Magic Staying Positive

Van Gundy Stays Positive After Loss

Stan Van Gundy is often known for sharing his disappointment with the way the Magic played in victory or defeat. He is often hard on his team and can sometimes make a win sound more like a loss.

After the Magic dropped another game against the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday, Van Gundy went off during his postgame press conference, ripping into his team’s energy and effort.

After the team’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks, it was a different story.

‘We gave up 50 percent but we made some mistakes down the stretch that were just because of us not being together in terms of our system,” Van Gundy said following the game.

“That’s great to hear,” Jameer Nelson joked when told that Van Gundy saw more good than bad Tuesday night. “Nah, he said it to us, too.”

Of course, there was some reason for Van Gundy to change his attitude. Despite the loss to the Mavericks, the Magic played with more energy and gave a much better effort than they have in recent weeks, coming up just short, falling to one of the league’s best teams 105-99.

“I thought there were a lot of positive things to build on,” Van Gundy explained. “I thought we did some things very well tonight.”

The Magic finally showed some improvement on offense. They scored 99 points, hit 11 3-pointers and turned it over just 12 times.

With their new found ability to actually penetrate and get into the lane, Orlando’s ball movement and passing was much better, which in turn led to more open shots.

“I thought our ball movement was better,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t think we had much trouble getting good shots. I thought we attacked their zone tonight, when they went into zone.”

Hedo Turkoglu looks just about as comfortable running the pick-and-roll with Dwight Howard as he did during his first stint with the Magic. He also still has good chemistry with Howard despite blowing a few alley-oops.

“I thought that we played well out of pick-and-rolls,” Van Gundy said.

Van Gundy even gave the much maligned Magic defense some credit. He made sure to point out they’re not a very good defense right now but said they “tried hard most of the time” and thinks they can “cure that over the next few weeks.”

What really had Van Gundy happy was Orlando’s fight.

“I like the way that we fought in the fourth quarter,” Van Gundy explained. “We knocked down double figures and gave ourselves a chance to get back into the game.”

If the Magic continue to that, the victories will follow.

“Like Training Camp”

Since the Magic sent Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter and Mickael Pietrus and Rashard Lewis to Washington and brought back Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Earl Clark and Gilbert Arenas, Van Gundy has continued to compare his current situation with that of a team during training camp.

 “It’s hard for the players,” Van Gundy said.”They’re coming in brand new. They’ve had two one-hour walkthroughs and they’re going out playing games.”

Both Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson agreed with that assessment.

“It feels like preseason,” Nelson said. “But we’re professionals. At the end of the day, we’re good basketball players and we will be a great team.”

It was even tougher on the Magic having to play back-to-back games, traveling to Atlanta to play the Hawks on Monday and hosting the Mavericks Tuesday.

They were finally able to hold a practice Wednesday but there is still a lot of work to do.

“It’s frustrating in some ways,” Van Gundy told reporters. “You’d like to be at a point in the season where you can sort of expect better play but that’s not where we are right now.”

Orlando’s old players are trying to ease the transition, helping their new teammates get organized and acclimated with their new surroundings.

“My job is to go out there, get familiar with my teammates, the new guys, and help the old guys feel comfortable as well,” Nelson said. “It’s tough out there at times. We don’t know guys strengths and weaknesses other than just playing against those guys. We’re just trying to make it as comfortable as possible.”

The solution is simple.

“We’ve just got to get some practice days in,” Van Gundy explained. “We’ve got to start building our foundation.”

“You’ve just got to be patient with everything except effort right,” he added.

Mavericks Know What Magic Are Going Through

Last season the Dallas Mavericks were falling short of their own expectations and decided to make a big midseason trade with the Washington Wizards in an attempt to make them a legitimate championship contender. The Mavericks sent Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, Quinton Ross and James Singleton to the Wizards in exchange for Brendan Haywood, Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson.

The Mavericks responded by winning 55 games and claiming the #2 seed in the Western Conference and it continues to pay dividends as both Butler and Stevenson were in the Mavericks’ starting lineup Tuesday night.

The Magic are hoping for similar results.

“We went through a major trade mid-season last year so we know its like,” Carlisle explained. “Sometimes it produces some unexpected great results.”

As tough as it is to get adjust and really get into a flow after a mid-season trade, Carlisle offered up a couple of reasons why it may be easier for the Magic.

“Turkoglu’s been here so he knows their stuff and the other guys are veterans so they’ll pick it up quickly,” Carlisle explained.

He even offered a glimpse of how good the Magic could be.

“They got a lot of new players,” Carlisle said. They’ve got a lot of offensive firepower with Arenas, Turkoglu and Richardson and you know Bass has been playing well for them too. Howard is a monster.”

News & Notes:

  • The Magic, who host the San Antonio Spurs Thursday night are just 14-30 against the Spurs all time and are 0-1 against the Spurs this season. They fell to the Spurs 106-97 on November 22nd.
  • Orlando has won four of their last six matchups against the Spurs in Orlando.
  • The Magic are 12-6 against the Eastern Conference this year but just 4-6 against the West.
  • Dwight Howard said Van Gundy chest bumped him during the game Tuesday night, and then went into greater detail, calling it a “chest-belly bump” because of the size difference between the two.
  • The Magic will host the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day. They are 40-43 against the Celtics all time in the regular season but have won 13 of the last 20 meetings, including a 3-1 series win last season. They’ve defeated the Celtics in 8 of their last 10 meetings in Orlando. They are also 9-8 against Boston in the postseason. The Magic defeated the Celtics in seven games to reach the 2009 Eastern Conference Championship. The Celtics did, however, defeat the Magic in six games to win the 2010 Eastern Conference Championship.
  • Orlando won the last ever game played in the Boston Garden 95-92 on May 5, 1995. That victory gave the Magic a 3-1 series win in the first round of the NBA playoffs.