ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Over the last few days, the Orlando Magic have had two dunks that will probably endure and make the season’s best lists at the end of the year. Before we go any further, let’s take a look at each of them. First, earlier this week when the Magic played Chicago, Orlando forward Nikola Vucevic faced up against Pau Gasol, then drove to the hoop and dunked on him…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Just when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes something new. The Miami Heat have given us dozens of variations of the photobomb, but last night the Clippers came up with a totally new innovation on the photobomb. After defeating the Magic, 114-86, while Blake Griffin was doing the postgame interview, Clips players Matt Barnes and DeAndre Jordan came out and photobombed Griffin with what appears to be an orbital photobomb. They circled him several times as he spoke, leaving me to wonder if perhaps this was a tribute to NASA’s impending Orion launch, or maybe it’s just whatever they thought of in the moment. Whatever it is, your move, Miami.
Hey, everyone! This is my first blog for NBA.com since getting drafted in June. I think I’ve been adjusting to the new NBA lifestyle pretty well. All of the older guys on my team have been giving me little bits and pieces of advice on how to stay fresh and survive the long season. Taking care of your body becomes even more important when you’re in the NBA. Stretching, icing, eating right and getting enough sleep all make a difference.
The main difference between college life and the NBA life is figuring out the best way to manage my time. I don’t go to class or write papers anymore, so I have way more free time than I’ve ever had before. Staying in a routine becomes very important to accomplish everything during the day. Otherwise, I’ll let the day slip away from me.
The speed of the game in the NBA is way faster than in college. You get away with certain things in college because you’re usually more skilled or athletic than the guy guarding you, but your tendencies get exposed in the NBA. I already started to work on fixing some of my bad habits over the past few months that I can’t get away with at this level. I’ve learned so much over the past few weeks, so hopefully I can continue to learn throughout the course of the year.
Having another rookie with me helps make things easier along the way. Aaron Gordon is a great teammate and friend, so we go through the process together and have become very close. Going through struggles with somebody makes you closer, so it’s been nice to learn with Aaron so far this year. We push each other every day to stay focused and learn as much as we can. As rookies, you can’t let anyone outwork you, so we try to make sure we aren’t getting outworked. We want to be a part of something special in Orlando, and I think our team has a lot of really good pieces and can win a lot of games.
My first NBA game came against the Pelicans back in my home town of New Orleans. I decided not to go back to my house and spend a whole lot of time running around my hometown. I wanted to stay focused on why I was there — to win! Everyone asked me how nervous I was to be playing my first game back home. I really was not more nervous during my first game than any other I’ve played. I just wanted to win and start the season off the right way.
Once the ball went up to start the game, all nerves were gone. I definitely enjoyed playing in front of my family and friends, but I wish we came away with the win. I’ll remember the experience of playing my first game in my hometown for the rest of my life. The NBA has the best talent in the world, so being able to compete against these guys every night is a real blessing.
Thanks for reading my first diary. In the meantime, follow me on twitter to get updates throughout the season @elfrid.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — According to the schedule, the official NBA season was already more than a week old coming into Wednesday night. But those of us with the proverbial ice water in our veins and cooler hands than Luke know that the opera doesn’t really start until the sharpshooter slings.
We’re talking, of course, about the Horry Scale, that measuring stick for clutchness, that barometer of bombastic balling, that dagger-falling-out-of-the-sky delight that brings a worldwide community leaping up off the sofas and out of the La-Z-Boys to celebrate in joyous glee.
OK, so in this case it was the close friends and families of the Magic and Sixers. But those who stayed to the end of what was a pretty darned entertaining game between a couple of teams still in search of their first win were rewarded by Tobias Harris.
Before we go any further, what is the Horry Scale? For those newbies, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety night in November?) and celebration. Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.
One thing to get straight: The Horry Scale does not measure only a game-winning shot; the Horry Scale measures several facets of a GWBB. So we’re talking about not only the shot, but also the play that creates the shot, the situation and the drama, the celebrations … basically, everything surrounding and including the shot. In short, it’s about the total package.
On Day Nine of the 2014-15 season, we finally got our first Horry Scale entrant when Harris came off a double-screen to the right side of the floor, caught a nice feed from Evan Fournier and coolly rose up to nail a step-back 18-footer over the outstretched right hand of a just-too-late Luc Mbah a Moute. Harris got a good look because after Fournier took the inbounds pass from Elfrid Payton, he let the play unfold and delivered right on time. Harris caught the ball in rhythm and made a clutch-but-not-ridiculously-impossible shot.
This was hardly Damian Lillard of the Trail Blazers making his 0.9 second special to close out a playoff series last May. In fact, it was a battle of two dead-last, 0-for-the-season teams that were looking for any kind of reason to celebrate. It came following a jumper from the top of the key by the Sixers’ Henry Sims tied the score at 89 with 4.6 seconds left to play. Following a timeout, the Magic executed just the way coach Jacque Vaughn drew it up on the whiteboard, with Harris capping off an 18-point night by delivering the first victory of the season to Orlando (1-4). The Sixers continue on slumping at 0-5.
Let’s just say the Magic bench looked a bit more relieved than delirious to finally get that first notch on its belt. But the guys eventually gave their main man Harris a nice little jumping-jack reception.
Let’s face it, this game had little on the line except personal pride for both teams. A middle of the week game between two sides with a combined 0-8 record at tipoff. As we said earlier, it wasn’t a circus shot or even the kind where Harris barely had time to think. It was cool and perfectly-executed. A nice, overdue beginning, but we’re waiting for something a bit higher up the food chain to start dishing out the big scores.
I’m giving this one two Horrys and leaving room for plenty of improvement and much more significance in the coming months.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The New Orleans Pelicans convincingly won their season opener at home last night, beating the Orlando Magic, 101-84. And to commemorate the start of a new season, the Pelicans created a video where the players and coach Monty Williams messed around in a kitchen and, um, basically showed why they’re basketball players, not actors.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Penny Hardaway and Tracy McGrady are two of the greatest players in franchise history for the Orlando Magic, thought they never actually played together — Penny was there from ’93-99, while T-Mac arrived in 2000. But now the two retired legends will join forces and hit the hardwood together…in Taiwan. According to this poster, Penny and T-Mac will team with several other former NBA players, including Latrell Sprewell, Keyon Dooling and Vin Baker, to play in some sort of All-Star game next week. Better late than never…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo had a memorable rookie season, making the All-Rookie first team and finishing second in Rookie of the Year balloting. How do you improve upon such a great start? Maybe by adding an awesome over-the-head, back-to-the-basket halfcourt shot to your repertoire…
Welcome to Throwback Thursday here on the All Ball Blog. Each week, we’ll delve into the NBA’s photo archives and uncover a topic and some great images from way back when. Hit us up here if you have suggestions for a future TBT on All Ball.
Today’s Topic: Best Teams of 1990s
This week we continue our Throwback Thursday: Best Teams of Each Decade series by looking at the best teams to play in the 1990s.
Make sure to check back next week for our look at the best teams of the 2000s!
(NOTE:Click the “caption” icon below the photo for details about each moment.)
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Just yesterday we saw video of Minnesota rookie Zach LaVine putting on an incredible dunking exhibition at the Seattle Pro-Am. Not to be outdone, Orlando rookie Aaron Gordon posted the following video on Instagram with his own highlight reel of dunks. Your move, LaVine…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — There are still a few months until NBA training camps begin, so NBA players still have time to get in the weight room and add 15 pounds of muscle, the amount they always seem to add, and make an appearance on MUSCLEWATCH. Once camps start up we’ll launch our official MUSCLEWATCH 2014, but right now with plenty of guys playing in summer league, we can make an initial check-in and see how MUSCLEWATCH is shaping up.
What, you may be asking, is MUSCLEWATCH? It stems from my friend Matt and I noticing years ago that out local paper used to always say that players had gained 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason. No matter the sport, it was never 12, never 16, never 9, never 18, always 15 pounds of muscle. So we began keeping an eye on the papers looking for references to the magic 15 pounds of muscle. I started chronicling this each season in my blog over at SLAM, and eventually MUSCLEWATCH became about more than just the 15 pounds of muscle and more about guys who had either gained or lost a lot of weight. Previous winners include Thad Young and Rudy Gay. If you see MUSCLEWATCH info, tweet it and use the hashtag #MUSCLEWATCH to help us keep all this info straight.
• In the video above, AD’s teammate Jrue Holiday talks about adding muscle and strengthening the leg he had surgery on. We don’t get any concrete numbers, but he still has months to go.
• One of the big stories from summer league has been the newly-slimmedAnthony Bennett, who looks much different. According to our man Steve Aschburner, Bennett has lost 15 pounds from his playing weight last season. I also love this quote from Bennett so much: “It wasn’t really that tough. My body is kind of weird. I can gain weight fast, I can lose weight fast. So it was just me maintaining it. Watching what I eat at night.”
• Bulls forward Tony Snell arrived for summer league not only with his braids gone, but with 10 pounds of muscle added. “I’ve been in the weight room a lot and I’m eating right,” Snell said. That’ll do it, Tony.
• Victor Oladipo is dropping weight this summer. Might want to slow the pace a bit, Vic, considering we have a few months to go…
Victor Oladipo says he's down 20 pounds from the end of the season