For all of the awesome basketball we saw yesterday, from the hopefully first of many Bulls/Heat grudge matches to the newest addition to the Spurs/Mavericks litany of classics over the years, the Orlando Magic wrapped up their worst week ever with one final ridiculous blowout, at home to the Indiana Pacers, 106-85.
It was basically the opposite of a capstone, an exclamation point of sorts. Verifying that what we’ve seen this week actually happened, and that while one game every so often — especially in a season where rest is critical and waving the white flag will take place more than usual — will get out of hand, a week’s worth of embarrassments like these for a team that fancies itself a championship contender, are somewhat surreal to see crawling across the bottom of your television screen. This week was no fluke; the Magic were too consistent for that.
To recap: Monday, a 56-point output against a severely undermanned Boston Celtics team; Tuesday, a bounce-back blowout of the Indiana Pacers; Thursday, the real kicker of the week, most likely, the blown 27-point lead and loss at home to the same beat-up Celtics; Friday, a 26-point pounding at the hands of the New Orleans Hornets, the worst team in the Western Conference, and finally last night’s brutal second half and subsequent loss, sealing the 1-4 week.
Of course, this is about more than losing four of five games in a week. It is about how they lost, how the Magic couldn’t stop themselves from getting punked off the floor on three separate occasions, and how, on Thursday, Boston’s comeback, once everyone became aware it was happening, seemed inevitable. Orlando didn’t just get beat this week, they seemingly lost the desire to save face in defeat.
And it will probably put even more heat under the chair of General Manager Otis Smith. In addition to the constant Dwight Howard trade cloud hanging over the franchise, how long will Smith be able to watch this team lay down and resist the urge to do something? As we’ve seen in the past, Smith is not afraid to pull the trigger on trades that shake things up, in the spirit of trying to catch lighting in a bottle, worrying about the consequences later. When does a GM decide that a team is broke on a different level than match-ups and skill, and that it’s time to simply move on?
Whether that time has come or not, at least in Smith’s mind, remains to be seen. The same can be said for any possible moves that would be made; nothing is automatic. Whether this pushes the needle in any direction regarding Howard’s future as well, is hard to say.
Nobody comes out looking very good after a week like that. Better play, and, more importantly, a stand of some sort from the Magic, a sign that this most recent shellacking on Sunday left — on top of the others from the week — a smear on the team’s image large enough that they’ll now want to clean off, should be where Orlando starts the rebuilding. Anything other than that would simply be blowing up, or, more to the point, imploding.
Griffin Gotta contributes to The Hoop Doctors and is a co-managing editor of Straight Outta Vancouver. The story arcs and infinite weirdness of the NBA are addictions he deals with every day. Email him at griffingotta at gmail dot com.