Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 3/29/12
NEW YORK Never one to mince words, Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was both livid and candid after his teams 108-86 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. And rather than attribute the blowout to one thing, he chose to blame it on everything. We were awful, a brusque Van Gundy said. You could go to everything, we were terrible. We turned it over too much, we didnt rebound, we didnt guard and we didnt move the ball, we didnt make shots and they did. But in his frank evaluation of the teams one-sided loss one that really wasnt nearly as close as the score indicated he stopped short of blaming the person who, perhaps, was most responsible for his teams half-hearted attempt at professional basketball in front of a frenzied house at Madison Square Garden. Dwight Howard, whose free-agency saga has cast a cloud over the Magic locker room all season, scored just 12 points on Wednesday nine below his season average and had more turnovers (six) than rebounds (five) in the loss. He looked disengaged and aloof at times against the shorthanded Knicks, who were playing without starting point guard Jeremy Lin and star big man Amare Stoudemire, and the residual effect on his teammates was unquestionable. The Magic were overwhelmed on the glass, 49-34, by a team that was essentially starting three guards, and Howard, the leagues leading rebounder at 14.5 per night, was as inactive on the boards as hes been all season. It was the star big mans second-worst rebounding performance of the season he had just four in a win over Sacramento in January and it was only the ninth time hed been held to single digits all year. Howard had just one rebound and five turnovers in the telltale third quarter, when the Knicks lead ballooned to as many as 39, and five Knicks players Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Baron Davis, Iman Shumpert and Josh Harrellson had as many or more rebounds than Howard on Wednesday night. Van Gundy didnt directly call out Howard for a lack of effort after the game and maybe he should have but there was still little question at whom his displeasure over Orlandos horrid rebounding performance was mostly directed. They were playing small, and we got crushed on the boards, Van Gundy said. That tells me that the effort wasnt there. I just told them, Ill take the blame offensively weve got to have a better plan for what they were doing but if you give up 16 offensive rebounds to a team thats playing small, then thats an effort problem. A careless showing out of the Magic surely did them in on Wednesday, but of larger concern, however, was Howards effort when he was no longer in the game. With the Magic trailing 99-74 with just more than five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Howard and point guard Jameer Nelson could be seen joking and laughing at the end of the bench during a time out while Van Gundy brought the rest of the team in for what was surely a reaming. Sure, Howard and Nelson had been out of the game for some time, and the discussion in the huddle was certainly not directed at them, individually. But what kind of example does their complete dismissal of the huddle set for the rest of the Magic bench? What does it say to the teammates when Howard and Nelson the teams two captains, no less decide that its OK to mentally check out just because their team is down? This is a group that has already been dragged around throughout Howards on-again, off-again trade demand saga, and whether he intends it or not, sitting off to the side and laughing during a time out in an embarrassing blowout loss projects the same message that Howard has from Day One: Im only here for you when things are going my way. Its troubling enough for a teams franchise player to be a lackadaisical rebounder from time to time, but at least he can make up for that the next night, and turn it on and grab 20 boards which hes done nine times this season. But theres never any excuse for being an apathetic teammate, and thats something Howard, in his eight years in the league, has yet to fully learn. Unfortunately for the Magic, that unspoken message of indifference from Howard is nothing new, and its become something of a habit when he doesnt feel hes as active in the offense as he should be. Howard is not always what one might call the consummate team player, and the lingering effect of his frustration over a lack of touches often manifests itself in the form of a perfunctory effort somewhere else. In two games at Madison Square Garden this season, Howard has combined for just 20 points (on 7-of-13 shooting) and 15 rebounds, while turning the ball over 12 times and committing 10 fouls. Howard has had eight or fewer field goal attempts on five occasions this season, and hes been held below his season average in rebounds in each of those games, as well. Only twice has Howard still hit his season rebounding average in a game when he scored fewer than 15 points. But after the dust settles on these types of games, Howard, like his coach, usually chooses to spread the blame evenly rather than hold himself to a higher level of accountability. "Its the same thing Ive been telling the guys: Our effort has to be consistent, Howard said Wednesday. If we want to win a championship, every guy has to buy in to playing the right way every night. If we dont do that, were going to be sitting at home early." If Orlando does, indeed, find itself sitting at home early, Howard could have a new set of teammates to throw under the bus sooner than the Magic would prefer. But if that happens, there will be no one to blame but Howard himself. And if Howard is looking for evidence, he can point to games like Wednesdays for all the proof he needs. Follow Sam Gardner on Twitter: @sam_gardner
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Knicks, Carmelo Anthony pushing for trade by Monday

Cody Bellinger cracks great joke after Dodgers clinch

La Liga title race far from over as Barcelona and Real Madrid battle it out

Why the Miami Heat may begin losing relevance

Report: Jeter plans to fire multiple Marlins special assistants

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Carmelo Anthony sets up YouCaring page to help people in Puerto Rico

Kyle Shanahan takes jab at controversial pass interference call

Le'Veon Bell on precipice of amazing Steelers record

Andre Ward: A champion’s career comes to a close

Tigers will not retain manager Brad Ausmus

15 key questions for NFL Week 3

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mayor Garcetti rolls back the NFL red carpet

The 'Greatest Show temporarily not on turf' quiz

Separating MLS playoff contenders from pretenders

WNBA Finals preview: Lynx look for revenge against Sparks

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

NFL Week 3 predictions

The 'MLB is as powerful as ever' quiz

After a decade in the WNBA, MVP Sylvia Fowles is ready for the spotlight

College football 2017 Week 4 predictions

10 teams that can unseat the Warriors in 2018

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mayor Garcetti rolls back the NFL red carpet

The 'Greatest Show temporarily not on turf' quiz

Separating MLS playoff contenders from pretenders

WNBA Finals preview: Lynx look for revenge against Sparks

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

NFL Week 3 predictions

After a decade in the WNBA, MVP Sylvia Fowles is ready for the spotlight

The 'MLB is as powerful as ever' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker