Orlando Magic Notebook: Developing Good Habits, Protecting Dwight Howard

Developing Good Habits

Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy thinks his team needs to develop good habits.

Instead, the Magic are developing bad habits, which is something point guard Jameer Nelson pointed out last week.

“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.”

Careless turnovers and poor defense on the perimeter are other problems that have become bad habits for the Magic.

After their victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday night, Van Gundy pointed out that even when he’s fairly pleased with the way Orlando defends like he was Sunday, there are still plenty of problems and Orlando’s lack of effort seems to be a problem that comes up much more often than Van Gundy would like.

“We didn’t run back,” Van Gundy said. “We just didn’t run back.”

“I don’t get mad if a guy jogs back down the court offensively, but defensively, I don’t understand that. I really don’t,” Van Gundy added.

Van Gundy has brought up the word contender a lot more often than usual lately.

“If you are talking about being on a team where you’re talking about wanting to contend for a championship, I would think running back as hard as you can would be a good place to start,” Van Gundy explained.

Van Gundy wants his team to develop good defensive habits.

“I just want us to establish some habits,” Van Gundy said.

He wants the Magic to make a habit out of running up and down the court and giving maximum effort all of the time.

At times it appears as though the Magic are developing these habits.

“I thought that Brandon [Bass] and Ryan [Anderson] defended very well on Jamison,” Van Gundy told the media following Sunday night’s game. “I thought that was a great sign.”

“That was probably the best thing – we wanted to establish some defensive habits,”

Ryan Anderson thinks gaining some confidence with a winning streak could help the Magic develop better habits.

“We need to get a streak going,” Anderson explained. “We need to get some more confidence and kind of just build from it.”

The Magic couldn’t do that as they fell to the Memphis Grizzlies 100-97 Monday night.

They just haven’t been consistent, which showed Monday night when the Magic allowed the Grizzlies to tear up their perimeter defense and shoot 53.5% from the field despite having their two leading scorers, Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph, go a combined 9-of-26 from the field.

After Monday’s loss, Van Gundy supplied some of his most telling comments yet.

“We’re not ready to contend,” Van Gundy said. “We don’t defend hard enough or long enough. We’ll see if that changes over the next 10.5 weeks.”

Van Gundy “Giving Up” Defending Howard

Dwight Howard is arguably battered and bruised more than any other player in the NBA, but you don’t see technical and flagrant fouls being called on his opponents.

Yet officials have a quick trigger finger when it comes to making calls against Howard.

 Van Gundy thinks there’s a double standard against big men in general, not just Howard.

“I don’t understand why they’re allowed to hit big guys, not just Dwight,” Van Gundy explained. “But I just don’t understand in general why they’re allowed to hit big guys up around the neck and shoulders and there is nothing done about it.”

If Howard were to hit a player like he is hit, he could take somebody out, which is why Van Gundy thinks he is treated unfairly.

“If Dwight hits somebody as hard as they hit him around the head, he would probably be suspended because he would lay them out,” Van Gundy said. “But because he can take the hit and even stay on his feet, they don’t see the result of it and they let it go.”

Van Gundy doesn’t think the result of the play should matter – a foul is a foul.

“To me it shouldn’t be what happens to the guy, the fact that Dwight or Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal) or Yao [Ming] when he was playing are big and strong and can stay on their feet even when a guy winds up and hits them around the shoulders and neck, that should not predicate the result,” Van Gundy added.

Van Gundy understands the officials are probably in the right making these calls because that is the way all games are called and they are likely just doing what they’re told. However, he wishes the league was fairer when it comes to big men.

“I would like to see them protect them (big men) a little bit more,” Van Gundy said.

News & Notes

  • The Orlando Magic will be back in action Thursday when they host the Miami Heat in a nationally televised game. The game will be shown on TNT and tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 pm EST.
  • The two teams have met twice this season, with each team winning at home.
  • The Magic were blown out in Miami 96-70 on October 29. Dwyane Wade scored a game-high 26 point while Howard, who got into foul trouble, led the Magic with 19 points and seven rebounds. Orlando trailed by just six at halftime but the Heat opened the second half on a 14-0 run to blow the game open.
  • On November 24, the two teams met again, this time in Orlando. Howard’s 24 points and 18 rebounds led the Magic to a 104-95 win. Jameer Nelson had 17 points and a career-high 14 assists in the game while LeBron James led the Heat with 25 points.
  • The best all-time scoring performance by a member of the Heat against the Magic came on April 15, 1994 when Glen Rice poured in an astounding 56 points. On November 5, 1993, Shaquille O’Neal dropped 42 points on the Heat.
  • The Magic are just 41-44 against the Heat all time but are 24-19 at home.
  • Orlando has won 15 of their last 19 meeting with the Heat despite splitting their last six.