After playing, arguably, one of the worst games in Stan Van Gundy's tenure as head coach of the Orlando Magic against the Detroit Pistons, the team bounced back against the Phoenix Suns and came away with a much-needed victory in front of a sell-out crowd. Van Gundy commented that he felt the Magic, for the first time in the regular season, played well on both ends of the floor and turned in a complete effort (especially on defense).
I was able to ask a few questions to Van Gundy amongst the media, as well as speak with Ryan Anderson and Dwight Howard.
Here's what they had to say:
Stan Van Gundy:
Could you talk about the team's defense against the Phoenix Suns? They are a prolific offensive team, could you talk about how that went?
Well, I thought out defense was pretty good. I mean, the problem with Phoenix is they create so many problems, particularly in the pick & roll game with [Steve] Nash and [Amar'e] Stoudemire, and then they put shooting around them. You can be playing pretty good defense and looking pretty bad at times, so it's a little bit tough to judge. They made some plays on us, we certainly made some mistakes, the thing with Phoenix is they make you pay for virtually every mistake, but I thought we played them - and their pick & rolls in particular - better than we have played anybody's pick & rolls all year. I thought it was our best defensive game. I thought we were more committed and made more good defensive plays, so I thought it was a good step forward.
You talked about the ball movement earlier. Could you talk a little bit about how aggressive your team was, attacking the basket, drawing fouls, and getting to the free-throw line?
Yeah, I thought last night we didn't do a good job of taking the ball into the paint. I give Detroit a lot of credit for that but tonight, I thought it really started with Jameer [Nelson]. I thought he really was much more aggressive in his pick & rolls, made much better decisions and plays on his pick & rolls, and then that's what got everything started. I thought he was great all night. J-Will played very well. Our point guard play is essential and those guys had good games. I mean, you look at Jameer's line tonight, that's great. Double-figure assists , one turnover. Scores. He was fabulous tonight.
More after the jump.
Tonight, it seemed like you were attacking the basket more, trying to draw fouls, and get to the free-throw line. Was that by design, considering last night's performance?
I knew that was something I could have done [in yesterday's game]. In the gameplan, basically they're defense closes out and jumps out at the shooters, so I knew I could drive once in a while. I think we did a great job of getting into the gap, we're driving and kicking, and guys are getting open shots.
Could you talk a little bit about the pick & roll defense against the Suns?
I think we did a decent job of guarding their screen & rolls. It's something they thrive on, I mean, it is hard to guard and sometimes, they had a little stretch in the first quarter where they really thrived on screen & rolls but I think by the end of the game, we really figured it out and played great.
How important was it to get off to a fast start against a fast-paced team like Phoenix after last night's loss?
It's huge, because they are a team of runs just like we are so when we can come out and create a lead like that, it's hard for teams to bounce back against us because we got guys like Dwight. It's hard to score against our team so with runs like that, it's hard for teams to kind of get back [in the game]. Of course, regardless of our first or second group, we can maintain leads, and play really well regardless of who's in the game because we just have so much talent on this team.
You play Detroit again on Friday. What are the keys in that game to come away with a win?
Just come back and play. I think we had a horrible game [against the Pistons yesterday], it happens in the NBA, but we're going to come back with a better effort.
Could you talk about the pick & roll defense against Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire and how you guys were able to slow that combination down a bit?
Well, we just talked. The two guys in the pick & roll, we played the pick & roll, instead of everybody on the team helping and that's what happens when you play them, everybody helps, and then Steve can find the open shooters. The two guys who played in the pick & roll, we kind of defended the pick & roll well tonight.
Stan talked about ball movement and its importance. What do you have to do to continue to do that and be prolific on offense?
Well, when you're playing the game and moving the ball around, finding people for open shots, it just makes everything a little bit easier and when we do that, we throw it inside and throw it out for open shooters who get a chance to get going. I think that's good for our chemistry to have everybody just play.