With the return of Rashard Lewis, the Orlando Magic were able to come away with another victory over the Charlotte Bobcats (the second win of the season for the team against the divisional rival). However, it wasn't pretty and it came down to the wire. The defense was inconsistent, at times, but was good when it mattered the most - at the end of the game.
I was able to ask a few questions to Stan Van Gundy amongst the media, as well as speak with Ryan Anderson, Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson, and Dwight Howard. Here's what they had to say:
Stan Van Gundy:
Could you talk about the bench play tonight? Seemed like Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass played well.
Yeah, I thought Ryan and Brandon, in particular, gave us a really good lift. I thought that when we went up double-figures, it was when they were in the game, and I thought those two guys gave us a really good lift tonight and played very, very well. Played very well together out on the court. I thought those two young guys were very good tonight.
How did the defense look with Rashard Lewis out there?
Well, 63% in the first half, 28 points in the paint, 52 points. Second half, it was better. Again, it didn't have a lot to do ... it wasn't all Rashard. We weren't great defensively for half the game, then we were better in the second half.
Could you talk about the decision-making from the team, offensively?
Our offense wasn't very good today. I think the numbers sort of show that. I don't think our ball movement was good, I don't think our decision-making was good, I don't really have a lot of positive things to say about it.
More after the jump.
Finally getting back out there, how did your conditioning feel?
It felt pretty good. It felt like I could just jump right back out there and start playing like normal. Once you get past the first two minutes, you're kind of shaking the dust off. It felt fine, it felt good. My ankle felt really good today and yeah, it felt really good.
Stan highlighted your play after the game during the presser. Could you talk about what you wanted to bring to the team coming off the bench?
I knew I needed to bring a spark defensively and of course, just spreading the court, shooting the ball when I'm open, and getting rebounds. Hustle points. Coach [Stan Van Gundy] made a big emphasis on cutting to the hoop, when guys are getting doubled down low like Brandon [Bass] and Dwight [Howard]. I think we made a ton of great plays. I think they did a great job of passing the ball.
It seems like you're becoming more comfortable on defense as each game goes by. Could you talk about how your progression has gone with that?
Yeah, we work so hard on defense. It's been a huge emphasis on defense at practice and especially being out, I made a significant effort to just try to notice different rotations, know where I need to be, and it's huge for this team. If you can't play defense, you can't play, so it's real important.
You guys are playing the Thunder on Wednesday. Is that a game where you guys want to serve some payback?
Of course. Yeah, it was a tough time for us because we had some injuries and people were out. I think we've made a ton of different jumps, not only with guys, like Rashard [Lewis] coming back, but I think we know how to get ourselves out of those slumps now. Of course, I mean, we're most likely going to have another game like that, it's a long season, but it's something that we need to learn from and definitely we're going to come out attacking them [Oklahoma City] next game.
It seemed like you were able to get it going in the second half. Could you talk about your performance and how you were able to get into a groove?
Just trying to get into a rhythm, offensively. I felt in the first half I was shooting a lot of threes and my shot, my legs weren't under me, I was shooting flat, so I just wanted to get to the basket, get some layups, kind of get myself going, and I felt ... I started feeling a lot more confidence in my jumpshot, especially when they were posting me up on the block.
What do you think the key is going to be for the team, defensively, as the season progresses?
I think we got to protect the paint. We ended up giving up a lot of paint points, we got to stop the penetration to the basket, and we got to defend the bigs when Dwight goes over to block the shot. We got to help him and crack down on his man.
What have you been able to tell the new players, in terms of the defensive schemes and what Stan is looking from them? Have you been able to give some tips?
Especially with Brandon and Ryan, they're playing the four and the three as well when I'm playing. We got to guard some on the pick and rolls, because when they come off the pick and rolls, to guard, we got to get Ryan into the paint, we got to make the guard veer out and slow him up so that the guard can get out there and get back to his man.
What do you guys have to do to build momentum as the season goes along?
Just keep playing, keep defending. I think the offense is going to take care of itself. If we're able to defend and get some fast break points, everything else will take care of itself.
When you took the shot [to put the team up 6 with roughly 1 minute to go in the game], was it one where right when you threw it up, it felt good?
I practice that shot plenty of times. It felt normal to me, everyone else was like, what the heck? I've taken that shot plenty of times. Once I got my feet set, that's the most important thing for me, is just getting my feet set, and once I got set, I was able to shoot the ball and about half-way, it felt pretty good.
Stephen Jackson got traded, obviously, what is that experience like? To be traded during the season?
Well, being traded right during the season, it's tough. They asked him to come in as a starter and play three positions tonight. The one thing about it is when you've been around long enough, maybe the calls are different, but the plays are still pretty much the same so I'm sure he got there by shootaround so he could get the gist about some of the plays. If you can kind of remember or have an idea about five or six plays, you'll be alright in your first game. Especially plays, they're usually going to be drawn up in a timeout anyway. The biggest things are maybe the defensive philosophy. I think the coach is pretty straight-forward and knows what he has for him so I think he adjusted just fine. They put the ball in his hands when they needed a basket so like I said, it's all about experience. He's been around for several years.
Could you talk about the bench tonight? It seemed like they were able to come in and provide a spark for the team.
Well, that's what we need from those guys. It's not going to be everybody's night all the time. I think, even going forward, everybody can't shoot the ball. We have coach call plays for four guys on this team and everybody else, we got to play our role when we get the ball.
It seemed like the bench was able to come in and provide a spark for the team. Could you talk about that?
They did a good job off the bench. That's what we want, when guys come off the bench, is bring a spark. Ryan and Brandon, they both played and did a pretty good job tonight.
As a team, how beneficial is it to have a guy like Vince Carter who can hit shots at the end of a game to put it away?
Well, I think the thing that we want from Vince, every game, is to be in attack mode, especially on the offensive end. He's been a little more aggressive but coach gives him the ball in situations to where he wants him to be aggressive so we want Vince to be aggressive. When he's aggressive, it's tough for other teams to defend. He's going to get better as we get to play with each other more. He's going to get better at it so just looking forward to the rest of the season. We got Rashard back, everybody is getting healthy, so we're just going to keep going.
Can repetitions and practices help with regards to the defense?
Well, we practice all the time so it's just something that's going to have to come with the flow of the game. You can practice every day but the situations in the games are much different than what we have to go through in practice.