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News » Magic look to regain focus against Wizards

Magic look to regain focus against Wizards

Magic look to regain focus against Wizards
Sunday was not a good day to be an Eastern Conference division leader.

East front-runners Orlando (Southeast), Boston (Atlantic) and Cleveland (Central) all had losses to open the week.

Those setbacks certainly would mean more in March or April than early January, of course.

For a Magic team staring at three division matchups to close the week, though, Sunday's 108-102 loss to Toronto did heighten awareness with Washington visiting Amway Arena tonight at 7.

The Wizards, still without injured guard Gilbert Arenas, enter just 7-25.

But they were one of Sunday's big winners and sneaked past a noticeably flat Cleveland team 80-77 on Sunday.

The Raptors were just 13-20 before beating the Magic.

"To us it is [a big deal]," Magic forward Rashard Lewis said.

"It was a real frustrating loss to us. We feel like it was a game we should have got [against Toronto] and that we need to get. We have tough games coming up this month and these are the types of games we need to win."

Led by a 39-point effort by Dwight Howard, the Magic's problem in its loss to Toronto was less about being flat than what Coach Stan Van Gundy called a lapse in mental focus.

He gave his team the day off Monday to rest and recoup.

It likely will be its only break of the week with back-to-back showdowns with Atlanta over a three-day period starting Wednesday.

Entering the week, Atlanta was 22-11 (3.5 games back of the Magic) and like Orlando had won eight of its last 10.

As disappointed as he was in how his team came out in Toronto, Van Gundy scoffed at the notion that any game in the NBA is a give-me win.

"I feel like that it's always a bad way to look at it whenever you talk about games you're supposed to win," Van Gundy said.

"Everybody in this league has talent to beat you on any night and we have to approach it like that."

Wizards forwards Antawn Jamison (20.8 points per game) and Caron Butler (20.5 ppg) have shouldered most of Washington's offensive load with Arenas yet to play a game this season.

They've also had to adjust to the November coaching change from Eddie Jordan to interim coach Ed Tapscott.

It hasn't translated into a lot of wins for Washington and they were blown out in both of their previous two meetings with the Magic.

But much like the Raptors did against Orlando on Sunday, the Wizards did enough little things to upend the Cavaliers -- winning the rebounding and free-throw percentage battles.

"The division is definitely a lot better than it was last year," Lewis said. "We got off to a good start, but when you look at the stats, Washington beat Cleveland and Atlanta is right behind us.

"Any kind of slip up, [Atlanta] can catch us and be leading in the division. So we have to stay focused and continue to win ball games."

Asked if there was any added incentive with the Hawks spoiling the Magic's season opener back on Oct. 29?

"It's going to be important," Lewis said.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: January 8, 2009


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