Denton: Lineup Changes Possible for Game 4

By John Denton
May 3, 2012

ORLANDO – In the wake of the Orlando Magic’s disheartening Game 3 loss to the Indiana Pacers, coach Stan Van Gundy said on Thursday that a starting lineup change ``is on the table’’ as is an entire rotation change.

But those discussions about potential changes came with caveat.

``A lot of things have to change, but what really has to change are our energy level and disposition,’’ Van Gundy said. ``Our point today was that we have absolutely no offense that will work with no energy. Do we have any defensive schemes that will work when we’re not into the ball and when we’re not doing things hard? The numbers say one thing, but I wanted them to see it (on video). The mindset has to change, the disposition and the energy have to change. And then from there you can make some adjustments.’’

Trailing Indiana 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, the Magic know they have to make some changes if they are going to reserve some troubling trends and sling-shot the series back in their favor again. The Magic won Game 1 and led at the half in Game 2 by simply playing harder and more efficient than the Pacers, but Indiana has since grabbed control by executing better late in Game 2 and in Wednesday’s 97-74 Game 3 defeat of Orlando.

The sixth-seeded Magic are well aware that any hopes they have of winning the series revolve around winning Saturday’s Game 4 at the Amway Center. Doing that will not only even up the series at 2-all, but it will also ensure the Magic of at least one more home game in the series against the favored Pacers.

``It’s a must win and we’ve got to have this game,’’ said Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis, the Magic’s lone bright spot in the last two losses.

After the Magic were blasted Wednesday night, Van Gundy reminded his team in the locker room after the game that the result doesn’t count for two victories just because the score was so lopsided. The Magic have been a resilient team all season, battling through the loss of Dwight Howard and an injury to Hedo Turkoglu, and the belief now is that they can still get back into this series.

``We’re only down 2-1. It’s not like it’s 3-0 or something,’’ Ryan Anderson said. ``We have a win and we know that we can beat this team. There’s a lot of hope. But we just have to play better and play harder. We have to have a lot more energy.’’

The Magic are hoping that by fighting through their fatigue and playing with more energy that they can reverse some troubling numbers. Davis, who has averaged 18.7 points in the three games, joked that he was so tired on Thursday that he was going home to sleep in the hyperbaric chamber that he has at his house.

Four of the Magic’s starters – Jameer Nelson (36.8 percent), Jason Richardson (32.1 percent), Ryan Anderson (31.8 percent) and Hedo Turkoglu (36 percent) – are shooting less than 40 percent in the series. Richardson (8 ppg.), Turkoglu (8 ppg.) and Anderson (7.7 ppg.) aren’t averaging double figures after doing so during the regular season. Overall, the Magic are shooting just 39 percent from the floor and 34.4 percent from the 3-point line while averaging just 77.7 points per game.

``We’ve all been talking about it and we just have to be more aggressive,’’ Nelson said. ``Film never lies and the thing that we saw is our energy level has to go up. We have to get out there and play as hard as we can. (The Pacers) are a great team and they’re getting out in the passing lanes and getting steals and rebounds. They’re just playing with a lot more energy and that has to change.’’

The Magic’s plus-minus numbers are lopsided as well because of the starting five’s struggles in the first and third quarters to games. In the three games, the Magic have been outscored by 36 points when Nelson and Turkoglu are on the floor. Richardson is a minus-39, while Anderson is a minus-nine. And even though Davis has carried the Magic for long stretches, scoring 16, 18 and 22 points, he is a whopping minus-53 in his 111 minutes on the floor.

``At the end of the day, me scoring hasn’t really been doing a good job for us. If you look at my production points, with the plus-minus (statistic), I’ve been a minus the last two games even with all of the points I’ve been scoring. It’s a team game,’’ Davis said. ``Yeah, I might have been scoring the ball, but it hasn’t really helped us. So we have to find a way to get other guys involved. The first game we had J-Rich and Jameer with like 17 points and I had 16 and it was spread around the board. We’ve just got to make sure other guys get shots. It just being me isn’t working and we have to bring it elsewhere.’’

Van Gundy could opt to change the starting lineup and the most likely scenario would be returning Redick to the starting five and sitting Turkoglu. That’s the way the Magic had to play over the final three weeks of the regular season when Turkoglu was out with three fractures under his right eye. Turkoglu has struggled mightily wearing the hard plastic mask over his face, while Redick has played solid off the bench while averaging 10.7 points per game.

But everything starts and ends with the Magic’s need to play harder for longer periods of time, Van Gundy said. Maybe no statistic shows that more than the fastbreak points where Indiana holds a 45-7 advantage. Indiana ran its way to a 22-2 edge in Game 2 and held an 18-0 bulge in fastbreak points on Wednesday night.

Van Gundy said the Magic were well aware heading into the series that there was a small margin for error in the series without a healthy Howard in the lineup. The Magic simply have to play harder and play better to get back in the series, and the coach thinks that’s entirely possible.

``We need a lot of guys playing well for us to win and right now we just don’t have that,’’ Van Gundy said. ``But (Friday) is a new day and Saturday is a new game.’’

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com

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