Magic Discuss Poor Effort

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What is wrong with the Orlando Magic?

That’s the question that Magic fans are asking after watching the Magic lose three straight meaningful games for the first time since January of 2008. To make matters worse, each team the Magic lost to entered the game with a sub-.500 record.

Although most of the Magic players deny that they think they can just turn it on at any time and win games by playing well for brief stratus, their last few games suggest otherwise.

Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy said that the Magic appeared shell-shocked at halftime.

"“Brendan said to me that it looked like a lifeless group. I was screaming, ‘Let’s go!’ They were shell-shocked. They can’t believe this is happening.”"

The Magic better believe this is happening.

Lately, Orlando’s problem has centered around a lack of effort and energy. Stan Van Gundy talked about this during his postgame press conference after Wednesday night’s game.

"“I mean obviously another very tough night and I really don’t know what else to say, we’re just not playing very well. We’re not playing very well and for most of the game we’re not playing very hard. So until that changes then it’ll probably keep going like this.”"

Van Gundy is not the only one who thinks Orlando’s problem is effort. Point Guard Jameer Nelson feels the same way.

"“We’re out of sync and unsure of ourselves right now. The effort, intensity, the focus, just isn’t there.”"

Van Gundy also believes that each individual needs to get things turned around and that includes Van Gundy himself.

"“I look at it as I was hired to coach this team, we’re not playing well, that’s my fault and my responsibility, and I better find some solutions to get it turned around. That’s the way I look at it. I think every guy in there needs to look at it as, how am I going to get my play turned around? That’s where we all need to be and not trying to find excuses and explanations or what everybody else is doing. I need to take care of my coaching and they need to take care of their playing and hopefully we get back on the right track.”"

Van Gundy thinks that the only way to fix what’s wrong with the Magic is for the players and coaches to all hold themselves accountable.

"“If I want to blame the players or they want to blame me, or their teammates, or whatever then nobody takes responsibility and nobody gets anything done.”"

Van Gundy is absolutely right. Vince Carter needs to make better decisions with the ball, he needs to get the hoop more and he needs to shoot the ball better (he’s 10-of-47 over his last four games). Dwight Howard needs to man up. He needs to limit his turnovers, be the dominating defensive player he is capable of being (and usually is) and most of all, he needs to stop constantly complaining. His complaining seems to get his head out of the game. Not to single out players, because everybody needs to pull their weight, but Carter and Howard are supposed to be the superstars of the team. They need to start playing and acting that way.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Van Gundy and Howard see eye-to-eye.

"“Instead of being in a locker room after a big loss, yelling and going off, that’s not going to change anything, but sitting after the game, talking to each other, texting each other. That’s the best way our team goes about doing things. it’s not just in the locker room trying to be rah rah, stand up.”"

Howard does think that the Magic are close to becoming a great team.

"“This is a different team. This is a totally different team, and we’re just going through a tough stretch right now, but we’re still close, real close.”"

Maybe Howard is right.

The Magic played much better during the fourth quarter on Wednesday and although I’m no fan of moral victories, hopefully this is something the Magic can build on. Van Gundy agrees.

"“I’ve never been a big fan of comebacks that you don’t win in. Those kind of things happen in the NBA every night but maybe we can build on it now. We put a lot into the last eight to 10 minutes of that game and the only way that we can be of value, because we didn’t get a win tonight, is if that sort of propels us to put the same kind of effort into that game on Friday, from the beginning of the game. I know there’s plenty of talent in that locker room. I know we have good people. And, I know that it is totally up to us and no one else to get this turned around.”"

Magic fans can only hope  that the Magic have learned from their recent mistakes and build off of their fourth quarter rally.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)