.

PER has some clear strengths. It is pace and playing time adjusted, so a guy like Monta Ellis doesn't artificially get a boost because there are so many more possessions in his games and a guy who only gets 15 minutes a game because he's backing up a star is fairly evaluated. I like that PER gives us a ballpark look at how productive a player is. Since the number is calibrated based upon a league average of 15, we can make generalizations like: a PER of 20+ is All Star level, 30ish is an MVP type season, and so on. That is useful.

There are a few issues I have with PER. The first is that people correctly consider it mostly an offensive stat. The problem there is that PER isn't COMPLETELY an offensive stat — blocks and steals are in the formula. So we can't use PER in conjunction with a defensive measure because that's double counting. We need to realize that PER doesn't completely separate defense from offense.

Secondly, PER really misses the contributions of the Bruce Bowen types — lockdown defenders that force difficult shots and disrupt offense without anything showing up in the boxscore. 

Another issue is the high correlation PER has with Usage Percentage, the percentage of a team's possessions a player "uses" while on the floor. Basically, being a go-to-guy usually leads to a high PER, even if he isn't very efficient at all offensively. This is a key party of David Berri's critique and I share it — the PER number doesn't sufficiently punish inefficient shooters.

Still, PER is useful as a first order estimate of a player's value. I player with a 20 PER isn't necessarily better than a player with a 19 PER, but someone with a 20 PER is almost always better than a guy with a 15 PER, unless the guy with a 15 PER is a much better defensive player. I'd agree with your general take that people use PER too much, and I'm certainly guilty from time to time of making it out to be more infallible than it is.

Another stat which has gained wide currency in recent years is Plus/Minus — an import from the world of hockey, if I am not mistaken. Plus/Minus basically expresses how a team did when a given player was on the floor — say Phil Jackson started Sasha Vujacic on Opposites Day and he was on the floor for eight minutes and he left the game with the Lakers up by 6 points because he had a blister on his pinkie and couldn't go any more... Sasha would finish +6 for the night, even if he didn't take a single shot, turned over the ball three times, and couldn't stop his man from scoring. Is this a useful statistic in basketball? What does it tell us? How is it misused?

I think Plus/Minus is a great idea and has a lot of value, but gets misused very frequently — more often than PER, I think. I think this is partly owing to the fact that plus/minus is now seen in many traditional boxscores, including the ones you find on NBA.com. The stat is almost always telling us something, we just have to be very careful about WHAT it is telling us.

When we look at Plus/Minus for a single game, and see that player X was a +25 in a game his team won by 8, it does not tell us necessarily that player X was the best player on the floor, or that he was the MVP of the game. What it does tell us is that his team played much better than the other team while player X was on the floor. That's all the stat, by itself, is telling us.

If we see that, over a full season, player X's team outscores the opponents while he is in the game while his team gets outscored when player X is off the floor, that STILL doesn't necessarily tell us that player X is playing well — it could be that he's consistently on the court along with really good players on his team, or consistently in the game against the other team's bench players. It could be that the backup for player X is absolutely terrible, making the on/off splits for player X look great. We have to be careful not to eliminate any of these possibilities without having good reason to do so.

There's also the concept of adjusted Plus/Minus — essentially, how do we take the Plus/Minus data and adjust it so that who a player plays with and against is taken into account. There have been several attempts to do this, but like raw Plus/Minus, it remains a "high variance" stat, even taken over the course of a whole season. The number swings wildly.

I'm not close to an expert on all the different versions of raw and adjusted Plus/Minus that are out there, but I'd just say this — the numbers are always telling us something, but we have to be honest about how much we know regarding exactly what it is that they are telling us.

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In a recent interview here Ben Golliver of CBSSports.com and BE mentioned something called "WARP" as one of the most useful advanced statistics. I'd never even heard the term myself... Exactly what is "WARP"? Do you agree with him that this is a useful metric?

WARP as a concept stands for "Wins Above Replacement Player," and a its a concept borrowed from the world of baseball sabermetrics. Essentially, a replacement level player is the guy that could be freely picked up by any team. It's a bit tricky to define exactly how good a replacement level player is (and I admit to not knowing exactly how its done in either baseball or basketball), but its a useful concept since we often like to say "Brandon Roy was worth 10 wins last year," begging the question "compared to who?" Obviously, there would be a difference between replacing Roy with a quality NBA player like Wesley Matthews is showing himself to be versus your average D-League player. WARP gives a baseline for comparison of player values.

When Ben referred to WARP as a stat, he's talking about the metric used by his friend and podcast cohort Kevin Pelton at basketballprospectus.com. WARP, like PER, is a catch-all number that can be used to estimate a player's overall value, with the difference being that WARP isn't a minute adjusted stat but rather a cumulative stat which estimates how many wins a player has been worth above and beyond what a replacement level player could have produced if given all of that player's minutes. Hollinger has a stat called "Estimated Wins Added" which is based on PER and is comparable to WARP in that it is a cumulative measure of how many wins a player has been worth.

I do think WARP is a useful stat and I often find it interesting to compare to Hollinger's Estimated Wins Added — noting when they approximately agree on a player's value and when there are significant differences.

Putting aside the abstract discussion of statistical measures, do you see numerical evidence that Greg Oden was a particularly special player at the Center position? What numbers have caught your attention about him? Assuming a return to the same form he last demonstrated for us on the court a year ago, where would you rank him among active NBA Centers? Do you see him as an offensive threat or strictly as a rebounder and defensive force?

Like pretty much anyone who is a fan of advanced basketball stats, I do see evidence that Oden was developing into a special player during his abbreviated 2009-10 season. There was pretty much universal agreement among the best known stat geeks, the Peltons and Hollingers of the world, that he was playing at a very high level. Had he played enough minutes to qualify, he would have topped the league in Offensive Rebound Percentage, ranked 6th in Defensive Rebound Percentage, 3rd in Total Rebound Percentage (behind Camby and Dwight Howard). He would have been just edged out for the Block Percentage title by JaVale McGee.

Oden was also a legitimate offensive threat — he had a Usage Percentage of 20.7 and an Offensive Rating of 118. While its admittedly cherry picking a bit, that put Oden in a pretty select group. As the season was progressing, Oden's contributions on offense expanded to the point where he was a decent, if still somewhat awkward, post up threat, and a solid passer in addition to an excellent offensive rebounder.

I think Oden, had he stayed healthy, would have continued to get better on offense — he was never going to be close to Hakeem, but he showed some real promise as an offensive player. While he got himself in foul trouble, he also got other teams in foul trouble. Portland was a much better rebounding team when he was in than when he wasn't. Oden's PER would have ranked him 7th in the league, and 3rd amongst Centers behind only Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard.

None of that matters if he's not on the court of course. Forgetting about injuries for a moment, Oden's foul trouble was a big issue. If we assume he'd played all 82 games at the same minutes per game as he had in the 21 games he did play, he would have finished the year worth about 12 wins — I got that by taking his EWA using Hollinger's numbers and multiplying by 82/21. That would have ranked him 7th among Centers. If he'd played 65 games, he would have been somewhere around 10th in EWA among Centers. In other words, while his per minute production was elite, his foul trouble limited his overall impact to sub-All Star level, even forgetting about the injuries.

It's hard to say how big a problem foul trouble will be in the future for Oden — a guy like Roy Hibbert provides some encouragement as he's been able to get his once massive foul problems under control, but its hard to find a player with Oden's per minute impact who had close to the foul problems Greg did. And then there are the injuries, which there's no need to rehash here.

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It seems to me, observing the game as a fan, that Wesley Matthews is emerging as a 20 point per game sort of guy — which is to say, in NBA terms, a star. Would you agree with this assessment? Can you shed any light on the nature of his performances that you have bumped in to when perusing advanced statistics?

I wouldn't go that far. First of all, is every near-20 PPG scorer a star? I wouldn't call Jamal Crawford a star at any point in his career. Second, Wesley's play as a starter has been excellent, but I wouldn't call it star-level. He's not making me forget the '08-'09 version of Brandon Roy, that's for sure. However, I do have to give Matthews a lot of credit. He's had a big spike in his usage from his rookie year, and hasn't lost much efficiency. Since he's been a starter, he hasn't lost any efficiency. I was one of the people that hated the deal — a 5 year contract to an undrafted rookie with mediocre stats and, in my view, an overrated defensive reputation despite playing for one of the league's best coaches? Really?

I still don't know if its a good idea to hand out deals like that in between GMs, but its hard to argue that Wesley is playing like a player worthy of Mid-Level Exception type dollars. The indications thus far are that he's very much a legitimate starter in this league and that I was wrong about him. A star though? I'm not ready to go there.

I recently goofed around with basic stats — which I favor over advanced stats, obviously — and observed that Brandon Roy is now in a second consecutive season of statistical decline in terms of points scored, shooting percentage, and rebounding. Anecdotally, we see that he's not driving the lane as well and objectively he's not getting to the Free Throw line as often. Do you share this analysis? Can you expand upon it?

I do share this analysis. I think its pertinent to first remember just how great Brandon was in '08-'09. There is a very reasonable case to be made that it was the single greatest individual offensive season in Trail Blazer history. His Offensive Rating of 123 was higher than any player in Blazer history with a Usage Percentage greater than 20 — and Roy's Usage was over 27! I didn't see Bill Walton play, but from what I've heard and read, I wouldn't put Roy's overall impact that year over Walton at his peak, but I would put Roy '08-'09 right up there with any of Clyde Drexler's seasons.

Roy '10-'11 has not been anywhere near that player. He's taking fewer shots at the rim, and the one's he is taking are assisted 64% of the time, as opposed to something like 30% in previous seasons. That tells me he doesn't have the same ability to penetrate and get to the rim, which we didn't need stats to tell us, I suppose. He's not the offensive rebounding threat that gave Mike Rice the chance to use stats like "he's number 3 in the league in 2nd chance points for guards..." and he's not getting all those drive-and-kick assists that he used to.

Roy is taking tougher shots and making a lower percentage of them. Far be it from the greatest offensive year for a Blazer wing player , he's not playing at All Star level this year, or even like a top 50 player. I still think he can be a good player if he adjusts his game, focusing on things like posting up and employing his solid mid-range jumper — but if he's done as a top 10 player, let alone an All Star, this core group of Blazers has a huge uphill battle to do any sort of postseason damage.

Which Portland player do you feel is the most overrated in the view of the typical Blazermaniac? Which Blazer do you feel is the most underappreciated, in terms of his performance?

People who read my posts already know all too well that I think the most overrated Blazer is LaMarcus Aldridge, who is a guy with high points per game and plenty of "wow" plays, but no indication in his advanced stats of improvement over his 2nd year or of being someone performing at anything approaching All Star level.

I think the most underrated would be Andre Miller, who is low on "wow" plays but leads the Blazers in a lot of the advanced stats we've touched on.

If the Blazers don't make the playoffs this season, who are you going to root for?

I'm casually rooting for Indiana and Milwaukee out East and just for some intriguing playoff matchups out West, for example Dallas versus San Antonio and Utah versus New Orleans. I'd like to see Dallas, San Antonio or Orlando win it all.

 

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Fourteen points to start

TNT catastrophe?

Winning is more fun

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This was a TNT game, so Ricey got a chance to go out and practice his mad lambada skills...

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Game 22.

Blazers 97 at Magic 83.

December 9, 2010.

Blazers' record is now 11-11, the Magic are 15-7.

1. Oh, goody, a TNT game, so we get to listen to Steve Kerr moan about how terrible the Blazers are for the next two-and-a-half hours... The 1st Quarter is easy to summarize: Orlando had Dwight Howard and Portland didn't... EIGHTEEN of the 22 Magic points in the quarter were produced by Howard, who made use of his entire expanded arsenal, including sweet little left handed hooks and a midrange jumper. Still, the Blazers maintained contact, down just a few points. Late in the period the Portland jumpers stopped falling and the Magic extended a bit. Portland's second half scoring woes now extend into the 1st Quarter, I guess. DWH 18, PDX 14, ORL 4.

2. The 2nd Quarter opened with Joel picking up his second foul and Dwight Howard knocking down Free Throws 5 and 6. Rudy clanked again, Rashard Lewis got to the rim, and the route was on, with the Magic up by 12. Portland continued to fire from the perimeter despite the fact that Dwight Howard had made his exit for some R&R. Kerr on Portland: 'They're near the bottom in Field Goal Percentage, in Points Scored." True. A Batum break AND ONE, an Andre post up over-and-under, a Rudy bomb, and the Blazers were back in the thing. Nate went small ball with LMA at the 5 spot, which was effective in drawing out Dwight Howard out of the key. Blazers played from behind throughout the entire quarter, but hit 14 of their last 20 shots to finish the quarter down just one point. ORL 46, PDX 45. Portland's run was 17-6 to finish.

Halftime Entertainment:  The Impulse International "You Tear Down My Walls" (2009)

 

3. Gold stars for Andre and Wesley. Portland took a little lead early and forced Orlando to come from behind. Nic looks really good when he crashes the boards. Brandon Roy is virtually worthless in his current state, a defensive liability that can't beat anybody off the dribble. As an untradeable contract, Roy's not going anywhere for four more years at least. At some point in the not too distant future, Nate or whoever follows Nate is gonna have to suck it up and sit him and to go with the best 5, not the 5 biggest paychecks. Roy is  not even one of the best six Blazers at this point...  Nate chose to let Dwight go without double-teaming and to thereby force Howard to single-handedly beat Portland. By the end of the quarter, Howard had upped his total on the night to 32. Still, the strategy seemed to be a good one, as Portland maintained a small lead despite uninspiring shooting. PDX 67, ORL 62. The Magic turned in a big 16 point quarter...

4. Well, here we go again. A little chippiness when Howard came over Rudy battling for a board with no call. Enforcer Joel pointedly voiced his objection. No call, should have been a no-brainer foul whistle on Howard, but there are two sets of rules — one for citizens and another for superstars. Maybe Rudy can take a 45 foot run at Howard to try to lay him out a la Andre. The scrawnbone Rudy would probably rupture his spleen like a bug on a windshield though... 

Przybilla is a better low post defender than Marcus Camby, I think we can already say that, even with Joel's wheel at about 80%... He did an extremely solid job putting a big body on Dwight Howard to keep him from having his way in the paint. He also does an excellent job grouping up the 5 on the floor and keeping them focused. Nate seems to have been holding Pryz in reserve for the 4th Quarter; Howard didn't score his first points in the frame until the 6:26 mark, when he made two from the line following a Pryz foul.

Wesley gave a Hollywood-caliber flop to draw the 5th foul on a Rashard Lewis charge at the 7:00 mark, sending Lewis to the bench. Wesley promptly hit for two more and it was 82-69 Portland into commercial.

Portland was up 15 at the 3 minute mark, when Howard tied up LMA and won the jumpball. Reddick stepped inside the arc and drained a two to cut the lead to 13. But Andre is wise, he burned clock and then drove the lane, drawing contact and heading to the line. Then he missed two. Orlando hit a 3, Porland missed, Orlando missed a 3 but Portland got lazy and stripped of the rebound by a frantic Heat team, with Howard finishing a miss with a powerful dunk. The lead was cut to 10 with 1:20 remaining and Nate needed time.

Side out for Portland and Andre got trapped and had to burn another time out, with just 3 seconds rolling off the clock. Very annoying. Lots of F words flying in my living room... The next inbounds pass came into the back court and was more effective, with Orlando forced to foul Wesley Matthews. He hit two to stretch the lead to a dozen and DAGGER.

Orlando drove for a quick two points and the Magic sent Nic Batum to the line without batting an eye. Nic was money and it was still a dozen. The Magic couldn't get anything going offensively, but the outside ref called holding on the Blazers, stopping the clock with 53.9 seconds remaining. Howard split a pair and Portland rebounded, with Wesley sent to the line to pad his stats.

Jameer Nelson got Nic into the air for a whistle at 40.9, but he missed them both and Reddick fouled Nico in the battle for the rebound. Orlando needs to learn when to wave the white flag... Nic obligingly split a pair. Orlando turned it over, the crowd said yaaay and headed for the doors, and that was ballgame. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS 97, ORLANDO MAGIC 83.

Andre Miller is a crafty man. He was the scoring king, the passing king, and virtually the rebounding king on this night finishing with 22 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds. Wesley added 20 more points on 6-for-12 scoring. Brandon Roy, on the other hand, had 9 points on a very inefficient 4-for-12, getting to the Free Throw line zero times.

Orlando had zero fast break points for the night. Don't ever let anyone tell you that the Blazers are the most plodding team in the NBA...

Good win.

 

 

 

Let's take at this thang graphically, shall we?

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Ya gotta click THIS-HERE LINK to see the swell graphs, that's the way these things work... Ready? Set??? GO!!!

Now here are a few observations about the Popcorn Machine material from me to you:

A. Tale of two games — things turned for Portland early in the 3rd Quarter with a 14-3 run. It was the five starters who dropped the bomb on the visitors, with Wesley once again the big dog with 9 points in the period.

B. Dwight Howard had 39 of Orlando's 83 points. Next highest Magic scorer was Rashard Lewis with 11 points.

C. Portland opened the 4th with a 15-7 run. I'm having trouble figuring out how Mike Barrett could have phrased that negatively. It would have been tough. I'm sure we would have gotten our money's worth in the 14 point 1st Quarter though.

D. Patty Mills was Minus-8 in Plus/Minus in just over 5 minutes of action. Yikes. Yo, Ben, what did Paul Allen tweet about that?

 

 

Finally, let's gather round for another installment of THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD, eh?

Tbjlogo_medium

This is the Thursday morning show, which I wasn't able to get up earlier today...


The Basketball Jones is a NBA blog and video/audio podcast, written and recorded five times a week by J.E. Skeets, Tas Melas, Jason Doyle and Matt Osten. Assume that there will be a couple Not Suitable For Work words used in any given episode.


 


Photo Credits: Jacob Krall: Courtesy Jacob Krall. John Hollinger: Heisted from ROFLJOCK.com and "artistically enhanced." Ben Golliver: SBNation Seattle. Wesley Matthews: Steve Dykes, Associated Press.  All images heavily tweaked in Photoshop by Tim Davenport.

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