Denton: Magic-Pistons Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
January 24, 2011

ORLANDO – Memories are sometimes tricky things. Not all of them are always pleasant, and on Monday night the Orlando Magic got a nightmarishly bad blast from the past that sparked thoughts of demons from years gone by.

When the Magic turned the ball over 16 times and got shredded defensively on the perimeter in a particularly unsightly 103-96 loss to Detroit it reminded long-time Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson of a time when the Pistons used to routinely have their way with the Magic.

``You always think before the game about the butt-kickings that they used to give us back in the day,’’ Nelson said while shaking his head. ``They’re a different team now, but they still play the same way. Their legacy is always going to be where it is.’’

Carrying the blast from the past theme a step further, former Magic guard Tracy McGrady was one of three Detroit players with 20 points. The Pistons (17-28) also got 20 points from Tayshaun Prince and a career-best 20 more and four 3-pointers from Austin Daye.

And this time the Magic (29-16) couldn’t shoot themselves beyond their defensive troubles because they hit on just seven of 27 3-pointers and their 16 turnovers led to 26 Pistons points. The loss ended Orlando’s eight-game home winning streak at Amway Center and left franchise center Dwight Howard (20 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots) muttering and head coach Stan Van Gundy steaming.

``Guys just have to want to play, that’s it,’’ said Howard, who was frustrated about getting only two fourth-quarter shots (both off offensive rebounds) and too many blow-bys defensively on the perimeter. ``Either we get it together or we’re just going to be a playoff team that doesn’t win a championship.’’

Added Van Gundy: ``Right now, and I told them afterwards, we depending on our shooting and we’re not going to win when we made seven of 27 threes because our defense isn’t good enough and we’re not committed enough to it. Thankfully, we shoot it well a lot of nights. But we’re not a contender until we take some pride on the defensive end and do it for 48 minutes and not try to do it for 12. Hopefully, we’ll learn something. I don’t know, but we’ll find out.’’

The Magic never led in the second half and trailed by 14 points late in the third period on a three-point play by McGrady. Orlando made a couple of charges – getting back to within 79-75 and 95-90 – but could never overtake a Pistons’ team that resembled their dynasty days.

For the Magic, there was plenty of frustration for a team that had just won three games in a row and looked to be readying itself for a serious push prior to the all-star break. But on this night, the Magic clearly didn’t play with enough intensity or execution to win.

``Everything that we do right now, we’re developing some bad habits,’’ said Nelson, who had 14 points, but was whistled for a frustration technical foul in the fourth quarter. ``It’s kind of like we’re turning a switch on and off and playing hard and not playing hard. We just have to do a better job with our energy, consistency and intensity. We have to get our level of play up there and keep it there.’’

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from a frustrating Monday night at Amway Center: