Down 2-1 to Pacers, Magic looking for energy boost
By KYLE HIGHTOWER
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy walked into the Magic's practice session Thursday toting an armload of statistics to illustrate why they've lost two straight games and fallen into a 2-1 series hole against Indiana.
But Van Gundy knows simply harping on numbers the next two days won't be enough to pull his team out of its funk in time for Game 4.
"Our point today wasn't really on adjustments or anything...I wanted them to see it," he said. "I mean the numbers say one thing, but to watch it on film and to see what we're talking about, because the mindsets gotta change, the disposition's gotta change, the energy's got to change.
"And then from there you can make adjustments."
After squandering a late-game lead in Game 1, the Pacers have won two straight by owning the first and third quarters of play.
On Wednesday night in a 97-74 win, they outscored the Magic 32-17 in the third quarter, running their edge in that period for the series to 81-43. In the first quarter that advantage is 69-56.
Indiana also holds a 45-7 edge in fast-break scoring, including a 40-2 mark the past two games.
All that, combined with the Pacers shutting down forward Ryan Anderson as an offensive asset, has found a way to filter through the Magic's rotation and sap the overall energy output on both ends.
Van Gundy said that "everything is on the table" when it comes to possibly shuffling his starting lineup. But even though he credits the Magic's bench for keeping them in games during the first half of the past two losses, that even that unit has been thoroughly handled by Indiana's starters as well.
Orlando co-captain Jameer Nelson said having to address the energy question at all is disappointing, no matter what facets of the game Indiana is taking away from them.
"Film never lies," he said. "And things that we saw today and talked about, that we shouldn't be talking about at this time of year is our energy level has to go up.
"Actually we haven't been trying as much as we should have been. All the things they're doing, they're a great team. They're getting out in the passing lane, getting steals, getting offensive rebounds and all that stuff."
Anderson came into the postseason averaging 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds, making him the Magic's leader in both categories with Dwight Howard out for the season following back surgery. Through three playoff games he's averaging 7.6 points.
He said having players like David West crowd him so much on the perimeter has been an unwelcomed challenge.
"It's hard playing the whole year a certain way and then a team really tries to do everything they can to eliminate you totally," Anderson said.
Van Gundy said he empathizes with the way Indiana has crowded Anderson on pick and rolls to restrict his outside shooting, but that it can't be an excuse for him not to contribute at all.
Whether it's screening to free up teammates or crashing the boards, Van Gundy said something must change for him.
"He's going to have to put a lot more in the game. It's not going to be easy now for him," Van Gundy said. "It's the playoffs, people are going to make adjustments and they've made a conscious effort to take him out and he's not going to get some easy things he got all year. He's going have to work and be tough and he has not done that."
As dominant as his team has been over the past two games, Pacers coach Frank Vogel refused to call Orlando's Game 1 win in Indianapolis a fluke. He said after Wednesday's win that he still considers them a threat the rest of the way.
"They're very prepared, and they've got a great offensive system with their spread pick and roll attack, which is very difficult to neutralize," he said. "Our guys are really dialed in and focusing on how to guard that, but it's still a big challenge and we've got a lot of work to do."
And as lopsided as Wednesday's loss was, at the end of the day the Magic aren't dwelling on it.
Van Gundy said Thursday that it made him think about Pat Riley telling him once about how people counted out his then-L.A. Lakers team following their 34-point loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the 1985 NBA finals.
The game, known as the "Memorial Day Massacre", was followed by the Lakers eventually winning the series 4-2.
The Magic still have a chance to duplicate that outcome.
"You don't get two wins for that," Van Gundy said about Wednesday's loss. "It's a bad game and hopefully we'll learn and see what we need to do, and then you move on. We know we can win in Indy and we have confidence in that. It's all about Saturday right now."
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Updated May 3, 2012