With their much discussed center, Dwight Howard, having made the decision to stay, one would have expected the Orlando Magic to rally, particularly as they had back-to-back games against the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls—rather they did the opposite.
The Magic were last seen in the third quarter of the Miami game. They weren't seen at all last night against the Bulls as they amassed just 59 points on the game. It was an offensive performance that was the wrong kind of offensive, i.e. "UH-fensive" more than "AH-fensive."
It's pretty clear from that game that Stan Van Gundy has lost the team. When in a game of that magnitude you can't rally your team to bring a modicum of effort, there's a problem at the helm.
After the game Van Gundy said, "Our offense was pathetic, and that's something that I have got to take a look at because we've got better players than that," he said. "I don't want to lay it on one or two guys, and I also don't want to absolve anybody. This is a team-wide thing."
But that's the problem. The Orlando Magic have stuck to this same formula for "winning" year after year and year after year, it's the same result.
The strategy is simple. Use all your other players to stretch the court out for Howard and then feed him the ball inside. If he doesn't have a shot he kicks it out to any one of the three-point shooters.
During the Van Gundy era the Magic have attempted 9,813 three-point shots and made 3,706 of them. That's more than 800 more attempts than any other team and nearly 600 makes more than any other team.
The Magic are 198-92 when they make more than one-third of their three-point attempts. They are 53-52 when they make fewer than them. It's a pattern that Magic fans, and the Magic themselves have seen over and over again.
The Magic beat the same Bulls team that thrashed them last night just over a week ago in Chicago when they were red-hot from deep, hitting 11-of-26. They beat the Heat two nights later when they were 11-of-28 from deep.
The Magic are a team that when the three-pointer is falling, but you can't hang your hat on that to get you through round after round of the playoffs. Van Gundy seems almost committed to not having a player put the ball on the floor and drive to the rim or make a mid-range jumper.
It's as though everything is either players making it from deep. Van Gundy has no backup plan. When the deep ball isn't falling, teams can double-team Howard and make the Magic look decisively average.
Van Gundy's lack of flexibility and adjustments in his strategy, not only in game, from game to game and season to season has the coach losing the Magic when the Magic are losing. It's time for a replacement at coach. Maybe Howard needs to exercise his authority.