The Magic faced the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night
Brian Schmitz recaps the Orlando Magic's defeat against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Matt Barnes didn't play with the Orlando Magic last season during their surprise run to the NBA Finals.
But as a gritty journeyman, Barnes has played for some mediocre teams who revel in knocking off the league giants.
He's on the other end of it now and sees some disturbing signs after the Magic lost to the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers 102-87 at the Rose Garden Friday, falling for the sixth time in the past eight games.
"It's like we are going through the motions," he said. "Just because you went to the Finals last year, you can't go out on the floor and expect teams to lay down. We got no heart. You can only make so many excuses. Everybody has to come and play hard, not just one or two guys.
"I've played on teams that used to love to punk the good teams in the league. We loved to do that."
Orlando Magic notes: Coach Stan Van Gundy has long talk with struggling Rashard Lewis
Not playing isn't an option for Jameer Nelson.
PG Jameer Nelson said he hasn't broached the idea of sitting out to allow his sore surgically repaired knee more rest.
"Have I thought about it? I don't know. My thing is I've always played through things," he said. [...]
"Just got to find a way, man. I definitely want to get going (offensively). That's not necessarily about offense, either. I have to do a better job, defensively, and do other things," he said.
"It's tough. I'm out there. There's nothing I can do. If I felt I wasn't well enough to play, I wouldn't play. One day, this thing will get right."
Van Gundy picked up on one line in Lewis’ postgame rant that he thought was prevalent throughout the Magic. When Lewis remarked that ``it feels like we’re a last-place team,’’ Van Gundy believes the weight of expectations have hurt the Magic this season. [...]
``We’re 39 games into the year with a difficult schedule in terms of travel, our four main guys have played 10 games together, we have five new guys and in the loss column we’re two games behind Boston and Cleveland,’’ Van Gundy said. ``I’d think the realistic approach would be, `Hey, they’re doing a pretty good job.’
``But the external and internal expectations are real high. We have the fourth-best record in the league and we’re frustrated,’’ he continued. ``I think in some ways that’s good because it shows a standard that we’re holding ourselves to. But what it’s doing is we’re frustrated and that leads to a lack of energy. Guys have to be a little more realistic. I think expecting us to be great, great, great now with everything we’ve been through is not a realistic expectation. We’ve got three months to go and we’ve got to be better as we go. But the frustration right now isn’t helping us.’’
Denton: Magic-Blazers Postgame Analysis
John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com analyzes the Magic's loss.
It’s gone from puzzling to troubling to just downright bizarre now: How can an Orlando Magic team with four all-star starters and more quality depth than it’s ever had in its history struggle this badly and this consistently to score?
A Magic squad mired in a major funk hoped that the return of star guard Vince Carter would inject some life into the offense on Friday, but remarkably all that did was make things worse.
Things started poorly Friday night with an unsightly 13-point first quarter and even when the Magic did make brief runs at a deficit that swelled to as much as 23 points they didn’t have enough firepower to beat a Portland team that was without leading scorer Brandon Roy.
Orlando’s 102-87 loss to the Trail Blazers was their sixth in the last eight games with the two victories coming only against lowly Sacramento and Minnesota.
More after the jump, including must-read locker room observations from Blazersedge and the Portland Roundball Society that put Matt Barnes' quotes in proper context.
Look, Orlando, if you're not going to use that center can we have him? We'd give you a point guard and a nice perimeter player for him. Seriously...you're playing against Portland who right now is fielding exactly one guy above 6'9" and that one is not known as a tough guy or intimidator (and neither is he guarding your center). You're really, really telling me you can't find more than 6 field goal attempts for Dwight Howard? Honestly? It's not horribly surprising that the Magic attempted 30 threes for the game. They average 28 on the season. It was mildly surprising that they had already shot 25 before the third quarter ended. It was shocking--horrifying really--how few of those came off of touches by Howard first. This is a great example of how the same shots (statistically, anyway) can be fantastic or awful for your team depending on how you get them. Threes are just the thing for the Magic when Dwight has plenty of attempts. They're an abomination when he's not touching the ball. And everybody in blue tonight acted like he was allergic to leather until the last half of the last quarter of the game. By then it was too late. Since Howard hadn't put any pressure on the Blazers big men earlier the Portland frontcourt had plenty of fouls to give. In the last six minutes of the game they just cleaned his clock without penalty every time he got near the rim.
Media Row Report: Blazers 102, Magic 87
Ben Golliver of Blazersedge points out succinctly why the Blazers were able to defeat the Magic, despite being under-manned as a team.
Some unexpected wins are the result of complicated gimmicks, mixed-and-matched defenses, unpredictable rotations, lucky execution or kind officiating. Tonight's win for the Blazers couldn't have been simpler. They brought energy and focus (6 steals and 6 turnovers); the Magic didn't (3 steals, 12 turnovers). They were hot from deep (11 of 21 on threes); the Magic weren't (7 of 30 on threes). And, most importantly, they crashed the glass early, often, on time and late, overcoming the absence of their two best centers and doing a more-than-reasonable job containing Howard, the league's premier pivot man.Golliver has these notes from the Orlando locker room:
Magic forward Matt Barnes could not have been more disgusted with his team's lack of effort and intensity, spewing profanities without care in the locker room post-game and repeating that it was on every individual Magic player to bring his best effort every night. "We're loaded," Barnes quipped, "We should be undefeated on paper." And then later, "Talk is cheap. We gotta knock people down like they're knocking Dwight down."
In terms of charisma with the media: Dwight Howard > Kobe Bryant >>>>>>>> LeBron James. His bowtie might be a little bit unnecessary but his smile is as genuine as it gets, his self-assessments were thoughtful and honest, and his answers were patient and well-delivered. A polished guy in every sense of the word.Given that I've been able to interact with Howard for about sixth months or so, Golliver's assessment of him is spot-on.
No Center, No Star, No Problem. Blazers Throttle Magic, 102-87
Andrew R. Tonry of the Portland Roundball Society has more on Barnes in the locker room after the game was over.
After being mauled by the Blazers Friday night, Orlando guard-forward Matt Barnes was cursing up a blue streak in the Orlando locker room to a couple of Magic beat reporters. It was almost soul searching. Barnes' tone was hushed, but it didn't hide his absolute disgust. He was unguarded and shockingly honest--rare qualities in an NBA locker room.
Barnes made his way out. Referring to his comments, one reporter leaned to the other and pointed towards Dwight Howard, who was dressing at the pace of a two-toed sloth. "He should be saying that," the reporter whispered.
Portland 102, Orlando 87: Big win ... without Roy
Jason Quick of The Oregonian states that their was a contrast between the Magic and the Blazers as the two teams faced off at the Rose Garden.
On Friday, it was equal parts Portland excellence and Orlando ineptitude. The Blazers had five players in double figures and made 11 of 21 from three-point range while recording their fourth wire-to-wire victory of the season.
Orlando, meanwhile, looked nothing close to an upper-echelon team, as they hoisted three-pointer after three-pointer and played with no cohesion.
After the game, an exasperated Magic coach Stan Van Gundy sounded as if he wished half of his team were injured like the Blazers.
"I'm frustrated with the lack of energy and our guys are frustrated with other things," Van Gundy said. "Mostly their inability to make shots."
Blazers have all the Magic
Brian T. Smith of The Columbian captures a quote I'm sure Orlando fans wished it applied to the Magic.
Asked about his team’s ability to consistently respond positively to adversity, Webster used two words: tenacious, resilient.
"Guys are just, night in, night out, putting forth their best effort," Webster said. "We have to compensate for a lot of losses, and I think we’ve done a great job at that."