As happy as he was in the minutes after the Orlando Magic's bounceback win over Washington on Tuesday, Coach Stan Van Gundy was also shaking his head. His team had made strides to get back on track after a week-opening loss in Toronto.
It didn't change the fact that he felt his team was struggling with deficiencies at shooting guard going into the first of two straight matchups against Atlanta.
Starter Mickael Pietrus was in street clothes with his latest injury. Keith Bogans also was sitting with a sore ankle and Van Gundy wasn't terribly impressed with rookie Courtney Lee's first career start. It didn't help the psyche any that Wizards guard Caron Butler had just scored 29 points.
"Look, we're struggling at that position," Van Gundy said after the Wizards' game. "We can't limit anybody at that position right now. . . . We've got to find somebody who can at least hold their own a little bit."
Judging from their performance Wednesday in Orlando's 106-102 win over Atlanta, it seems that both Lee and J.J. Redick were listening to their coach's critiques.
As the Magic return home for part two of consecutive games against the Atlanta Hawks tonight, two shooting guards who have mostly been understudies this season are finding renewed confidence.
Lee had 11 points and helped hold Hawks leading scorer Joe Johnson to just 13 points. Redick continued to recover from an early-season shooting slump with 11 points in 19 minutes to lead the bench.
"That's one of the reasons I'm out there is to play defense and step up to the challenge," Lee said. "It was Joe Johnson [Wednesday] and it will be again [tonight]. I just keep telling myself that it starts with defense."
Lee has become noticeably more assertive, particularly on the offensive end. He is expected to make his third consecutive start tonight.
In his two starts to date he is averaging 9.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game while averaging nearly 33 minutes.
Van Gundy remained optimistic about Redick after the former first-round draft pick started the season in a dismal slump.
"You've got to have a lot of respect for him," Van Gundy said. "He started in the year in the rotation and then we took him out. Then he was starting a little bit and we took him out. Now he's back in. He just keeps plugging away and I hope he continues to do that because it's a big help to us."
The performances by Lee and Redick have been noticed by teammates.
"They're stepping up with Pietrus out and Bogs also hurting," Rashard Lewis said. "We're going to need them to keep doing it. Later in the season when we get everybody back we're still going to need it."
Redick is all too familiar with the other side of individual success, though. It's why he is concentrating on that team concept, no matter how good it might feel to be contributing more right now.
"We know these are games they've probably had circled," he said. "We've got to come out and set the tone early. It could be a turning point in the season in terms of winning this division."