Orlando Magic Notebook: Anderson Stepping Up, Arenas Staying Positive

Ryan Anderson Stepping Up

Just over a month ago, Ryan Anderson had fallen out of Orlando’s rotation in favor of Brandon Bass and Rashard Lewis. Shortly after, Anderson sprained his right foot and that injury cost him nine more games. After Orlando dealt Rashard Lewis to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Gilbert Arenas, leaving Anderson as one of Orlando’s only two power forwards, Anderson rejoined the rotation.

Since returning from his injury, Anderson has played in 14 games, averaging 12.6 points per game and has scored in double figures in 12 of those games.

Anderson led the Magic in scoring for the first time in his young career when he poured in 20 points Wednesday night in Orlando’s overtime victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

“Ryan can do more than just stand out there and shoot threes as you saw tonight,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy told ESPN 1080, following the win.

Anderson’s wide range of improving offensive skills has helped him be so successful over the past month.

“The one thing he can do now is if you switch pick-and-roll he can get in there and post you,” 76ers coach Doug Collins explained. “And when Dwight Howard was out, he was the guy that made all the critical baskets for them. “

“Ryan Anderson killed us,” Collins added.

Of course, Anderson’s forte is still the three-pointer.

“You’ve got to respect the three-point shooting,” Collins said. “And then if you switch he can run you down in the post and hurt us from three.”

Anderson isn’t just doing it on the offensive end – his rebounding numbers are up and he’s playing much better on the defensive end.

“I thought he defended pretty well,” Van Gundy told ESPN 1080.

A season ago when Anderson was filling in for the suspended Rashard Lewis, he was averaging 15.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game and shot at least 50.0% from the field in every game but one before going down with an ankle injury in the sixth game of the season. Once Anderson returned from that injury, he had trouble getting into the same rhythm.

That seemed to be happening again this season until Anderson began to receive more playing time and regained his confidence.

Anderson appears to finally be comfortable in his role and with his playing time.

In fact, Anderson’s been playing so well, Van Gundy was a little upset he left Anderson on the bench throughout the conclusion of the game against the 76ers.

“I was sort of kicking myself at the end and I probably would have kicked myself more since I didn’t get him back in the game late,” Van Gundy said. “He played so so well that if we lost, I’d probably be kicking myself for not having him back in the game.

If Anderson continues to play at a high level, Orlando may not need the big man so many experts think they must acquire.

“Ryan’s been playing great the last couple of games for us,” Jason Richardson said. “We need his energy, his effort like that every time he’s on the floor.”

Gilbert Arenas Staying Positive

Despite Gilbert Arenas’ noted struggles with the Orlando Magic, including Wednesday night’s game in which he scored just two points on 1-of-4 shooting, grabbed one board and dished out just one assist, Arenas is continuing to stay positive, work hard and do his job despite his lack of playing time.

Arenas thinks he’s handling the situation well and is doing a good job as of late despite his recent poor performances statistically speaking.

“I have fun with the second unit bringing the lead back,” Arenas laughed. “For some reason, every time I get in, we’re down 10 and I bring the lead back and I’m happy. I did my job.”

He cited his passes to shooters like Anderson and J.J. Redick as part of “doing his job.”

“Everyone has this perception of me that because I score 28, 29, I’m a scorer but I also had two other players get 20 too (Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison),” Arenas  explained.

“I’m used to playing 40 minutes so I don’t have to just be aggressive all the time,” Arenas said. “So I think that’s one of the problems. I usually have time to find my groove but now when that happens, I’m already out.”

Arenas knows he has a shorter leash with starting point guard and co-captain Jameer Nelson ahead of him on the depth chart.

“Now you’re out there playing not to make mistakes instead of just playing,” Arenas explained.

Arenas understands he has a shorter hook because of Stan Van Gundy’s trust in other players.He’s more familiar with Nelson and J.J. Redick.

Arenas has a better understanding because of the quick trigger Eddie Jordan had when he first became his coach in Washington.

“When I was first with Eddie Jordan, I used to get subbed in 15 seconds,” Arenas chuckled. “He wasn’t used to my style, I wasn’t used to him.

Van Gundy agreed that it’s just a matter of getting comfortable with each other.

“The biggest thing that he’s struggling with is me,” Van Gundy said. “For a point guard, it’s tough.”

“When Rafer [Alston] came in, he had played for me before so he knew I was an [expletive],” Van Gundy added.

Arenas wouldn’t go as far as to say anything negative about his coach but he definitely agrees with him.

“Once you grow on someone, it’s easier and he put all his beliefs in me,” Arenas said.

Arenas is hoping the same thing happens with Van Gundy.

A Few Firsts For The Magic

During Orlando’s victory over the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night, a couple of strange events occurred.

The Magic made not only one four-point play that tied the game in regulation and sent it to overtime but then hit another in overtime to take a three-point lead. Jason Richardson hit the first and J.J. Redick hit the second.

“I’ve never seen that for the end of regulation and then J.J. came in in overtime and hit one,” Richardson said.

“It’s where amazing happens, right?”  76ers guard Lou Williams asked. “Sometimes you are on the winning end of that and sometimes you are on the losing end of that. They made two incredible plays.”

Most involved in the game claimed they’ve never seen anything quite like it.

“I’ve never seen it before,” 76ers coach Doug Collins said. “We give up eight points and lose a one possession game, I’ve never seen that before.”

It was even more surprising to Stan Van Gundy but for different reasons.

“Jason Richardson struggled all night shooting the ball and then hit a four-pointer,” Van Gundy said. “That was just a phenomenal night. J.J. and Jason Richardson, those were their only three point shots they made.

“I have not seen that before,” Redick said. “That was just kind of a bizarre play.”

For Redick, his four-point play was not even the strangest play he made. Instead, it was his clean block.

“I would say, in my career, regular season, it’s my first legitimate block,” Redick explained. “If you look at my stats, I’ve probably had one or two in my career, but they’ve been kind of the swipe down kind, where the guy is kind of going up and sometimes they give you a steal, a couple times they may have credited me with a block but this was a legitimate blocked shot.”

“Actually you guys will probably see Joel Glass (Orlando’s Vice President of Communications) tomorrow at practice start campaigning for defensive player of the year,” Redick added.

News & Notes:

  • Last season, Ryan Anderson scored at least 20 points in a game twice.
  • Brandon Bass recorded his second double-double of the season Wednesday, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
  • Orlando will host Toronto Friday night. The Magic 30-25 all-time against the Raptors and 16-11 at home.
  • The best all-time scoring performance against the Raptors by the Magic came on January 4th, 2009 when Dwight Howard dropped 39 points.
  • They were defeated by the Raptors at the Amway Center back on November 12th when Sonny Weems hit a tie-breaking three-pointer with just seven seconds to play, giving the Raptors a 106-103 lead. They’d hold on for a 110-106 win.
  • Andrea Bargnani scored 27 points in the win while DeMar DeRozan added 26. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 25 points and eight rebounds and Jameer Nelson added 23 points and eight assists.