Shocked & Stung


This has to be a joke, right? There has to be a punch line coming. Something that makes rollicking laughter follow. I mean, that is why Will Ferrel and Jason Sudekis were on the sideline at New Orleans Arena? What else could throw the unflappable Paul Kennedy off his game for an interview that Ferrel and Sudekis clearly did not want to do for the Magic’s local telecast.

When things go wrong for PK (we love ya, PK), you know it is a bad night.

Maybe not this bad though. Maybe not this shocking. Maybe not this stunning. Maybe this not… predictable?

The sooner this week ends the better for the Magic. It has been an odd week. In all but one game the offense was absolutely enemic. That might be kind. It was absolutely non-existent.

The Magic failed to reach 70 points for the second time this week. When else have the Magic had such low-scoring games twice in a stretch of four games? Don’t answer that. I don’t want to know. This is a team that under Stan Van Gundy does not have stretches where it score 90 or less more than once in a week (it happened a few times last year — especially during that tell-tale West Coast trip before the trades).

The ball movement was once again not there. At least this time the Magic could get the ball to Dwight Howard and let him operate and score.

By then, it was too late. No one was able to create much more offense or make a shot. The Magic’s offense was slowed to a crawl again and without ball movement or fluidity, the energy went away too.

The defense might have been good for stretches, but it did not last. The Hornets were able to work and work and work. They had the energy and the will to end a nine-game losing streak.

A 93-67 New Orleans win shows who had the desire to play and who did not.

ScoreOff. Rtg.eFG%O.Reb.%TO%FTR
New Orleans93105.653.727.312.07.4

Orlando shot 39.3 percent from the floor. With Ryan Anderson sidelined with a calf contusion, the Magic managed to shoot 6 for 21 beyond the arc. Hedo Turkoglu made a 3-pointer on his opening possession and then absolutely disappeared.

Turkoglu’s lackluster played symbolized this game as much as anything. Well, except for Jameer Nelson getting knocked out of the game at halftime thanks to two shots to the head and a “sore jaw” because of it. Nelson was on the floor for a while after each shot. It is going to be a while for the Magic to pick themselves off the mat.

Back to Turkoglu.

Turkoglu score just three points, missing six of his seven shots. Worse, he had six of Orlando’s 22 turnovers and posted a sterling -32 plus/minus. Turkoglu was a drain on a team that did not have any energy. Not that anyone else was any more of a problem or any more energetic.

The Magic committed six first-quarter turnovers, setting the tone for a sloppy and uninspired effort.

The Hornets are not an amazing team. They were without their best player in Eric Gordon. But they were willing to work hard and get to every loose ball. Look at Carl Landry’s 17-point, 8-for-13 shooting performance. Or Jason Smith’s 14-point, 7-for-9 shooting night.

New Orleans had players who understood their role and executed. Orlando? Orlando had players standing around watching Dwight Howard go to work instead of cutting or running pick and rolls. When they got the ball on the perimeter it was either a quick pass to get rid of it, a quick shot or an aimless drive. Nobody seemed ready or able to attack.

Dwight Howard had all the team’s free throws deep into the fourth quarter — Chris Duhon and Daniel Orton had the four other free throw attempts for the Magic. That, more than anything, tells you how much the Magic attacked and failed to create in this one.

Sure, Dwight Howard scored 28 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. He was the only one to score in double figures and took over the second half. The Magic’s most effective play was to just feed him the ball. And he scored with decent efficiency, even making his free throws.

He just did not get anyone else involved. Not that they did anything to get themselves involved.

Howard played hard and did his part. I do not think anyone will argue about that after looking at the box score and the majority of this game. But he did go about his business like he was the only one on the court offensively. And he was for the most part.

The lead grew as the Magic came out of the locker room lifeless. The fact that the team failed to reach 20 points in any quarter of this game just confounds and disappoints.

This is becoming a pattern. And that is the most troubling part of this past week.

This team seems to be breaking down in unexpected and horrific ways. What new developments will next week bring?