Game Notes: Orlando vs. Toronto

I’ve heard countless stories of Dwight Howard’s sense of humour but before today I had yet to witness this first hand. Today that changed and in a big way. As I walked into Orlando’s locker room, Howard mimicked the teams PR rep’s voice in a playful way and then proceeded to rip on a Toronto beat writer for his fashion choice for the day (bright blue kicks with jeans and a sport jacket).

When Vince Carter rolled through the locker room the laughs continued as he brought up the topic of Master P being part of Toronto’s training camp roster one year.

The jokes didn’t stop once Howard left the locker room as Ryan Anderson, Brandon Bass and J.J. Redick were joking about possible friendly wagers involving haircuts.

Even though head coach Stan Van Gundy feels this team has a lot of gelling to still do on the court, Magic fans will be happy to know the team has already started to gel off the court.

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Speaking of Howard, I was impressed to find out he’s a big MMA fan. Turns out he does some MMA training in the offseason but when it comes to actually getting into the octagon, “If it goes to the ground I’m down. That’s a wrap.”

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Sure, basketball is a business, but getting traded has to suck. You need to leave teammates and countless other people you’ve formed friendships with plus you have the hassle of moving all your stuff across the country.

Unless you’re bitter about you’re situation there’s nothing good about being dealt.

Last season Ryan Anderson enjoyed a highly successful rookie season which saw him average 7.4 points and 4.7 rebounds while playing a shade under 20 minutes per game (19.9). By all accounts Anderson was a great fit and a big part of New Jersey’s youth movement.

That all changed when Orlando and New Jersey made a deal involving Vince Carter that the Magic demanded Anderson be part of.

Despite being disappointed when he first heard about the trade, things have worked out great for Anderson as he’s still part of a team that values him. He’s not only valued but his minutes (24.0) and production (16.0 points per game) are all up this season.

Before the game I was able to chat with Ryan Anderson for a bit about how he felt when he heard he was traded and his role with Orlando this season. Look for that interview to be up on Hoops Addict later this week.

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Man, J.J. Redick’s rap song is really creating a buzz. After the game the media tried to bust his chops about this and Redick opened up about how the idea is gaining some traction on iTunes:

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On a more serious note, one of the impressive things I witnessed tonight was the growth and maturation of Redick as a complete player rather than being just a shooter. Most basketball fans will be drawn to his career-high 27 points, but what caught my attention was the six rebounds he grabbed and five assists he dished out.

After talking with him about his more balanced game I asked him if he saw anything in particular in the Raptors’ defense which gave them the green light to shoot a lot of shots beyond the arc tonight.  During training camp Raptors head coach Jay Triano talked about guarding the house and that some nights that would result in teams getting hot and burning them from beyond the arc. That happened tonight as Orlando went a sizzling 17-32.

Redick was able to provide some insight into what he saw that helped him shoot with confidence behind the arc on the way to going 5-8 from three-point territory:

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Another big story for me was Dwight Howard shooting an impressive 14-16 from the charity stripe.

According to his teammates and coaches, Howard has been putting in a lot of time working on this aspect of his game but it just hasn’t shown up in games for some reason. After shooting 60.% for this career and 41% so far this season it was great to see his hard work start to finally start to pay dividends this afternoon.

Here’s what Stan Van Gundy had to say about this after the game:

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Here’s what Dwight Howard had to say when I asked him about his free throw shooting this afternoon:

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The other big storyline surrounding Howard was the confrontation he had with Chris Bosh in the fourth quarter. Both players have been friends for a number of years but there were some heated words said on the court and tempers flared after Bosh delivered a hard foul.

After the game the media asked a couple of questions about this and from Howard’s body language it was clear he didn’t appreciate the hard contact.

In fact, when asked about this he told one reporter, “I’m accustomed to getting fouled. Does it hurt sometimes? Yeah, but I just try my best not to retaliate but sometimes it does get frustrating.”

Not exactly the kind of words I generally use when talking about playing basketball against one of my close friends.

About the Author

Ryan McNeill Ryan McNeill has appeared on ESPN Radio, MTV Canada, SiriusXM, The Fan 590 and other radio programs and TV shows. He has covered the NBA with media credentials since the 2007-08 season.

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