Orlando Magic Preach Ball-Control, Defensive Effort following Losses to League's Elite Teams

Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

The Orlando Magic made the wrong kind of history once again in their 85-59 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday, setting a record for the fewest points scored by a Bulls opponent. The loss was Orlando's second in three nights, having also fallen to the Miami Heat on Sunday. The team clearly knows what it needs to do to improve, but making the proper adjustments may prove challenging.

As John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com reports, the team met after Monday's loss to discuss how to get back on the right track. "The solution," says Denton: "Get back to work on sharing the ball and building a tighter chemistry on defense."

Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy called his team's offense "pathetic," according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, and he offered this diagnosis during his postgame meeting with the media:

"And that's something that I've got to take a look at because we've got better players than that. I've got to take a look at what we're doing because it's really two games in a row now where we've been very, very bad offensively."

In the losses to Miami and Chicago--who rank third and second, respectively, in points allowed per possession--the Magic shot 37.5 percent from the field, 28.9 percent from three-point range, and committed 39 turnovers. Their offensive struggles didn't start there, however: even in its 16-point rout of the New Jersey Nets on Friday, Orlando committed 20 turnovers, undermining a 50.7 percent shooting performance from the field.

Van Gundy will return to the offensive drawing board and try to make the most of his limited roster, which lacks a top-tier setup man on the wings or anyone apart from Dwight Howard who can draw a foul consistently. He'll also have to get his crew on the same page defensively: though the team has allowed fewer than one point per possession in its last three games, its defense against opposing power forwards leaves much to be desired. Ryan Anderson will have to improve mightily on that end, and Van Gundy will need to design ways to give Anderson the help he needs without freeing up another option or two for opponents.

The playoffs begin in less than a month, so there's not much time remaining for the Magic to eliminate their bad habits. But if the first step to recovery is admitting that one has a problem, Orlando is already well on its way.

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