The Orlando Magic are 12-7, but they’re headed nowhere in a hurry.
It is hard to imagine a so-called elite team ever having a worse week in the NBA than the Magic just endured. They scored a franchise-low 56 points in a 31-point loss in Boston. At home three days later, given a chance for retribution against the Celtics, they led by 27, then collapsed in the second half and lost by eight — a historic 35-point turnaround.
They followed that giveaway by scoring just 67 points against the Hornets, losing by 26 to a 3-15 team that had lost its previous nine games.
But that’s not why they top our list of NBA teams with big-time chemistry problems. It was what happened after Friday’s loss in New Orleans that qualifies the Magic as the league’s smelliest toxic waste dump.
Dwight Howard, the All-Star center who has made it abundantly clear he wants out of Orlando, called out his teammates after the fiasco in New Orleans, telling them “if you don’t want to play, stay home.”
Great players earn the right to call out their teammates when circumstances warrant — both Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were known to do so, though rarely in a public forum — but Howard lost his call-out card when he asked the Magic to move him.
Orlando isn’t the only team with chemistry issues. Express-News NBA beat writer Mike Monroe singles out four more teams whose personnel experiments are producing that acrid odor of rotten eggs:
Their problems began three years ago when Gilbert Arenas brought guns into their locker room, and they have been trying to sterilize their facilities ever since. They dumped Arenas (ironically enough, on the Magic) and added the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft but remained an example of Players Gone Wild. So Flip Saunders, a highly regarded basketball thinker, was fired as head coach last week because he had “lost the locker room.”
NEW YORK KNICKS
They have got an offense predicated on a fast pace and plenty of ball movement. Trouble is, they’ve got no point guard to run the break and two players, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, who stop the ball once it gets in their hands. It’s hard to imagine Mike D’Antoni can survive a season that isn’t likely to turn around any time soon.
Michael Jordan may well be the greatest player in the history of the game, but he has been a disaster as a GM of the Wizards and, now, as owner of the Bobcats. MJ’s team went into Saturday losers of seven straight and 13 of 14, with rookie Kemba Walker now taking more shots than anyone and making only 16 of his past 50.
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
Just like Anthony and Howard, their best player made it known he wanted out. When Chris Paul was traded to the Clippers, their fans felt betrayed and their new players were less than thrilled. Now Eric Gordon has turned down their contract-extension offer and Chris Kaman has been told to stay home from road trips so he can be traded. Being 4-15 doesn’t help.