Denton: Magic-Celtics Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
February 6, 2011

BOSTON – For much of Sunday afternoon, Orlando Magic franchise center Dwight Howard had to feel as if he was not only going one-on-five against the Boston Celtics’ defenders, but more like one-on-nine because of the lack of support from his struggling teammates.

The Magic played with plenty of grit on Sunday, going back physically at the trash-talking Celtics on numerous occasions, but it’s the execution on both ends of the floor that was severely lacking in a 91-80 loss to Boston on Sunday.

Howard had 28 points and 13 rebounds, but there was too little help from a Magic team that shot a dismal 34.4 percent from the floor, made just three of 24 3-pointers and never got closer than eight points of the lead over the final 22 minutes.

Howard’s frustration throughout Orlando’s fifth loss in the last eight games was evident. After the game, the theme of his postgame speech seemed to be more of a plea for help than one where he was calling his teammates out. He knows the vast potential of the Magic (32-20), but he stressed the team needs more players bringing consistently better performances in big games such as Sunday’s against Boston.

``We have a talented group of guys who know how to play ball, but we just have to do it on a consistent basis. It can’t be just one or two guys playing hard and the rest just out there,’’ Howard said. ``It has to be a total team effort, especially when we play against a team like Boston because their total team is going to bring it every night and we have to do the same thing.’’

Orlando saw a dazzling start to the afternoon and a scrappy first half collapse under an avalanche of missed shots and blown defensive assignments. Gilbert Arenas (0 of 7, zero points), Hedo Turkoglu (1 of 10, four points), J.J. Redick (3 of 10, eight points) and Jason Richardson (4 of 11, 10 points) struggled through dismal shooting performances.

``This wasn’t to be negative or to get onto anybody, but if you’re going to come in on the road and play the Boston Celtics, you’re going to need a lot of guys playing at a high level,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``And if you looked out there today, we didn’t have a single perimeter guy play at a high level. You’re just not going to win like that.’’

In a matter of four days, the Magic dropped a four-point home decision to the Miami Heat and an 11-point loss to the Celtics, the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. Orlando is seven games back of Boston and the Magic are hoping they can close the gap over the next 10 weeks before the playoffs.

``We’re not even close, not even in the same ballpark as those guys right now,’’ Van Gundy fumed. ``We can be, but we’re not right now. I think that showed (on Sunday).’’

The Magic are back at Amway Center on Tuesday night to face the Los Angeles Clippers and Rookie of the Year favorite Blake Griffin. Orlando plays in Philadelphia on Wednesday and then has its next seven games at home over the remainder of February.

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Sunday’s no-so-super showdown in Boston:


John Denton writes for E-mail John at Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at