The Orlando Magic fired coach Stan Van Gundy Monday, part of a managerial shakeup that also included the exit of general manager Otis Smith. Whether Dwight Howard gets traded before or during next season or leaves after as a free agent, the friction between those two and Howard boiled over this season, with the Magic losing to the Indiana Pacers in just five games in the opening round of the playoffs.
Van Gundy takes with him perhaps the most grating, annoying voice in all of professional sport. While undoubtedly a decent coach – the Magic won over 70 percent of their regular season games, claimed three division titles, made the playoffs all five seasons and went to the 2009 NBA Finals – Van Gundy at his raspiest has the power to shatter glass, eardrums, and possibly even frontal lobes.
The Celtics play the Magic only a couple of times a year. As such, one’s ears always heal just enough so that when the next Celtics-Magic game comes around, Van Gundy sets them bleeding all over again.
They say misery loves company. So that everyone can share my pain, here are five moments with Stan Van Gundy (with a few guest appearances by Doc Rivers!).
• Orlando Magic vs. Toronto Raptors post-game, 4/26/2012
Paul Pierce might be nearing the finish line of a career that will end in the Hall of Fame and a spot in the TD Garden rafters. But if these are Pierce’s last games, The Truth wants to go out in style.
Pierce scored a game-high 29 points and recorded a career-best 14 assists, carrying the Boston Celtics to a 102-98 victory over the Orlando Magic and their fifth consecutive Atlantic Division title Wednesday night at the TD Garden. Avery Bradley backed up Pierce with 23 points, tying his career-high.
With home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs locked up, the short-handed Celtics can now focus on rest and recovery. Ray Allen hasn’t played in over a week, and Rajon Rondo sat Wednesday with a lower back injury.
Pierce Holds Back Magic in Fourth
Up 79-70 heading into the fourth quarter, Boston built their lead as high as 13, but a combination of outside shooting by Jameer Nelson (21 points, 3-for-6 from downtown) and dominating play inside (54 points in the paint, 17 offensive rebounds withoutDwight Howard) kept Orlando in the game. Orlando cut Boston’s lead to 92-90 with three minutes left before Pierce drew a foul and sank one of two.
A Glen Davis (27 points) steal and sprint to the basket – how many times has that ever been written? – made it 98-96 Celtics, setting up the play of the game. Pierce – who split ball-handling duties with Bradley Wednesday – brought the ball to the three-point line, nearly slipping and losing control of the ball.
With the shot-clock winding down, Pierce regained control and penetrated to just outside the foul line, hitting a 17-foot step-back jumper with 7.6 seconds left in the game. He also sank two free throws in the final seconds to maintain the two-possession lead.
Apparently, some dude on the Knicks is having a decent season. Jerry something-or-other. Played for Yale, I think.
Were he a Celtic, I might show more enthusiasm for point guard Jeremy Lin and the seven consecutive wins his team has rattled off since his move into the starting spot. And it appears I nearly got my wish… twice.
Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald reported Thursday that the Celtics twice submitted waiver claims for Lin when the Golden State Warriors cut him prior to the start of this season. The Houston Rockets claimed Lin ahead of the Celtics, cut him, and then the Knicks took him, again ahead of the Celtics. The rest is media-magnified history.
But oh, what might have been.
Lin Would Have Thrived in Boston
Though overall a feel-good story, Lin’s sudden success still bears a small shadow: the return of Carmelo Anthony. When Anthony returns, Lin will have to give back many of the 17-plus shots per night he’s averaged over the last seven games. The arrogant, needy Anthony will demand the ball whenever he’s on the court, and the humble Lin will probably give it away willingly.
If this works, the story dies. But if it fails, and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni has to take the ball away from Anthony, a schism could form in the locker room that derails a Knicks season that finally looks back on track.
Unlike the Knicks, the Celtics don’t play selfishly. Rajon Rondo usually passes to the open shooter, whoever that may be. While that doesn’t always work – there’s really no reason to ever pass to Jermaine O’Neal or Marquis Daniels – it creates a system that rewards humility and team effort over individual skill-sets.
Lin would have succeeded in such a system. He’s said that despite scoring 20 points or more in six of the last seven games, he still sees himself as a distributor. No one distributes like Rondo does, and Lin would have learned infinitely more about passing from Rondo than garbage Knicks guards like Mike Bibby and Toney Douglas.
Lin also would have provided a scoring threat off the bench, something the Celtics have especially lacked since the loss of Brandon Bass. Lin would have covered some of the scoring lost with Bass’ knee injury, and once healthy, Bass, Lin and Chris Wilcox would have found openings in just about any defense. Just as the Celtics’ starters dominate when they play complimentary basketball, so too would the second unit.