Frustration Starting To Show
Since Orlando’s eight game winning streak, which ended at the hands of the New Orleans Hornets on January 12, the team is just 5-4, making them 30-16 on the season. They are currently second in the Southeast, a division they have won in each of the past three seasons. They are also currently just fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Magic were the second seed last year and the third seed in the 2009 playoffs.
In other words, the honeymoon period the Magic enjoyed for the first few weeks after acquiring Gilbert Arenas, Earl Clark, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu is over.
After Orlando’s loss to the Detroit Pistons, a team that ranks in the bottom third of the league in both offensive and defensive rating, it was obvious Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy and his players were extremely frustrated.
After the loss Monday night, Van Gundy offered up a couple of reasons for Orlando’s struggles.
“Turnovers, especially in the first half, that’s why we were where we were,” Van Gundy explained. “Their perimeter guys just rocked us. We couldn’t guard any of them.”
Turnovers have been quite the problem for the Magic throughout the season. The Magic average 14.5 turnovers per game and a lot of those turnovers can easily be avoided.
Not only are a good portion of their turnovers avoidable but the Magic also lead the league with 72 technical fouls, 13 more than the Denver Nuggets, who have the second most technical’s in the NBA.
Dwight Howard has a league-leading 12 technical fouls and has ha four other technical’s rescinded by the league.
The silly mistakes need to stop but the biggest problems have come on the defensive end.
Despite being pretty poor offensive teams, the Detroit Pistons were able to score 103 points against the Magic Monday night while the Indiana Pacers put up 96 points in Wednesday night’s game.
“I mean, they’re not a team that scores a lot of points but once you give them that many opportunities, they’ve got guys on that team that are good players,” Nelson said of the Pistons.
The same can be said of the Pacers.
After Monday’s game, the usually jovial Dwight Howard had a rather somber attitude.
“Guys got to guard on the perimeter,” Howard said. “Got to do a better job, it just can’t be one dribble to the basket.”
Van Gundy isn’t quite sure what the problem is on the defensive end and thinks he may have to make some changes to improve the defense.
“We have to get a lot better defensively, which is my responsibility,” Van Gundy said. “Maybe I’ll have to play him (Quentin Richardson) more or maybe we will have to play other people if these guys won’t commit to it.”
“Guys just got to want to play,” Howard explained. “That’s it.”
Jameer Nelson thinks the Magic become too laid back at times and maybe do a little too much scoreboard watching when they get off to a big lead. Wednesday night’s game was a perfect example. Orlando built a 23-point lead against the Indiana Pacers, but let the Pacers cut the lead to as little as seven in the fourth quarter.
“Everything we do right now, we’re developing some bad habits,” Nelson said. “Kind of like turning a switch on and off, playing hard and not playing hard.”
“Just have to do a better job of our energy, consistency and intensity and continue our level of play when we get in there and keep it there,” Nelson added.
Effort and energy have been problems for the Magic throughout the season but Van Gundy thinks Orlando’s major problem is focus.
“I think focus is a big problem,” Van Gundy said, following Orlando’s loss to Detroit. “We aren’t focusing on the game plan or on personnel. I think our guys know the stuff if you talk to them about other players, but I don’t think we focus on it on the floor at all.”
“We make too many mistakes,” Van Gundy continued. “And it’s going to be hard to be a winning team that way.”
Whether the solutions to the problems are as simple as Dwight Howard’s solution – “We just have to play” – the Magic have to get things figured out and fairly soon.
“Either we get it together or we’re just going to be a playoff team that doesn’t win a championship,” Howard warned.
News & Notes:
- Jason Richardson surpassed the 13,000-point mark in Wednesday’s game and now has 13,015 career points. Congratulations to Jason.
- Stan Van Gundy also deserves congratulations for winning his 200th game.
- The Magic will take on the Chicago Bulls Friday night at the United Center in Chicago. These two teams met once this season in Chicago and the Magic took the Bulls behind the woodshed, winning 107-78 on December 1.
- In that game, Jameer Nelson led the Magic with 24 points and nine assists while Joakim Noah led the Bulls with 16 points.
- The best all-time scoring performance for the Magic against the Bulls came when Tracy McGrady dropped 52 on February 21, 2003.
- For the Bulls, none other than Michael Jordan scored 64 points against the Magic on January 16, 1993.
- Orlando is 41-37 all time against Chicago but just 18-23 on the road.
- It will be a homecoming for Quentin Richardson who is not only from Chicago, but played two seasons at DePaul.
- If you’ll remember, the Bulls signed J.J. Redick to a three-year offer sheet and thought they were going to have the sharpshooter before the Magic decided to match the offer.