Head coach Stan Van Gundy was hoping that he would be able to get some valuable practice time with his players, today, during the early afternoon but after Jameer Nelson came in sick & was sent home and J.J. Redick tweaked an ankle (it's nothing serious, he'll practice tomorrow), the Orlando Magic were down to 9 individuals and were unable to do any 5-on-5 sessions - remember what I said about lack of practice time - to the dismay of the coach. Nevertheless, Ryan Anderson and Rashard Lewis were able to participate in drills so that's some good news for fans as both players are slated to return on Monday against the Charlotte Bobcats.
I was able to speak with Van Gundy amongst the media, as well as Redick.
Here's what they had to say:
Stan Van Gundy:
As for last night, Vince Carter was able to have a strong fourth quarter. Was that an example of him being a closer for the team?
Well, yeah, and I think he can just ... Vince can get shots, pretty much, at will and I think the best teams have someone like that, Kobe [Bryant], Paul Pierce, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson. The better teams have guys like that, Carmelo Anthony, you can go down the list and Vince gives us a guy like that who can get shots on their own, even when people are defending him well, and things like that so he did that last night, he made some big ones that opened things up a little bit, and it was good.
With Vince, you being able to isolate him when you need to get a bucket, is that something that's different in terms of the offense from last year
Yeah, we really didn't have that or at least I didn't feel like we really had that. I mean, I think Vince is the best that we've had since I've been here, in terms of just being able on his own create a quality shot. I think he's the best that we've had.
With Rashard coming back, is there plans to post him up?
Yeah, I think Rashard is a very, very good post-up player and I think it's all about matchups and things like that, in terms of where we put him, and we'll have to see. We'll have to see but there's certainly ... he's a very good post-up player.
With the illness and injuries, is that something that can help a team down the road in terms of guys getting a lot of minutes?
Well, it helps get guys minutes, yeah. The problem with it is, right now, we're just not building a game, we're not building a cohesive offensive game. I mean, there's different lineups every night, guys playing different positions every night, Rashard's been out, we couldn't practice today. We're not moving forward enough. It's nobody's fault, you need time together and you need to work on things and that's why I was disappointed today because you're thinking, okay, even when Jameer [Nelson] came in sick, I'm thinking, alright, we have 10 guys. We got two at each position and we can get Ryan [Anderson] and Rashard back in, get Rashard playing with the starters, really work on some things, and then that didn't materialize. We need time together on the floor. It just doesn't come and we were really lucky during training camp. We kept everybody pretty healthy and we got a lot of work in during training camp and I thought we were making progress as the month went on and really since Vince went down in the second game [against the New Jersey Nets, it's been crazy. We haven't been able to move forward at all.
More after the jump.
For the first 10 games, what have you guys learned so far about you as a team?
That we need to get a lot better. We need to have more of a defensive mindset like we did last night [against the New Jersey Nets]. Offensively, we're just not playing the game really well. It's been laborious on both ends of the floor and I think getting Rashard back will help on both ends.
What spurred you to speak up after the Cleveland Cavaliers game?
I took a sip of Gatorade and it had a weird taste to it. *laughs*
I don't even know. I didn't plan on saying anything as I walked back in the locker room and everybody was frustrated. I said what was on my mind. I don't always speak up so maybe when I do speak up, people listen, because I'm not talking all the time.
You've gotten a lot of minutes to start the season, how beneficial has that been for you to be able to help the team out on both ends of the floor?
It's been good. It's my fourth year [in the NBA] and it's the first time 10 games in the season that I've actually played 10 games so it's a first for me. It's been nice. I've been healthy so far - knock on wood - so I think, I say this all the time, last year's playoffs really helped me. I played a lot in the regular season. I did and I played 18 minutes a game in 64 games, the most games I've played, so I think I got a lot of confidence from the playoffs, being in the situations. It just gave me a good experience and I think I've carried over that.
What do you think Stan has been able to do to make you a better player since he's arrived here?
Survival of the fittest, adaption. I think I've had to improve and it's because of Stan and the coaching staff. They've done a great job of helping me understand concepts defensively and it's also been [strength-and-conditioning coach] Joe [Rogowski] in the weight room, helping me get stronger. I'm not a great defender. There's maybe five great defenders in the NBA, I mean, seriously. People talk about guys can't play defense, no one can really play defense. A good offense in the NBA is going to beat a good defense. One-on-one, any NBA player is going to have a tough time but I've become a solid defensive player and that's kept me on the floor. And then offensively, I've learned how to play the game better. I'm not really a chucker, I still shoot, but being a facilitator more? I guess you can say? Not that I'm not aggressive but I feel like when I'm on the floor offensively, I think I help the team play the game better.
How's that rap supergroup coming along for you?
It's good. We're going to probably finish our first song before the next road trip is the goal. So tomorrow, Tuesday, we play Monday [and] Wednesday, yeah, there'll be some studio time.
You going to drop that single soon?
Yeah, we're going to get it out to a sample audience first and just kind of get some feedback before we actually release it.
Look forward to hearing it.
Odds and Ends:
I was able to speak with a source associated with the team's plans and I asked what's the biggest benefit Rashard Lewis brings to the Orlando Magic, defensively? I was told that he's a great talker and helps his teammates get in the proper positions on the court.
Likewise, I inquired about the team's energy level during games? From what was stated to me, sometimes the players "are bored." [ed. note: I wasn't told if it's one individual or a group of individuals. Please make note when I use nouns like "they're" and "their".] They're aware that the regular season is a marathon, not a sprint, and after experiencing the excitement & intensity of the postseason last year, their mentality is different. I was given an example of the Detroit Pistons, a squad that after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers and winning the NBA Finals in 2004, waltzed during the regular season and "turned it on in games" en route to another appearance in the championship round against the San Antonio Spurs in 2005. An intriguing explanation, to say the least. Certainly fits in line with what Marcin Gortat said after the Cleveland Cavaliers loss a few days ago, that the squad is a little arrogant and needs to be humble.