In all the Magic games I've ever attended in my life, I'm not sure if I've ever seen an Orlando team with less passion and intensity than it did last night against the hard-nosed Utah Jazz. Paul Millsap joined Indiana's Danny Granger as the second Magic draft snub to torch us this year, scoring a career-high 28 points, including 13 straight for Utah in the -- ahem -- third quarter to put the game away for good. Here is the absolutely dreadful boxscore.
The storyline that most game recaps picked up was Stan Van Gundy's vitriolic post-game comments, which Brian Schmitz compiled in his recap:
- "We had a team-wide effort of guys getting their butts kicked."
- "It's a soft team . . . We're absolutely frightened of contact . . . We don't play hard enough. We're not tough enough and this will not stop. And until we change the way we play and play harder, it will not stop."
- "A lot of guys are OK with that as long as they get their numbers."
- "I think every film clip we show them [today] they'll have an excuse for."
It was an all-around embarrassment. Even though we lead, 50-49, at halftime, I wasn't comfortable with it. There were several bad omens: Anrei Kirilenko, a 15% three-point shooter this season, drilled three long-range bombs in the first half; Matt Harpring made two hook shots, also in the first half; and Hedo Turkoglu missed a wide-open dunk.
I feel like I should point out just how bad Rashard Lewis was. He had 10 points in the first half, but didn't score again until early in the fourth quarter when the game was pretty much in-hand for Utah. He just disappeared, largely because he got into foul trouble guarding Paul Millsap. I mean no disrespect to Millsap, but he can't be that hard to guard. He has no offensive moves; just box him out to prevent him from getting garbage put-backs. Rashard couldn't even do that. He also threw some terrible passes, which is something we should start keeping an eye on. He can find the open man, sure, but he rarely ever gets the ball to the teammate in a good spot. One lob he threw to Dwight sailed out of bounds; another was behind him, which required Dwight to contort awkwardly to catch it. He missed the ensuing hook shot, as I recall, because the time he spent recovering Lewis' errant pass allowed Utah's defenders to surround him. Yet another time, Lewis saw Keith Bogans wide-open in the right corner for a three, but his pass was low and to Bogans' right. Kool Keith was able to recover, but he no longer had a wide-open three and was instead forced to kick the ball out.
I guess it's easy to pick on Rashard due to his contract, but this criticism is indeed warranted. There's no excuse for a player of his caliber, whether he's being paid annually $15 million or $20 million, not being able to pass the ball effectively.
So, what were the positives to come from this game? It's hard to think of any. James Augustine, whom we selected instead of Millsap in the 2005 draft, scored 5 points, including a driving layup in traffic. What else? The chicken fingers were good, even if I had to wait 20 minutes in line for them. Um... I got Pat Garrity's autograph after the game. Yeah! That game was totally worth the money it cost and the time it took.
If we play this poorly against the mighty Celtics on Sunday, we'll be down by 20 points at the end of the first quarter. It's getting harder and harder to put any faith in this team, given the lack of heart it displays at home. Maybe we should work hard to let the Wizards win the division, thus given them home-court advantage in the playoffs. In Orlando, this season, there's just no such thing as home-court advantage, and that's embarrassing.
UPDATE: Thanks to Tom Ziller at Fanhouse, here's a YouTube clip of Van Gundy ripping the
TrMagic after the game: