Orlando Magic Practice Report: May 19th


The mood at the RDV Sportsplex wasn’t as bad you might think after a team just dropped two consecutive playoff games at home.

Magic Remain Confident

The Magic, who watched film before hitting the court, needed no reminders about the first two games and need no extra motivation because they know what’s on the line.

“Nobody in the locker room has their head down or is complaining about last night,” Dwight Howard said. “We’ve moved on and we’re going to just try to get better.”

“Our guys know what it’s all about,” Head Coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It’s all about going up there, playing a great game and getting a win. I don’t think we’ll be motivationally challenged.”

Despite being in an 0-2 hole, the Magic are staying confident.

“We know what we have to do and we’re going to do it,” Howard told the media.

Howard says there is reason to be confident and told reporters that he wants no one to say they’re “going down fighting” because no player on the team should believe they are going down.

“If you think negative, then you’re going to lose,” Howard explained. “Like I told the guys in the locker room, if anybody has any doubt, then we’re not going to win. If everybody’s on the same page and believes we’re going to win, then we’re going to win it.”

Howard also believes his current team is much better equipped to handle this situation. He thought some of the players “kind of gave up” when the Magic went down 0-2 against the Lakers last year, but believes this year’s team is different.

“I don’t sense that in this team this year,” Howard said.

Where’s The Offense?

Orlando’s lack of 3-pointers and poor ball movement against Boston’s defense has dominated the discussion over the past few days but Van Gundy thinks missing easy opportunities is what’s hurting the Magic most. They were 8-of-20 on layups.

“It’s actually worse than that because four of them were Dwight’s, he was 4-for-4 and one was Matt’s breakaway where he was ahead of the crowd and he dunked it,” Van Gundy said. “So on actual drives attacking the rim with everybody except for Dwight, we were 3-of-15 on layups.”

“If you’re going to shoot 20% on layups, you’re going to struggle,” Van Gundy added.

Orlando’s poor shot selection has also played a big part in their two losses. Van Gundy said the Magic have taken too many difficult, low-quality shots but he’s not putting the blame on any player.

“I don’t think it’s been a selfish thing at all. In doing that, they were going hard and forcing a lot of shots that were very, very difficult shots.”

When a Magic player gets into the paint and sees the defense collapse on him, Van Gundy said it’s as simple as passing the ball out to the open.

“If they’re coming, there’s somebody open somewhere,” he said.

Van Gundy did admit that making the pass is easier said than done.

The Twin Towers

Marcin Gortat has taken on two roles so far in the series. Not only is he Howard’s backup Center, but he has become the backup Power Forward, taking either Brandon Bass’ or more likely Ryan Anderson’s minutes at the Four.

“The main reason we have done it to be honest is we’re going to play Dwight barring foul trouble a ton of minutes and we’re going to play Rashard a lot of minutes. So rather than having guys play six or seven minutes each, which is hard to play well in, I thought we could get a better performance out of just Marsh getting 14-15 minutes.”

“Maybe not an overwhelming success, we haven’t gone on a 12-0 run or whatever but that part of it has been successful,” Van Gundy added.

After every game, Van Gundy checks the numbers to see which lineups were most successful.

“We’ve been at a plus in both games (with Howard and Gortat playing together),” Van Gundy said. “We were plus six last night.”

The lineup hasn’t worked out every time. Van Gundy liked what he saw from them in the first half but wasn’t pleased in the second.

“The second time last night, it was brief,” Van Gundy said. I thought we were bogging down offensively so I went back to Rashard.”

Van Gundy evaluated the lineup.

“For the most part, I think that’s been a positive.”

Practice Notes:

  • On the topic of home court advantage, Van Gundy said “It’s not about where we play, it’s about how we play.”
  • Van Gundy watched film until about 5:15 a.m.
  • At the end of his media session, Van Gundy went off on a number of topics, including sports clichés, LeBron James’ free agency and the NFL draft.
  • On James, Van Gundy said, “If he’s not playing for us, I don’t care.”
  • On clichés, Van Gundy said you never hear about motivational tools or “statement” games until after the game. “If it’s a statement game, say it the morning before the game, then go out there and back it up,” Van Gundy said.
  • He also dismissed the “they wanted it more” theory.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, a contributor on the Fansided Front Page and on Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here