Although the Orlando Magic played a depleted New Jersey Nets squad that was without the services of several players, notably Keyon Dooling, Devin Harris, Yi Jianlian, and Courtney Lee, among others, the team was able to win because of defense. Stan Van Gundy said it best during his presser, "I don't care who you're playing in this league, to hold them to 30 [second-half] points is good."
I was able to ask a few questions to Van Gundy amongst the media, as well as speak with Matt Barnes, Vince Carter, and Dwight Howard. Here's what they had to say:
Stan Van Gundy:
Could you talk about Matt Barnes' performance? It seemed like he was able to do a lot of the little things tonight - forcing jump balls, tipping some passes, etc.
Yeah, I thought he was very active. Again, I thought he and Dwight [Howard] on the defensive end sort of keyed everything and I thought his rebounding, more than anything, was important but he had some good cuts, some good drives on the offensive end. 5 assists, getting the ball down into Dwight in the post. He did a lot of little things, actually, not even little, they're big things when you rebound and making passes, it really, really helped us tonight.
With Rashard Lewis and Ryan Anderson, who hasn't played in a couple of games, does this game show important the stretch four is for your offense?
Well, I think for us, with Dwight and the room we want on pick and rolls with Jameer [Nelson] or Vince [Carter], we can spread the floor out better. We have guys that can do it, we just got some guys who are not shooting the ball, right now, as well as they're capable of shooting and so that's hurting us a little bit. But over the long haul, that tends to even out. I know about where Matt Barnes is going to end up, he's going to shoot in the mid-30's from three. He does that every year. That's what he's going to do. You know J.J. [Redick] is going to be around 40, he's had a couple of tough games. You know M.P. is going to be in the mid-to-upper 30's and than Rashard will be around 40, Vince will be around 40, and Jameer will be around 40, and J-Will will be in the low-to-mid 30's. It'll all even out, it's just right now, we've had a stretch where we're not making shots.
More after the jump.
It seemed like you were able to do a lot of the little things tonight. Could you talk about that?
Yeah, I got to find something to do since I can't shoot the ball anymore. It's tough, I just have to find some way to be effective out there. We're short-handed so we know our margin is a lot smaller so I'm just out there trying to rebound, hustle, play defense, and create for my teammates.
Could you talk about the team's defensive performance tonight? I know that's something that Stan Van Gundy has addressed with the team.
In the first half, it wasn't there. Definitely in the second half, as a team, we slowed them down, made them take more jump shots, we got the ball off the glass, and we were out running so I think that's the key to our team, the key to our offense, is our defense and I think we held them to 28 or 30 points, and that really helped us keep going I think.
How excited is the team to finally have Rashard on Monday and Ryan will probably be back, too?
I think we're very excited, just to see what kind of team we have. We saw it in the pre-season, we played very well, we've seen it in practice, but we've yet to see it in a game so like you said, we get an All-Star forward back on Monday, Ryan should be back sometime next week, and hopefully Brandon's flu will subside so we can get him back so we haven't been at full strength yet but I think everyone is looking forward to that.
Does it seem a little frustrating with how players are in & out of the lineup and there doesn't seem to be any continuity with lineups and rotations?
It's hard. There's so much expected of this team. We definitely shouldn't have three losses by now but it's just the way it goes sometimes. We can't make excuses, with some guys out, it gives other guys opportunities to play, and for the most part we have to take advantage of that but I think I can speak for everyone when we say we're excited to have our full team back.
With the defense, is this a type of game that you guys can build on?
Of course. That's just been our goal, to just step it up on the defensive end and when we get stops, it's not the offense. We're going to have rough shooting nights in quarters and halves, but we're so good, we have so many guys that can put the ball in the hole, we'll shoot our way back into rhythm. It's more so on the defensive end, just shutting guys down, and getting them into more bad shots.
What's the team's mentality going to be like, with Rashard coming back?
It's the same. Our mentality is come out and win.
Do you think it's going to be a seamless transition for Lewis?
I mean, he's still been at practice and doing his thing. I mean, like I said, just getting into game shape, getting into the rhythm of the game, more so than the rhythm of practice. It's a little different, there's a break here and there, of course coach [Stan Van Gundy] is always yelling and what not, so he breaks the practice up, but getting him back on the floor, I'm sure he's going to be a kid in a candy store.
Defensively, what do you think he's going to bring? Offensively, everyone knows what he does but perhaps his experience with Stan's schemes?
Exactly, just his experience. He knows what's expected out of that position. He's going to spread the floor, plain and simple.
With your familiarity with New Jersey, did that help at all in terms of helping our your teammates figure out the tendencies of the Nets?
Somewhat, they watched a lot of film with me and the coaches. When we were in our individual meetings, I tried to tell them as much as I know, but I think most of the guys in this locker room has played against these guys so they know what's going on. I tried to share, more so, what they're trying to get out of the play.
We already played them once so I said my two cents the first time so it didn't really matter what I said the second time. *laughs*
How important is a game like this, when shots aren't falling, to be able to hold a team to 72 points and be able to get them out of their rhythm offensively?
Well, I think in the first half we were letting them get some easy buckets. In the second half, we came out, played a lot better defense, and I think we held them to 30 points for the half, which is real good, and we just got to continue to do that. I think for the team to get better, the more and more we teach the new guys the schemes, but it's going to start with me and Jameer.
What's the biggest adjustment that the team has had to go through, defensively, for the first 10 games?
Defensively, the new guys ... sometimes, they're out there and they don't know when to rotate, when to be in certain spots on the floor, and me and Jameer really have to teach a lot of those guys where we have to be. It's going to take a while. Our offense comes natural, which is easy for us. It's just the defensive end, the way coach wants us to rotate and be here and be there, it's new for a lot of guys. When M.P. came here, he didn't understand the schemes and it took him a while to get used to it, and now he's playing a lot better defense so it's going to take the new guys a while to learn how we play defense but one of the things, as a team, that we got to get to is working hard, go all out for the 48 minutes, and doing that is going to cover up some of the mistakes on defense. Once we do that, when we get real good at just playing hard, just going after it for 48 minutes, especially on the defensive end, our team is going to be a lot better.
How beneficial will Rashard's return be for you guys, defensively?
Well, he knows where to be, he knows the spots playing the four position, so we'll have that guy back but the main thing is getting those new guys into position, knowing where to be, but also me and Jameer, I want to say that again, we have to lead and I have to do a better job of erasing all the mistakes so for me, it's just me being there for my teammates.
Rafer Alston had a triple-double tonight. Could you talk about his performance?
He looked good out there. I didn't know he had 10 rebounds, which is excellent for a guard. He put up some Jason Kidd numbers so that was real good and I was happy to see him healthy and playing the way he's been playing. We miss him here but we understand the business, but he did look real good.