Magic Starters Lacking Energy
It’s been the same scenario in each of the first three games for the Orlando Magic in their first round series with the Indiana Pacers.
“That’s three first quarters and three third quarters where it’s been the same story,” said Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy.
Orlando has been dominated at the start of each half in all three games. In three first quarters, the Magic have been outscored 69-56 and 46-21 in the first six minutes of each of the three games.
In the third quarter, the Magic have been outscored 81-43 so far in the series.
“We can’t be playing out of a hole all the time,” Van Gundy added.
Orlando’s starting five of Davis, Ryan Anderson, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Jameer Nelson have been pathetic thus far in the series. Their poor play was on display in Wednesday’s blowout loss. If you remove Davis, who scored 22 points, from the equation, the other four starters combined for 27 points on 9-of-32 shooting, grabbed just eight rebounds and turned the ball over nine times.
“You know, they’ve been playing harder than us at some times in the game,” Davis said following Wednesday’s loss. “Their energy level was consistent.”
Part of the reason the starters have been outclassed by the Pacers are their struggles on the glass. Indiana has a huge size advantage and used it to outrebound the Magic by 13 in game 3.
Despite their obvious disadvantage, Van Gundy is very upset with Orlando’s effort on the boards. As he should be.
“Our starting lineup in 125 something minutes has 12 rebounds,” Van Gundy explained.
In fact, Orlando’s starting front court of Davis, Anderson and Turkoglu combined to pull down just six rebounds in Wednesday’s loss. Davis had four boards while Anderson and Turkoglu each had one. That comes after a pathetic second half on the glass in game 2 when Davis and Anderson combined for three rebounds.
“No other explanation,” J.J. Redick said. “They’re outplaying us.”
Van Gundy labeled Wednesday’s effort as a “team loss,” but clearly a bulk of the blame has to be placed on the starters.
“It’s the responsibility of the people that are starting to get us off to a good start,” Redick explained. “I think those guys will come back with a great game for game 4.”
After the game, Van Gundy didn’t rule out making changes to the lineup. That could mean inserting Redick, who had 13 points Wednesday night, into the starting lineup, but Van Gundy wouldn’t get into details.
Martins, Smith Visit Dwight Howard
Obviously, the biggest reason the Orlando Magic have struggled in their first round series with Indiana Pacers has nothing to do with who’s on the court, but with the absence of their superstar Center, Dwight Howard.
Howard underwent successful surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back on April 20 and was ruled out for the postseason.
Howard was advised by his doctors to remain in California, where the surgery took place, to rehab. Despite the distance, Howard has continued to keep in contact with the organization and Magic CEO Alex Martins and General Manager Otis Smith even went to see Howard Tuesday.
“He seems to be good,” Smith told the Orlando Sentinel. “He’s a little perturbed that he can’t be around. He’s a little perturbed that he can’t play at this time of the year especially.”
Howard has continued to watch each game and even texts with Smith during games.
“He thinks we’re good enough to win,” Smith said. “I tell him we actually have to play pretty close to a perfect game without him back there.”
Smith and Martins both refuted rumors that Howard has again asked for a trade.
(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.)