Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports the Orlando Magic's frustration with their poor play came to a head following Thursday night's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. The team held a 30-minute meeting after the game, with coach Stan Van Gundy present--a crucial detail--to discuss their three-game slide and their recent shortcomings. More from Robbins:
"They threw everything they had at us, and we folded," center Dwight Howard said later, after the locker room opened.
"We shouldn't fold. Nothing should break us and it did. Until everybody steps up on the team and mans up, then teams are going to throw their best punch at us and we're going to fold."
Point guard Jameer Nelson also expressed his frustration:
"We've just got to play harder," Nelson said. "That's it. Point blank. Basically, we can't say, '[Forget] it, we're not going to play defense' or 'I'm not going to play defense because I'm not making shots.' "
Oddly, a similarly dispiriting loss in Portland last season also fired up the Magic, with Matt Barnes becoming vocal with, but not hostile to, the media following the game. Here are some of Barnes' words, transcribed by the Sentinel's Brian Schmitz:
"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."
We'll learn soon enough if this airing of grievances will improve the team's resolve and performance. The Magic face the Utah Jazz tonight at 9 PM.