Orlando Magic News & Notes: Magic Ready For Playoffs


The Orlando Magic defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 125-111 on Wednesday night to end the season with a 59-23 record.

Dwight Howard said the end of the season shows how much the team has grown and matured.

"“I think the way we finished the season shows our maturity as a team. We approached every game as important and we played that way,’’ Howard said. “We wanted to come out and be aggressive and dominate teams. We do that same thing in the playoffs and I think we’ll be unstoppable.’’The Magic (59-23) have known since Monday that they will open the playoffs this weekend against the Charlotte Bobcats (44-38). But they finished the season with a flurry, allowing them to blow past the Los Angeles Lakers in the standings for the league’s second-best record. That means if the Magic get back to the NBA Finals in June, Orlando will hold the all-important homecourt advantage."

John Denton offers his postgame analysis here.

Anything less than a championship is a huge disappointment as far as the Magic are concerned.

"Magic players, to a man, say they are ready to make a run at a title.“I’d be disappointed if we didn’t win the championship,” Nelson said.Added Howard, “We’ll be highly disappointed.”Howard said his team is better than last season’s, adding, “We’re deeper and we’re more motivated to get a ring.”"

Brian Schmitz has that story here.

After the game, Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy took some time to congratulate his team.

"At the end of a regular season in which the Magic (59-23) barreled through opponents to the finish, Van Gundy took some time to compliment his players.That’s correct. Stan Van Gundy pointed out the positives.“They didn’t let any of these games go,” Van Gundy said. “I just took a minute in there after the game, you know before we get on to the playoffs and the next thing in the next day or two, to congratulate them on a great regular season. Closing this out in 59 wins and the second best record in the league, you know not having a single team in the league win a season series against us, winning in every arena in the East… best record in the league, on the second half of the year at 33-and-eight.”"

Tania Ganguli has that story here.

Kate Fagan of the Philadelphia Inquirer said the game was nothing more than a tune-up for the Magic.

"The Magic, who looked as if they were playing an exhibition game, a tune-up for the playoffs, led by as many as 28 points and ran their plays with clever smiles as if they knew the Sixers would trail a double screen or collapse to the middle on penetration.All over the court, guys in white jerseys were open.Orlando, led by Jameer Nelson’s 21 points in 26 minutes, finished the game shooting 59.8 percent from the field and 11 for 25 from three-point range. Dwight Howard had 15 points and 12 rebounds."

You can read that story here.

Mike Bianchi thinks LeBron James could learn from Dwight Howard.

"“… If players are healthy, I think you have an obligation to play. These fans pay a lot of money. I’m very cognizant of what it cost to go to an NBA game. A lot of fans aren’t going to more than one or two games a year. They want to see Dwight Howard. Fans understand injuries, but if you’re not injured and you just don’t want to play, fans are probably thinking to themselves, ‘Why am I buying a ticket? Why am I turning on the TV?’ ”This is one reason Magic fans love Van Gundy. They love him first and foremost because he wins, but they also love him because he represents Joe Sixpack. Maybe that’s why his superstar Dwight Howard might be the hardest worker in the league and has become the only player in NBA history to twice lead the league in the blue-collar statistics of rebounding and blocked shots."

You can find that story here.

George Diaz says Orlando’s finals loss continues to push the Magic.

"But it’s impossible to ignore the big motivating elephant in the room: The image of Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson looking forlorn while the Lakers celebrated an NBA title at Amway Arena last season.The Lakers have managed to ratchet up the mojo juice by jockeying with Orlando for the second-best record in the NBA during the last month of the regular-season. It’s a huge factor for a team that has a big-picture perspective — win the whole thing. The victory on Wednesday assures the Magic they will have home-court advantage against any team from the West if they advance to The Finals."

You can read that story here.

Ben Q. Rock takes a look the offensive tendencies of both the Magic and the Bobcats. It’s a good read and you can check that out here.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor on the Fansided Front Page and at Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).