Around the Amway - April 5, 2011



By Josh Cohen & Dan Savage | Around the Amway Archive

MAGIC EDGE BUCKS
By Josh Cohen

It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t perfect. But the Magic won Tuesday against the Bucks and clinched the No. 4 seed and home-court advantage in the First Round of the playoffs.

The final statistics aren’t attractive – 2-of-21 from 3-point range, 39 percent shooting from the field and 67 percent (24-of-36) from the free throw line.

The final score, however, was on Orlando’s side and like it is in any form of sports competition, those are the only numbers that ultimately matter.

Dwight Howard was his usual self; nonetheless, with 18 points and 17 rebounds, while Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu combined for 29 points and each buried critical jumpers in the final two minutes to secure the win.

After the first few minutes of the game it seemed the Magic would cruise past their playoff hopeful opponent. They quickly went ahead 14-0 to start the contest before gradually Milwaukee climbed back to make it a nail-biter in the fourth quarter.

With just four games remaining and both the Magic’s seed and First Round opponent (Atlanta Hawks) pretty much secured, the big question now is whether Stan Van Gundy will opt to rest some of his starters until the postseason begins.

Especially since J.J. Redick’s injury several weeks ago and other lingering issues that have transpired recently to the entire team, Orlando’s starters have logged major minutes lately.

Without a chance to rest, the Magic will fly up to Charlotte on Wednesday for a collision with the Bobcats. It will be intriguing to see what the Magic decide to do with their lineup and accompanying rotations.

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STILL PLENTY TO PLAY FOR
By Dan Savage

The Orlando Magic’s playoff picture got a little bit cleared on Tuesday.

With their 78-72 home win over the Atlanta Hawks, the Magic clinched the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and guaranteed that they’ll start their postseason at Amway Center.

However, even though their future seeding has already been decided, Orlando feels it still has plenty to play for and improve upon.

“You can’t play like (we did tonight) and we know that,” Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy explained. “Hopefully we won’t, because you’re not going to win a playoff game playing like that.”

The three things the Magic’s head coach wants to see before the playoffs: Better shooting, less turnovers and an improved shooting line from the charity stripe.

“The thing that we have to get focused on getting ready for the playoffs is cutting down our turnovers,” Hedo Turkoglu said after the Magic gave the ball away 21 times. “We’re limiting our shots. We have to take better shots instead of turning the ball over.”

But while the Magic aren’t exactly playing the best brand of basketball right now, they’re confident it will all come together in the playoffs.

“When the time comes, we have to be at the highest level we can,” Turk explained. “It’s not going to be the same, comparing the playoffs to the regular season.”

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PLAYER PEFORMANCE BREAKDOWN
By Josh Cohen

Dwight Howard: He just frequently seems to be superhuman since he plays so many minutes (39 on Tuesday) and never looks as though he needs any rest. His 18 points and 17 rebounds were enough to lead Orlando.

Brandon Bass: He continues to flourish in the first quarter but decline in the second half. Bass finished with 13 points and connected on all three of his field goals, but was virtually invisible down the stretch.

Hedo Turkoglu: In addition to his respectable 12 points and 11 rebounds, Turk played solid defense and buried a pivotal step-back jumper in the final minute to help secure the win.

Jason Richardson: As I pointed out after Friday’s game against Charlotte, J-Rich looks exhausted. Probably more than anyone else, Richardson would love to see J.J. Redick return just for an opportunity to get a breather.

Jameer Nelson: Though he didn’t shoot well (7-of-16 from field, 1-of-4 from downtown), Nelson was in attack mode and did a solid job escaping the lightening fast Brandon Jennings. He also helped limit Jennings to just 3-of-15 shooting from the floor.

Gilbert Arenas: Made his return following a two-game absence from flulike symptoms. Outside of one impressive three-point play to start the fourth quarter, Gil again couldn’t develop a rhythm during his 16 minutes of action.

Rest of the Bench: Ryan Anderson, Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson combined for just four points as the Magic’s bench continues to be a concern.
DWIGHT & STAN REMIND ME OF...
By Josh Cohen

Forget its eeriness. Disregard the costumes. Ignore the fact that it is make believe and all for entrancing entertainment and a round of laughs and excitement.

There is a very mysterious, though humorous, connection between World Wrestling Entertainment’s all-time beloved characters The Undertaker and Paul Bearer to that of the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy.

You may not know much about WWE and may be perplexed. That is okay. I will try to explain.

The Undertaker is arguably the most intimidating and in some ways most unshakable and indomitable WWE superstar of all time. Always resisting assaults from his opponents and generally impervious to pain, The Undertaker is practically unconquerable.

It’s similar to Howard. At times when you expect him to be tired and about to be defeated, Superman rises from the trenches and utilizes his strength and fortitude to prevail against all of his competitors.

Bearer, meanwhile, was a very uncanny character that used an urn to draw mystical power from it that could revive The Undertaker’s strength during matches.

Aside from his creepy voice and bizarre facial expressions, the WWE manager always found a way to intrigue fans with his distinctive personality.

His promotional campaigns prior to The Undertaker’s matches were priceless (WATCH) and his spine-chilling reactions to various storylines during the action are unforgettable (WATCH).

READ REST OF FEATURE>>>
QUICK HITS
By Dan Savage

  • DAILY DOUBLE-DOUBLE: Dwight Howard’s streak of 33 consecutive games with a double-double came to an end on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors.

    However, it didn’t take Orlando’s Superman very long to start a new one.

    D12 notched his 64th double-double of the season with 18 points and 17 rebounds in the Magic’s win over the Bucks.

    “He is a tough matchup down there,” Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut said. “He has really improved and his touch has gotten better and better.”


  • REDICK WATCH: So far there’s still no timetable on the return of J.J. Redick as the Magic guard missed his 13th straight game with an abdominal strain.

    Although he’s spent a considerable amount of time working out with Strength and Conditioning Coach Joe Rogowski and with a core specialist in Vancouver, British Columbia, he’s still been experiencing pain in his abdomen.


  • NEED A NEW LONG DISTANCE PLAN: After making their first two attempts from downtown, the Magic closed out the contest missing their next 19 shots from three-point land.


  • PLAY FOR PRIDE & PAY: Former Magic player and current Bucks Head Coach Scott Skiles had a clear message to his team as to what should motivate them, even though their playoff hopes are dwindling.

    “Last time I checked, every two weeks you still get a check.”
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