Cohen Courtside: Magic vs. Knicks (4/5/12)



By Josh Cohen
April 5, 2012


In Cohen Courtside, Josh Cohen examines the state of the Orlando Magic after games this season. He will tackle sidebar storylines and focus on topics that stretch far beyond the box score. There will also be some analysis on league-wide subjects.

DISTRACTIONS RETURN; MORE OBSTACLES TO OVERCOME


ORLANDO -- This unforeseen and disappointing stretch started with a miserable performance against the Knicks and the Orlando Magic hope it ends with a glum effort against the Knicks.

It was just over a week ago when the Magic arrived in New York with unbounded confidence and a feeling they were starting to convince NBA observers they belonged in all championship discussions.

It was also assumed that when the trade deadline passed and Dwight Howard remained with the only NBA franchise he’s ever played for, all of the distractions and drama were sealed shut until at least the conclusion of this season.

But after Thursday’s unanticipated twist regarding Stan Van Gundy’s proclamation that management has told him that Howard wants him fired, a slew of sudden injuries and Orlando’s dismal loss to the playoff-hopeful Knicks, there is still plenty of undesirable, yet inescapable, drama encircling the Magic.

We have seen this script played out before. Remember, back in January when Orlando was dealt two unimaginable defeats to Boston in the midst of some other dreary losses and everyone implied the season was coming to a crashing halt.

Gradually, however, Orlando recovered and eventually convinced Howard that a championship contender was thriving in Central Florida.

The Magic are in the middle of another exasperating stretch. They are dealing with more turbulence all while the competition around them is flourishing.

They are watching their playoff seed drop game-by-game yet they know they must dig deeper than ever to escape the mayhem.

Thursday morning’s surreal interview session had an impact on the team. Howard’s non-Superman like stats, eight points and eight rebounds, is numerical proof.

Maybe his back is still bothering him; perhaps he just wasn’t completely focused. Whatever the reasons, Dwight’s performance on Thursday against the Knicks didn’t help inspire his teammates.

And still without Ryan Anderson (ankle) and losing Hedo Turkoglu before halftime after his eye got slashed on a Carmelo Anthony drive didn’t help matters at all.

On top of all this, Jason Richardson continues to struggle mightily from 3-point range (2-of-9 on Thursday) and Orlando’s defensive commitment remains a work in progress.

You hope there will be no permanent bruise in the locker room after what transpired with Van Gundy and Howard before Thursday’s game. You hope it’s just a short-lived thunderstorm that will eventually clear up for sunny skies.

The Magic will hop on a flight to Philadelphia as they prepare for a contest against the Sixers. Some may argue that Saturday’s affair is a must-win in some respects. With five straight losses and with home-court advantage in the First Round of the playoffs potentially slipping away, a victory against Philly could help resolve many of Orlando’s current problems.

The only loss that lasts a while in people’s minds is the one that ends a season. This is the regular season, which means this recent skid could easily be erased with a big road win.

That’s the mindset the Magic must carry with them to the City of Brotherly Love.

Do you think the Magic will beat the Sixers on Saturday?
Do you think the Magic will beat the Sixers on Saturday?
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