ATLANTA — It’s safe to say the Orlando Magic were disgusted with their performance Thursday night.
With the All-Star break beginning Friday, the Magic didn’t want their 83-78 loss to the Atlanta Hawks to resonate, so they held a brief players-only meeting in hopes of correcting some bad habits.
“We need to be depending on each other as a team,” forward Ryan Anderson said. “We need to rely on each other, keep each other accountable. We haven’t been playing that great and we’re still third in the East, so we must be doing something right. But it just shows that we could be that much better.”
Josh Smith scored 22 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to help the Hawks snap a three-game skid with the victory.
J.J. Redick finished with 13 points and Dwight Howard had 12 for the Magic, who had won two straight and six of seven.
“Our energy was bad,” Redick said. “When we play that way, we’re bad. We have to figure out a way to eliminate that.”
Howard, the six-time All-Star center who led the league in fan voting and has been the subject of trade speculation this season, suggested that the Magic aren’t too far from correcting their mistakes.
“You’ve got to stick together and buy into what we’re trying to accomplish and go from there,” Howard said after the meeting that lasted between 8-10 minutes. “My focus is just to keep the guys in the locker room together despite what’s being said on the outside.”
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was more succinct.
“I’ve been saying it to you guys, and I come off as negative all the time — we don’t play hard enough,” Van Gundy said. “We just don’t. We’re not going to be anywhere near contenders in the East unless we’re going to play hard all the time and we don’t. Simple as that.”