Wednesday’s Loss Highlights Orlando’s Problems
“We didn’t defend, we didn’t play well offensively, we didn’t take care of the ball,” Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said following his team’s 111-105 loss to the lowly Sacramento Kings Thursday night. “’I don’t know how much more completely you can be in playing poorly.”
But Van Gundy didn’t stop there.
“We can’t shoot,” Van Gundy explained. “It’s been going on forever now, we can’t shoot.”
Maybe Van Gundy is being a little hard on his team, who previously won four of their last five games, including a victory over the two time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers on national television back on February 13.
Still, Van Gundy has a point. Orlando’s recent stretch of play even in some of their victories wouldn’t be classified as anything special. It’s been solid at best.
The biggest problem has been Orlando’s defense and that was the problem again Wednesday. The Kings entered the game ranked 26th in offensive rating and without Tyreke Evans (injury) and Carl Landry (who was traded to New Orleans) Tuesday, yet scored 111 points on 42-of-80 shooting from the field (52.5%).
When Van Gundy was asked if energy is the main culprit, Van Gundy wouldn’t answer the question directly but gave a good idea of how he feels.
“I’m not going to go into a lot of detail,” Van Gundy told reporters. “I’m not going to sit up here and start ripping on everybody.”
Turnovers have plagued the Magic all season and their late turnovers cost them a chance to win the game Wednesday night.
“Down the stretch it (turnovers) was terrible,” Van Gundy said. “When we got the lead we had a couple of careless ones and it’s terrible.”
“I’m looking and I see three guys with three (turnovers) and one guy five, you’re not going to win like that,” Van Gundy added.
Frustrating isn’t just sitting in with Van Gundy but for the rest of the team as well.
Ryan Anderson, who went 3-of-10 from the field and 1-of-6 from beyond the arc was not happy after the game.
“Obviously it gets frustrating when you turn the ball over and you want to go own and start a run or make a big shot or something,” Anderson sad.
Van Gundy didn’t specifically call individual players out but expressed his displeasure.
“I’m not happy with anyone other than Dwight right now,” Van Gundy said. “I’m not happy with anything. Everything I look at on the stat sheet is just not good. We can count on him playing well every night and other than that there’s not much w can count on.”
Van Gundy did say he thinks the Magic are capable of improving.
“I think we’re able, I think we’re able,” Van Gundy explained. “I don’t think it’s a question of being able.”
The Magic better start proving they’re able soon or they won’t be playing into May.
Dwight Howard Unhappy With Team’s Effort
After the disaster that was Orlando’s loss to the Sacramento Kings, Dwight Howard made some comments that were very telling about the situation with the Magic right now.
Howard wasn’t his usual jovial self. Usually, Howard is joking with his teammates, the media and the ball boys. Howard is also almost always the last player ready and keeps the media waiting longer than almost any other player as he tries to have as much fun with those in the locker room as possible.
On Wednesday night, that wasn’t the story. Instead, Howard got dressed quickly and addressed the media earlier than he ever has.
“If guys don’t want to play, they got to sit down,” Howard said. “We just can’t have guys or anybody out there not playing hard. We’re professional athletes. It’s what we do for a living. If you can’t go out there and go hard for two hours, then you shouldn’t be playing.”
Howard offered up a simple solution.
“Just play hard. It’s as simple as that,” Howard told the gathered media. “Play hard for 48 minutes no matter if you mess up or miss a million shots. If you play hard, all that stuff will equal out but if you’re out there just BSing around then you’re not going to get nothing done.”
“We can’t play like that if we want to be a championship team,” Howard added.
Howard was asked by one media member about what he has done about being a leader.”
I’ve said everything I need to say,” Howard responded. “I talked every timeout, then in the huddle, in the locker room. I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do as a leader.”
Howard isn’t shouldering much of the blame anymore and he shouldn’t be. He had another monster night, scoring 31 points and grabbing 17 rebounds, but got virtually no help from his teammates, especially on the defensive end.
Howard still stop shorted of specifically calling anyone out.
“Everybody has to step up and play hard,” Howard explained. “I’m not singling anybody out and I’m not calling anybody out.”
Although he stopped short of actually calling anybody out, the way Howard feels is clear – he thinks his teammates must play harder.
Howard still believes the Magic have the ability to get where they want to be but things must change in a hurry.
“We have a lot of talent but talent will not get you a championship.”
“Hard work and commitment every night is what gets you a championship,” Howard added.
News & Notes:
The Magic lost to the Sacramento Kings for the first time in six games and now trail the all time series 23-21.
Former Central Florida star Jermaine Taylor scored a career-high 21 points.
Dwight Howard scored 31 points Wednesday. It was the 11th time this season he’s scored 30 or more points.
The Magic will host the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night.
These two teams have met once this season in Oklahoma City. The Thunder won 125-124 behind Kevin Durant’s 36 points and Russell Westbrook’s triple double. Dwight Howard had 39 points and 18 rebounds in the loss.