Denton's Notebook: March 19, 2012

By John Denton
March 19, 2012

ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic are one of only two teams to beat the Miami Heat twice this season, and they also own high-profile victories against the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls.

But head coach Stan Van Gundy has a stern warning for his team: The Magic could have a short stay in the playoffs if some of their bad habits continue on defense and with their ball-handling.

``Right now I look at the Bulls, who are the No. 2 offensive team in the league and the No. 2 defensive team in the league. You see those numbers and you say, `championship contender.’ We’re the No. 11 defensive team in the league and that says mediocre,’’ Van Gundy said. ``And then when you are in the bottom quarter of the league in turnovers, you are in a lot of trouble. I’d like a sense of urgency in getting those areas corrected.’’

Van Gundy said because of the NBA lockout there is little time for practice this season and players are having to develop strong habits in games. Consistency has been a major sticking point for the Magic as they have had some big wins, but they have also suffered ugly losses against Charlotte, New Orleans and Detroit.

Van Gundy said the Magic must become a more focused and disciplined team if they hope to make a deep run in the playoffs.

``We’re just not building solid habits and making good enough decisions. And at the end of the day you are going to hit the playoffs and you are going to be left with your habits,’’ Van Gundy said. ``You’re just not going to transform. Teams that turn the ball over all year long aren’t going to hit the playoffs and turn it over eight times because you are suddenly going to concentrate more. No, you are going to play to your habits. If you don’t guard all year, you won’t guard in the playoffs. You’ll be left with what you do.’’

PLAYOFF PUSH: During his four seasons with the Boston Celtics, Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis was a part of a NBA champion (2008), a team that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals (2009), one that lost in the NBA Finals (2010) and one that made it to the second round of the playoffs (2011).

All of that big-game experience has taught Davis of when it’s time to get serious and ratchet up the intensity even higher. With just 19 regular-season games left to play, Davis said it’s time for Orlando to start making a push toward the playoffs.

``It’s time to start getting ready. We don’t have time to play around or make a bunch of excuses,’’ Davis said. ``We have to be there because it’s time to go. We’ve been playing good this year and now that inconsistency level has to change.’’

Davis entered Monday’s game playing much better of late. He had 13 points on six of nine shooting on Friday against New Jersey and he gave the Magic nine points, four rebounds and some solid defense against Miami’s Chris Bosh on Sunday night.

ETC: For the first time all season, Magic reserve shooting guard Von Wafer was deactivated from the roster while healthy. Wafer said before the game that he was surprised to walk into the locker room and not see his jersey hanging in his locker. Wafer, who has played in 23 games, was deactivated so that Orlando could have third point guard Ish Smith available. … Magic point guard Jameer Nelson agreed with Miami coach Erik Spoelstra’s comments on Sunday that Orlando is a serious championship contender. Said Nelson: ``We have the most dominant player in the game (in Dwight Howard) and a lot of really good pieces around him. We just have to keep working at the things that are giving us problems. We just have to value the ball and realize we’re a good enough team when we play the right way.’’ … The Magic will be off Tuesday before hosting the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. It will be the first game back in Orlando for former Magic center Marcin Gortat, who was traded to the Suns last December.

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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