Around the Amway - March 4, 2011

By Josh Cohen & Dan Savage | Around the Amway Archive

By Josh Cohen

Perhaps still drained from their epic comeback victory over the Heat, the Orlando Magic didn’t seem to have that same vigor on Friday as they did one night ago.

While Dwight Howard was, as usual, dominant as his 20 points and 10 rebounds set a new franchise record for most consecutive double-doubles (21), the Magic’s supporting cast was generally a nonfactor as Orlando fell to the Chicago Bulls, 89-81.

D12 was a perfect 8-for-8 from the field and he also racked up four blocked shots.

Perhaps more unfortunate than the loss, however, was that Howard recorded his 16th technical of the season that will result in an automatic one-game suspension. Unless the ruling gets rescinded, D12 will be forced to miss the Magic’s next game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.

Jason Richardson and Brandon Bass each contributed 16 points and Jameer Nelson collected 14 points and six assists.

"The emotional rollercoaster from last night, we had to exert so much energy," J-Rich said. "We just couldn't get our energy."

Unlike the last few games when Orlando’s reserves provided a huge boost, on Friday the Magic’s bench accumulated 13 total points.

"You can just look at the stat sheet and see where that game was decided," Stan Van Gundy said. "We didn't play well in a lot of areas."

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By Dan Savage

Unfortunately the Magic suffered another blow in addition to their loss to the Bulls on Friday night.

After getting continuously hacked and held by Bulls players after the whistle, a frustrated Dwight Howard retaliated by swinging his arms to remove the grasp of Kyle Korver late in the second quarter.

Although Howard did not make contact with anyone and was just attempting to free himself from Korver’s hold, the officials responded by handing him his 16th technical foul of the season, which translates into a one-game suspension for Orlando’s All-Star center.

“It’s the same thing all the time,” Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy said. “There’s a lot of stuff that goes on after the play, they allow it to go onto Dwight then he gets upset and a technical foul. They see it differently than we do.”

It’s easy for fans to say that Howard should have been cognizant of the fact that he was one technical foul away from the league limit and instead should have controlled his temper. However, that’s easier said than done when you’re the one getting drilled after the whistle.

“I don’t think people understand that if the play is over with and people are still fouling you, like ‘hey get off me,’” Howard explained. "If not the refs have to do something or I have to do something to get him off me.”

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By Josh Cohen

There are three main focal points to the Orlando Magic’s quest to capture the NBA championship: Dwight Howard’s supremacy, the team’s collective 3-point shooting and their willingness to remain committed to defending.

As for the first piece, Howard will generally always be dominant so there really is no reason to analyze this any further.

Yes, there is always concern about the five-time All-Star getting into foul trouble and there is always some fear that his free throw shooting will determine outcomes. But, Howard will deliver superlative performances every night and do what it takes to put his team in the best position to win.

Secondly, we have noticed how much of a mystery Orlando’s 3-point shooting is. One night after burying 16 of them in an epic comeback victory in Miami, the Magic connected on just 6-of-23 from beyond the arc against Chicago on Friday.

Inconsistency sort of comes with the territory when you rely heavily on 3-point shooting, but if the Magic get hot in the playoffs, they will be extremely difficult to contain.

Finally, the defensive effort seems to be elevating game by game. While outside of Howard Orlando doesn’t really possess any renowned defensive stalwarts, it is seemingly buying into Stan Van Gundy’s tactics.

It will continue to take time for the Magic to thoroughly grasp all defensive schemes, but hopefully by the start of playoffs, they have it all figured out.
By Josh Cohen

Every time the Orlando Magic play the Chicago Bulls, I am reminded of, arguably, the most celebrated single play in team history. Not only electrifying based on significance, but also it was possibly one of the most shocking league moments of all time.

It was in the closing stages of Game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals and it was one particular play that translated into an astounding memory for all Magic fans to cherish.

The play is replayed at all home games at Amway Center on the jumbotron prior to player introductions.

The legendary Michael Jordan had returned from his baseball exploration, and many believed the Bulls would capture their fourth NBA title in five years. However, the Magic proved early in the series that Eastern Conference supremacy belonged to them that season.

With time evaporating on Orlando in the series opener, it appeared Chicago would “steal” home court advantage away from the Magic. Instead, Nick Anderson stole the ball away from Jordan and Penny Hardaway fed Horace Grant on a fast break to score the go-ahead dunk with 6.2 seconds remaining.

The Magic would ultimately win the series in six games and eventually advanced to the NBA Finals. If not for that remarkable win in Game 1, however, it is very possible Chicago would have captured seven NBA titles in the 1990’s rather than six. Many critics thought if the Bulls got past the Magic, they would have knocked off the Pacers and Rockets in the subsequent rounds.

I guess we will never know – thanks to Orlando.
By Dan Savage

  • SUPER STREAK: Orlando Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard set a new franchise record by notching his 21st straight double-double on Friday night.

    The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Month sealed the milestone by recording a team-high 20 points to go along with 10 rebounds against Chicago.

    During the 21-game span, Howard is averaging a sensational 25.5 points and 15.3 rebounds per contest. If that’s not MVP worthy, what is?

  • BATTLE OF THE BOARDS: The Bulls didn’t just control the glass against the Magic; they owned it. Chicago outrebounded Orlando, 50-30, on Friday.

    “We didn’t get the job done on the glass and so we all deserve a lot of the blame there,” Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy said. “That’s where the entire game was decided.”

    The last time the Magic were outrebound by 20 or more was April 1, 2008 against the Hornets.

  • PACKED HOUSE: The Magic set a new franchise record for the largest attendance with 19,207. The previous high was set on Feb. 13, 2011 when they hosted the Lakers at Amway Center.

    Orlando has now recorded 91 consecutive regular season sellouts.
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