- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “What upset Stan Van Gundy most is that he had seen it all before. Once again, his team stopped defending after it built a big lead. Once again, his team turned the ball over in bunches. Once again, his team missed lots of free throws. This time, it spelled disaster. An 18-point lead late in the third quarter slipped away, and the Orlando Magic lost 104-94 to the Utah Jazz, who are quickly becoming the comeback kings of the NBA. [...] And also a loss that left Van Gundy puzzled. Just four days earlier, Orlando built an 18-point lead against the Charlotte Bobcats and almost lost. How could the veteran Magic roster fail to learn from that experience? Indeed, what occurred Wednesday night — before a sellout crowd at Amway Center, no less — seemed all too familiar. The Magic turned the ball over 21 times. They missed 11 of their 25 free-throw attempts. They allowed an opponent to shoot 50 percent from the field. Not exactly a championship-caliber performance, was it?”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Just hours after Stan Van Gundy had finally decided on a starting lineup — really, truly, he meant it this time — it went kaboom. It started ticking after only a minute and a half, and before you knew it, bits and pieces of the Ryan Anderson plan were all over the floor. Later, and with plenty of warning, so were the rest of the Magic. Van Gundy might be fiddling around too much with the lineup, but he was right about one thing: Despite the debris from the decision to name Anderson the starting power forward, the Magic still forged an 18-point lead against Utah on Wednesday night. When it was over, the Jazz had claimed another Florida victim, coming back to beat the Magic 24 hours after coming back to stun the Miami Heat. Afterward, Van Gundy conceded he might need to go back in his laboratory and start over.”
- Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “The zone defense is a rarely used tactic in the NBA, and it’s especially rare to see it against a sharp-shooting team like the Orlando Magic. But on Wednesday night, a second-half switch to a zone defensive scheme powered the Utah Jazz to a 104-90 win in Orlando. The Jazz were out of ideas after trailing by as much as 18, and toward the end of the third quarter they mixed things up defensively by going away from man-to-man. [...] The Jazz ended the third quarter on an 9-0 run, cutting a hefty Magic lead to nine. Utah remained in zone defense in the fourth quarter, and the results were negative for Orlando: Howard scored just one point and the Magic made 26.3 percent of their shots in the quarter. The Jazz clicked on offense and outscored the Magic 39-20 in the period.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “The Magic were forced to deal with a painful lesson on Wednesday night when they squandered an 18-point lead following one turnover after another and having no answer defensively for Williams and Al Jefferson. The result – a 104-94 loss to the surging Jazz – was one that Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy dubbed as “disturbing.” The Magic (5-2) saw their four-game winning streak come to an end and they suffered the first-ever loss at the dazzling new Amway Center when they made several uncharacteristic plays late in the second half. Orlando led by 18 points with 96 seconds left in the third period, but came unglued with three straight turnovers and couldn’t slow down Utah (5-3) in a 39-point fourth quarter. Williams scored 17 of his 30 points in the final period.”
- Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “The starting lineup, an issue which Van Gundy seemed to have solved earlier in the day, when he announced Quentin Richardson would start at small forward against smaller teams, and Ryan Anderson at power forward against bigger teams, is suddenly in flux again; Brian Schmitz covered this topic in exceptional depth for the Orlando Sentinel. For the second time in four outings, he benched Anderson in the first quarter and did not play him again. Brandon Bass got the call in Anderson’s place. In the first 90 seconds, Anderson let Millsap establish deep post position and yielded a layup, and also committed two turnovers. Sloan shrewdly cross-matched small forward Andrei Kirilenko, giving him the Anderson assignment, and the 10-year vet used his long arms to poke the ball away from Anderson twice. Van Gundy said he didn’t like Anderson’s “approach” at the start of games. It seems to me–and I don’t know this for sure, it’s only speculation–that Anderson will not see the starting lineup for quite a while.”
- Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: “It was the hard burn in Deron Williams’ eyes. The sight of a Jazz bench jumping skyward with raised fists, bared teeth and smiling faces. And the image of a cast of reserves racing out along the hardwood to bump chests and slap hands, congratulating their teammates as Utah accomplished the improbable once again. All captured the spirit of a team that is quickly becoming defined by its collective heart and strong will. And they represented the fierce fight of a Jazz team that rallied from an 18-point late-third quarter deficit to defeat the Orlando Magic 104-94 on Wednesday night at Amway Center. [...] Utah’s self belief is blooming. The Jazz have now knocked off the Heat and Magic — two of the premier contenders in a top-heavy Eastern Conference — during back-to-back nights on the road, delivering each team its first home defeat. Factor in a double overtime victory over the Los Angeles Clippers last Friday — featuring an 18-point rally and a last-second game winner by Williams — and a Utah team that just a week ago was searching for its early-season identity has suddenly begun to find one.”
"Seen it all before" is a good way to put it. Again I have to ask: are NBA players unable or unwilling to stay focused and intense during the entire game? TrueHoop pointed out we all have off days. What's weird is that sports stars have to constantly explain what happened, and resolve to get it right the next time.
I don't think the Magic are unwilling (lazy) to play at a high level all the time. Perhaps it's simply impossible in pro basketball.