Harris frustrated with lack of effort
Despite scoring a team-high 21 points, Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris was less than pleased with his team's performance against the Detroit Pistons on Friday night. After jumping out to an early lead, the Magic slowly faltered, allowing the Pistons to grab a lead late in the first quarter, one they would hold for almost the entire remainder of the game. Orlando's offense was stout, but their defense, once again, struggled, giving up 111 points to a struggling Detroit team.
"I don't think we had any energy at all tonight," said Harris. "That was the discouraging part about it. We shot a good percentage, but we needed to pick our defense up and we just didn't buy into doing it."
When asked, the soon-to-be free agent said he didn't know why the energy was lacking for his team. "I just think over these next four days we all as individuals need to look ourselves in the mirror and we have to come in here to work everyday and we have to ask ourselves, 'What are we really trying to get out of this?' near the end of the season, personally and as a team. What are we trying to better? I think we all really, individually need to look at ourselves and really pick ourselves up. When we step on that floor in front of our fans, we have to do a better job."
The loss clearly frustrated Harris, who has been in and out of the team's lineup throughout the season with a handful of different injuries. Add in the fact that his future is currently uncertain, and one can understand his furstration.
With just eight games remaining, and very little momentum going, the team needs to find a way to begin to build it for yet another long offseason, and Harris knows that. "There needs to be a lot of urgency," said the fourth-year forward. "How many wins do we have? 21? 22? We have 22 wins, last season how many wins did we have? 23. We have to show improvement. The guys on the team, this group is here, we're here, we're part of the Orlando Magic. Fans come, they support us, we have to show some more urgency out there for ourselves. We have to try to win games. Try to build something."
The continued struggles have frustrated many players on the team, and at times it appears as though they get frazzled on the court when things begin to go south. In their final eight games, the Magic have to find a way to get over the frustrations they continue to face almost every night.
"The way I look at it, there's two paths you could take. You could check out, or you could stay in," Harris said. "Me, personally, I look at it if we were a playoff team, you have to have your mind ready for a whole other month and a half to two months of basketball. You have to decide if you want to check out or if you're going to stay checked in. In these last eight games, that's one of the things we really have to look down on and individually ask ourselves which we're going to do."
With his inability to stay on the court consistently, the uncertainty with his future, and the team's continued struggles on the court, it's clear to see why Harris is upset about the way his team is performing. With just eight games remaining--six against teams currently in the playoffs or in the hunt for a playoff spot--the Magic will need to try to turn the ship around, and Harris is clearly ready to be the one to lead and help them do so.
Turnovers, defensive struggles cost Magic
Not often does a team shoot nearly 53 percent from the field and lose. However, the Magic were able to find a way to do so against the Pistons.
Coach James Borrego quickly pointed out two areas that cost the Magic: free throws and the boards. Borrego cited Detroit's 27 free throws and 12 offensive rebounds as big reasons why the Magic fell, despite having one of their better statistical offensive showings of the season.
"Too many fouls there, and unnecessary fouls on our part, so we have to be much better defending without fouling," said Borrego. The interim coach also gave Detroit credit for having guys who were able to force the issue and get to the line.
As for rebounding, Borrego said that the Pistons' 12 offensive rebounds really allowed them to stay in the game early. "Those were some big possessions, especially in the first half. That helped keep them alive."
The 37-year-old head man felt as though his team's half-court defense was "okay" but that it needed to be much better. "Obviously we had two 30-point quarters defensively, and that won't get it done most nights. To be a consistent winner in this league, you can't give up 30-point quarters."
While the Magic's 17 turnovers leading to 23 Piston points were an issue, the team was able to move the ball at a high rate. Their 31 assists were just two off their season high of 33, which also came against Detroit in a win back in November.
Despite the turnovers, Borrego was pleased with how his team moved the ball. "For the most part, I thought the ball moved pretty well. I think we started the game well sharing the ball, moving the ball. The problem was, we had 17 turnovers that led to 23 points for them.
"When they only shoot 46 percent and score 111 points, there's a problem there. So, gotta take care of the ball, can't be casual. Gotta limit our turnovers to help ourselves out. When we didn't turn it over we got some good shots, which is why we finished with 31 assists and we've got to continue that to keep growing."
Orlando's inability to keep the Pistons off the offensive glass, coupled with careless fouls and sloppy ball security, ultimately cost them. While they're able to take away a bright spot with how they moved the ball, the other issues proved to be way too big against a Pistons team fading out of the playoff race late.