Orlando Magic fans were more concerned with the status of Vince Carter’s ankle injury than anything happening on the court on Friday night. I know my mind was preoccupied trying to get an update on Vince. The Magic looked like their minds were elsewhere, as well, bumbling to a 95-85 win over the outmanned New Jersey Nets.
It looks as if crisis was avoided in regards to Carter’s ankle. It’s a “mild sprain,” according to Brian Schmitz. Stan Van Gundy said x-rays came back negative in the post-game press conference, and Carter hopes to play Sunday vs. the Raptors. I wouldn’t be shocked to see JJ Redick get the start, though.
The injury derailed a brilliant game from Carter. He connected on 6-of-8 field goals for 16 points, in addition to four assists, in just 14 minutes of play. When Carter is on, it’s a scary thing. Here’s the breakdown of tonight’s game.
1. After the Magic’s opening-night victory against the 76ers, Stan Van Gundy said he wanted to see his team win a game with their defense. We saw that tonight. Orlando’s offense produced little once Carter went down, looking out of sync and clearly hurting from the absence of two all-stars in the primary lineup. That meant it was time for Orlando’s defense to win a game — and they responded. The Nets’ best three players —Devin Harris, Brook Lopez and Courtney Lee — went 15-of-43 from the field, and the Nets simply don’t have the talent to compete with a team like the Magic without production from their stars. New Jersey saw very few open shots on their way to a 38-percent shooting night.
2. JJ Redick filled in nicely for Vince Carter. Nobody except Dwight Howard played more than JJ Redick, and even though Redick’s stat line isn’t jaw-dropping — 28 minutes, 12 points, 2 assists, 4-of-10 shooting — he certainly showed up to the occasion. Redick filled his spots on defense, did an adequate job on Courtney Lee and took care of the ball (no turnovers).
3. Courtney Lee vs. Ryan Anderson. Advantage: Anderson. Courtney Lee led the Nets with 18 points, but he did so inefficiently — he took 17 shots and didn’t create other opportunities for his teammates. Anderson blended in with the Magic’s offense, scoring 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting (his one rebound in 23 minutes is somewhat unsettling, though). So far, it appears the Magic may have gotten the best of the deal because Anderson is more useful to the Magic than Lee would be at this point. Of course, it’s easier to post solid numbers when you’re surrounded by Dwight Howard and Vince Carter instead of Devin Harris and Brook Lopez, but still — the Magic have no regrets about the deal.