The NBA Has Taken Notice Of The New-Look Magic
The Orlando Magic’s nine-game winning streak has other teams in the league taking notice. Other clubs obviously know the Magic have been one of the league’s best teams during the Stan Van Gundy era but now they could be even more dangerous with their new acquisitions.
When you acquire players who have had as much success in the league as Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson, they may be right.
“They have a good team,” former Magic and current Milwaukee Bucks guard Keyon Dooling said. “They have a lot of good players.”
When the trades originally went down, most around the NBA believed Arenas was the best addition to the group.
“You have Gilbert Arenas, who was an All-Start just a few years ago,” Golden State Warriors guard Dorell Wright explained. “He is rejuvenated and motivated to come out here and play hard.”
However, teams have recently been impressed with the return of Hedo Turkoglu to the Magic.
“Bringing Hedo Turkoglu back was the best decision they made in the trade because this is the guy that puts their team in the best situation to score,” Bucks wing Corey Maggettee said. “They have so many options with Hedo… running pick-and-rolls with Dwight and rolling with Jameer Nelson, so they put their team in a great opportunity to win.”
Turkoglu’s playmaking ability has clearly added another dimension to the Magic offense. His 17 assists in a win over the Dallas Mavericks, Orlando’s ninth win in a row, is perfect evidence of that.
Since Turkoglu first appeared in a game for the Magic this season, Orlando has averaged 23.6 assists per game up from the 18.9 assists per game they were averaging prior to making the deal.
However, despite all of the changes, the Magic’s franchise player, center Dwight Howard, remains the primary focus of the offense.
“It’s a good club,” Bucks Coach Scott Skiles said. “Nothing’s really changed the way they play. They try to use Dwight inside and surround him with 3-point shooters.”
The Magic started off shooting poorly from beyond the arc, especially for a team that set an NBA record for 3-pointers made in a single season during the 2009-10 season. Lately, they’ve been on fire from downtown even hitting 14 more 3-pointers in their latest win over the Mavericks Saturday night.
Orlando was shooting just 35.2% from beyond the arc before December 20th. They are shooting 41.4% since.
“They have a lot of shooters and a lot of guys that can make plays,” Rockets guard Kyle Lowry explained. “That is a tough team to play.”
With Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas, J.J. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Ryan Anderson and Hedo Turkoglu, six of Orlando’s eight rotation players are more-than-capable 3-point shooters. And none of them are afraid of the moment.
“Those guys are all very confident players, so it’s a very good team,” Skiles explained.
Dooling, who is familiar with a few of Orlando’s players, having played with Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick, credits Orlando’s unselfishness as the biggest reason for success following the trades.
“They have such a good team that they have good players that can’t even get off the bench,” Dooling explained. “Sometimes that can be a burden on a team, but they embrace it.”
“They are a good team and doing a good job of growing as a team,” Dooling said.
If they continue to grow like they have, they’re going to be playing deep into the postseason.
News & Notes
- After playing seven out of 10 games at home, Orlando’s victory over the Dallas Mavericks was the beginning of a five game road trip.
- The Magic will be in New Orleans to face the Hornets Wednesday, Oklahoma City to play the Thunder Thursday and Minnesota to play the Timberwolves Saturday. They’ll be back on the East Coast Monday when they take on the Celtics in Boston.
- Gilbert Arenas wouldn’t describe it as an actual road trip because they returned to Orlando after their game in Dallas.
- In fact the Magic will practice in Orlando again Tuesday morning before leaving for New Orleans.
- Orlando is 31-34 against the Hornets and just 3-5 in New Orleans.
- The two teams met in a 2002 first round playoff series, which was won by the Hornets in four games.
- Brandon Bass, who played college basketball at LSU and is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, spent his first two NBA seasons with the Hornets, appearing in 50 games.
- The Magic are averaging 104.5 points per game since their trade. They were averaging just 96.6 points per game before hand.
- Twice before have the Magic had a nine-game winning streak. From November 12th, 1994 to December 2nd, 1994 and from January 30th, 2001 to February 18th, 2001, they also won nine straight games. A win against the Hornets Wednesday would break the franchise record for consecutive games won.
- Their nine-game winning streak is the second longest in the NBA this season (the Miami Heat won 12 straight games from November 29th through December 18th and have currently won nine straight games).