There will undoubtedly be conclusions made after tonight’s 110-105 preseason win over the Dallas Mavericks. Players will be judged and rotations will be finalized. In last season’s preseason opener, Jameer Nelson struggled from the field and Dwight Howard sunk his free throws, both of which drew determining statements (“I told you we needed a new point guard!” “Dwight’s been working on his free throws!”) from fans; how did that turn out? It’s important to remember that this is the first of more than 100 games this season. A lot will happen from now till next June. Heck, a lot will happen from now till the end of October. Anyway, here are some quick notes from the game.
Did you ever have a big zit on your face and were extra nervous and self-conscious going to school that day because of it? Then, early in the day, one of your classmates makes a joke about the zit in an attempt to put you at ease, but really the joke just made you realize that it’s noticeable to everyone else? Well, that’s what I feel like when Howard called Vince Carter “Half-man, half-retired” last night. Sure, Howard was just joking and Carter still led the team in scoring, but all jokes stem from a semblance of truth. And I think all Magic fans were kind of hoping Carter was still the same guy who was dunking over 7-footers a few years ago.
Carter did look pretty good, though. His 21 points led the Magic and he showed a nice burst on several drives toward the hoop. 12 3-point attempts is too many, though, especially in 28 minutes.
Jason Williams was the first sub off the bench, and Anthony Johnson played zero minutes. While Johnson will probably come off the bench on Wednesday, it’s still important to note that Williams is the front-runner early on, even if no one will say so.
Brandon Bass received a loud ovation from the crowd. That says more about a player than any box score or scouting report will.
I was surprised to see Ryan Anderson receive a DNP-CD. Really shows you how much depth the Magic have when a player who started 30 games last season can’t even crack the rotation on this team.
You can’t ignore the efficiency and activeness of Matt Barnes, who finished with 16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, no turnovers and a team-high +12. Of all the Magic’s signings – well, outside of Jason Williams, of course – Barnes was the biggest question mark because his game is so difficult to define. But if that’s what Barnes’ game will be – a little bit of everything – then that’s awesome. Barnes didn’t start the game in favor of Pietrus, but that could flip-flop sometime soon.
Howard made 9 of 17 free-throw attempts, but at least he was over 50 percent.