Orlando in a bad way
The Orlando Magic have reached the halfway point of their season well off last year's pace, which prompted Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports to write this piece about what ails the team. No one escapes blame here, not even coach Stan Van Gundy.
This is on the players. It's up to Vince [Carter] to play as he should. It's up to [Dwight] Howard to attack more often. And it's up to Dwight to remember that the only reason his Magic made it to 59 wins last year, and to the Finals, is because he had to play a near-perfect game defensively, covering for so, so much; never taking any plays off.
Anything short of that perfection and, well, you've seen the results. A team that hasn't won a thing, littered with players who haven't won jack, giving us the self-satisfied routine. Uh-oh.
I particularly enjoyed one of Dwyer's observations about one of Matt Barnes' habits.
Chat: Chat with Chad Ford
In response to a Magic fan's chat-room question, ESPN.com's Chad Ford writes that the Magic will be active at the trading deadline and that Carter will likely be their trade bait.
They're looking at a lot of things right now. They aren't happy with how the team fits together and seem to be deeply regretting letting Hedo [Turkoglu] go. I think anyone, short of Dwight Howard, could be had for the right deal ... but yes, I think Carter will be the focal point.
Orlando Opinionators – The Magic hit a tough spot
Prior to last night's game, the Orlando Sentinel published this editorial from Magic center Adonal Foyle regarding the team's recent swoon.
We have great players at all five positions, including an amazing big man in the middle, and yet our seeming insecurity begs the question what is going on with the Magic? I wish I had a simple answer for you, and could tell you that this is just a phase and we will be better soon. The one truth that I know is that the teams that we are playing right now play harder than us and although they are not better than us, they can certainly compete.
Better Winning Through Chemistry
Kevin Arnovitz of Clipperblog and ESPN uses this year's Magic team as a test case: what is chemistry? After speaking with Ryan Anderson, Barnes, and Van Gundy prior to last night's loss to the L.A. Lakers, he reached an interesting conclusion.
Impressive Victory For Lakers Or Not?
J.A. Adande of ESPN.com isn't sure what to think of the Lakers' win over the Magic last night because Orlando "isn't as good as its 26-14 record might indicate." He has some advice.
There was talk in the Magic locker room of finding encouraging signs in the loss, taking positives where they can. The team still needs to find itself. The Magic have more of a Vince Carter identity than a Dwight Howard identity, and if Carter is going to be in and out of the lineup and in and out of games with injuries, as he was with a hurt shoulder Monday night, they won't be consistent. And inconsistency is their greatest enemy right now.
John Ireland: Lakers beat a declining Orlando Magic team
Last year's Magic team impressed John Ireland of ESPNLosAngeles.com. This year? Not so much.
[Replacing Turkoglu with Carter] is comparable to putting Shaq [O'Neal] on the Suns last year. He clogged up the space that all the rest of the Suns used to score all of those points. Carter, like Shaq was, is a square peg in a round hole.
Ireland believes the Cavaliers' acquisition of Shaq, and their consequent ability to defend Howard one-on-one, will prevent Orlando from making another run to the NBA Finals.
Game Notes: Magic at Lakers
Sean Ceglinsky of SLAM ONLINE attended the Magic's game against L.A. last night. Here are his observations.
Denton: Pietrus Confident Team Will Evolve
John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com spoke with Van Gundy and several of his players to get their thoughts on the first half of Orlando's season. Van Gundy wonders if the Magic might play better in the second half than in the first, in a reversal of last year's trend.
"Last year we were 33-8 at the halfway point, but at the same time we hadn’t had one injury and Courtney Lee was the only new guy we were inserting into what we were doing," Van Gundy remembered. "Now, it’s five new guys and a lot of injuries. We only won 26 games in the second half last year because we had some injuries. Now, we’ve gone through (the injuries) early and the comparisons to last year, they just don’t matchup.
Also click through to read the ever-quotable Mickael Pietrus.
Magic shouldn't hop on Arenas crazy train
On a different note, George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel spoke to Magic GM Otis Smith about the recent report that Smith might consider acquiring Gilbert Arenas, with whom he has a solid friendship, from the Washington Wizards.
I have a lot of love for Gilbert, but this is something I've not given a whole lot of thought to," Smith said Monday afternoon. "…I don't know where this is coming from. There is nothing in the works. No talk about it on this end or any other end."
John Hollinger picks his 10 starters for the NBA All-Star Game
Despite a somewhat disappointing individual season, John Hollinger of ESPN Insider votes Dwight Howard as the Eastern Conference's starting center in the NBA All-Star game, because "90 percent of last season's Howard is still better than 100 percent of any other center this season."
Worst NBA Contracts
Finally, Brian Spencer of Empty the Bench lists the eight NBA contracts "that are looking a little dubious at this point."