The Orlando Magic have continued to play excellent basketball since the All-Star Break, but a series of recent confrontations with officials have at least one beat writer concerned about their mentality. From Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, who minces no words:
The Magic have been to the NBA Finals.
Time they start acting like it.
If they put half of the energy they use to argue with referees into the games every night, the Magic might have better focus. It’s not very becoming of a serious contender to whine at every call.
Because it might be affecting their play.
But they need to get a hold of themselves before they lose their cool and cost themselves in the playoffs.
Schmitz goes on to say that Matt Barnes, who drew two technical fouls yesterday against Memphis and who got in a verbal sparring match with coach Stan Van Gundy in Orlando's previous game, needs to tone it down in particular; Barnes did offer this apology to Magic fans via his Twitter account, and reportedly apologized to his teammates as well. And Dwight Howard, Schmitz says, "is a lost cause."
On the one hand, I can see where he's coming from. Orlando's playing well, but has been chirping about foul calls a lot more lately. Though the Magic responded after Barnes' ejection yesterday, there's also the chance that they could let their anger get the best of them in another pressure-packed situation, which could indeed hurt them in the playoffs, especially on the road. That might explain why Van Gundy is a bit concerned, particularly with Barnes. Then again, maybe playing so emotionally is a good thing, as it prevents the team from coasting, which in turn could explain why Barnes' teammates don't want him to change.
So what do you think? Is the Magic's attitude a cause for concern as the regular season winds down? Will Barnes' and Howard's outbursts hurt the team? Or is their fire what this team needs in order to stay motivated?