Magic Not Buying In?
After earning wins against both the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls in the last two weeks and hearing the news that Dwight Howard had decided to waive his Early Termination Option, Magic fans were on top of the world.
However, after losing three of their last four games, with the only win coming at home against the lowly New Jersey Nets, the optimism may be fading.
Losses to the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat on the road are certainly understandable, but after the Magic were blown out by the Chicago Bulls, who were missing the reigning league MVP Derrick Rose, at home Monday night, words like “effort” and “accountability” were thrown around in the locker room.
“That’s it, they played harder than us,” Dwight Howard told reporters following the game. “One through 15, whoever stepped on the court, they played harder than us.”
“Tonight specifically, they played harder than us for most of the game,” J.J. Redick explained. “And they were a lot more together executing their stuff.
This is something we hear way too much out of the Magic – they’re not giving a good enough effort and they’re not “on the same page.”
According to Magic forward, Glen “Big Baby” Davis, all teams with championship aspirations have to completely buy in to the same concept.
“I have a ring and before I leave this game, I can say I’ve won,” Davis told reporters. “If we want to win, we all have to buy in.”
After Monday’s loss, Daniel Orton, who was not inserted into the game despite the large deficit the Magic faced, appeared to leave the bench early. Glen Davis followed Orton and yelled at him for leaving the bench.
“Me, the team, the most important guy to the least important guy have to buy in,” Davis explained.
There have been times when the Magic do indeed appear to have bought in. Those recent wins over the Heat and Bulls can be used as evidence. Giving a good effort and being on the same page as your teammates consistently is something the Magic seriously lack. The Bulls, for example, are a team that brings it every night, which is one reason their record stands at a league-best 38-10 despite their injury woes.
“Consistency,” Davis said. “Sometimes we get bored with the journey and just play to the level we need to.”
The Magic got off to a slow start against the Bulls and Redick believes that is one of the hurdles Orlando has the most trouble overcoming.
“I think, when we were having problems scoring early, we just got frustrated,” Redick explained. “We didn’t stick together and stick with what we did.”
Davis showed some emotion after the game, but for the most part, the Magic don’t seem too concerned with their current problems.
“They just played harder,” Howard said. “When we play hard, we can beat any team in this league. They know it and so does everybody else.”
For the Magic’s sake, they better hope Howard is right.
No Shot Creator
For the last few seasons, Orlando’s major problem has been a lack of a player who can create his own shot. During the 2009 offseason, the Magic brought in Vince Carter in an attempt to rectify that situation but it didn’t work out. Ditto with Gilbert Arenas, who was acquired in December of 2010.
The Magic still suffer from the same problem. They have a great player in Dwight Howard and several solid players, mostly made up of shooters, but when the shot clock is running down and the game is on the line, Orlando doesn’t have a guy who they can put the ball in the hands of and say “go.”
Glen Davis acknowledged that fact after Monday’s game.
“At the end of the day we don’t have a guy like Dwayne Wade or Paul Pierce that can create their own shot,” Davis explained. “We have numbers.”
The Magic have tried to use both Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson in that role, but neither has the right skillset for it.
Now that the trade deadline has come and gone, adding a player like that is impossible.
The Magic will have to hope having “numbers” is enough.
(Andrew Melnick is the ESPNFlorida.com  Magic and NBA Insider, co-host of the ESPN 1080 Insiders Show and publisher of Howard the Dunk. The Insiders Show can be heard Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST on AM 1080 in Orlando and on ESPNFlorida.com . You can follow Andrew on twitter here.)