It's never good to lose a game like the Orlando Magic did against the Cleveland Cavaliers, in front of a nationally-televised audience, but it's interesting to see how a team responds to a loss. In this case, head coach Stan Van Gundy was blunt and direct in his presser, in terms of answering questions and explaining what is wrong with his squad right now. The Magic's locker room, after the game, was silent. Orlando, it seems, has had its wake-up call after another poor performance.
I was able to ask a few questions to Van Gundy amongst the media, as well as speak with Marcin Gortat. Here's what they had to say:
Stan Van Gundy:
What can the team do, specifically, to address some of the problems on defense? Where do you start?
I mean, for me and what we do, there has to be a continued emphasis and something we work on every single day. We haven't, and it's starting to hurt us a little bit down on that end also, we haven't worked on any offense in a long time. We're in a stretch, that has hurt us I think a little bit, where we're not practicing enough but that's my point. Look, ultimately, it's my responsibility. Particularly at the defensive end. I think that and I always thought, this is just a personal thing, I mean, if you're team is not playing hard enough and not committed, that's an indictment as you as a coach and that's the way I look at it right now. I'm not getting the job done. My team is not guarding and so it starts with me and get us a lot of work in practice, but then there has to be something coming there, there has to be some competitiveness and some fire and some desire to stop and everything else.
This is, look, this is not to take anything away from them [the Cleveland Cavaliers]. If this were an isolated incident, if this were one game, they were unbelievable tonight. They played great, they played great. They played with great energy, they shot the ball well, LeBron [James] did make some tough shots, Mo Williams was terrific, the best he's ever been against us, they were terrific. So please, I don't want to take anything away from them, they did a great job tonight and were very, very good. If this wasn't one in a series of games, where I looked at these same numbers, I could say that they played a hell of a game but the point is, we're looking at those kind of defensive numbers every night.
Do you think that Rashard Lewis' presence, at all, can help the team defensively? Given what he brings to the table?
He will help defensively, just in terms of having another guy out there that knows what's going on but look, if Rashard plays defensively the way he played last year, he'll help us defensively but I would add to that, if Dwight [Howard] were playing defensively the way he played last year, we'd be better. If Jameer [Nelson] were playing defensively the way he played last year, we'd be better, so it's not that simple. I mean, Rashard could potentially help us a great deal but until he gets out there, I don't know if he's going to bring greater energy and effort than the guys out there have been, or if it's more of the same. I really don't know.
I know that Stan Van Gundy said during the presser, that after the game, you guys were being honest with yourselves. What exactly did you guys say? Maybe not provide the details but the overall message?
Well, the message, the whole thing was about being honest about each one of us and we got to realize that we're not going to win the game just because we show up in the arena, play with our names [in the front of the jersey]. We still got to fight and we still got to bring a lot of energy into the game, to produce, and just to win. Be productive on the floor and just make sure that each one of us is going to do what we're supposed to do. I think a couple of guys on the team, including me, are not playing the same way we played last year and the way we've been playing the last couple of years so just got to come back, stay in front of the mirror, and just realize that if we're going to stop playing better, then the season might go by fast. I just believe that it's another step where we just trip and we still got a lot of potential and we're going to prove our name the next couple of weeks, months, and be a different team.
I know it's never good to lose but is it good to get this play out of the way now in November, rather than having to deal with this around playoff time?
It's hard to say. It's not good to lose at all. It's always good to win but obviously we're going to lose a couple of games and it's always good to lose those games at the end than right now in the beginning. If that's how the guy looking up top told us now in the beginning, than we have to come back and work harder.
Are there any players on the team that feel prideful, saying 'we can do better than this'?
Well, I think everybody is saying to themselves that thing. It's hard to be, for example in my situation, sitting in the locker room with so many great players and just all of a sudden, a Polish guy stands up, you, you, and you got to play better. I got to play better, it's hard to say that. I think each one of us knows that who's playing good, who's not playing well, and we just got to correct it and make it better.
Rashard Lewis is going to be coming back next Monday, what are the kind of things he can bring back to this team?
Well, I think everybody waits for Rashard. I think Rashard is a guy who, first of all, spreads the floor and makes great hi-lo passes. We're just waiting for him, he was one of the pieces on our team. Like coach [Stan Van Gundy] said, we look good in the practice, we're doing great in the practices, but that's just practice because we got Rashard to practice so I think the team is going to look way, way better with him so still, it's not an excuse. We still have to do our job and to be honest, we screwed up. We screwed up big-time.
Defensively, that's a big focus for the team trying to improve, but where do you start to begin getting back to how you guys were playing last year?
I think we just got to get into our energy, I believe that if we're going to get our energy, we got to get humbled, we got to get humbled. We're a little bit arrogant right now and we're confident about our game, but still, we just go to do our thing. Starting with me, I'm a little bit down with everything that I do, but still, I'm going to come back. I had a long summer so I'll come back to my game.
I know that a lot of people like to say that the season is a marathon, not a sprint, in terms of getting through the year. What's your guys' mentality, in terms of getting through this?
We got to make sure that we come to each game with the same mentality. We can't come and say we play Cleveland, Shaq, we got to focus on Shaq, LeBron, we still have to focus on the five guys on the floor. Everybody has to do his own thing, the thing that he has to do on defense, so we got to play with the same intensity, the same passion, and just have fun in the game. We got to do everything that's possible to do that every game the same way.