Note: This was supposed to be posted yesterday, but as you know Blogger crapped out on everyone yesterday. Here it is in belated fashion:
Well, it's official: It's easier to watch the Magic when they play in China then when they play in Orlando.
I just got done watching the DVRed record of the Magic-Cavs game, and I saw some big pluses and minuses. While our team did great, looking like a better overall team than the Cavs, it was a shame not to see Marcin Gortat on the international stage. The only time I saw him, someone was yelling at him to move down on the bench (literally.)
Let's go through the game position by position, shall we?
-First off, at PG Jameer Nelson is a COMPLETELY different player. Sweet sassy mo-lassy. Even though the stat sheet doesn't necessarily reflect it, he was the best player on the floor by far besides Dwight. He was driving through the lane, making amazing passes, and reminding our sluggish squad to run the floor. The Cavs could only foul to contain him. Hello, contract.
On the flipside, Carlos Arroyo looked like something Ira Newble shat out (apologies to the religious online Arroyo cult). He slowed the game down, he shot low percentage shots, and just looked rather lax on offense and defense. When Arroyo left the floor, the team seemed to come alive.
-At SG, yes Redick had a bad shooting game, but he also seemed rather lost on defense too. He seemed best suited to be 'the guy who passes to Dwight', a role that many handicapped people could easily do. He wasn't good and he wasn't bad, he was just absent the whole game.
Keith Bogans also had a so-so night, but he gets an "A" for effort in my book. He was hustling for rebounds, running the floor, and seemed like a man on a mission. The only thing that really killed his stock was that he was 3-8 for three pointers (not including 2 that he missed that were just inside the line). I know, I know, that is a good percentage, but when you take into account that every single shot of his was WIDE open, you can understand how difficult it was to watch that many shots clank off of the rim. Stan's system really allows for wide open threes, a great sign.
-At SF, Turkoglu...my whipping boy...actually didn't play terrible. He made his shots and wasn't trying to force anything. What he DID play like was an 80 year old man. When he touched the ball, I had to make sure my DVR wasn't in slow-mo mode. He is only like 28, so he shouldn't be looking like that. No wonder Stan Van Gundy thought he looked sluggish in other games. I think doctors need to re-examine our boy Turk to make sure he doesn't have some advanced aging thing...seriously.
The other tall white guy to play SF was Pat Garrity. Early in the game Hubie Brown was talking about how working with Stan Van Gundy could revitalize Garrity's career. Pat took this as his cue to suck...hard. Everytime the ball touched his hands, it was up for grabs and I'm convinced that one of his relatives must work for the NBA to have his statsheet only say 1 turnover. He held onto the ball like it was a red-hot piece of lava.
-I really didn't get a chance to see poetry man Foyle or James Augustine much since they were in for so short a period (usually playing during lackluster Lebron highlights...damn you ESPN), but they seemed okay. Foyle played well all around and Augustine rebounded a good amount, despite not shooting well. Augustine will most likely make the team and contribute here and there when they are being outrebounded.
-Which leaves us with Howard. I will give Patrick Ewing a pat on the back right now because he looks like a monster out there. Last year you could say he was a big guy with a lot of potential and a limited game. Well, this game he was just unstoppable everywhere (except his lone jumpshot, which still didn't look too bad). His free throws have improved too, making the Cavs actually regret it when they fouled him as opposed to using it as strategy. I can not express how impressed I was with him this game. Mark my words, this year is going to be his coming out party and Kevin Garnett would even say "Ooo-wee!" if he saw how D12 played today.
For coaching, Stan could constantly be heard from the bench "RUN! GO!", especially whenever Arroyo was anywhere near the ball and watching it bounce like a yo-yo. His lone time that he was onscreen calling a play, he yelled, "O-C! O-C!" as loud as he could. He then proceeded to say, "UM, MY MISTAKE...I MEAN'T 3-5! THIRTY-FIVE!" I chuckled at this right up until the play unfolded into a spectacular alley-oop dunk for Dwight.
That's our Stan for you: Laugh at him one moment and then shake your head at how good a coach he is the next.
Overall, a promising game. While it is easy to say the team did well despite Lewis, Ariza, and Dooling being out, the Cavs were also without unsigned players Pavlovic and Varejao so they were a little short on talent too. I am sure Stan will have a lot to say about how slow the team looked out there, but they did just take a super long flight so it is understandable.
Update: The Magic, after a slow start, are killing the Chinese National Team in their game today. Stan seemed to play some of the people he thought were lackluster yesterday, and there were mostly positive results: Carlos Arroyo redeemed himself after a poop game to go for 25 points and 7 assists and James Augustine (of all people) lit up for 14 points and 7 rebounds. Turkoglu had 17 points and Marcin Gortat had 8. On the flipside, JJ Redick's achilles heel remains the western hemisphere as he was 2-9, after an 0-6 start. For the boxscore, because yahoo hates Chinese people, go here: