Around the Amway -- January 30, 2011
By Josh Cohen & Dan Savage | Around the Amway Archive
No matter the opponent, the Orlando Magic needed to brush off their disappointing defeat in Chicago with a confidence-boosting performance.
Never much of a challenge against the league’s worst team, the Magic coasted past the Cleveland Cavaliers, 103-87, on Sunday.
Dwight Howard registered 20 points and 20 rebounds – his fourth 20-20 performance this season and 30th of his career – and Ryan Anderson contributed a career-best 23 points and 16 rebounds. J.J. Redick (17 points), Brandon Bass (12) and Jason Richardson (12) joined them in double figure scoring.
"I thought we came out with really good energy," Head Coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We wanted to establish some defensive habits and generally I think we did that."
While Jameer Nelson, who finished with seven points and eight assists, played in spite of leaving Friday’s game with a sore right knee, Gilbert Arenas missed his first game since joining the Magic with a left knee contusion.
Orlando outrebounded Cleveland by 26 overall and by 18 on the offensive glass.
The Cavaliers, on the other hand, set a single-season franchise record with their 20th consecutive defeat. The NBA record for most consecutive losses in one season is 23 shared by Vancouver (1995-96) and Denver (1997-98).
It was somewhat of a bittersweet victory for the Magic after their two Eastern Conference nemesis’ each prevailed in the two marquee NBA games of the day. The Heat edged the Thunder, while the Celtics thrashed the Lakers in a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals.
Orlando will get a chance to gain some ground on both Miami and Boston later in the week. On Thursday at Amway Center, the Magic host the Heat, while on Super Bowl Sunday, Orlando will visit Boston in their final meeting of the regular season.
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The way this season started for Ryan Anderson, it could have been labeled the yo-yo year.
It was a series of ups and downs that ranged from him being placed the starting lineup to taken completely out of the rotation.
But since the departure of Rashard Lewis to Washington in a trade that brought Gilbert Arenas to Orlando, Anderson has made the most of his extra minutes and become an integral part of the Magic’s quest for a championship.
And role just continues to grow.
The Magic’s backup forward shined on Sunday against Cleveland as he delivered the brightest performance of his young career.
Anderson exploded for career highs in both points and rebounds, notching 23 points and 16 boards as the Magic stomped the Cavaliers.
“I had a great opportunity tonight,” he explained. “I just tried to rebound the ball.”
Ryno saved his biggest charge for a 16-point, nine-rebound final frame that put the nails in the Cavs coffin.
“In the fourth my shot was just kind of dropping,” he said. “I just shot the ball when I was open and (made the most) of my opportunity.”
Over the last seven games, Anderson has led Orlando in scoring on three occasions. And since Jan. 7, the California product has averaged 15.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest.
Not too shabby, especially when you consider the rocky start to Anderson’s 2010-11 road.
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One of the most discussed topics over the last several days since the All-Star starters were announced is who else deserves a free trip to Los Angeles to compete in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game.
It’s been a vehement debate for years as to what the criteria is for being named an All-Star. Some observers, on one hand, seem to think that the best players on “winning” teams, particularly championship contending teams, deserve first consideration.
If this interpretation is more appropriate, then incontrovertibly Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker should all be invited for the West since San Antonio has the best record in the league. For the East, similarly, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen should all earn the honor since Boston is No. 1 in the conference.
Some NBA enthusiasts, on the other hand, believe invitations should be handed out to players who simply are dominating the competition irrespective of what team they play for.
If this elucidation is more proper, then categorically Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Steve Nash and Monta Ellis should earn admiration from coaches in the West. Likewise, Andrea Bargnani, Danny Granger and Andrew Bogut should be considered in the East.
Dan Savage and I decided to pick who we each think should be the reserves for both the Eastern and Western Conferences.
Since Yao Ming will not participate after being voted in as a starter, both Savage and I agree that Pau Gasol should replace him in the starting lineup.
In the West, Savage opted for Nash, while I favored Tony Parker. The rest of our West reserves are identical (Click below for our rosters).
In the East, meanwhile, Savage and I differed in that he chose Ray Allen, Josh Smith and Raymond Felton, while I selected Kevin Garnett, Andrea Bargnani and Joe Johnson.
Click here for our entire selections for both the East and West All-Star reserves.
The purpose of this debate is certainly not to discourage the NBA from permitting two members of the Orlando Magic to participate in this season’s Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout.
Both J.J. Redick and Jason Richardson deserve to be included in the competition – because of their outstanding 3-point shooting this season and for the reason that both players are established names in the league.
Among all players who have attempted at least 150 shots from long distance thus far (until Jan. 30), Redick ranks 10th in the NBA in 3-point percentage (.416). Richardson, meanwhile, is second among all players in the NBA behind Golden State’s Dorell Wright for most 3-pointers made (110).
While it’s practically impossible to forecast who would have a better chance of winning the contest if either was elected to partake, the addition of J-Rich could allow for the possibility of NBA history to be made.
Never before in league history has a player won both the Slam Dunk Contest and Three-Point Shootout in their careers. That includes some of the greats of all-time including Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Only nine players have participated in both contests during their careers. Ray Allen is the only Three-Point Shootout winner to have ever partaken in the dunk competition. Jordan and Brent Barry, on the other hand, are the only players to win the dunk contest and participate in the long distance shootout.
Already regarded as one of the best dunk competition winners of all-time, J-Rich is one of only four players in history to win the contest twice. He mesmerized spectators in Philadelphia with a few innovative jams in 2002 and repeated as victor with more dazzling dunks in Atlanta in 2003.
Winning one competition is hard enough, but capturing titles in both of the prized All-Star Saturday Night contests is an achievement that would be remembered forever.
All-Star Weekend is about one thing and one thing only: the fans.
So when it comes down to which players should be in the slam dunk, three-point and skills competitions, the contestants should be NBA stars that hoops heads around the globe want to watch on their big-screen TVs.
They should be players that are admired, adored, loved and even ones that cause obsessions among the deepest and most fanatical basketball observers.
Based on those criteria, there’s no player that’s more of an ideal fit for the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout than the Orlando Magic’s own J.J. Redick.
Everyone knows J.J. and everyone loves J.J. Even the tons of people who don Tar Heel blue and claim to hate J.J., secretly love him. It’s a proven fact that can’t be dismissed.
Aside from the tremendous fan fare that surrounds former Duke superstar, let’s not discount the fact that he’s simply a deadeye shooter.
Redick leads Orlando in both triples made and 3-point percentage this season, knocking down 69 treys on 41.8 percent shooting from downtown.
He’s possesses amazing shooting form and his post-practice shooting displays are that of NBA legend.
After all, he’s star one of the most famous basketball instructional video of all-time – Better Basketball with J.J. Redick – for a reason.
And while my counterpart over to the right makes legitimate points when arguing for Jason Richardson – who would also make a serviceable contestant – when matched against Redick, it’s simply no contest.
“I dress better and my shot looks better,” Redick explained. “You know if you go strictly on numbers, he might deserve it, but in terms of all the intangibles, I think I have him beat.”
Not just beat J.J. Beaten, bruised and battered.