By Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel
8:09 PM PST, November 15, 2012
The Orlando Magic used to take almost record-setting numbers of 3-pointers.
But not anymore.
The firing of coach Stan Van Gundy, the trade of Dwight Howard and the accompanying radical roster restructuring have altered the way the Magic play offense — especially the shots they attempt.
Last season, the Magic attempted just over 27 3-pointers per game.
This season, they're trying a bit more than 13 per game.
"I haven't said one time to the guys we want to shoot a certain amount of 3s or we don't want to shoot a certain amount of 3s," Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said. "We want to shoot good, open shots."
The Magic will hope to take better shots and end their five-game losing streak when they face the Detroit Pistons on Friday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
The Magic have failed to reach 90 points in each of their past four games.
Point guard Jameer Nelson might return from groin and hamstring strains and play against the Pistons, and his outside shooting and ball-handling ability should create better, more efficient shots for his teammates.
The Magic have taken almost 30 percent of their total shots from 16 to 23 feet, according to the website HoopData. Through Wednesday, only the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls and the Philadelphia 76ers had taken a higher percentage of shots from that distance.
Only 17 percent of Orlando's shots last season were from 16 to 23 feet.
Van Gundy often railed against the inefficiency of shots taken from just inside the 3-point line, which ranges from 22 feet at the corners to 23 feet, 9 inches.
His thinking made logical sense. If shots from just inside the 3-point line go in at roughly same rate as shots just beyond the 3-point line, why not take the 3-point shot instead?
Taking all those 3s played to the old roster's strengths.
Howard typically commanded double-teams from opposing defenses, and those double-teams often ensured that a teammate would have space on the perimeter.
Meanwhile, former general manager Otis Smith surrounded Howard with players who excelled as 3-point shooters. Howard accentuated the strengths of Ryan Anderson, J.J. Redick and Nelson, and their long-range accuracy helped give Howard more room, too.
The Magic led the NBA in 3-pointers attempted per game in each of the last three seasons. In 2009-10, they launched 27.3 per game, the second-highest average in league history.
Vaughn has installed an offense that takes into account Howard's absence, the Magic's lack of a dominant low-post presence and the team's limited number of players who can create their own shots off the dribble.
The new offense relies heavily on sharp cuts, player movement and sharing the basketball.
"We haven't said anything [like], 'A long 2 is a bad shot,' " Vaughn said. "Our offense will produce 2s. It's just the way it is.
"Sometimes you can take that long 2 and still drive to the basket," he added. "Sometimes a long 2 for Nik [Vucevic] is a good shot for us. But, at the same time, a duck-in in the paint is a good shot also. The way we're playing with our spacing is going to produce some 2s."
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