Cohen Courtside: Magic vs. Rockets (12/26/11)
By Josh Cohen
December 26, 2011
In Cohen Courtside, Josh Cohen examines the state of the Orlando Magic after games this season. He will tackle sidebar storylines and focus on topics that stretch far beyond the box score. There will also be some analysis on league-wide subjects.
ORLANDO -- Since Stan Van Gundy’s tenure as Orlando’s head coach began in 2007, the Magic have relied profoundly on their aptitude to shoot from 3-point distance. In three of the four seasons, Orlando led the league in most 3-pointers made per game and were second in the other year.
It only makes sense for the Magic to fire up as many shots from long distance as they do considering Dwight Howard’s presence and how often he gets double-teamed in the post.
But as displayed in last year’s playoff series against Atlanta and again in Oklahoma City on Christmas Day, sometimes depending on the 3-ball can spell doom.
To be consistent, on the other hand, it’s essential to be balanced. As a result, the Magic need to figure out how they can implement a more drive-and-attack game to their arsenal.
With players like Jason Richardson, J.J. Redick and Ryan Anderson mostly concentrated on their outside shot and with Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu expected to be primary playmakers, there is reservation from outside critics whether Orlando has a player on its roster who can relentlessly attack the rim.
However, on Monday against the Rockets, the Magic were much more aggressive and more ruthless in their quest to assault the hoop.
On several possessions, Turkoglu, who recorded 23 points, and J-Rich, who scored 10, raced past their defenders and converted on layups despite catching fire late from downtown.
Von Wafer, who has seen limited action in his six-year NBA career, may be the consistent answer if he can start earning more playing time. While it remains uncertain if Wafer can be committed to the defensive end of the floor, he definitely has shown a propensity to be explosive offensively.
Despite shooting just 1-of-4 from the floor for two points on Monday, Wafer continues to show his effectiveness at blazing past his defender.
Since J-Rich and Redick play in front of him in the rotation, it may be difficult to find playing time for the former Florida State standout. But it may be worth exploring if you are Van Gundy.
It wasn’t long ago when Orlando was feared for much more than just Dwight Howard’s persistent dominance in the paint. It had the deepest, most multifaceted bench.
With the acquisition of Glen Davis, the further progression from J.J. Redick and expected excellence from rookie Justin Harper, it may not be a stretch to soon declare the Magic as having the best cast of reserves in the NBA again.
After trading role players like Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus last season, some suggested that the Magic’s bench had deteriorated. While that may have been somewhat true last year, the prospective of this season’s team could change that outlook.
Redick flourished on Monday by burying a few critical baskets in the second half and Davis was unremitting inside as the two reserves combined for 33 points.
With this kind of effort from the second unit, there will be more opportunity for starters such as Howard and Jason Richardson to get some valuable rest.
It was just two weeks ago when the Houston Rockets nearly underwent a complete makeover.
An agreement in principle was supposed to send Kevin Martin and Luis Scola to New Orleans and deliver Pau Gasol to southern Texas as part of the Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers proposed deal.
But after the league, which owns the Hornets, rebuffed the trade last second, Martin and Scola were forced to return to Houston and attend training camp like nothing had happened.
It makes you wonder the psychological impact this kind of consequence could have on players and the team as a whole.
Openly knowing that your front office has already attempted to trade you can wane development if you aren’t sympathetic and indulgent enough.
While Scola thrived on Monday with 19 points, Martin struggled mightily with just four points on 1-of-10 shooting from the floor.
|"It's huge to be on a winning streak of one win. We have a lot to build on. We did some real good things, moved the ball, a lot of guys got real comfortable out there scoring."|
|"It always is special (on playing in front of Orlando's crowd). This is where the people got me into the NBA..where I got drafted. It is always a special feeling to come back and see the people in that organization."|
|(On his technical foul) "I slammed the ball. But I was slamming the ball out of frustration on our team, it had nothing to do with the referee. I think he (the ref) saw my face when I did it. I looked as innocent as a dove."|
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