ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The long-running battle between Robin Lopez and mascots around the NBA reached some sort of a breaking point last week, when the mascots, fed up with being beaten down by Robin Lopez, struck a stinging psychological blow. As we saw then, Cavs mascot Moondog attempted to drive a wedge within the Lopez family by befriending Robin’s brother Brook. When he saw the evidence, Robin reacted angrily on social media…
And it didn’t take Lopez long to start taking out his aggression on NBA mascots. A few days later, in Orlando, after light provocation from Stuff, the Magic mascot, Lopez hit him with a modified belly-to-belly suplex…
Then, in Memphis during pregame warmups, Grizzlies mascot Griz offered Lopez an olive branch…accompanied by a “KICK ME” sign on his back.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s unclear exactly what has happened in this clip. I’ve watched it in slow motion about five times and am still unsure how this happened. Either way, Orlando’s Aaron Gordon is out on the perimeter when all of a sudden his right shoe shoots off his foot and flies from the three-point line, into the paint and ends up down under the basket. While the shoe is doing its thing, Gordon drives into the paint wearing one shoe and takes a shot. And as Gordon is driving, Miami’s Chris Andersen delivers a swift kick to Gordon’s bouncing shoe and boots it out of the lane. Crazy play.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Two nights ago during the Thunder/Magic game, when Reggie Jackson pulled off his magical shot, there was a moment later in the game worth reliving. As the Thunder walked off the court for a timeout, Russell Westbrook was high-fiving his teammates, and he ended up whiffing on a high five with Jeremy Lamb. But instead of keeping it moving, Westbrook could not just let it go…
And as ESPN’s Royce Young pointed out, Westbrook apparently has a thing about hanging high fives…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Here’s a fun video out of Orlando, where the Magic took a break and Evan Fournier nailed a shot that’s pretty remarkable. But this wasn’t just a way to have some fun — the Magic are running a contest asking fans to post their best trick shots using the hashtag “#MagicTrickShotSweeps” with the chance to win season tickets. Get to shooting!
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…