NEWARK, NJ — For some reason, for as good as they are, the Orlando Magic don’t draw much attention from the national media when they visit the New York area. Obviously, they don’t have the cachet that the Lakers, Heat or Celtics do, but the Magic are still a legitimate title contender.
And for me at least, Stan Van Gundy, with his pre-and post-game media sessions, always makes the trip to the arena worthwhile. And Saturday was no exception. Van Gundy was open, honest and funny about his role in the Magic’s recent struggles.
The Magic have lost two straight regular-season games for the first time since Jan. 18, a stretch of 47 games. The problem has been on defense, where they allowed the Jazz and Raptors to score 111.5 points per 100 possessions on Wednesday and Friday, a mark well above the 92.8 they allowed in their first six games.
It’s an energy issue according to Van Gundy.
“I think we’ve got some guys who are a little frustrated with the way they’ve been playing,” he said before his team faced the Nets on Saturday. “It’s starting to affect our energy and things like that. We’ve just got to get out of that.”
Van Gundy is willing to shoulder some of the blame, though, for a reason that has come up in the past with the passionate and sometimes grating coach.
“I have been frustrated with our energy and defense, but I think I’ve actually made it worse by the constant harping,” he said. “Guys know what they need to do. And I need to just coach them. It’s a thing I fall back into a lot and need to correct a little bit.”
Early last season, it was Dwight Howard who told Van Gundy that he needed to chill out a bit. But this time, the message came from elsewhere.
“I didn’t get any [feedback] from players this time,” Van Gundy said. “From other people. The one thing about coaching is you get a lot of help. There’s a lot of people out there who help you with your job. You [media] guys are very helpful. Fans… very, very helpful. So you get feedback from a lot of different areas. It’s sort of one I realized anyway, but I got some feedback on it.”
Of course, Van Gundy can’t shoulder all the blame.
“But that’s just my part of it,” he said. “We still have to go out and play hard and play better. I can’t make rotations defensively and things like that. We know what we’re supposed to do. We’ve just got to go out and do it.”