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The Turnover Story


Video by Eric Lopez

Stan Van Gundy came into the press room following Monday’s game and laid things out pretty clearly, succintly and quickly. Looking for a difference in that loss? Look to a continuing problem for Orlando this season — turnovers.

The Magic committed 18 of them against the Trail Blazers, a horrid turnover rate of 21.4 percent. As Van Gundy said following Monday’s game, Orlando was even with Portland or better than Portland in almost every area outside of turnovers. He mentioned it as an ongoing problem with this team. And if Orlando is going to win games and get anywhere near its ultimate goal, it has to protect the ball.

“When there is a 10-turnover differential, you can’t just play well,” Van Gundy said. “You are going to have to do something else phenomenally to make up a 10-turnover differential. Something is going to ahve to give to make that difference up. We’ve got to start taking care of the ball better than we are.”

Turnovers are generally not a problem Dwight Howard can fix just by his mere presence. Getting 11 turnovers to just six assists from the Gilbert Arenas/Jameer Nelson point guard tandem in Monday’s game. Van Gundy point out Nelson’s 1-for-7, five-turnover performance as particularly bad on Monday night. He had a 31.3 percent turnover rate and Arenas, with his six turnovers, posted a 35.3 percent turnover rate, according to HoopData.

Their turnovers were a big contributor to the loss as Orlando fell into a deep second half hole and had to fight back into the game.

Orlando is 22nd in the league in turnovers per game with 14.6 per game. The only playoff team doing worse is Boston (14.7 per game). Orlando also is eighth worst in the league in turnover differential, turning the ball over 0.9 per game more than the team’s opponent. The only playoff team doing worse in this category is Atlanta (plus-1.1). The Magic’s 1.38 assist-to-turnover ratio is 23rd in the league, only Indiana is worse among playoff teams (1.3).

According to John Hollinger of, Orlando has a turnover rate of 24.6 percent which ranks the team 24th in the league. Indiana is tied with Orlando at that rate and Boston is the only other playoff team with a higher turnover rate. HoopData has the Magic has a 14.2 turnover rate, which is sixth worst in the league with the Celtics as the only playoff team worse than them right now.

These are not good numbers to think about. It means that one in every five Orlando possessions end in a turnover. And if you believe these numbers, it means Orlando’s turnover rate was actually lower than the season average. Who knew?

“There has been one area in each game where we’ve just been ridiculous,” Van Gundy said. We got outrebounded by 20 in the Bulls game which gave us no chance to win the game and tonight there is a 10-tuirnover differential which gives you no chance. You’re not going to overcome those things.”

Orlando has done a decent job overcoming it since the All-Star break. According to HoopData, the Magic have had a turnover rate above 15 percent in all but one game — the win over Oklahoma City. That is not encouraging despite the fact Orlando is 4-3 since the All-Star Break.

What hurts most is the top four guys for the Magic in turnover rate are point guards, according to HoopData. Perhaps that should not be surprising seeing as point guards handle the ball the most. But it is especially concerning that Jameer Nelson (17.4 percent) and Gilbert Arenas (20.2 percent) are so high up on that list. Rajon Rondo, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd all have higher turnover rates.

But considering Orlando as a team turns the ball over much more, their margin for error is a little smaller.

Dwight Howard has a 15.5 percent turnover rate, which is, by far, the lowest of his career, and can be prone to mistakes. So too can Hedo Turkoglu, who posts a 15.7 percent turnover rate. There are no players — aside from Chris Duhon who has the worst turnover rate of any point guard according to HoopData — who are horrible with turnovers, but there is no one particularly adept at taking care of the ball.

And that might be the problem. Certainly with the road trip coming up, the Magic will have to do a better job taking care of the ball to come home successful.