Magic 1-4 in January vs. Teams Above .500

by Jeff Fogle 29. January 2011 01:08

Orlando dropped its fourth straight game to a winning team Friday Night in a 99-90 loss at Chicago. The Magic are 1-4 in January vs. teams currently over .500, with the only win coming over Dallas back when Dirk Nowitzki was sidelined with an injury.

It's not quite as bad as it sounds, because all five of those games were played on the road. Plus, three of the four were close losses. Still, Orlando is probably going to have to win on the road come playoff time. They are currently tied for the fourth seed in the East with Atlanta.

Here are the scores:

Orlando 117, Dallas 107
New Orleans 92, Orlando 89
Oklahoma City 125, Orlando 124
Boston 109, Orlando 106
Chicago 99, Orlando 90

A few things jump out from the boxscores within this set of games...

*Hedo Turkoglu's shot disappears when he's needed most.

2-10 from the floor at New Orleans
2-9 from the floor at Oklahoma City
4-11 from the floor at Boston
2-12 from the floor at Chicago

I mentioned the other day that Orlando had been showing an 18-1 tendency to win when Hedo scores three or more baskets from the field, but to lose when he makes 2 or less. That's now a 20-1 tendency after a win in Indiana, but the loss to Chicago. Turkoglu did contribute from the field in the victory over shorthanded Dallas. In the last four Orlando games vs. winning teams, he's 10-42 from the field.

*Inside defense is surprisingly absent.

Dallas 29 of 50 on 2-pointers (58%)
New Orleans 33 of 69 on 2-pointers (48%)
Oklahoma City 37 of 64 on 2-pointers (58%)
Boston 39 of 60 on 2-pointers (65%)

Orlando did okay vs. Chicago tonight inside the arc, helped possibly by Derrick Rose shooting poorly (6 of 21) with stomach ulcers. Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Boston were near 60% in composite inside, even with Dwight Howard on duty.

*Orlando isn't guarding the arc consistently.

Dallas 12 of 26 on treys (46.2%, or 69.3% adjusted)
Oklahoma City 7 of 14 on treys (50%, or 75% adjusted)
Chicago 8 of 18 on treys (44.4%, or 66.7% adjusted)

Three of five winning opponents did legimate damage from long range.

The "Orlando model" we discussed aways back involves winning the three-point battle, and then shutting down opponents who come inside to challenge Howard. That works great against lesser teams. Orlando is 8-1 in January against opponents who currently have a losing record. It's not currently working in road games against top quality opposition

February will bring some chances to impress at home vs. playoff teams:

3rd vs. Miami
11th vs. New Orleans
13th vs. LA Lakers
25th vs. Oklahoma City

Orlando also has a trip to Boston on the sixth that will give them a chance to avenge their prior road loss to the Celtics.

Transition Points

*Orlando/Chicago was one of two Superleague games tonight. Chicago is now 8-9 for the year within the 13-team subset we've isolated for closer inspection. That's second best in the East. Orlando falls to 7-12. Atlanta beat New York in the other one. Atlanta is now 6-10, New York 7-12.

*Toronto may be the next to go on the list of "teams who've stopped playing defense." Within their last four games heading into tonight, they had posted defensive efficiencies of 125.8 (Orlando), 126.3 (Miami), and 116.3 (Philadelphia). Tonight the Raptors let Andrew Bogut go 12 of 14 from the field. We documented yesterday how poorly Bogut had been shooting recently. The starting front line for Milwaukee was 31-45 from the field in the Bucks 116-110 overtime win.

Toronto has lost 10 straight, and is 5-23 it's last 28 games.

*Washington is trying as hard as they can to get their first road victory. They fell to 0-20 tonight with a double overtime loss at Oklahoma City. They do have some company on the list of bad road teams:

Washington 0-20
Minnesota 2-22
New Jersey 3-22
Cleveland 3-23
Detroit 5-20
LA Clippers 3-15

Sacramento was 4-16 heading into their late Friday game with the Lakers. They actually enjoy a third quarter lead as I type this. If you're reading Saturday or later, you'll know whether the Kings moved to 5-16, or dropped to 4-17.

Back Monday night to start a new week, and hopefully to crunch some interesting numbers from the Miami-Oklahoma City and Boston-LA Lakers national TV games Sunday that I'm sure you'll be watching...

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The Straw That Stirs the Raki

by Jeff Fogle 26. January 2011 00:46

It's been fairly well publicized that the Orlando Magic are playing better team basketball since the return of Hedo Turkoglu (the straw that stirs the Raki). Orlando is 13-6 since the acquisition that came after a 1-6 stretch. What's amazing is how well correlated their results are to Hedo's field goal production.

In this past Monday's surprising 103-96 home loss to Detroit (a team Orlando should be able to beat in its sleep), Turkoglu made only two baskets. That's the fifth time since returning that he's made two or less. Orlando's record in those five games? 0-5.

Turkoglu has made three shots from the field or more in his 14 other games in a Magic uniform this year. Orlando's record in those 14 games? 13-1!

Life is never this simple. So, opposing defense can't just focus on Turkoglu and hope to put that 18-1 tendency in their favor. Still, it does tell you what a linchpin player he's been since his return. Orlando is surprisingly mortal when he's not contributing to the scoring load and jus focusing on passing the ball. They're very difficult to beat when he is.

Hedo or He-doesn't
13 Orlando wins: 5-6-8-3-6-3-5-6-5-3-5-3-8 made baskets
6 Orlando losses: 1-2-2-2-4-2 made baskets

Orlando visits Indiana Wednesday Night in a bounce-back spot off the loss to Detroit. That's followed by a Friday Night visit to Chicago. A game that should have a playoff feel to it because the handful of the true contenders in the East have met up so rarely thus far. It will be very interesting to see what the Chicago defense will have in mind for the inside-outside attack of the Orlando offense.

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Orlando's Surge in Assisted Baskets

by Jeff Fogle 6. January 2011 01:15

Many have been trying to put into words how well Hedo Turkoglu has fit back into the flow offensively for the Orlando Magic since his return. Here are some numbers that express the team's new synergy as plainly as possible...

Percentage of Field Goals that were Assisted:
52% for the year before 7-game winning streak started
62% vs. San Antonio
57% vs. Boston
67% at New Jersey
68% at Cleveland
54% vs. New York
68% vs. Golden State
66% vs. Milwaukee

Orlando earned assists on 23 of 35 baskets Tuesday night in their comfortable 97-87 win over Milwaukee (the lead was 16 at the half). It was just the latest example of Orlando whipping the ball around the floor like the Harlem Globetrotters before chest bumps, man hugs, and telling post game reporters how great it is to have Hedo back.

Orlando has gone from a team that assisted on a little over half their baskets in the first third of the season to a team that's assisted on 63% of their baskets during their seven game winning streak.

It can be hard to represent synergy or chemistry with numbers. That data captures the spirit of what's happening very well I think.

Orlando looks like they've found their mojo again, needless to say.

TRANSITION POINTS

*San Antonio had more trouble on two-point defense Tuesday night in their 105-103 loss at Boston. The Celtics shot 62% on two's with 41 of 66 inside the arc. That's one night after New York abused San Antonio inside as well.

It's great to be 29-6 after 35 games. But, if you're coasting past the portion of the NBA that's a glorified D-League, taking care of business vs.the tweeners, but allowing good teams to drop the ball in the hoop repeatedly, the playoffs are going to end much quicker than expected. Let's continue to watch the Spurs internal defense to see if this is a problem that's likely to manifest itself in the postseason.

*Chicago fell at New Jersey 96-94 Tuesday Night in a back-to-back spot after a 111-91 Tuesday blowout of Toronto. They're 7-3 in the first 10 games without Joakim Noah. That sounds like great news. But, the seven wins have come against Philadelphia, Washington, Detroit, Milwaukee, New Jersey, Cleveland, and Toronto. Not exactly a murderer's row. The three losses came to the Clippers, Knicks, and Nets...meaning Noah picked a very good spot in the schedule to have his surgery.

The Bulls will have challenging opponents the next two Saturdays against Boston and Miami. Otherwise, the schedule is Philadelphia, Detroit, Charlotte, Indiana, Memphis, and Charlotte again through January 18th. Kind of a hidden kicker in that sentence. January 18th isn't that far away!

Chicago will play on these calendar dates:
7-8 (with the 8th being the 4th game in 5 nights)
10
12
14-15 (with the 15th being the 8th game in 12 nights)
17-18 (with the 18th being the 4th game in 5 nights, AND the 10th game in 15 nights)

Any game is a challenge game with that much fatigue when you're missing a key player. Interesting test for a team that just flunked a back-to-backer with the lowly Nets.

*I'm writing this at halftime of the Lakers/Suns telecast on ESPN. I looked up to notice that guest studio analyst Chris Mullin in high-def bears a striking resemblance to Max Headroom. Best to call it a night on that revelation. I'll come back Thursday with some notes from Lakers/Suns and Nuggets/Clippers from the late Wednesday card, and some tidbits I've been playing around with regarding tempo and turnovers.

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