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Magic Notebook

His response a pointed one

Coach doesn’t like blame game

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / May 24, 2010

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Stan Van Gundy realizes that the finger-pointing has already begun for his Magic team after losing the first three games of the Eastern Conference finals against the Celtics. Unless the Magic miraculously rally and advance to the NBA Finals, there could be major changes in store.

So the embattled coach not only needs to prepare his players for tonight’s Game 4, he needs to prevent them from looking ahead to a potentially tumultuous offseason.

Of course, there will be plenty of time to dole out blame for the demise, but there is at least one more game to play and Van Gundy wants his club to display at least the remnants of what made it a 59-win team that cruised through the first two rounds.

“People want to escape and then people start worrying about where the blame is going to be placed,’’ he said yesterday following the Magic’s workout at TD Garden. “It’s not just players. It’s coaches and everybody. Instead of having the mental toughness in a situation like this to get yourself ready to play Game 4, you start subconsciously making comments to separate and let everybody know, ‘It’s not my fault.’ Coaches can do it as well as players. You have to avoid that.’’

Van Gundy continued to lament over Saturday night’s 94-71 Game 3 loss; his team never led and never made it competitive after trailing, 21-6.

“I’ll be honest, I’m somebody who says I’m never shocked but I was shocked that we didn’t play with more intensity and determination,’’ the coach said. “We had three days to get ready. I gotta take a lot of responsibility for that. We did not play the way we needed to play.

“But I’m also not crying in my soup. I haven’t done a good job and I need to do a better job and that’s the way I think the players need to think. The series isn’t over and I plan to do a much better job [tonight].’’

Moving picture
Van Gundy took a break from assessing the mental state of his team to analyze the key to the Celtics’ success. Boston is shooting nearly 46 percent in the series and 43 percent from the 3-point line.

“I would say the thing where they have really excelled in this series, their ball movement offensively has been incredible,’’ Van Gundy said. “Even when we were watching our defensive clips today, the point I made to our guys is they’re not scoring any more on their first or second option than we are. But they have been willing to make the third or fourth pass.

“To me, that has been the biggest difference in the series.’’

Tuning this out
The Magic players were questioned about Jeff Van Gundy’s statement during ESPN’s telecast of Game 3 that a Game 4 wasn’t necessary, given Orlando’s effort. “We don’t care,’’ center Dwight Howard said. “It doesn’t matter what he says. He was the same guy that said we were going to get beat by Charlotte.’’ . . . The Magic have only three free agents — Anthony Johnson, Adonal Foyle, and Jason Williams — while Matt Barnes has a $1.6 million option he may pass on to explore the free agent market. The core of Orlando’s team is signed through at least next season.

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com.

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