Magic Dealing With More Than Just Drama

PHILADELPHIA — As Stan Van Gundy put it Saturday, it’s been a “tumultuous” week for the Orlando Magic. Van Gundy’s disclosure on Thursday that he knows Dwight Howard wanted him fired not only produced one of the most awkward moments in recent memory, but has also set off a firestorm of opinion and speculation regarding the future of both the coach and the player.

But while we wonder if either Howard or Van Gundy will be in Orlando next fall, the Magic have to keep playing the games on their schedule. And they have to do it short-handed.

Starting power forward Ryan Anderson has missed the last three games with a sprained ankle. Reserve wing Quentin Richardson has missed four of the last five games with back spasms. And now Hedo Turkoglu is out at least three weeks after surgery to repair facial fractures suffered in Thursday’s loss to the Knicks.

Oh yeah, Howard himself is not 100 percent, still dealing with back issues that kept out of two games earlier this week. After Saturday’s win, he said it’s the most pain he’s been in since he’s been in the league.

So, even if the Magic were able to put the Dwight-and-Stan drama behind them (and at this point, we don’t know that they can), they’ve still got issues to deal with, especially on offense.

Turkoglu’s ability to run the pick-and-roll will be missed. In addition to his playmaking skills, he has the height to see over defenders and find the open man.

“A lot of times,” Van Gundy said Saturday, “even when he wasn’t playing great, at least we could run some offense through him.”

“And then Ryan’s another big one, because I think that the thing we’ve always try to do with Dwight is have a lot of space and spread the floor. And so obviously, he’s a guy that allows us to do that. We don’t really have any way to totally spread the floor right now until we get him back.”

Anderson is expected to return Monday, when the Magic host the Pistons. But for Van Gundy, whether Anderson is playing or not, it’s a challenge to get both Howard and his supporting cast in a rhythm offensively. Generally, Howard needs to be given time to go to work in the post. But his teammates, need ball and player movement to get open looks.

“We spent some time [Friday] talking on, not just on straight post-ups, but when we’re moving the ball, how we have to get him involved in the game,” Van Gundy said. “I think that I haven’t been definitive enough in how to involve him in the game better without slowing down our ball movement.”

Turkoglu’s absence will make it tougher for Howard to flourish offensively. On Saturday against the Sixers, Howard got only a handful of quality looks near the basket, and most of those were on offensive rebounds.

As a team, the Magic shot just 36 percent. But they were able to snap their five game losing streak with defense and rebounding. And Van Gundy couldn’t have been prouder.

“We’ve played some better games,” he said afterward, “but as far as just fighting for a win and executing down the stretch and doing what we had to do, I haven’t felt better about our team all year.”

In the final weeks of the season, as they fight for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, the Magic may have to win ugly more often.

In each of the last four seasons, Orlando has ranked in the top five in defensive efficiency. This year, they’ve regressed on that end, ranking 12th entering Saturday. But without Turkoglu, they’ll have to go back to being an elite defensive team that has the ability to win ugly. So Saturday’s win was a step in the right direction.

“That kind of effort and intensity is what it starts with every single night,” Van Gundy said. “Even if the offense is flowing a little better, we’ve got to fight like that every single night.”


  1. uh... yeah... says:

    Hedo USED TO BE a playoff player. Ever since the FIBA world champs in Turkey, he’s been declining.

  2. andrew says:

    hedo is playoff player. orlando need turkoglu.he is best playoffplayer in orlando

  3. charles says:

    Magic are in a tough spot. Fire Van Gundy and look like you’re giving into a player that might not even be here after next year. Or keep Van Gundy which would ensure that Howard won’t be here after next year.

    Clearly Van Gundy hasn’t had success in Orlando. When you have a player of Howard’s caliber your success is not about regular season but about hardware. Howard is an exceptional player. No one in this league has his defensive presence. On on offense, there are maybe two player that can keep him from getting his 20 points – Chandler and Bynum. If you look at both his offensive and defensive prowess one can make an argument that he is the most valuable player in the NBA. These guys don’t grow on trees. Van Gundy can be replaced. Howard cannot. But if Van Gundy is removed, Howard has to make a commitment to stay past next year – but either way, it’s time to part with Van Gundy. He didn’t deliver hardware and Orlando has to show that going to playoff is not what their objective is. They need to raise the stakes and make clear their expectations.

    • Peroul says:

      I totally agree with you even though I think SVG is a good coach. I think it’s a shame the Magic are where they are now, but that came from some bad decisions from management ( giving Rashard Lewis 118million extension, trading for Gilbert Arenas, giving Turkoglu a second shot,…). Otis Smith gambled and he failed.
      Now it s time for Dwight to start thinking if he wants to wait 2-3 years for the Magic to have enough cap room to acquire a player to make them a contender, or just leave. He has to make his decision quick though, because it’s killing the Magic organisation even more!

  4. Jeremy Lin says:

    Dwight Howard on the Knicks, let me get a applause.

  5. gabriel Zita says:

    The heat and the bulls are going to be the east conference finals matchup for years to come…… not Orlando and definetly not the knicks.

  6. Belizeboy says:

    This team is a nightmare right now.

  7. mattman says:

    y are the 2 biggest babies in the league the 2 best centers? something is weird about that… big man problems!

    • Jazzy Jeff says:

      I guess we better start calling them Big Baby Dwight and Big Baby Andrew … 🙂

  8. Hello says:

    leave them be. Heat don’t need howard to win a championship

  9. x-writer says:

    @prix and Boyet Salazar:

    i read so much BS from them and i never want to comment it, but this is too dumb: Howard to Heat??
    Should i write anything about this , No
    and about prix? No he is BS

  10. prix says:

    That´s one reason that the Heat will easily win the East…Bulls been injury prone, Deng over work..Boston is so old… Sixers are struggling..and Orlando watch too much HBO…NY could be the x-factor..

  11. Yes, Howard. Take it from Carmelo Anthony, just play your game and the next season you will be with the Miami Heat! Do not think of loyalty… that is the saddest word in the NBA. Or it does not exist in the NBA. Now the Magic is trying to destroy you with the revelation from SVG that you want him fired… Only crazy people will believe that.. and only the unprofessional writers buy that! It has been clear from the start of these rumors that the Magic gives you the freedom to choose the Magic coach, and in the NBA that is business as usual. But these morons want to paint you in the shades of black! Just GO on. That is the game… this is what has become of the NBA. And I love this game. Love the merry go round of the NBA players.Teach the hypocrites… this is the GAME. And those who do not accept the facts of the NBA are fools… they are just trying to look intelligent!!!!

    Down with the fools.