Around the Amway - April 1, 2011



By Josh Cohen & Dan Savage | Around the Amway Archive

MAGIC CRUISE PAST BOBCATS
By Josh Cohen

The Orlando Magic recognize how essential it is to head into the postseason with confidence and perhaps the only way to feel that buoyancy is to go on an impressive winning streak.

With just seven games remaining in the regular season and with a favorable schedule ahead, the Magic believe they could ride a seven-game winning streak before the playoffs start.

If that is the goal until the postseason begins: One down, six to go.

Orlando ripped apart a bruised and battered Charlotte team that has playoff aspirations in the fourth quarter on Friday – rolling to an 89-77 victory.

Dwight Howard led the Magic with 26 points and 14 rebounds, while Hedo Turkoglu contributed 12 points and seven assists and Jameer Nelson scored 15 points.

"We're just working to get better," Ryan Anderson said. "That's the key to the last few games."

While the Bobcats were without Stephen Jackson (hamstring), Tyrus Thomas (knee) and Joel Przybilla (knee), the Magic also were missing some of their key reserves. J.J. Redick missed his 11th straight game with an abdominal strain and Gilbert Arenas (flulike symptoms) and Chris Duhon (thumb) also sat out.

Quentin Richardson, on the other hand, returned from a two-game absence and collected 14 points.

With Orlando’s starters playing so many minutes lately, it will be interesting to see what Stan Van Gundy decides to do with his lineup as the season comes to a close.

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CALLING ON Q
By Dan Savage

With injuries and illnesses piling up for the Orlando Magic, Quentin Richardson couldn’t have come back at a better time.

The Magic’s swingman returned from a back injury that sidelined him for the past three games and delivered a solid performance for Orlando.

Q came off the pine and posted 14 points, five rebounds and two assists in the Magic’s 89-77 home triumph over the Bobcats on Friday.

“Regardless of whether it’s scoring points, taking charges or rebounding, I just always try to do something positive and help the team in a good way,” Richardson explained.

Although this season has been a roller-coaster ride in terms of minutes for the NBA veteran, Q has consistently remained ready to participate in whatever action Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy throws his way.

On Friday, it was heavy dose of floor time for Richardson as racked up over 33 minutes on the court. That’s quite a heavy demand for a player, who was not only returning from injury, but who was also not even consistently in the rotation before going down.

“I felt a little tired, but it’s the NBA, you have to be ready for anything,” he explained.

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PLAYER PEFORMANCE BREAKDOWN
By Josh Cohen

Dwight Howard: You could probably articulate the same thoughts and perspectives after every Magic game. Howard was dominant – recording his franchise-best 33rd straight double-double with 26 points and 14 rebounds.

Jameer Nelson: It wasn’t a superb shooting night for Nelson (5-of-13 for 15 points), but considering it was just his second game back after spraining his knee and since Gilbert Arenas and Chris Duhon were both out, Jameer managed to withstand exhaustion to have a respectable game.

Hedo Turkoglu: You definitely got the sense at times that Hedo was evaluating the competition and recognizing that he wanted to conserve his energy for when he was needed most. Turk, who finished with 12 points and seven assists, hit some pivotal shots to help Orlando resist any Charlotte rallies.

Brandon Bass: Continues to be excellent at making great first impressions; Bass has a tendency to flourish in the first quarter but descend as the game progresses. He concluded with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting.

Jason Richardson: He looks somewhat tired – which is to be expected since J.J. Redick has missed 11 straight games. But J-Rich believes that by the start of the playoffs he will be fully energized and playing at a supreme level.

Quentin Richardson: With the array of injuries, Q earned some significant playing time and enjoyed a fine performance with 14 points off the bench.

Ryan Anderson: Struggled shooting it (1-of-6) but played great help defense on all rotations.
POPULAR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
By Josh Cohen

QUESTION: Assuming the Magic advance past the First Round, who do you think they best match up with in the conference semifinals?

ANSWER: I think just about every Magic fan hopes the Chicago Bulls secure the No. 1 seed, which would then set up a likely Orlando-Chicago series in the second round.

I talked briefly about this on a recent webcast here on OrlandoMagic.com, but to restate my thoughts I think the Bulls’ lack of postseason experience and the fact that compared to the Celtics and Heat, Chicago just simply doesn't have as much talent are two primary reasons why it would be most beneficial for the Magic to clash with the Bulls.

I recognize how extraordinary Derrick Rose has been this season and I think the signing of Carlos Boozer – in spite of him dealing with injuries throughout the year – was one of the more intelligent acquisitions this past summer.

I also think Chicago’s front office made an astute decision to withstand temptations to trade Joakim Noah in a Carmelo Anthony proposed deal.

But ultimately when you examine the rosters and analyze the assortment of facts, the Bulls don’t seem to have the makeup of a club that would advance far into the playoffs. They have a first year head coach, they lack supreme quality at the shooting guard position and they don’t have enough size to contend with Dwight Howard for an entire seven game series.

On the other hand, the Bulls have proven all year to be a tenacious defensive unit and in their past meetings with the Magic, have denied Orlando from having outstanding shooting performances from 3-point distance.

READ MORE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS>>>
QUICK HITS
By Dan Savage

  • ILLNESS AND INJURIES:
  • Just when you think the Orlando Magic’s injury situation is improving, another rash of bad luck breaks out.

    After finding out that Quentin Richardson would be active for Friday’s game against the Bobcats, Magic backup point guard Gilbert Arenas came down with an illness and was unable to go.

    The team is still without J.J. Redick (abdominal strain) and Chris Duhon (thumb).

    While the Magic hope to have Duhon back in action by the end of next week, they’re still unsure of Redick’s future and hope to know more by Tuesday.

  • HIT THE POLLS:
  • It’s that time of year again to show your support for the best dance team in the NBA. The Orlando Magic Dancers are battling the Energee! (Milwaukee’s squad) in the 2011 NBA Dance Team Contest.

    Cast your vote to help send them to the third round.

  • BE SOCIAL:
  • The Magic are hosting their second annual Magic Text Scavenger Hunt on Saturday in downtown Orlando. Fans will have the opportunity to compete to win two tickets to every Magic home game throughout the 2011 NBA Playoffs.

    Although registration for this event is closed, stay posted to the Magic’s Facebook and Twitter for more upcoming contests to win tickets and some amazing prizes.
    THE POLLS ARE OPEN
    Who do you think was tonight's Player of the Game?
    Who do you think was tonight's Player of the Game?
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    Should the Magic advance to the conference semifinals, who do you prefer they play in that round?
    Should the Magic advance to the conference semifinals, who do you prefer they play in that round?
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    POSTGAME HIGHLIGHTS: