Magic Search For Consistency
Throughout the Stan Van Gundy era, the Magic have been one of the most consistent teams in the league. They’ve won 59 games in each of the last two seasons, defeated every team in the league at least once last season and rarely lost two games in a row.
That hasn’t been the case this season.
In the last couple of weeks, the Magic have reached two different extremes.
Back on February 13, the Magic dominated the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers en route to an 89-75 victory. Twelve days later, they blew out the Oklahoma City Thunder 111-88.
Sandwiched in between those wins was a win over the Washington Wizards and a loss to the lowly Sacramento Kings. The Kings traded Carl Landry to the New Orleans Hornets and were playing without their leading scorer, Tyreke Evans.
Understandably, no one knew what to expect when the Orlando Magic hosted the Charlotte Bobcats Sunday evening.
In fact, head coach Stan Van Gundy thought the first half of Sunday’s contest was eerily similar to their game against the Kings.
“To be honest, I said to them at halftime I thought that the first half was a lot like the (Sacramento) game,” Van Gundy said. “We didn’t get behind early but it was a high scoring game, it was 59-51.”
“We really hadn’t put anything into the game defensively, it was a low energy, low intensity half, where were relying on our offense,” Van Gundy added.
The Magic must have got the message.
In the second half, Orlando scored just 41 points but really clamped down on the defensive end, allowing just 35 second half points to the Bobcats.
“They didn’t move the ball,” Van Gundy explained. “It was just him (Stephen Jackson) going one-on-one.”
“I thought we played him decently at times, other than that they didn’t have much going and I thought our defense was better in the second half, so that was a positive.”
Van Gundy found some other positives.
“Not many games, lately, have we won every quarter,” Van Gundy said. “We were consistent throughout and playing from in front the whole game, so that part was good.”
Being consistent means the Magic should get out to early leads against the likes of the Bobcats and never really look back. Sure, the win wasn’t exactly pretty but it means the Magic for the most part did what they had to do throughout the game.
“We have to continue to play hard and be consistent with what we do,” Dwight Howard said following Sunday’s win. “That’s only way we’re going to get to where we’re trying to get to.”
Although Howard begins to sounds more like a coach rather than a player with responses that are often filled with clichés, the message is there.
If the Magic continue to become a more consistent team, they can get where they want to be.
Gilbert Arenas Finds His Stroke
After a streak that saw Gilbert Arenas shoot 3-of-38 from beyond the arc from January 26 until Sunday’s game, many were calling for Arenas’ head, even asking for Chris Duhon to be reinserted as the team’s backup point guard.
Arenas ignored what was said about him and continues to put up hundreds of shots every day in hopes of regaining his form.
All of that paid off for at least one night.
Arenas scored 16 points on 5-of-7, including going 4-of-6 from beyond the arc in Sunday’s 100-86 win over the Bobcats.
“You’ve got to, when you get shots, put the ball in the basket and he’d been struggling here for a while,” Van Gundy said. “So it was good to see him make shots, and hopefully get some confidence going.”
“So I thought it was a positive outing for him,” Van Gundy added.
Arenas hasn’t seemed to have lost a lot of confidence. Although he admits that his knee usually flares up when it gets cold and anyone can see he doesn’t have the same kind of explosiveness he once had but confidence hasn’t been a problem, at least according to Arenas and his teammates. Instead, they simply refer to his problems as a “slump.”
“Everybody is going to go through slumps,” J.J. Redick said. “Gilbert stayed aggressive and that’s all you can really ask of him.”
News & Notes:
- Dwight Howard has now recorded 18 straight double-doubles dating back to January 21.
- Brandon Bass tied a career-high with three blocks against the Bobcats.
- The Magic are now 26-6 when scoring 100 points or more and 33-10 when allowing less than 100 points in a game.
- The Magic are in the midst of one of their toughest stretches of the season. They’ll host the New York Knicks Tuesday, play the Heat in Miami Thursday, host the Chicago Bulls Friday and welcome the Portland Trail Blazers Monday before going on a five-game west coast road trip.
- The Magic and the Knicks have met once this season back on December 30 in Orlando. Dwight Howard led the Magic to a 112-103 victory behind 24 points and 18 rebounds. Seven Magic players scored in double figures.
- Orlando is 44-38 all time against New York, going 25-17 at home.
- New Knick Carmelo Anthony has averaged 28.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in his career against the Magic, including a 35-point, 11-rebound performance in a win over the Magic with the Nuggets earlier this season.
- Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST and the game will be shown locally by Sun Sports and nationally on NBA TV.
- You can catch me on the Tuck and O’Neil show this Friday when I join Mike Tuck and Jerry O’Neil live from Disney’s Hollywood Studios at ESPN the Weekend.