Orlando Magic News & Notes: More Praise For Howard


The Orlando Magic will wrap up their two game road trip when they take on the New Orleans Hornets in a nationally televised game on Friday night. The last time these two teams got together, Vince Carter dropped 48 points in Orlando 123-117 win. You can read a preview of Friday night’s game here.

Dwight Howard has been criticized often, but lately, the media is coming to his defense. Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel has joined the cause, arguing that Howard should get MVP votes.

"It’s mystifying.It’s logic-defying.They call him an underachiever. They call him a puppy dog. They call him a paper tiger.They ought to be calling him an MVP.But they won’t, you see, because that would be NBA blasphemy.As Magic coach Stan Van Gundy points out, “It’s over. LeBron’s going to get the award.”This is no knock on LeBron; he is certainly worthy of the MVP. He leads the league in scoring and has led the Cavs to the best record in the NBA. All I’m saying is Superman deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the King by the nation’s media."

You can read his column here.

It looks like the Magic are rounding into playoff form.

"The team that played for the NBA championship eight months ago will have just 23 games remaining after facing the NBA Hornets tonight. Each final horn gets them one step closer to the beginning of the playoffs — and perhaps another title-shot.“You do sense it, thinking about the opportunity,” Vince Carter said. “You know it’s around the corner now, but we don’t want to sabotage the season by not taking it each game at a time.“We want to get the highest (seeding) position by winning as many games as we can; it pans out for you at the end. But, yeah, it’s getting close.”The Magic can see the light at the end of the long NBA tunnel of 82 games.“We’re less than two months away. Every day goes by, you get a little closer to it. You have a sense of urgency,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “You’re not looking at the grind of 50 more games. You don’t have all that long to go.”"

You can read that story here.

Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy thinks Dwight Howard should repeat as Defensive Player of the Year.

"“I don’t know how he couldn’t get it again,” Van Gundy said. “When you’re that dominate on the defensive boards, you’re taking away second chances. You’re leading the league in blocked shots. He defends his position well. He’s a very good pick-and-roll defender.“There’s just not a lot of weaknesses with him on the defensive end of the floor. I would be disappointed and surprised — assuming that the next 24 games continue the same trend — if he were not Defensive Player of the Year again.”"

You can read that and other Magic notes here.

Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel says a big challenge awaits the Orlando Magic.

"Thornton was taken 43rd overall in last year’s draft by the Miami Heat then immediately traded to New Orleans. He and fellow Hornets rookie Darren Collison are the third highest pair of Hornets rookies in franchise history. Fifth on that list? Chris Paul and Brandon Bass.Here’s a little more about Thornton from the New Orleans Times Picayune. Coach Jeff Bower opted to keep him on the bench even after his breakout performance.“”We like what he gives us off the bench,” Bower said. “I like that spurt that he provides coming off the bench. For right now, we’ll probably stay with this.”In the previous 15 games, Thornton has averaged 16.3 points and has made 41.5 percent of his shots from behind the 3-point line."

You can find that story here.

Darren Collison has also played very well.

"Since Paul’s injury, Collison has stepped in as the starting point guard for the Hornets and in the 12 games without Paul he is averaging 20.5 points, 9.6 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals, and is shooting 48% from the field and 35% from three."

You can find more on that story here.

Phillip Rossman-Reich takes a look at Jameer Nelson.

"Where Nelson made his money last year was in the mid-range jumper. He hit on 52 percent of his shots between 16 and 23 feet, according to HoopData.com. This year, he is shooting 38 percent on those shots.This makes Nelson look like he is really struggling. But Nelson is starting to play much much better. Those numbers should creep up slowly.In February, Nelson is averaging 13.3 points per game, 6.6 assists per game and is shooting 45.7 percent from the floor, including 42.9 percent from beyond the arc. He has scored more than 10 points in eight of Orlando’s nine games (and the one game he did not, he had 10 assists in helping Vince Carter score 48 against New Orleans) and has dished out at least six assists in five games — and had five assists in three others."

You can find that story here.

Rashard Lewis enjoyed being back in his hometown.

"We had a really good game against the Rockets on Wednesday. We got up by 27 and then kind of coasted in. We need to do a better job of putting teams away, but it’s all good because we still got the W.I had my mom, my brothers and sister and most of my family at the game. I’ve been in NBA for 12 years, so I’m actually used to going back home now, but it’s still special to me.The first couple of times back in H-town when I was a young player I was so excited playing there. I was nervous on the court and I always felt like there was some pressure because I wanted to play so well. But I’ve learned to relax and play and treat it like another basketball game."

Read Sweet Lew’s blog here.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).