Through the first 25 games of the 2012-13 season, the Orlando Magic were one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. Over those games the Magic held opponents to 98.8 points per 100 possessions. That had the team ranked sixth in the league in defensive efficiency rating. Following that tremendous defensive start by the Magic they began to falter. Many put the blame on Glen Davis missing 11 games due to injury, but he returned on Jan. 14 and still the defense hasn’t improved.
Since Jan. 14 the Magic have allowed 111.6 points per 100 possessions by their opponents. That ranks them dead last in the league in defensive efficiency rating over that period. Now healthy, Jacque Vaughn’s squad must figure out how to get back to their old defensive ways that had them surprising the league.
Last week, Vaughn put the Magic defensive woes down to concentration. He mentioned that earlier in the year the team was very strong defensively, but struggled to score points. Now that they are scoring at a decent clip, the defense has faltered. Vaughn’s job now is to get the Magic players to focus on both ends of the court.
The plan to improve defensively didn’t help on Sunday night. Against a Detroit Pistons team that ranks 23rd in the league in scoring, averaging just 94.8 points a game, the Magic gave up 104 points. Despite the fact that the Magic scored 102 points themselves and had a chance at a miraculous finish following a Jameer Nelson free throw miss, that wasn’t enough. The loss continued a miserable stretch where the Magic have now lost 16 of their last 18 games.
The Magic now sit at 14-29 on the year. With the postseason out of the question for this season, the Magic must simply look for ways to improve. One way the team must improve is on defense without suffering a setback on offense. The Magic have now given up 100 or more points in 12 of their last 15 games while scoring 100 in just eight of those 15 games. That’s something the team must do better in order take steps forward next year.