- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Stan Van Gundy reached into his bag of rhetorical tricks Wednesday — all the way back to his seventh-grade phys-ed class. Van Gundy and his classmates were about to do a six-minute run as part of a physical-fitness test, and one of Van Gundy’s friends asked, ‘Coach, how do we pace ourselves in this?’ The P.E. teacher responded, ‘Gentlemen, go out as fast as you can and gradually increase your speed.’ Van Gundy recounted that anecdote as the Orlando Magic prepared to face the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 Thursday night at Philips Arena. The Magic trail the series three games to two and need to win to stave off elimination. [...] If there’s been any commonality to the Magic’s road losses in this series — aside, that is, from Orlando’s awful shooting and poor perimeter defense — it’s been slow starts by the Magic. In those defeats, the Magic didn’t meet the Hawks’ energy level early on. The result: Orlando never led in the first quarter and never led by more than two points in either of the games. Those poor beginnings spurred the Hawks’ notoriously late-arriving fans and made Philips Arena a tough venue for the Magic.”
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Whether the Orlando Magic win or lose their first-round series to the Atlanta Hawks, coach Stan Van Gundy and General Manager Otis Smith both will be coming back next season. Magic CEO Bob Vander Weide told the Sentinel on Wednesday that he and owner Rich DeVos‘ family feel comfortable and confident in Van Gundy and Smith. [...] Smith and Van Gundy received contract extensions last summer through the 2012-13 season. The Magic’s struggles against the Hawks, plus their slide to 52 wins this season after two questionable mid-season trades, drew speculation about job security for Van Gundy and Smith — Smith in particular.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “With his Orlando Magic seemingly down on their luck and desperate to somehow save their season, owner Rich DeVos made his way to the locker room to offer up what just might have been the biggest assist of the night. DeVos, one of the richest men in the world, told the Magic players down in the series against the Atlanta Hawks about a time when he could relate to their plight as frustrated and feeling hopeless. With his Amway empire still in its infancy, DeVos told the players of how he unsuccessfully traveled to China three different times in an attempt to grow his fledgling business. Just as he was about to give up, DeVos gave it a go for a fourth time – and this time the results were dramatically different. ‘The fourth time, we got it going and now we have a $5 billion business in China,’ DeVos told the team. The message applied to the Magic because they were down 3-1, but responded Tuesday night to stave off elimination by whipping the Atlanta Hawks 101-76 at the Amway Center. Clearly, the message about perseverance resonated with the Magic. Franchise center Dwight Howard’s eyebrows raised and Chris Duhon audibly muttered the word, ‘Wow!’ when DeVos talked about the powers of simply sticking with a pursuit.”
- Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “There’s the history of the NBA playoffs, and there’s the recent chronicles of the Hawks. The former gives the Magic just a 4 percent chance to win their best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series against the Hawks after trailing 3-1. The latter is a story of postseason basketball that includes blowout losses, letdowns and series with promising starts followed by excruciating finishes. One bad night in Orlando encapsulated all of that. It’s not just that the Hawks lost Game 5 on Tuesday, it’s that they folded once the Magic surged to a commanding early lead. The nature of the 101-76 defeat is why the Hawks were queried about their state of mind, despite still leading the series 3-2 entering Game 6 on Thursday at Philips Arena.”
- Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “This much is true: The Hawks did not lose game five to Orlando by 25 points solely because Johnson made only two of 12 shots, at least when we even noticed he was on the floor. They all stunk. But Johnson didn’t do nearly enough to prevent the loss – or even collective team humiliation – from happening. And yes, he does deserve a greater share of the blame than Josh Smith or Jamal Crawford or anybody else on the roster because more is expected from him. Such are the little inconveniences that come with a $123.7 million contract.”
". . . the message about perseverance resonated with the Magic. Franchise center Dwight Howard’s eyebrows raised and Chris Duhon audibly muttered the word, ‘Wow!’ when DeVos talked about the powers of simply sticking with a pursuit."
I'd be willing to bet big bucks that they were more impressed by the word "billions" than the message of perseverance. ;>