The Orlando Magic believe they can make the playoffs. So do the projection models. The Magic are the nine seed, 1.5 games behind the Heat and the final playoff spot (Orlando is three back in the loss column). Orlando’s advantage is a much easier schedule the rest of the way — so much so that fivethirtyeight.com gives the Magic a 59 percent chance of making the playoffs and the Heat just 35 percent despite their lead. However, Orlando keeps shooting itself in the foot with losses, such as ones to Memphis and Orlando.
Point guard play has not been a strength of this season’s Magic and it needs to be if the playoffs are to be a reality. D.J. Augustin starts and Jerian Grant plays behind him at the one, but when Isaiah Briscoe needed arthroscopic knee surgery it left the Magic wanting more depth at the position.
Enter Michael Carter-Williams.
Carter-Williams played in just 16 games for the Rockets this season (much of that in garbage time), he was a spectator on the bench or in a suit most nights until the Rockets traded him to the Bulls in a salary dump (Chicago waived him). Carter-Williams is not a good shooter and turns the ball over more than coaches would like.
Carter-Williams is the 2014 Rookie of the Year, when he beat out Orlando’s Victor Oladipo. Their careers have gone in very different directions since.
What Carter-Williams brings is experience in coach Steve Clifford’s system — MCW played 52 games for Clifford in Charlotte last season. The Magic pick up a veteran who can walk right in and know the plays.
This isn’t a move-the-needle signing, but the Magic can use all the help they can get right now.
Knicks president Steve Mills is reportedly laying the groundwork to fire coach David Fizdale.
One step: Mills and general manager Scott Perry addressing the media after Sunday’s loss to the Cavaliers while Fizdale was still in the locker room. Mills and Perry stressed that the team wasn’t meeting expectations, seemingly a veiled shot at the coach.
Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN:
The dismissal of David Fizdale is inevitable, and there was, I think, a bond broken between management and their head coach with how they handled things after that loss Sunday night.
Coaches are hired to be fired, but this sounds far more urgent than that.
As long as Fizdale has his job, he has a chance to save it. If the Knicks start playing better, they could keep him.
But that seems unlikely with this underwhelming roster.
Which is why New York is reportedly also considering a front-office change.
When Doc Rivers coached Austin Rivers on the Clippers, accusations of favoritism ran rampant. Playing with the Rockets against the Clippers tonight, Austin showed where his loyalties lie.
Not with his father.
The Clippers were letting the game (an eventual 102-93 Houston win) get away from them when Doc argued a call. Austin stood nearby and urged the referee to call a technical foul. The official eventually obliged and ejected Doc.
That’s when Austin really hammed it up – waving off Doc then making the call-me gesture. The disrespect!
Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant has had a game-saving block and game-winning assist.
Now, he has the glory of a game-winning shot.
Morant sealed the Memphis’ 119-117 win over the Hornets with a driving scoop in the final second tonight. He led Memphis with 23 points and 11 assists.
I want to give P.J. Tucker a break. He’s the Rockets’ most (only?) reliable defender. He has such a heavy burden covering for James Harden, Russell Westbrook and just generally undersized lineups.
But this missed layup was so bad. And that stumble over the stanchion really seals the goof.