Van Gundy Disappointed With Effort, Howard Promises Results
Things are about to change.
And that's not a good sign for the already-beleaguered Indiana Pacers, and especially for center Roy Hibbert, tonight.
It was Hibbert, the lightly-regarded yet steadily improving center who embarrassed Howard earlier this month by getting 26 points and eight rebounds to lead his team to victory over Orlando.
"He had an awesome game, but that won't happen again,'' Howard said confidently Wednesday after an early workout. "He had a good game, but like I already said, it won't happen again. We'll do whatever it takes to get out of this little funk people think we're in.''
While Howard was making promises, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was railing on his team's disappointing mid-season struggles, tracing the problem directly to what most consider a non-negotiable issue.
"I'm not into that psychological crap,'' Van Gundy said. "We're having to spend too much time, quite honestly, just on emphasizing the need to play harder and with more energy. That should be a given by now.''
After a 17-4 start, the defending Eastern Conference champs have slumped to 9-11, losing seven of their last nine games. They have fallen behind the Atlanta Hawks into second place in the Southeast Division. They have watched the Cavs open a sizeable lead in race for the best record in the East.
The Magic (26-15) lately have struggled badly, looking nothing like the team that made such a confident run into the NBA Finals last spring, beating Philadelphia, Boston and Cleveland along the way.
They made significant changes this summer, adding five new players, including Vince Carter, who is having his least productive season since his rookie year in the league. Howard, Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson -- all named to the All-Star team last season -- have not played as well this season. All three have seen their scoring averages drop significantly as they adapt to Carter's high-profile presence.
"Right now, it's such a teamwide thing -- not playing hard enough or well enough -- that making any (lineup) change would be like throwing something against the wall,'' Van Gundy said. "If it was one guy, I'd make a change, but it's not one guy. It's teamwide. We're not playing hard enough.''