patience (n.) - tolerant and even-tempered perseverance
After the Orlando Magic's disheartening loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder last night, I'm sure people are doing their best Vince Lombardi impression and asking themselves, "what the hell is going on out here?" For all the talk about how impressive the Magic's offense has been in the regular season, so far, the defense hasn't been up to snuff. Head coach Stan Van Gundy made that explicitly clear after the Thunder game.
The fact of the matter is that it's hard to judge Orlando's body of work defensively without a full complement of players available. The Magic have been shorthanded since the year began (Rashard Lewis' suspension) and the players understand that, but the problem has been exacerbated lately with injuries (Ryan Anderson, Vince Carter) and sicknesses (Matt Barnes, Mickael Pietrus). It's clear that one needs to exhibit patience because the defense is a work in progress.
What's making things difficult, aside from individuals being unavailable to play, is the fact Orlando hasn't had much practice time on the court to work out the kinks. Check the Magic schedule - the team hasn't had more than a day off between games since the regular season began. With so many new players trying to learn defensive schemes on the fly, it's been admittedly painful to watch Orlando play on that side of the floor sometimes. The important thing is that the Magic have shown flashes of good to excellent defense, varying by degree, on the court so the potential is there. It's a matter of consistency and execution.