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Magic

Rivers tries to bring it into focus

By RYAN MOLONEY
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 23, 2003

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Coach Doc Rivers kept the team on the practice floor longer than one might expect on the day before a playoff game.

Instead of going over a few perfunctory routines, Rivers ran practice for almost two hours. A lack of early intensity prompted Rivers to extend the affair.

"We didn't play today, fortunately," Rivers said. "We've got to get our focus and we will, so I'm not worried about it."

The lingering jubilation over beating Detroit in Game 1 may have contributed to the malaise.

"What kills me is that the team on the road gets one win and you sometimes get too comfortable; you don't want to do that," guard Tracy McGrady said. "The focus that we had today really wasn't that good coming into practice."

Rivers said the three-day layoff between games is not an excuse.

"This is the playoffs and you need great focus," Rivers said.

GOODEN'S STAR RISING:Forward Drew Gooden received a hail of attention after scoring 18 and adding 14 rebounds on Sunday.

Though some say Gooden may be the Magic's next complement to McGrady, the team does not worry about how the rookie will handle the spotlight.

"He's been in the league now a year, and the playoffs are a second season," guard Darrell Armstrong said. "It was fun for him to see that first playoff game. There were guys yelling and screaming for him on the bench that I never heard before, they were pumped.

"We try to keep him in place and tell him to stay solid, don't go too fast and stay patient."

KEMP A MENTOR: During Sunday's postgame news conference, McGrady singled out forward Shawn Kemp as one of the team's most positive influences.

Kemp's resume includes 82 games of playoff experience, but his public reputation is not as solid. Besieged by personal problems the past few years, Kemp shrugged off the suggestion that the comment was a surprise.

"As long as I get the respect of the guys on this team, that's all that matters," Kemp said.

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