WDBO Sports Director Scott Anez has seen, or listened to, every Orlando Magic game ever played! A local boy who graduated from Lake Brantley High School and UCF, Scott began his career by covering the Magic's inaugural season in 1989 and he is known as the Voice of the Magic Fan in Orlando. This is Scott's 18th season hosting AM 580 WDBO's Inside Magic, the highest rated sports talk show in Orlando. He also serves as Broadcast Host for the Orlando Magic Radio Network. Scott shares his unique take on what's happening at Two Magic Place and beyond with ANEZ SEZ. Read more of Scott's previous blogs at http://580wdbo.com.




Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, August 10, 2009, 2:02 PM

I Believe You Lew

After being in this business for a while, nothing shocks me anymore.

But, this one totally caught me off guard.

Magic Man Rashard Lewis was suspended by the NBA for the first ten games of the coming season for testing positive for a performance enhancing drug.

These types of headlines are usually reserved for our bungling national pastime.

Baseball's steroid scandal has become laughable. Whether it's David Ortiz, Roger Clemens or Rafael Palmeiro telling us that they have never done steroids, we all have been conditioned to believe otherwise. The end result now is a sports public that has become very suspicious of anyone and everyone wearing a uniform.

You are guilty until proven innocent in today's world of pro sports. That's just the way it is, unfortunately.

While baseball steroid scandal goes on and on and on, stories like this just don't happen in NBA circles.

That's due to the fact that the NBA and the NBAPA have gone to much greater lengths to collaborate, educate and inform players about the dangers of juicing. The NBA has established a much more stringent and detailed testing program. You add to that the fact that the basic nature of the game of basketball just has never been conducive to being a musclebound roid-rager, and you understand why the steroid issue has been much more prevalent in sports like baseball and football.

Rashard apologized last week, saying, "Toward the end of the season I took an over-the-counter supplement which at the time I did not realize included a substance banned by the NBA."

Do I believe him?

As much as I have been conditioned recently to doubt the excuse....Yes, I do believe Rashard.

If you forced me to make a list of all the NBA players who I suspect may have juiced over the years, I'd guarantee you that Sweet Lew would be at the very bottom of that list right below the angular Kevin Garnett.

Heck, if Rashard turns sideways, he disappears. He's a bean pole in drag. They guy's as skinny as a rail. You are not gonna see Rashard posing for Iron Man magazine anytime soon.

Whatsmore, Rashard's a good guy.

After closely observing Rashard both on and off the court over the last couple of years, I know Rashard to be an upstanding guy, a genuine family man, a good teammate and a guy who understands his role in the community. I just don't believe that Rashard would knowingly take a banned performance enhancing substance and put himself and his team in jeopardy.

That's not to say that good guys can't make bad decisions. Could I be wrong? Sure...

But I don't think that's the case here. I think a good guy made an ignorant decision.

Rashard should have checked the supplement through the Magic's training staff to make sure the product didn't contain any of the various banned substances in it.

It's too late now. The damage is done. We're gonna have to make due without Lew to begin the season.

I am not shocked...but I am surprised.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, July 21, 2009, 11:07 AM

Job Well Done

After every NBA season, I usually spend about a month watching the paint peel off my ceiling. This offseason, it only took about a week for me to recharge the batteries. I am pumped up!

Can we please tip off the 2009-2010 season now?

As Sez stated in an earlier column...IN OTIS I TRUST.

Why did some of you doubt? GM Otis Smith has built up so much in my bank over the years that I had a firm confidence that, in the end, we would be A-OK.

Well, the situation is more than just 'OK' here in Orlando. As a matter of fact, I would venture to say that the Orlando Magic, on paper, are the best team in the NBA.

I realize that doesn't mean hill o' beans in middle of the summer. Sure, there are still some positions to fortify. But, in the end, this roster, top to bottom, has never been better.

Let's explore what Otis has done so far...

We lose Turk to Toronto. We also saw Tony Battie, Rafer Alston and Courtney Lee head to New Jersey.

In their places, we put Vince Carter, Ryan Anderson, Brandon Bass, Matt Barnes (and possibly CJ Watson). We also shocked the NBA world, and yours truly, by delving deep into NBA luxury tax land by re-signing Marcin Gortat.

Frankly, I do not see any weaknesses.

For the last two seasons, you could certainly make the case that the one major shortcoming of this Magic club was a lack girth and size under the hoop. We lacked a ying to Dwight Howard's yang. We, perhaps, relied too much on finesse and not enough on physical toughness. We didn't have anyone on Superman's flank to help him rebound, block shots, enforce and do the dirty work. We now have that guy in Brandon Bass. And don't forget about The Polish Hammer coming back for more. I get the feeling we're gonna be experimenting more and more with the Twin Towers concept, especially early in the season.

The other prime weakness that has bitten us from time to time has been the lack of a late-game go-to-guy. Sure, Hedo hit some big shots for us over the years. So has Rashard Lewis. But, we just have not had the luxury of throwing the ball to a guy who can create off the dribble, a guy who can win you a game by himself late. We now have that guy in Half Man Half Amazin'.

Otis has handed Coach Stan Van Gundy the most versatile roster in the NBA today.

He can beat you with power. He can beat you with finesse. He can beat you inside. He can beat you outside.

He can beat you with defense. He can beat you offensively. He can beat you with depth. He can beat you with his starting five.

Go ahead and try to name another team with so many flexible parts. I count a total of six players on this roster who can play multiple positions.

This Magic team is also set up to not only win now, but, to win five years from now.

Otis has concocted an intriguing mix of youth and veteran leadership. Look at the core of this team: Dwight 23...Jameer 27...Rashard soon-to-be 31...Bass 24...Vince 32. On the bench, you've got guys like Pietrus 27...Anderson 21...Gortat 25...Johnson 35 and JJ 25.

This team can beat you with young thoroughbreds. We can also beat you with veteran All Stars.

I can't find a soft spot on this team. Can you?

Job well done, Otis. Job well done.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, July 14, 2009, 10:27 AM

Marcin Matched ... Surprise!

Remind me never to play poker with Otis Smith.

I would have bet the house that Otis would have allowed Marcin Gortat to escape scot-free to Dallas.

I would be homeless right now.

The Magic have matched the Mavericks’ five year $34 million offer for the backup big.

Now, it becomes plainly obvious what’s going on here. The Orlando Magic are going for it!

This organization had a taste of how sweet that NBA Finals champagne tastes. This organization realizes that there are certain windows of opportunity to win a title in this league, and when those windows crack open, you must climb through them. Therefore, this organization is throwing caution to the balance sheet and delving deep into luxury tax land for a shot at NBA Championship rings (plural).

By my count, the Orlando Magic’s payroll, as it stands with Marcin and Brandon Bass in the fold, is up to about $77 million. That’s over $7 million above the Luxury Tax Threshold ($69.92 mil). With two or three players still to sign, that means that owner Rich Devos will have to pony up upwards of $10 mil to the league at the end of next season. This, from an owner who is seeping about $15 mil a year?

Not so good for Mr. DeVos’s net worth. Great for Magic fans worldwide.

Marcin’s agent, Guy Zucker, says his client is ‘very disappointed’. Imagine that? I would love to know what it feels like to put pen to paper on a $34 million dollar deal, and then, feel ‘disappointed’?

Actually, I don’t blame Marcin. He, like most of us, thought he was headed to Big D to eventually become a starting NBA center. The guy wants to play. You can’t blame him for that. The self-made and self-proclaimed ‘Polish Hammer’, Dwight Howard’s personal practice punching bag over the last few years, has worked his rear end off to get where he is today. I’m sure the Hammer was looking forward to becoming the puncher instead of the punchee.

But, he will get over it quickly. In no way shape of form will Marcin become any sort of cancer or a distraction for this team. The Hammer is a good guy. He’ll begin to warm up to the fact that being in Orlando, FL is not a bad thing at all. There’s still plenty of opportunity here.

As Otis says, the Magic have invested five years of their time and effort into developing Marcin. And it’s not as if there is a surplus of decent big men out there right now. All ya have to do is glance at the current free agent list (Rasho Nesterovic, Francisco Elson, Jason Collins, Jamaal Magloire to name a few) to know that there are plenty of stiffs out there for the taking, but very few decent bigs.

Marcin ain’t no stiff. He is an asset. He is a commodity. He’s great insurance policy. We can pare him with Dwight at times. That’s why Otis is ignoring the bottom line and not letting him go for free.

Now, I am not totally convinced that Marcin is gonna be here for the long haul. December 15th will be the first day that the Trader Otis would be allowed to deal the Hammer.

But, for now, Marcin stays.

Poker face Otis strikes again.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, July 8, 2009, 9:30 AM

Road To Finals Still Goes Through O-Town

Glancing at the blogs and some of the emails I'm receiving these days, you'd think that the Orlando Magic are destined for the NBA Draft Lottery in 2010.

Some of you Magic fans and critics are uneasy with the path that GM Otis Smith is taking this summer. You want him to be more active in the free agent market. You want him to loosen the reigns on the mid-level exception. You wanted him to hold onto Hedo Turkoglu and Marcin Gortat.

You argue that our main competitors in the East, the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers, have fortified themselves to the point where they have overtaken the Magic as the faves next year. The Cavs added Shaq. The Celtics have added Rasheed Wallace to their already formidable frontline.

Out west, the champion Lakers have inked Ron Artest. The Spurs entered the title conversation once again by obtaining Richard Jefferson.

First off, people, calm down. Relax. Take a deep breath. Step away from your keyboards and hear me out.

The Orlando Magic are still the team to beat in the East!

Sure, Otis still has miles to go before he sleeps (sometime in September). We desperately need a couple more bigs. We'd like another backup guard or two.

But, Otis is gonna shrewdly wait to see how the free agent market plays out.

Even though he swears he's not been bound in any way by ownership financially, the luxury tax has to be a real concern. The new tax number has decreased from $71.15 million last season to $69.92 mil this year. By my count, the Magic sit just under $2 million shy of the new threshold. With four to five more players to sign, it's a foregone conclusion that we're gonna have to delve into tax land for the first time.

Question is: how much? Keep in mind that this is an organization that has never been in tax before. Also keep in mind that this is a franchise that will hemorrhage about $15 million next year, the final year before moving into the beautiful new Events Center.

The flip side is that, with the decreased cap and tax numbers and with the economy taking a bite out of free agency, the market is soft. There are gonna be some talented players who are gonna fall through the cracks. That's what Otis is banking on.

Am I comfortable with the waiting game? Heck no. Then again, it's not my money that I am spending.

Look, here's the bottom line...

Go ahead and spell out for me another team with four All Star-calibre players on its roster.

Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard make up the most dynamic and star-filled starting five in the NBA. It's a lineup that will strike fear all over the league.

Whenever someone questions me about the roller coaster ride of a summer so far, I keep going back to this one undeniable reality...This Magic team will be improved because, in the end, we finally have that go-to-guy we've craved for years. Love Vince Carter or not, the one undeniable fact about Vince is that you can throw him the ball in crunch time to get us a big bucket. It's a feature that every great team must have. We now have it.

Do we need to add depth? Sure. But, even with Turk heading to Toronto and Marcin likely bound for Dallas, I am convinced that the road to the NBA Finals is gonna go through Orlando next season and for the foreseeable future.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, July 2, 2009, 9:30 AM

Otis Houdini

How is Otis gonna pull this one out of his hat?

I have learned over the years never to doubt Magic GM Otis Smith.

But even Houdini would have trouble squeezing out of this straight jacket.

After last week's deal for Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson, I count a total of eight players on the Orlando roster.

With the Magic over the salary cap and nudged up against that punitive luxury tax, Otis has his work cut out for him over the next several weeks because it looks like he's gonna have to round out this roster with a mid-level exception in his back pocket along with minimum salaries.

In Otis I Trust.

Meanwhile, where is Hedo Turkoglu gonna end up? Sadly, it's not gonna be Orlando. Looks to me as if Hedo's fate was sealed when he reportedly rejected a 4 year $36 million offer from Otis after the NBA Finals.

Portland has the upper hand right now. The Blazers are putting on the full-court press. Coach Nate McMillan wined and dined Hedo Wednesday night. Thursday, he'll meet with Blazer brass in Portland. The Blazers could have as much as $7-10 million of cap room to ink Hedo.

Now, there are reports that the Blazers are also interested in Laker free agent forward Trevor Ariza. Then again, have the Blazers flown to L.A. to meet with Trevor? Have they taken him out to a fancy dinner?

It's obvious that Hedo is the object of the Blazers' free agent desire. Why not? If ya can't beat him, join him. Remember, it was Turk who hit our game winning three-pointer off glass with 0.3 to play in Portland back on December 9, 2008.

Toronto has interest in Hedo as well, though, the Raptors seem distressed by all the attention that Hedo is receiving in Oregon recently. Knick free agent David Lee and Ariza look to be the apple of the Raptors' eye now.

Detroit, we know now, is outta the running for Turk after coming to agreements with both Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon.

As Hedo has one foot in Portland, where is Marcin Gortat gonna end up? Judging by the seven teams that have reportedly contacted the Hammer's agent, we've done way too good a job in developing this kid!

Houston desperately seeks Marcin. That was to be expected considering that Yao Ming's basketball future hangs in the balance.

Despite the fact that Marcin would again primarily play a backup role to Dwight here in Orlando, I get the feeling from Two Magic Place that Otis will do everything in his power to re-sign him. The question becomes this: How badly does Marcin want to spread his wings and get out of Dwight's shadow?

As we continue to tell Marcin how much we love him, Otis has also set his sites on Brandon Bass. I'd love to see the four year pro from Dallas in Magic uniform next year. Heck, I'd love to pencil him in as our starter at the power forward spot right now.

Bass, 24, is a guy who can add some much needed beef under the hoop. He's also a kid who would be able to grow and flourish alongside the most dominant center in the game.

Also keep in mind that Bass's agent is Tony Dutt, Rashard Lewis's rep. Hopefully our dear friend Tony will remember the 118 million reasons why he should sway Bass to City Beautiful.

But, if Bass gets a better offer from Dallas or from an interested New Orleans team, it looks to me as if Otis is gonna wait to see what free agent big falls to him.

I think Antonio McDyess would be a great fit here in Orlando.

Rasheed Wallace? In my opinion, not so much. I just don't see Sheed's tiresome, temperamental act meshing with Stan Van Gundy's straightforward and sometimes abrasive coaching style. I'm also uneasy about the fact that Rasheed is more comfortable hanging out on the three point line as opposed to mixing it up under the hoop.

We're gonna need another point guard and it'd be great to get an extra wing guy as well.

How is all this gonna shake out? How is Otis gonna fill out this roster with the few pennies we have in the piggy bank? Where's Hedo and Marcin gonna end up? Will Rasheed Wallace bring his act to Orlando?

How is Otis Houdini gonna round out this roster?

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Saturday, June 27, 2009, 12:04 PM

A Love-Hate Thing

"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." Michael Corleone from The Godfather III.

Yup, I decided to take a few days off last week…and what happens?

Vince Carter will be wearing an Orlando Magic uniform next season.

Remind me never to go on vacation again.

As I have bopped around town over the last few days, you've told me what you've thought of this deal. According to my unscientific poll of emailers, callers, texters and in-my-face citizens, I'd say it's about 50-50.

There is no in-between game here....Either you love this deal or you hate it!

Here's what I love about this deal.

I do love the fact that this franchise is going for it.

I love the fact that Otis Smith, Bob Vander Weide and the rest of the Magic brain trust are gambling on greatness.

This is the kind of deal that sends a message to the rest of the league. It's the kind of deal that sends a message to you fans. It also tells the rest of our players that this is an organization that is not content with just winning the pennant. They want to see Rich DeVos standing up on that same stage that the Lakers were perched on a few weeks ago.

Give me an organization that's willing to gamble on greatness instead of a team that sits back and waits for something great to happen. This team wants to win now. I love that.

I love that Vince is a true go-to-guy.

Let's be honest. We need that guy. Even if we had re-signed Turk, we still would have needed that guy. Some of you would argue that our most pressing need is another big. Yes, we still need another big body. But the one main ingredient missing from this team reaching optimal level was a go-to-guy, a guy who can break down a defense when need be. We needed a guy who you could give the ball to in crunch time to get us a big bucket or to get to the free throw line. We needed a guy who you could isolate one-on-one. Vince Carter has the ability to be our money player, something that all great teams have.

Here's what I don't love about this deal.

How much does Vince have left?

V-C turns 33 in January. He has three years left on his mega-contract.

Vince comes off a season in which he averaged 20.8 points per game with NJ. That's a solid number. But considering that number is his lowest average since his rookie season, there's concern here that the downside of his career is fast-approaching.

Now, we all have to keep in mind that Vince played for a Net team that was beginning a rebuilding process last season. What we also have to be aware of is that, without Richard Jefferson on VC's flank, defenses loaded up on him last season. Granted, he's been about as durable as they come at the two guard spot over the last four years, appearing in an average of 79 games per season. But, there's no doubt that we are all wondering how much Vince has left in his tank.

What's Vince ever won?

Other than the 2000 dunk contest, not a whole lot.

Vince has made it as far as the Eastern Conference Semifinals three times during his 11 year career. Sure, he's made eight All Star teams and wracked up countless ESPN highlight awards. In all fairness, Vince has not been surrounded by the greatest of talent throughout his career. But, bottom line is that Vince has not won anything…..yet.

I hate that it looks like Hedo Turkoglu is not gonna be back.

I just get the sneaky suspicion that Otis got some not so subtle vibes from Camp Turk that Hedo was looking for mega years and mega money. I also understand that, if you are standing still in this league, often times you're backpedaling. Would we be favored to beat the Celtics, Cavs and or Lakers next year with virtually the same team we had this year? Probably not.

That doesn't make this any easier. Turkoglu, as Turk says, became Turkoglu here in Orlando over the last five years. He's grown into one of the most versatile players in the game today. There's not a thing he cannot do on the basketball court. Does he drive ya nuts sometimes with his scatter-brained passes into the third row of the stands? Sure. But, Turk is a great talent. Ya hate to let those types of guys go free. I sincerely hope there's a way that Turk comes back…but, barring a minor miracle, I just don't see any way that can happen now that we've made the deal for Vince.

I hate giving up Courtney Lee.

My daughter is still giving me the cold shoulder. I guess she has the notion that I had something to do with trading one of her favorites, Courtney. Otis even admitted Thursday night that the one major sticking point in the deal was Courtney. Otis didn't want to let him go. Rod Thorn wasn't gonna make the deal if Courtney were not involved.

Pau Gasol-like deals happen once in a blue-moon in this league. Ya gotta give up something to get something. I hate to see Courtney go because, while I don't see Courtney ever becoming a star in this league, I see him as being a solid NBA player and citizen for the next decade.

Bottom line is this….We gave up a lot to get a much-needed go-to-guy like Vince Carter.

I will love this deal if it leads us to an NBA Championship. I will hate this deal if it doesn't.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, June 16, 2009, 9:30 AM

I Have Seen the Future

"Sometimes you've got to lose to win."

That's a quote from Dwight Howard, who has grown up before our very eyes.

Superman has also transformed this franchise into a contender once again.

Now what?

We know that our core group (Dwight, Rashard and Jameer) will be back next season.

I would have loved to have seen Jameer Nelson at 100% capacity in the NBA Finals because I think he could have been a difference maker vs. the Lakers. I think it's very important for all of us to know that the scaled down version of Jameer in the Finals was not the All Star version we saw in the first half of the season.

The smattering of boos I heard when Jameer came into the game Sunday night was disappointing. Don't be hatin' on Jameer! My goodness, the kid showed so much heart and determination in returning as soon as he did. The man is a basketball player. He's paid to play. He's the leader of this team. Did it work out the way he wanted it to? No. But, don't be blaming Jameer for losing the NBA Finals. That's utterly ridiculous.

Will Hedo Turkoglu be back? My gut tells me he's not going anywhere.

Hedo will opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent July 1. Why not? Hedo might as well strike while the iron's hot. Coming off the NBA Finals appearance, his value is sky high. He'll have many suitors, including Detroit and Sacramento.

I am sure Hedo knows this. But I am gonna tell him anyway.

Orlando is the best place for you, Turk! You have an ideal situation. You are playing with the most dominant big in the game today. You're on a team that plays an up-tempo, three-point shooting style that fits your game perfectly. You play on a team that will contend for a championship for the length of your next contract. Trust me, the grass ain't gonna be greener on the other side of that fence, Turk.

Will restricted free agent Marcin Gortat be back?

I posed that exact question to team President and CEO Bob Vander Weide recently, and Bob said, "You don't want a young talent like that who you put so much time and effort into walk away."

Truth is, we're gonna have trouble holding onto the Polish Hammer.

For one, it doesn't make a whole lot of financial sense to shell out $5-6 mil a year for a guy who is gonna play 10-12 minutes per game behind Dwight Howard.

Secondly, how can ya blame the Hammer for wanting to spread his wings and get out from Dwight Howard's shadow. I can't blame him. He wants to play. Frankly, he has the ability to start for a number of NBA teams right now. I hope we can hold onto Marcin, but I see that as a longshot right now.

Will Rafer Alston be back?

I love Rafer. I loved what he did this year in leading us to the Eastern Conference Championship. I loved that he showed alotta class after he was benched near the end of game four of the Finals. Ideally, I would love to have Rafer back in 2009-2010, the final year of his contract.

But, know this. GM Otis Smith, who pulled off the miracle D-Day trade for Rafer, has been very protective of Jameer in becoming the unquestioned leader of this team. With Rafer here, the whispers have already started about a possible quarterback controversy next year. That's something we just don't need and want. Competition is one thing. Controversy is another. As much as I would hate to see Rafer go, it may be best for this team's chemistry to part ways.

Bob Vander Weide also told me recently that he is exploring the option of going into luxury tax land for the first time ever to re-sign Hedo and go after a power forward. That's great news.

To me, the only thing this team is missing is that rugged big who can help Dwight with the dirty work down low.

Trust me, Orlando has become a very attractive destination for free agents again.

How's this for a preliminary wish list? Brandon Bass (Dallas), Antonio McDyess (Detroit) and Joe Smith (Cleveland).

We have it all in place. We have the talent. We have the experience of being in the playoff trenches. We have the hunger after getting a little taste of the championship champagne. We have an ownership group that is willing go the extra mile.

I have seen the future, and the future is the Orlando Magic.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, June 15, 2009, 1:30 AM

We Can Learn From Kobe

I am in no mood so I'll make it short and sweet.

The LA Lakers celebrate at our expense after the 99-86 win in game five.

Give it up to the champs. They had an answer for most everything we threw at them.

A 16-0 run in the second quarter proved to be the catalyst. With that spurt, L-A took over the game and took our spirit at the same time.

Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson stayed on the bench to watch the post-game trophy ceremony Sunday night. Frankly, I wish more Magic players had stayed around to witness it. One year ago, these Lakers, at the expense of the Boston Celtics, stood where the Orlando Magic are standing right now.

The thing that struck me about MVP Kobe Bryant's road toward his fourth NBA title was how he wanted this one so desperately. Throughout these playoffs, Kobe had worn that now infamous scowl. He was, at times, temperamental and sometimes curt with the media. Around the house, his daughters labeled him 'Grumpy'.

Kobe wanted this championship more than words can express.

That's what I want our Magic to take out of this run to the NBA Finals. I want this team to be as hungry and as determined as Kobe was to get this one!

Hard to imagine the road to the Finals next year being even more bumpy than it was this season. The question is...How will this team react to being the hunted instead of being the hunter?

Boston's gonna be poised for another run with Garnett back. Cleveland, you know, is gonna be forced to upgrade its roster going into LeBron's free agent year. The Eastern Conference will be gunning for us. These Lakers are not going anywhere. How will we react?

While Dwight, Jameer, Hedo, Rashard and the boys are getting some well deserved R and R this summer, I'd love for each one of those guys to build the passion and the drive that we saw out of Kobe in this series.

Congrats to the Lakers, champs of the NBA.

Meanwhile, kudos to the Orlando Magic for giving us the ride of our lives this season.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Sunday, June 14, 2009, 12:30 PM

Sentinel Should Be Ashamed

Did anybody read Saturday’s Orlando Sentinel?

Judging by the newspaper’s circulation numbers, I realize that most of you did not.

I happened to take a glance at the front page in because it was staring at me from the machine over at the RDV Sportsplex.

The headline read, “Stan Van Goofy?”

I did not have to read the column associated with the headline. Headlines speak volumes.

You mean the guy who’s led this Magic team to the Eastern Conference title? The guy who has molded this team into a contender? The guy who has turned Orlando into a basketball town again? That guy? Stan Van Goofy? Wow!

You know, these pro athletes and coaches are all fair game, to a point. Take your shots at Stan Van Gundy for his decision-making. Criticize him for leaving Jameer Nelson in at the tail end of game four instead of opting for Rafer Alston. That stuff is all fair game. Go ahead. Have your fun. I certainly did.

But, come on. This kind of attack is getting way too personal and is totally unnecessary.

I realize that we were all emotional after the game four giveaway. Still, I thought the “Stan Van Goofy” headline was tasteless, classless, irresponsible tabloid journalism at its worst. It was a headline that the NY Post would have been proud of. Problem is, this isn’t New York!

Headlines like this feed into this frenzy we have in cyberspace today where anonymous bloggers can post their irrational and unstable thoughts for the entire world to see. The internet is a very good thing. But it can also be a very dangerous place, a place where whack jobs and wing nuts often times are awarded forums that used to be occupied by professionals who had some semblance of decency, decorum and experience.

I would expect such a headline from Joe blogging from his trailer in Bithlo.

I expect otherwise from a “reputable” newspaper.

Keep in mind, Stan’s kids go to school here in Central Florida. His wife has to read this nonsense. So do his parents and his in-laws.

I don’t know much about the newspaper business other than the fact that it is dying a quick death. Maybe the attention-grabbing headline was the Sentinel’s way of trying to re-capture ‘days gone by’. Obviously, the powers that be over there believed it was a headline that would sell papers.

But, I just thought it was outrageous.

Then again, I guess that’s why the Sentinel has the reputation it has earned over the years.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, June 12, 2009, 3:30 AM

What If?

A long, hot summer may have just gotten longer and hotter.

It was a night of missed opportunities for the Orlando Magic.

What if?

What if we had hit our free throws and taken care of the ball? What if we had executed down the stretch? What if we had guarded Derek Fisher?

What if?

Lay off Dwight Howard! My goodness gracious, this kid played his heart out. He would record 16 points, 21 rebounds and an NBA Finals record for blocks (9). The guy deserved better than this.

Sure, he missed those two free throws with :11 to play in regulation. But, ya know what? We're nowhere near being in that game without Dwight's incredible energy and effort all night. The kid is a warrior!

I am trying to find an excuse as to why we allowed Derek Fisher to get that open a look at the three-pointer to tie it with 4.6 to play in regulation.

I admire Jameer Nelson for coming back in this series, but, for the life of me, I can't understand why Jameer played Fisher for the drive on that play. The three is the only shot that kills us. Crowd him. Make it tough on him. We just didn't do it.

There was some confusion after the game on whether we had a foul to give in that instance. For the record, we did not. Credit goes to Fisher, who buried us twice in this game. I know Jameer would love to have that one back.

Then, with :31 left in overtime, Fisher does it to us again after Jameer was knocked to the ground by a Kobe elbow. It left Fisher wide open, again, for another three-peat, a shot that, in effect, won the game and possibly the series for the Lakers.

I have to wonder aloud....Where was Rafer Alston in the fourth quarter and in overtime? I realize that Rafer did not have a great third quarter, but, was he hurt? Did he get into it with Stan?

I love Jameer, but, it seems like we're asking a lot from a kid who's not been himself in this series, and rightfully so after coming off shoulder surgery four months ago. Jameer played the entire fourth quarter and the overtime period. He played nearly 26 minutes. That's a tall order.

Give credit to the Lakers. They took advantage of our blunders.

But, for we who live in Magic Nation, this was the big ole fish that got away. We had this one dead to right and let it slip from our grasp.

There's no denying that there's a big difference between 2-2 and 1-3.

Am I giving up on this team? No way.

How likely is it for our Magic to win three straight? Not very. But I have seen way too many amazing feats from this Magic club this season to give up the fight just yet.

For now, I'm just gonna go home, curl up in a fetal position, and wonder...What if?

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, June 10, 2009, 12:15 PM

No Ordinary Team

Kobe Bryant came out attempted to deliver his patented knockout right cross.

Any ordinary team would have buckled. Any ordinary team would have taken a standing eight count. Any ordinary team would have been out on its feet.

This is no ordinary team.

Final: Magic 108 Lakers 104.

Not only did the Orlando Magic give us our very first NBA Finals victory, they shot the ball like no team’s ever shot the ball in the Finals. The Magic’s 62.5% shooting was the best mark in the history of this great event.

There were so many outstanding performances.

Remember all that talk about Rafer Alston looking over his shoulder at Jameer Nelson? We had wondered aloud about how Jameer’s presence affected this team’s chemistry? Fuggetaboutit!

After Coach Van Gundy gave Rafer a three word pep talk Tuesday morning (“Play your game), the stationary, listless Rafer turned into the up-tempo, self-assured Skip who has sparked this team for nearly four months now.

Right from the get go, Rafer was aggressive. He was running. He was in control. He was looking for his shot. He scored 11 of his 20 points in the first quarter. Rafer’s back, baby!

As a matter of fact, all of our guards stepped up to the challenge, thank you very much.

After being M-I-A in L-A, Skip, Courtney, Jameer and Mickael Pietrus went a combined 18-28 (64%) from the field for 46 points.

How about M-P! Before the series, Air France decided to put Kobe’s shoes in his closet. Last night, he put Kobe on ice.

Pietrus finally stayed out of foul trouble and became our Mr. Fourth Quarter (no offense Turk). M-P scored 9 of his 18 points in the final quarter. To me, the biggest play of the game was his put back-dunk, when he swooped in from nowhere, rose above the rest, and dunked it home to make it 101-99 at the 2:18 mark.

Then, with :30 left, Pietrus would combine with Dwight Howard to trap Kobe and eventually steal the ball and seal the win with two clutch free throws.

For the first time in this series, M-P, outplayed the Lakers’ X-factor, Lamar Odom (11 points and 2 rebounds).

Our Big Three was, once again, superb. Dwight, Rashard and Hedo combined for 60 points.

If you are the Lakers today, you’re still feeling pretty good about yourselves, aren’t ya? After all, you allow a team to shoot a Finals record percentage, and yet, ya still almost win the game. You have the game’s best closer in Kobe, who’s not going to go 4-15 from the field in the final three quarters as he did in game three. So, you’re OK. You’re still in control of this series.

Word to the wise…Don’t get too comfortable Lakers.

As we saw again Tuesday night, this Orlando Magic team is no ordinary team.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, June 9, 2009, 9:30 AM

‘Plastic’ Jax Disses Us Again

Orlando, welcome to the NBA Finals!

Tonight, it's game three. Magic trail 0-2.

In the history of the Finals, when a team has taken a 2-0 lead, that team has gone on to win the series 94.2% of the time.

That daunting stat means nothing to the Orlando Magic. Remember, this team became the very first club to rally from a 2-3 series deficit against the vaunted Boston Celtics.

I have been amazed at the incredible resolve our guys have displayed all season long. They have been totally oblivious to history, odds and all the national media nay-saying that's gone on. I don't see that ending now.

Undoubtedly, the Lakers will want to come in and bury us tonight because they know if they win this game, the series is, in effect, over and out.

Bottom line is this: we gotta make more shots! If we do, this series is gonna turn on a dime.

Laker coach Phil Jackson, who once upon a time labeled our beloved borough a "plastic city", has made the executive decision to double and triple Dwight Howard. Jax is sending his guards down to smother Dwight. In effect, what he is doing is dissing our backcourt. He is daring our guards to beat him. Jax obviously does not believe we have any guys who can beat us back there. So far, he's been right on the money.

Rafer, Courtney, Jameer, JJ, and MP are all getting open looks galore. If the Magic are gonna get back into this series, those guys are gonna have to knock down those shots.

We all know that Dwight has not played up to his standards offensively in this series (14.5 ppg and 37.5% FG). Through two games, the Lakers have done a great job of making Dwight a glorified passer.

But, I'll bet ya dollars-to-doughnuts that Clark Kent becomes Superman again if our backcourt bucks up.

Read the numbers and weep. The Magic guards are shooting at a clip of 28.9% in this series so far. Take Mickael Pietrus (6-16) out of the equation. Rafer, Jameer, Courtney and JJ have combined to shoot a paltry 26% from the field.

If that trend continues, we're out the door in four. Our guards must step up!

If they do, just watch the Laker defense loosen up on the big guy down low. And if that happens, the Magic will become the Magic again.

It also would behoove us to try to get up and down the floor more. I know it's easier said than done this time of year, but we have scored a scant 2 fast break points in the first couple of games of this series. This team is at its best when it's in up-tempo mode. We are playing with fire if we continue to lean on a slow, half court style against this team.

I am not concerned with our defense. It was much better in game two.

We know what we're gonna get from our Big Three, which was superb Sunday.

Now, it's up to the Magic guards to do their part.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, June 8, 2009, 8:30 AM

Calling All Guards

Call me crazy, but I still believe the Orlando Magic are the better team in this series.

I may be saying that to our grave, but I truly believe we’re better. Now, we gotta go prove it by winning four of the next five games from these Lakers.

Final: Lakers 101 Magic 96 (OT).

Bottom line is this…It is very very difficult to win at this level when you are committing 20 turnovers in a game.

It’s also very hard to win when you’re playing three on five. We are getting virtually nothing from our backcourt positions right now.

I don’t know what’s going on with Rafer Alston. After going 2-9 from the field with just six points in game one, Skip drops a 1-8 on us with four points Sunday night. I was very surprised. Rafer usually comes back with a big game after a dud.

We’ve addressed the whole team chemistry thing with Jameer coming back. Can we assume after two games that Rafer has been the one most negatively affected? Don’t know why that would be because he has to know that if he plays well, he is going to stay on the court.

For the record, Jameer didn’t give us a whole lot in game two as well (4 points in 17 minutes). That decision by Stan to play Jameer in this series is fair game now.

Our point guard spot is a sore spot right now. Coach Stan got so desperate that he put Hedo Turkoglu in at the point forward position at the 8:59 mark of the fourth quarter. Hedo played great in the fourth, but it looked like he sorta ran outta gas at the point in overtime. Stan came back with Rafer running the show early in O.T. but Skip was a non-factor.

Courtney Lee has to be the sickest man on the face of the planet right now. Courtney would miss a bunny at the end of regulation, a shot that would have won the game. Granted, it was a more difficult shot than appeared because Courtney was under the backboard when he got the pass from Hedo. But, man, what a great play drawn up by Coach Stan!

Courtney notched two points.

Mickael Pietrus would score just two points and would foul out with 3:08 to play. MP just has not been able to get untracked in this series due to the foul trouble.

JJ Redick scored five points on 2-9 from the field.

Despite our backcourt’s struggles, I am far from discouraged.

We out-rebounded the Lakers in game two 44-35. Rashard (34 points) and Hedo (22 points) got it going offensively. We held LA to 28 points in the paint. Kobe did score 29, but he didn’t kill us. We’re getting open looks, shots that usually go down hopefully will go down in Orlando.

Look at the combined line from Dwight, Rashard, Hedo from game two: 73 points, 33 rebounds, 15 assists.

Now, read the line from our backcourt players and weep…4-17 FG for 17 points.

I truly believe that the Orlando Magic are the better basketball team in this series.

But, our Big Three needs help from our guards, ASAP!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Sunday, June 7, 2009, 11:25 AM

Chemistry in Question

Webster’s won’t even take a stab at defining it.

It’s not a tangible thing. There’s no manual on how to acquire it.

It’s one of those mystical things in sports.

It’s team chemistry.

Sports teams can have all the talent in the world, but if they don’t have that elusive team chemistry, they’re not worth their weight in gold.

While ya really can’t put your finger on it, we all know that the Orlando Magic’s team chemistry has been outstanding all season long.

This team is truly that, a team. These guys genuinely like one another. They have great respect for their coach and their organization. They genuinely enjoy each other’s company and it translates on the court.

Team chemistry shows in the incredible resolve this Magic club has had all season long. Nowhere has that been more evident in these 2009 NBA Playoffs. No lead has been safe against them.

You look at the Cleveland series. The Magic would trail by 16, 23 and 22 points vs. Cleveland on the road and yet, this team would rally in all three of those games. One of them they won. In another, it took a LeBron miracle three at the buzzer to temporarily ease the Cavs’ misery.

Look at the Boston series. The Magic became the first team in the history of the NBA to rally from a 2-3 series deficit vs. the vaunted C’s.

Heck, even in the Philly series, this team goes into hostile territory and wipes the floor with the Sixers in Game 6 without stud Dwight Howard.

Those are just a few examples. It’s obvious that the Orlando Magic have had team chemistry on their side all season long.

But, for the first time this season, we are all wondering if that chemistry is fading at the most important time of the year.

I admire Stan Van Gundy for doing what he did in game one of The Finals. He stuck his neck, and pretty much every other body part, out and played Jameer Nelson. He played Jameer despite the fact that the little guy had been sidelined the last four months.

I like the gutsy decision. At this time of year, you want your best players on the court. As the series extends, I think you are going to see Jameer get more and more comfortable and conditioned. I also believe that you will see Jameer make more and more of a positive impact upon this series. If there’s one thing we have learned about Jameer Nelson over the last five years, it’s the fact he is at his best when the odds are greatest and when the entire world doubts him.

However, the one great unknown in making the decision to play Jameer in this series is this….How will it affect the great team chemistry this team has enjoyed?

It’s hard to tell after the game one whoopin’ we took. Does a lack of team chemistry cause us to shoot 29.9 percent from the field. Does a lack of chemistry cause us to get-rebounded 55-41? Does a lack of chemistry lead to Kobe putting up 40 on us? Does a lack of chemistry result in Dwight Howard hitting on just one field goal?

I don’t think so. I just think the Lakers were dead on Thursday night. We were flat. It happens.

But, let’s all keep our eye on this whole team chemistry thing in Game 2.

I don’t know exactly what it is. But, I'll know when we have it…and I'll know when we don’t.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, June 5, 2009, 1:45 AM

Back to the Drawing Board

The good news is that we now get a couple of days off to go back to the drawing board.

Final: Lakers 100 Magic 75.

One thing became abundantly clear early in game one…This ain’t Cleveland!

Not that the 66-win Cavs were easy pickins’. But, it’s obvious that the Lakers present some matchup issues that we did not see vs. the Cavs.

Tops on that list is Kobe.

We all knew that the guy would be a handful. But KB-24 was allowed to do anything he wanted to do. Kobe (finals career-high 40 points, 8R and 8A) is as determined as ever.. He is acting like a man on a mission, a mission to win his first title without Shaq. But, my goodness, let’s at least put up a few roadblocks. Body him up, trap him, do something different because nothing Courtney or Pietrus did worked. It was way too easy for Kobe in game one.

Not Dwight’s night.

Dwight Howard (12p and 15r) scored just one field goal on six attempts Thursday night. That ain’t gonna cut it. It looked to me as if Dwight was bothered by the Lakers length down low. L-A smothered him in the lane and made life much more difficult for him than Cleveland did.

Hit the boards.

While I believe that our pitiful performance was a bit of a fluke, I also realize that we have issues on the glass with this Laker bunch. The effort and energy must go up ten-fold if we’re gonna compete with this team in the rebounding column. L-A out-boarded us 55-41. The Lakers accounted for 15 offensive rebounds and they scored 56 points in the paint.

Our bookends bottomed out.

Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis went a combined 5-21 from the field. It’s just not good enough. Turk started quickly and fizzled late. Rashard looked as if he could really exploit Pau Gasol on the three point line, but that advantage never materialized

Jameer jumps in feet first.

Please, bloggers, don’t blame this loss on the decision to play Jameer in this game. It was not a chemistry thing as much as it was an effort and energy thing for the Magic Thursday night. I liked what I saw from #14 in the second quarter. He came in and had two points and three assists in the first 3:20 of the second. He looked a little rusty, but the silver lining was that he got 23 minutes under his belt. It’s good to see the little man out there again.

It’s widely known that if the Orlando Magic rebound, run and defend, we win.

We didn’t do any of that last night in game one.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, June 4, 2009, 10:45 AM

Tale of the Tape

Point Guard: Rafer Alston vs. Derek Fisher

The Lakers are 5-0 in the Playoffs when Fisher scores in double figures. Fisher had 27 points vs. the Magic in the regular season. Fisher is solid, but is susceptible defensively.

Despite the news that Jameer is coming back, Rafer's our guy in this series. He will start. He will get the bulk of the time at the point guard spot because he deserves it. Skip almost single-handedly won game four vs. Cleveland with his 20 of 26 points in the second half. He's got this team playing at a peak level right now.

Edge: MAGIC

Shooting Guard: Courtney Lee vs. Kobe Bryant

Kobe smells his fourth title, and his first sans Shaq. He scored 34 points per game and shot 48% vs. Denver in the Western Conference Finals. Kobe put up 41 points against us in December. He had a triple-double (27p, 13r, 11a) vs. us in January. He is simply the best closer in the game.

When the Magic faced the Lakers in January, Kobe asked Courtney during the game if he'd like to work out with him this summer. That's high praise for the rookie from Western Kentucky.

Edge: LAKERS

Small Forward: Hedo Turkoglu vs. Trevor Ariza

Hedo is doing it all right now. Heck, he even averaged 6.7 assists vs. Cleveland. Hedo, like his Magic, is playing his best ball of the year. He is a matchup nightmare for everybody, but, if there is a team that has the ability to combat his versatility, it's the Lakers.

Ex-Magic player Trevor Ariza, who has checked Hedo many times in practice, will be tough. Ariza is starting to realize his potential. He's shooting 50% from three point range in the Playoffs. He shot 58% vs. Denver. He become the LA's defensive stopper. Hedo has his work cut out for him, but, I am siding with Hedo's veteran wherewithal.

Edge: MAGIC

Power Forward: Rashard Lewis vs. Pau Gasol

Rashard is such a huge part of what we do offensively. Sweet Lew, vs. the Cavs, was 15-31 from three-point range. He, like Turk, is a nightmarish matchup. It'll be interesting to see how long Gasol guards Rashard, because he will not be able to get out to him on that three point line. On the other side of the court, Gasol will have the advantage on the post. Gasol is shooting 57% in the Playoffs.

Edge: EVEN

Center: Dwight Howard vs. Andrew Bynum

No contest. Dwight comes off what was, in this guy's opinion, the best performance of his career in game six vs. Cleveland (40p and 14r). He shot 70% from the free throw line vs. the Cavs. Bynum has not played well in the postseason. He averaged 7.8 points per game vs. Denver. It's going to be interesting to see how much Bynum plays in this series. I would think L-A is going to go small and try to lure Superman away from the hoop defensively.

Edge: MAGIC

Bench: Jameer Nelson becomes the ultimate X-Factor here. Mickael Pietrus has been incredible in the postseason. We always seem to either extend or keep a lead when Marcin Gortat relieves Dwight. The Laker bench is strong. The inconsistent Lamar Odom leads their brigade. Luke Walton will be counted upon to come in and guard our forwards.

Edge: LAKERS

Coaches: Phil Jackson's won nine rings. Stan Van Gundy doesn't even know where his Miami Heat Championship ring is from 2006. Stan's the man, but objectively speaking, Jackson has the edge here because he's been in this position many times before.

Edge: LAKERS

PICK: I like our Magic. I like 'em in six!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, June 3, 2009, 10:15 AM

Sez Says Jameer Plays

The smoke screen has turned into a smoke signal.

I am now convinced that Jameer Nelson is going to play in the NBA Finals.

My gut tells me that, not only will Jameer play, he will be on the court for meaningful minutes.

How about that?

As late as last week, both GM Otis Smith and Jameer told me that there was a better chance that yours truly play in the Finals. Frankly, I don't mind the little white lies, as long as those little white lies lead us to a championship. I understand how the game works.

Coach Van Gundy will have the final say after today's practice in SoCal. After Jameer worked out with the team for the first time in four months Tuesday, Stan said, "Jameer was OK. We did go up and down. We'll have to see."

Stan did not say a whole lot about Jameer's performance on day one. That's rather unusual for our outspoken, straightforward head coach. Stan's silence spoke volumes to me.

I just get the feeling that Jameer showed very well in practice number one.

So, I think Jameer is playing...Now what?

Naturally, I am concerned about Jameer's surgically repaired shoulder. But my orthopedic buddies assure me that because Jameer has rehabbed aggressively and because he is months ahead of schedule, chances are actually greater that his other shoulder dislocates than the one that was operated on Feb. 19.

The team chemistry issue has come up. How will Jameer fit in with a team that is clicking right now?

If I am Anthony Johnson, I am very happy for my buddy Jameer. I am also privately discontented. A-J has played very well off the bench at that point guard spot in these playoffs. Remember, A-J came up huge in game three vs. Boston when he filled in for the suspended Rafer Alston. He's been a rock off the pine. A-J is the guy who will most impacted by a Jameer return.

Rafer Alston cannot, and will not, lose his starting job to Jameer. Even if Jameer was 100% ready to go, you just can't move Rafer to the bench after being such an instrumental part of a core that's led us to an Eastern Conference pennant. Skip must start. Jameer will come off the bench.

Is this an ideal situation? Absolutely not. Ideally, we would have loved to get Jameer some playing time in the previous series to get his feet wet.

But in the end, you want your best players on the court. You want the guys who give you the best chance to win in your lineup. You have an All Star who has been cleared medically. You have a guy who is the leader of your team chompin' at the bit. You have a guy who whooped up on the Lakers during the regular season.

Looks like a no brainer to me.

Welcome back Jameer.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, June 2, 2009, 10:30 AM

Our Ace In The Hole

Will Jameer Nelson play in the NBA Finals?

Magic GM Otis Smith says, "There's a 'smidget' of a chance he could play."

Jameer went down with the torn labrum in his shoulder vs. Dallas Feb. 3rd. He would have surgery Feb. 19, ironically, the same day that Otis would make what could be considered an NBA Finals-saving deal for point guard Rafer Alston.

Jameer has been going through four-on-four drills. Today, he's practicing for the first time with his team. We'll go from there.

Is it me or do ya just get the feeling that Jameer's teammates and coaches are a little skittish about all this comeback talk? I think everyone is more concerned about Jameer coming back and hurting himself again than anything else.

If you're a Magic fan and you're expecting Jameer to be the All Star you saw earlier this season, you're sadly mistaken. It's just not gonna happen. It can't. This is Jameer's pre-season. Running around, playing four-on-four, jogging on the treadmill, playing HORSE is all fine and good, but it's nothing like playing in the NBA Finals, the ultimate level of basketball. You just can't expect a guy who's been out for four months to come back and become the same guy he was back in early Feb.

I think you're asking a lot of Coach Stan Van Gundy as well, because, if Otis does give the long shot go-ahead for Jameer to make his comeback, you've got to find a spot in a rotation that is chock full o' mojo right now. All coaches come from a paranoid lot. You've got some great chemistry going right now with this team. You want all your guns firing going into series like this, but coaches frown upon any unknowns, especially at this time of year.

If he's good to go and Jameer does come back, does he start? Does he come off the bench? How much time does he play?

Then, there's the school of thought that says that this is all one big smoke screen. Are the Magic simply giving the Zen Master something else to chew on out there in LA LA Land? Remember, Jameer scored 55 total points in two games vs. LA this year. The Lakers can be vulnerable at the point guard spot. It couldn't hurt to have Phil Jackson lose a few hours of sleep in preparing for the possibility of guarding Jameer, could it?

What would I do? I would treat Jameer as my Ace in the Hole in this series.

If he shows well in work outs over the next few days, let's give him more practice time out in SoCal. Dress him for games one and two, but hold him out, barring any blowouts. If we happen get to get down in this series and we're struggling to find a rhythm here at home, that's when we throw Jameer into the fray to give our team and our town an emotional lift.

Even with all the unknowns surrounding Jameer Nelson right now, it's a wonderful dilemma to have if you're the Orlando Magic. After all, it cannot be a bad thing to have all your talent available against a team like the Lakers.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Sunday, May 31, 2009, 12:15 PM

We're Going to the Show

Stick the puppets in moth balls, Nike. The Orlando Magic are going to the NBA Finals!

Magic 103 Cavs 90.

The better team won, folks. The better team won this series.

I am gonna jump all around in this edition of Sez because I have so many things to express...

I wonder, is Dwight Howard still too goofy to win a title, Sports Illustrated? My goodness, what a performance by Superman! From the get go, Dwight played game six with an unparalleled purpose and intensity reserved for the greatest of players. He willed this team to victory with his 40 points and 14 rebounds. The man has grown up before our very eyes.

By the way, props to the referees (Steve Javie, Bennett Salvatore and Derek Stafford) last night. I thought that crew, more than any other in these Playoffs, was fair and in control of the game from the outset. They allowed Dwight to be able to play without worrying about the usual ticky-tack calls.

The Master of Panic is now the Master of the Eastern Conference! Shaq, you can call him what you want. Regardless of what happens vs. the Lakers....I call Stan Van Gundy a WINNER! The guy is so driven and such a tireless worker. He probably hasn't slept in about a month. He even lost his voice before game six. Yet, he never, ever let up.

I can't tell you how happy I am for Magic owner Rich DeVos. When Mr. D decided to think twice about his decision to sell this franchise back in 2000, he likely saved major league sports for Orlando. Thank you Mr. D for hanging in there...and thank you for never wavering in your goal to bring a championship to Orlando. We're four wins away.

I can't tell you how happy I am for this organization, especially for the folks behind the scenes who have worked so hard for so long. You know who you are.

I think it speaks volumes that GM Otis Smith did not participate in the on-court post game trophy ceremony. That's our Otis. His philosophy from the get go has been that the focus should be on his players and coaches. You won't see Otis, or for that matter Assistant GM Dave Twardzik, on any media junkets. It's never been about ego, agenda or office politics with these guys. It's always been about putting the best team out on the court and winning titles.

Nothing galvanized this town like the Orlando Magic's road to the NBA Finals back in 1995. Fourteen years later, we're united again. Central Florida is abuzz with Magic fever. It's great to see. The Magic's run toward the trophy has perhaps given some folks a much-needed respite from their every day struggles during some very trying economic times. Therefore, I would argue that this 2009 run will prove to be even more impactful than the one we had back in 1995.

Many of us have fallen in love with little Gina Marie Incandela over the last few weeks. Rightfully so. Her story is inspirational and her spirit and voice are infectious. I know we will see her singing the national anthem in games three, four and five of the Finals at Amway. Let's not forget about the Seersucker! Our Magic were 5-1 when our color analyst, Richie Adubato, wore that suit. He was undefeated at home. You combine Gina Marie with Richie's G-Q look, and we cannot be beat!

I have so many other things to express but I will save those thoughts for more Sez fodder later this week.

12 down. 4 to go.

We're going to the show, Magic fans....We're going to the show.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Saturday, May 30, 2009, 9:30 AM

Sez's Pre-Game Pep Talk

So, I am Stan Van Gundy. I am getting ready for the biggest game of the season. It's a game that, if we win, will advance us to face the Lakers in the NBA Finals.

If I were giving a pre-game pep talk, here's how I would go about it:

"First of all guys, I realize that there's no need for a pep talk. We all know what's on the line tonight. But I am gonna give you one anyway.

As all of you know, I am not the mushiest guy in the world. But let me say this: I am so proud of you guys.

Exactly eight months ago, I told you that if you worked hard, you would have a chance to be in this position. That's exactly what all of you, 1-14, have done. You have busted your tails this year for me and I appreciate that beyond belief.

No one, and I mean no one, outside this locker room gave us a chance to be in this position this year. But, we believed. That's all that matters.

When you go out there on that court tonight in front of over 17,000 of our fans, know this.....We are the better basketball team. And as long as we play as a team, we cannot be beaten.

The game plan is solid. All we have to do is execute it.

Don't worry about the referees. Let me handle those guys. We all know we are not gonna get the benefit of the whistle tonight. Heck, we haven't gotten any respect from those guys all year long. Yet, we've overcome. We're gonna do the same thing tonight.

LeBron is gonna do all he can to get this thing back to Cleveland, fellas. We know what to expect. The guy is phenomenal. But, as far as I know, he's not Superman. We've got that guy on OUR side! Do not genuflect. Don't be in awe. Don't give him any more respect than you would any other player out there. Challenge him. Be physical with him. Man up on him. We will be the aggressors tonight, not him. We will impose our will tonight, not him.

We've been here before. We won game six in Philly. We became the first team in the history of this league to come back from a 2-3 deficit vs. mighty Boston Celtics. Tonight, we have a chance to close out in front of our home fans for the first time. It does not get any better than this. What a privilege!

But, make no mistake about it. This will be one of the hardest things you'll ever have to do on a basketball court. It will also be one of the most rewarding experiences of your lives. Tonight, you will close out one of the best teams in NBA regular season history.

Why?

This is our house. This is our game. This is our time.

Let's go!"

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, May 29, 2009, 1:30 AM

The Way It's Supposed to Be

We did not get to close out the first couple of playoff series at Amway. We might as well do it in front of the home folk Saturday night!

The Game 5 final: Cavs 112 Magic 102.

You knew that Cavs were gonna come out smokin' Thursday night, didn't ya? This is a 66-win team that has a whole lotta pride. As a matter of fact, they were so proud that they stormed out to a 32-10 lead in the first quarter.

In game one we trailed by 16 early. In game two, the second quarter deficit was 23. Last night, we were forced to dig out of a 22 point crater.

I love that we are coming back and showing heart and hustle in these road games. But, just in case we have to, gosh forbid, go back to the Q Monday night, it would behoove us to wipe the mud off our shoes before we start the first quarter.

The good news is that this team continues to show that no lead is safe against us. We rallied and actually took a 64-56 lead early in the third quarter.

But, to bottom line this game, here it is...The King finally got some help from his court!

LeBron James was spectacular. He scored 17 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter. The King tallied a triple double, adding 14 rebounds and 12 assists. If there was a possession in which he did not touch the ball in the final quarter, I don't remember it. The guy is as much of an unstoppable force as I have ever seen in this league.

LeBron aside, to me, game five's entire complexion changed when little used Daniel Gibson would drain his first of two fourth quarter three pointers to put the Cavs up 84-80. Gibson would come back at the 4:20 mark and nail that other three (97-93 Cavs).

Those two daggers from a guy who has struggled mightily in this series and throughout the course of this season really seemed to give that Cav team the bounce they needed to run away with this one down the stretch.

LeBron finally got some help from his friends.

That's OK. Even though Cleveland believes that it has found its stride after the impressive game five victory, this series is still the Orlando Magic's to lose.

Key number one to Saturday night's game six? We have to keep Dwight Howard on the floor and out of foul trouble. For the third time in this series, he would foul out. Granted, at least two of those foul calls were absolutely ridiculous. But, that's life in Dwight's world.

If Dwight Howard stays on the court, we will win game six.

How's that for a guarantee, Mo Williams?

Don't fret Magic fans. This is the way it's supposed to be. We're coming home for a chance to be crowned Eastern Conference champions.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, May 28, 2009, 10:30 AM

Such a Deal!

It was the afternoon of Feb. 19, 2009 when I got the call.

The Orlando Magic had made a trade. Frankly, I was stunned.

I was not expecting us to make a deal at the deadline. There were no rumors, not even any hints from Two Magic Place that anything was going on.

We had dealt Keith Bogans for Tyronn Lue earlier in the month after determining that our leader, Jameer Nelson, would likely be out for the rest of the season with the bum shoulder. The common thought was that Lue deal was the only deal we were gonna be able to pull off by the deadline.

Au contraire.

The Magic sent Brian Cook to Houston, while Adonal Foyle, Mike Wilks and a 2009 first round draft pick were shipped to Memphis. In return, we got Rafer Alston from Houston. It was a trade deadline deal literally made at 11th hour by Magic GM Otis Smith.

At the time, I remember blogging back on Feb. 20, "Let me count the ways why I like this deal...Alston is a legitimate NBA starting point guard...He's no Jameer, mind you, but he gives us a solid floor general who has a keen sense of how to play the game from the point...Rafer is accustomed to running our bread and butter, the pick and roll...Rafer is also accustomed to playing with an impactful low post player...Rafer will not shy away from hitting a big shot late in a game."

I am no soothsayer. But at the time, I thought it was a deal that at least gave us hope. Hindsight says that this was a deal that gave us more than hope. That trade has us sitting one win away from our second Eastern Conference Championship. Just as the NBA rescinded the game four technical foul on Dwight Howard, the league must now change its Executive of the Year award for 2009 to read "Mark Warkentien (Denver) and Otis Smith (Orlando), Co-Execs of the Year".

What a deal by Trader Otis! How many times has a team that's lost its starting point guard at mid-season and subsequently sat on the brink of a conference crown? Without looking it up in my trusty NBA Encyclopedia, I can tell you that number is gonna be slim to none. Rafer has been a difference-maker here in the Playoffs. He's averaging 13.3 points. His impressive assist-turnover ratio is over 4-1. Skip would come up huge in game four vs. Cleveland Tuesday night, when he tallied 20 of his 26 points after halftime. With the Magic down 58-50 at the half, Rafer set the tone for the second half when he scored his team's first ten points of the third quarter.

We believe in Rafer...but, our opponents obviously don't.

The Sixers dared Rafer to beat them. He did just that. In the clinching 114-89 game six win in Philly (sans Dwight), Rafer accounted for a double-double with 21 points and 10 assists. Rafer would drain three-three pointers in a game that sent us to the Conference Semi's. The Celtics dissed Rafer as well. In the game seven 101-82 victory in Boston, Rafer scored 15 points on three-three's.

The Cavaliers have dared Rafer to beat them as well. Guess what? We're up 3-1 with a chance to close out tonight. We all miss Jameer Nelson, but Rafer has done the job. He's proven to be a solid floor general for this Magic team. He's also proved to be a big-game player.

Such a deal, Otis Smith. Such a deal.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 3:30 AM

Well, So Much for the Guarantee, Mo Williams

Final: Magic 116 Cleveland 114 (OT).

Where do I begin? We saw so many outstanding performances.

...Let's start with our Head Coach. Did ya see Shaquille O'Neal sitting courtside at Amway Tuesday night? Shaq recently labeled Stan Van Gundy the Master of Panic. Well, if that's the case, Stan has this team panicked enough to be on the brink of the NBA Finals. Stan is flat out out-coaching Mike Brown in this series. The play he would draw up for Rashard Lewis to knock down that three near the end of regulation was a thing of beauty.

...The big dog ate in the overtime, didn't he? It was an MVP-like performance from Dwight Howard who tallied 10 of his team-high 27 points in the extra session. Superman even calmly knocked down two huge free throws at the :21 mark to make it 113-109. Oh by the way, Dwight is shooting 75% (21-28) from the line over the last two games.

While I am on the topic of Dwight, I sincerely hope that the NBA sees it fit to rescind the ridiculous technical foul leveled on him by referee Scott Foster at the 4:11 mark of the third quarter. Dwight, with Anderson Varejao literally hanging on his neck, scored at the basket and then, in a moment of joy and emotion, celebrated the and-one. He wasn't taunting anybody. He wasn't trash talking anyone. Yet, he gets teched? It was an atrocious call, a call that I hope will take the league office will take a mulligan on. Dwight currently has six technical fouls. One more and he will be suspended for one game.

...Rafer Madness. Rafer Alston keeps burying teams in big playoff games. He did it in Philly. He did it in Boston. He did it again Tuesday night. With the Magic down 58-50 at the half, Skip storms out of the locker room and scores the Magic's first ten points of the third quarter. He would finish with 20 of his 26 points after halftime.

...Mr. Big Shot comes up big again. Rashard Lewis's three-pointer near the end of regulation put the Magic up 100-98. Thank goodness it was a three because LeBron would make his two free throws with :00.5 left. I have seen enough of Lew over the last few years to know that he was gonna make that shot. The guy has uncanny poise those late game situations.

...Mickael Big Play Pietrus! The amazing transformation continues. MP looks so incredibly comfortable on the court. He had five-three's and 17 points. It's gotten to the point where I hate to have him on the bench. He is playing LeBron about as well as any mere mortal can.

...By the way, the aforementioned Mo Williams scored 18 points, but he went 5-15 from the field and did not score after the third quarter. I think it's safe to say that Mo will not be doing any press junkets for a while.

...It's the Seersucker! Finally, kudos to our color analyst Richie Adubato, who's gone 4-0 in the Playoffs with the now famous Seersucker suit on. Richie has promised to wear it in Cleveland Thursday night. After getting a whiff of that thing during game five, I am thinking that the suit is gonna walk itself to Cleveland and meet him at the Q. One more. Just one more win and we're headed to the NBA Finals. Hey, Mo Williams...How's this for a guarantee? I guarantee that the Orlando Magic will show up for game five Thursday night.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, May 26, 2009, 9:45 AM

Let Your Play Do The Talkin' Mo

Ahhh, the sports guarantee.

It seems like we hear these declarations way too often these days.

Quite frankly, since Joe Willie Namath guaranteed his Jets would beat the Colts in Super Bowl III, the sports guarantee has become over-used, mundane, bravado-laced pregame gibberish. The meaning of these statements has become so watered down that we hardly even notice anymore.

However, when your team is the object of said guarantee, well, your temper goes up, your blood boils and your bulletin board is chock full o' great material.

In time for tonight's game four, Cleveland Cavalier point guard Mo Williams has guaranteed a Cav victory over the Orlando Magic.

"It's a must win. I have to guarantee it. That's how I feel. If we get the win, I don't see them beating us two out of three times at home."

First off, Mo might want to focus more on his shooting and less on his off-court bombast. Williams is one of the main reasons why his Cavs are in the predicament they're in. Williams has become a black hole in this series. He's shooting just 32% (18-56) from the field in three games. That ain't gonna cut it.

This isn't the first time Mo has opened mouth and inserted foot.

Earlier this year, Williams made a point to complain about getting snubbed for the All Star Team. After Jameer Nelson's injury, Mo would make it to Phoenix. But, let me say this. Mo, I know Jameer Nelson, and you are no Jameer Nelson!

Williams also said prior to game two that he did not believe that the Orlando Magic could beat his mighty Cavs four times in this series.

Now, it's one thing if our Richie Adubato guarantees a Magic victory on a given night on Inside Magic (6pm on AM 580 WDBO tonight). And by the way, Richie is 4-0 in the 2009 Playoffs after going 14-3 during the regular season. As a side note, Coach A. is 2-0 in his brand new Seersucker suit. He's been advised to keep wearing the lucky suit by GM Otis Smith until further notice.

But, I will never understand athletes who guarantee sports victories.

I cringed when Magic Assistant Coach Patrick Ewing 'guaranteed' a Magic win over the Celtics in game seven. Luckily, we escaped Boston with a victory, but Patrick's history of making these declarations was not exactly stellar. He was 0-2 as a Knick making those now infamous playoff guarantees.

Heck, back in 2003, when the underdog Magic surprisingly took a three games to one lead over Detroit in round one, I remember being in the media throng interviewing Tracy McGrady when he started talking about the second round. I cringed. Detroit won the series 4-3.

You just do not disrespect your opponent because, as Stan Van Gundy said during the Philly series, "This game will bring you to your knees."

While being in the Playoffs and having a chance to win a championship is motivation enough, these bold statements to the media give your opponent something to chew on. This late in the season with this much at stake, you don't want to do anything to rile up the other side.

My media friends in Cleveland tell me that Williams was more or less coaxed into making the 'guarantee'. Being a card-carrying member of the Fourth Estate, I understand how that can happen. We media guys can be very cunning when we want to.

But, Mo Williams has to be smarter than that. You have to avoid the "G" word at all costs this time of year.

Instead of making guarantees, Mo needs to let his play do his talking.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, May 25, 2009, 2:15 AM

A Magical Night in Orlando

Cleveland Cav point guard Mo Williams said before game two last week that he did not believe that the Orlando Magic could beat his mighty Cavs four times in this series.

Well, Mo, we're halfway there! And guess what? Mo Williams has not even come close to seeing how good this Magic team is yet.

Sunday night's game three was about the prettiest ugly game I have ever seen.

Magic win 99-89.

A couple of observations about the victory:

...Dwight Howard accounts for 24 points and nine rebounds in just 28 minutes of work. He Picked up his second foul at the 6:41 mark of the first quarter. Foul trouble is a recurring theme for Dwight in this series. Superman must understand that if he stays on the floor, we will win.

...Speaking of Dwight...He picked up his fifth technical foul of these Playoffs in game three. If and when he gets to seven techs, under NBA rules, he'll be suspended for one game. While I sincerely hope that the NBA rescinds Dwight's tech from game three (Joey Crawford t'ed him up for apparently jawing either towards a fan or toward the Cav bench), The Man of Steel has got to realize that he's now perilously close to costing this team and this town, perhaps, a shot at a trophy.

...While we're on topic...How about Sup from the free throw line? 14-19? Wow. You've got to believe that, somewhere, Cav great Mark Price was snickering.

...Give credit to Turk. On a night when he couldn't have thrown it in the ocean from the beach, Turk still made plays. He hit his one and only field goal at the 3:53 of the fourth quarter, a bucket that proved to be a back breaker for Cleveland. Turk finished with a double-double (13 points and 10 rebounds) on a night when he went 1-11 from the field.

...Rafer Alston set the tone early, when he tallied 11 of his 18 points in the first quarter. Rafer finished with 18 points and is looking like more of an All Star than his counterpart Mo Williams.

...The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to tell us that they are more than a one man band. Honestly, I believe them. You don't get to 66 wins playing one-on-five. But, I am convinced now more than ever that we are in their heads. Make that four wins in six games this season and 11 of the past 15 by Orlando over Cleveland.

...Mo Williams is shooting 32% (18-56) from the field in this series. If Williams' shooting continues its southward trend, this series is over Thursday night. Kinda looks like Mo should focus more on his game than predictions.

And finally, I have to give a shout out to you 17,461 Magic fans who showed loud and proud Sunday night at Amway. You rocked the house, and you have a profound impact upon that victory.

Let's go get another one Tuesday night!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Sunday, May 24, 2009, 10:45 AM

Thanks for the Concern, Cleveland

An emailer from Ohio wrote me yesterday, and amidst the spineless trash talk, he posed the question...."How can the Magic recover from such a crushing defeat?"

Silly question.

Gosh knows we in Magic Nation have been reminded over and over and over again during the course of the last few days of LeBron's LeShot to win game two.

ESPN has done its best, as usual, to hype the play and to kiss up to LBJ as only the World Wide Leader can do. Apparently, the higher ups in Bristol have made the decision that the Cavs are the Harlem Globetrotters of this series while we are the nameless, faceless Washington Generals.

That's OK. It's nothing new to us here in Hooterville. Eventually, they along with all the other doubters out there will be forced to give the Orlando Magic the props they deserve.

If you have been watching the Orlando Magic this season and especially here in the playoffs, you know that this team is about as tough-minded and as resilient as they come. I am not concerned one iota about their bounce-back-ability tonight.

Cases in point...

Game one vs. Philly: Andre Igoudala hits the game winning shot with 2.2 seconds left to lift the Sixers to a 100-98 win. We led by as much as 18 points in that game but couldn't hold. In game two, the Magic took care of business as they whipped Philly 96-87.

Game three in Philly: With :02 left, Thaddeus Young hits a lay-up over Dwight Howard as the Sixers pull another game out of their hats, 96-94. Two nights later, Hedo Turkoglu drains a three-pointer with 1.1 showing to lift the Magic to a vital 84-81 victory to send the series to 2-2.

Games six and seven vs. Boston: You are not gonna witness two more disheartening defeats in a row than what we saw vs. the Celtics in games 4 and 5. Big Baby beats us at the buzzer in the fourth game....and the Magic blow a 14 point fourth quarter lead as the C's took the fifth.

However, the Magic come back home for game six and gut out an 83-75 victory.

Then, in game seven, they do something no team has ever done. They not only beat the vaunted Celtics in a game seven after trailing 3 games to 2, they obliterated them.

So, Cav fans, there ain't no pity party down here in O-Town. Thanks for the concern....but this Magic team will bounce back just fine.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Saturday, May 23, 2009, 1:30 AM

Beaten But Better

Remember the movie "Forever Young"? Mel Gibson ages in warp speed after being frozen for about 60 years?

I feel like Mel Gibson at the end of that movie tonight.

LeBron 96 Magic 95.

When Hedo hit that shot near the end of the game, the first thing I listened for was how much time was on the clock. I was hoping, praying, that Dennis Neumann told me that there was like 00.2 of a second. When D-Man uttered, "1 second on the clock", I reeled in my emotions and told myself not to get too excited because 'you know who' is on the other side of the court.

Give it up to LeBron. The guy pulls up and nails the three to win it.

I don't blame Hedo on that play. I don't blame Stan on that play. I don't know how we could have done more. Turk took away LeBron's first option, which was the back door lob. LeBron kinda shoved Hedo a bit, which gave him the hint of air space he needed to send this series to 1-1.

Could we have played it differently? Possibly. 'You know who' was gonna get the ball in that situation. Could we have double-teamed The King and made someone else beat us? Sure...But, what's the ole saying about hindsight? It's the type of shot that only MVP's hit. What are ya gonna do? LeBron, after the game, called it "the biggest shot I've made in my life."

I know we in Magic Nation are heartbroken right now. We had a golden opportunity to dig the mighty Cavs a 2-0 hole.

But, let not your hearts be troubled, Magic Nation. Even though the total combined score in this series is 202-202, I can tell you that I believe that the Orlando Magic are the better basketball team in this series!

I am telling you right now that, despite what LeBron said after the game, we are in the Cavaliers' heads right now. They had us down by 16 in game one...and by 23 in game two, and could not put us away. I have a sense that we feel much more comfortable against this Cav team than we did vs. Boston.

They don't have anybody on their roster, other than LeBron, who can match up with our bookend forwards, Turk and Rashard.

And I truly believe that our Magic have turned the corner. This team has developed a championship caliber will and calmness about it late in big games. I like our look right now.

So, Magic fans, I know we're all bummed. But, it's our turn. It's our turn to have an impact on this series in games three and four Sunday and Tuesday nights.

Meantime, I'm headed home where I am gonna pour me a double Geritol on the rocks.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, May 21, 2009, 1:15 AM

Can I Get A Witness?

I don't know how many times I have said it this season...The resilience of this Orlando Magic team boggles the mind.

Final: Magic 107 Cavs 106.

This team never, ever, ever gives in or gives up.

I wonder how the national pundits are gonna try to discredit another Magic postseason win?

The Cavs suffered from rust after the nine-day layoff? LeBron was cramping up late? The weather in Cleveland was too hot? Kevin Garnett was hurt? The Cavs were tired coming off the nine-day layoff? What will the excuse be now?

It was very evident early what Cav coach Mike Brown's defensive strategy would be. He was gonna allow Dwight (30 points and 13 rebounds) to get his. The goal was to prevent Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu from beating him.

Through three quarters, the plan was working to perfection. At that point, Rashard had 10 points while Turk had six points on 2-7 from the field. However, the resurgent Magic, who trailed by 15 at the half, would outscore the Cavs in the third quarter 30-19 as the Cavs led 82-78 going into the fourth

Then, it was all about Lew and Turk!

Kudos to Rashard. The guy is a silent assassin. Stop me if you've heard this before....Rashard scores 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter. He drains the big three-pointer at the :14.7 mark to make it 107-106.

Turk would score nine of his 15 points in the final period. Hedo also ends up with a career playoff-high 15 assists. Make that 27 assists in the last two games for Hedo.

Offensively, the Magic did anything they wanted to against one of the best defensive teams in the league. We shot 55% from the field and hit 9-20 from three point range. The Magic feel very confident that they can get what they want offensively against this Cav team.

Defensively, it looked as if we tried to get a little too cute early in sending Dwight to LeBron's side of the court. It just did not look like our players were not buying into the pseudo-zone. The result, a 33-19 Cleveland lead after the first quarter, was not pretty.

We were all witnesses to LeBron's 49 points. The King is unstoppable. I don't mind LeBron going off against us as long as Mo Williams goes 6-19 from the field. But we have to find a better game plan to at least make LeBron work a little harder for his points.

All in all though, we were all witnesses to another gutty performance by an Orlando Magic team that continues to amaze me with an unparalleled will to win basketball games.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.



Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, May 20, 2009, 10:40 AM

Keys To A Pick Six

I like the Orlando Magic. I like 'em in six.

In order for that to happen, here are three very simple keys to a Magical win in this series:

1. Contain LeBron

...Sez says that's much easier said than done. Coach Stan Van Gundy says The King is actually playing better in the Playoffs than he did in the regular season when he earned the NBA's MVP Award. LeBron is averaging 32.9 points per game in the postseason. He's been unstoppable in eight consecutive Cav wins. But, recent history suggests that LeBron is going to have a much tougher time in this series. LBJ averaged 30 points per game vs. Orlando this season, including 43 in the lone Cav win on March 17.

However, in the two losses to Orlando this season, he shot just 36% from the field and averaged 24.5 points per game. Remember what we did to Paul Pierce in games 6 and 7? We doubled him and took the ball out of his hands. I get the feeling we'll keep that option in our back pocket in this series. To beat LeBron, you have to keep him out of the paint and make things difficult for him on the perimeter. The Magic defense, historically, does just that.

2. Let the Big Dog Eat

...We've got the most dominant big in the game today. Let him be dominant. Where have I heard that before? The Cavs are gonna make Dwight work in this series. They're gonna send Zydrunas Ilgauskus to the perimeter to try to lure Dwight away from the hoop. They'll give Dwight different looks on the offensive end. Doesn't matter. When Dwight Howard brings energy...When he runs the floor...When he is swatting everything in sight...When he is grabbing every rebound with authority...This team wins!

3. Hedo and Skip

...What went overlooked in game seven of the Celtic series is the fact that Skip was terrific. When he runs, his teammates follow...and when the Orlando Magic run, we're really good. Rafer had one of his best games of the regular season against this Cleveland team back on March 17 when he had 23 points. It will be up to Rafer to keep his team in an up-tempo mode against one of the best defensive teams in the league. Rafer's matchup with Mo Williams is one of the most intriguing of this series.

Hedo is, as always, is a huge key. Can we bottle his game seven performance in Boston? We need Hedo to be what we all know he can be, the 'Turkish Magic Johnson'. Hedo has his work cut out for him in guarding LeBron to start the game. But, if Turk is on top of his game, LeBron has his hands full on the other end, which takes a little steam out of LBJ come the fourth quarter.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, May 18, 2009, 1:30 AM

Party Like It's 1996!

The better team won.

That's right. The better team won the series Sunday night in Boston.

The Game 7 final: Magic 101 Celtics 82.

We wondered aloud before the game started, "How will this inexperienced Magic team react to being in such a pressure-packed game?"

We got our answer early when our Magic bolted out to a 22-9 advantage.

There no nerves, no jitters, no deer in the headlights looks. The Orlando Magic knew that they were the better team and they proved it in what was nearly a perfect performance.

Who said that ya can't win by shooting three's come playoff time? Against the best defense in the business, our guys made 13 of their 21 long range bombs.

An energetic and effective Hedo Turkoglu played his best game of the Playoffs. And by the way, if I am a pizza company, I am making Hedo my spokesman after TNT caught Turk woofin' down a slice before the game.

Turk was magnificent with 25 points and a career playoff high 12 assists. The three-bomb he hit with 3:50 to go broke the Celtics' backs (93-78).

There were so many outstanding performances:

.Dwight was a monster with 12 points, 16 boards and five blocks. The intensity Superman brought to the court in games six and seven was off the charts.

.Rafer Alston (15 points) set the tone early with his seven points and dribble penetration in the first quarter.

...Mickael Pietrus is saving his best ball for the Playoffs. MP had 17 huge points off the bench. We don't win this series without the clutch play of MP off the bench.

.Rashard's steady hand (19 points) was much needed throughout this series.

And let's not forget about our Head Coach.

Many of you, for some reason unbeknownst to yours truly, were all over Stan Van Gundy in this series. But know this. If Stan does not make the decision to double-team Paul Pierce virtually every time he touched the ball in games six and seven, we're the ones on summer vacation right now.

Look at the results. In game six, Pierce, who is the guy who makes the C's go, had 17 points on 6-14 from the field. In Sunday's game seven, Pierce was just 4-13 from the field with 16 points.

In those two final games, the Magic defense held Boston to 75 and 82 points. This Magic team may hit the three for show.but they defend for do ugh!

Finally, Magic fans, did you see the way our team celebrated like men on the Celtics' home court Sunday night? Unlike the Celtics in this series, they were true sportsmen. They raised their fists, shook their opponents' hands and called it a night. It was nothing but pure class.

So, we are off to the Eastern Conference Finals vs. LeBron.

I haven't had this much fun in 13 years!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Saturday, May 16, 2009, 11:37 AM

Why not us…Why not now?

Those are the now famous words of Magic owner Rich DeVos from 1995.

Fourteen years ago, the entire NBA world was telling the Orlando Magic that they were too young, too green, too immature, too wet behind the ears.

After all, champions had to experience a rite of passage. This Magic franchise had only been official for six years at that point. This was, for all intents and purposes, still an expansion team in many people’s eyes. We were the nouveau riche, the new kids on the block. We were the outsiders, threats to the good ole boy network.

The Orlando Magic were not supposed to be ready for prime time.

We all know what happened back in ’95. The Magic came up short in The Finals vs. Houston.

However, Mr. DeVos, in that one simple but brilliant statement to the world, crystallized a belief that his team deserved to be where it was. In other words, the heck with the establishment!

Cut to 2009, and Mr. D’s statement applies once again.

Is it me, or do you too get the sense that it’s us against the world again?

Perhaps I am wearing my blue and white colored glasses, but the national media’s treatment of this team has become laughable.

All year, this team was an afterthought. All season, it was all about the Cavs, Lakers and Celtics….nary a word about our hometown team.

Despite being the only franchise to put three players in the NBA All-Star Game, and despite this team racking up a total of 59 wins, our Magic got very little attention on a nationwide basis.

And then, after Game 5 vs. Boston, Dwight Howard makes some ill-advised comments about his head coach, and there it was! We were finally getting that attention that somehow eluded us all season long. But, it was for all the wrong reasons.

Dwight was vilified, ripped, roasted and toasted in this wild and whacky 24-hour news cycle that we now live in. I thought for a moment that ESPN had debuted a new channel: ESPN-DWIGHT.

There’s an old expression in this business. If it bleeds, it leads. The Orlando Magic were hemorrhaging at that point and it seemed that the national media was only too happy to re-open our wounds every half-hour on the half-hour.

And now, here we are, going into Game 7 against the vaunted Boston Celtics, the NBA’s showcase franchise, the team that has won more championships than any other.

We’ve all heard the numbers. The Celtics are 17-3 in game sevens at home...We small ponders, are just 1-1 in game sevens in our 20 years of existence.

Over the course of the next two days, the NBA world will list all the reasons why the Orlando Magic cannot win Sunday night. They’ll talk about the ghosts, the leprechauns, Red Auerbach, Larry Bird, John Havlicek and the dead spots on the mystical parquet floor.

They will give absolutely no respect to the Orlando Magic, which, quite frankly, is nothing new.

Orlando Magic, ignore what the world tells you and pay attention to the phrase your owner uttered not that long ago.

WHY NOT US…WHY NOT NOW?

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, May 14, 2009, 10:45 AM

Can't We All Get Along

Things can change on a dime in the NBA.

I had a caller ask me before game five Tuesday night if Stan Van Gundy is in trouble?

My response?

"No way. Stan is gonna be the coach of the Orlando Magic for a long, long time."

After game five, I wasn't quite so sure.

Dwight Howard made a very un-Dwight-like decision after the collapse Tuesday night. He decided to question his head coach publicly.

In this league, when a superstar player questions a coach in the press, it is customarily the beginning of the end for that head coach. Remember what the late-great Chuck Daly said about coaching in the NBA?

"Players allow you to coach them in this league."

We've seen it time and time again. We saw it up close with Shaq during the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals. We saw it with Penny in 1997.

Superstars rule this league. Shouldn't be that way. But it is. So when the superstar player publicly questions a head coach, our radar goes up.

Wednesday, Dwight came out and apologized for his post-game comments. I was happy and somewhat relieved to hear that. Dwight admitted that he was frustrated and let loose of his emotions. The post-game criticism was certainly out of character. Dwight has been a model citizen here in Orlando. The guy has always been about class, respect and decorum.

But, after the game Tuesday night, it was almost as if Superman transformed into Lex Luthor, alias Shaquille O'Neal. I wonder if someone planted a bug in his ear. I wonder aloud if some of his buddies filled his inbox with texts about his ten field goal attempts? It was just a very un-Dwight-like press conference.

Frankly, if Dwight wants the ball more, it's up to him to go get it. It's up to Dwight to tell Stan during the game to give him the ball.

Eventually, he is going to have to diversify his offensive game to become a true offensive force and go-to-guy. He's going to have to take it upon himself to develop a 10-12 foot jumper to keep suffocating defenses like Boston's from bottling him up.

I agree. Dwight Howard must get more than ten shots in a game of that magnitude. The guy is the most dominant big man in the game today. I don't blame him for being frustrated after such a crushing defeat.

But, he's got to keep that stuff in-house!

When I say on the air or in this blog that Stan's got to get Dwight more touches, that's one thing. It's talk show fodder. It's the hot topic of the day.

But, when Dwight comes out and questions his coach publicly. it would seem that he is starting the process of nudging a snowball down a very slippery snow-covered mountain. I hope that's not the case here.

Winning cures all ills. If the Magic come back and somehow take this series, it's very possible that all will be forgotten and Dwight and Stan will live happily ever after. I believe that Stan is the perfect coach for Dwight because Stan never lets up. He will keep pushing Dwight.

I just hope Dwight realizes that and stops pushing back.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, May 13, 2009, 1:33 AM

UGGHHH

If I didn’t see it, I wouldn’t have believed it.

Celtics 92 Magic 88.

I guess it all depends upon your perspective.

In Boston, they are celebrating yet another monumental come-from-behind victory in the playoffs.

Here in Hooterville, we are lamenting a collapse of colossal proportions.

How many lessons do we have to be taught in order for it to sink in? We allowed Philly to come back on us after leading by 18. We almost choked on a whopping 28-point cushion in Game 1 in Boston.

After the Game 4 loss Sunday night, though, I sensed that our Magic had turned the corner in establishing a will to win in the postseason. I sensed that this Magic team was ready to develop a tournament-toughness about them late in crunch time. I thought that this team’s mindset was in the process of becoming championship-quality.

I sit here in our RDV studios stunned, baffled and flabbergasted.

We dominated this game for about 42 minutes. Those final six minutes may haunt us all summer long.

Our Magic led 77-63 at the 8:49 mark of the fourth quarter after a Mickael Pietrus bucket.

It was 85-75 Orlando after a Hedo bucket at the 5:39 mark.

Circle that field goal right there because that was our final one of the game. We went 0-7 from that point on.

We flat out just stopped playing our game and started playing not to lose. Where was the poise? Where was the confidence? It was all on the Celtics’ side of the court.

Like I stated, if I didn’t see it, I wouldn’t have believed that Stephon Marbury, alias ‘Dead Man Walking’, would, in effect, win this game for the Celtics because he kept them within striking distance. Marbury came off the bench for a foul-plagued Rajon Rondo and scored all 12 of his points in the final quarter.

Boston goes on an 18-5 run in the final 6:07 to shock our world.

We in Magic Nation can cry all we want about not getting foul calls late. We can moan about the ridiculous call on the late 3-pointer that never even came close to the rim. We can whine about Dwight not getting enough touches throughout the entire game.

We can do all that stuff, but there’s no crying in basketball. The bottom line is that the Cetlics are one win away from an all-expense paid trip to Cleveland.

Call me crazy, but there’s a part of me that still believes the Orlando Magic are the better team in this series.

The problem, though, is becoming more evident as this gut-wrenching series plays on.

The Boston Celtics have go-to-guys who raise their levels of play when the goin’ gets tough.

The Magic are still in the process of trying to figure it all out.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, May 11, 2009, 11:30 AM

Maturing Magic are Tough Enough

Sunday night’s Baby Boom broke our hearts. We’re all still a little emotional after such a debilitating loss, our third buzzer-beating defeat of these playoffs.

But, let not your hearts be troubled, Magic Nation. Our team is growing up before our very eyes.

There we were, in prime position to dig the champs a 1-3 series disadvantage. But, as they are prone to do, the Boston Celtics climbed out of the hole and climbed back into the driver’s seat in this series with the 95-94 win in game four.

I am not buying Coach Stan Van Gundy’s post game mea culpa. The Magic defense did exactly what it should have done as the clock was winding down. Stan did not blow that game. Big Baby won it.

The two guys you just don’t want beating you in that instance are Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. How many big late game shots have we seen those guys nail?

Hedo guarded Allen to perfection by denying him the ball.

We trapped Pierce coming off the Davis screen at the top of the key.

Hindsight is 20/20, but, I still think it was the right play. Even though the foul-plagued Pierce had not scored in the fourth quarter, he’s the guy we needed to contain. We did just that.

Dwight forced Pierce to delegate. Unfortunately for us, Pierce made a perfect pass. Rashard may have been a fraction of a second late in getting back to Big Baby. But ya can’t fault the defensive strategy. Perfect offense beat a nearly perfect defense in that instance.

While Baby’s shot buried us, there are many aspects of our anemic offense you can also fault in the loss. Our starting backcourt’s shooting (2-14), our overall field goal percentage (40%) and our three point shooting going south (5-27) all were contributing factors.

But, even with all the problems we had from the field Sunday night, we were right there! We were right there because this team is learning how to play playoff-tough! They are developing a will to win in the playoffs, something the Celtics already have.

The critics say this Magic team is soft. They say they cannot beat you if they’re not shooting the three-ball. Well, despite the paltry 18.5%, the Magic went toe to toe with the champs in game four.

The critics say this Magic team is not tough enough. Coulda fooled me!

We trailed 79-71 going into the fourth quarter, but we kept chipping away. Dwight Howard nails two free throws at the :49 mark to make it 92-91. Rashard comes back and hits his two free throws with :11 to play to make it 94-93. That’s about as tough as ya get in this league

On a night when the ball wasn’t going in the hole, we shot more free throws than Boston….We scored more points in the paint….We tallied more second chance points…We scored more fast break points than the Celtics and our bench outscored theirs 31-2. We wanted that game every bit as much as Boston!

Look, we all knew the Celtics would be loaded for bare Sunday night. They’ve been there before. They showed alotta grit in pulling out that victory.

In defeat, the Orlando Magic showed me a little somethin’ somethin’ in game four.

They showed me they are developing a championship-like toughness to win this series.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Sunday, May 10, 2009, 1:30 PM

Makes No Sense to Me

I will say this once again. The NBA has serious problem on its hands.

Where is the uniformity? Where is the fairness? There’s no rhyme or reason here…

In this 2009 postseason, the Orlando Magic have been burnt twice by these ridiculously inconsistent on-court violence rules. Luckily for the league, we won both games after Dwight Howard and Rafer Alston were docked for their on-court transgressions. But, can you imagine the outcry from little, Podunk Orlando if we had lost those games?

Said the NBA, a rule is a rule.

That is, until Friday night, when the NBA’s Director of Basketball Ops Stu Jackson ruled that Celtic Kendrick Perkins’ elbow/forearm shiver to the throat/chin of Orlando’s Mickael Pietrus during did not fit the criteria of a ‘suspendable offense’.

Wait a minute. Hold on just a second here…

What IS the criteria for a suspendable offense?

The rule clearly states, “Strike an opposing player above the shoulders with an elbow foul, and it's an automatic ejection.”

Why is Kendrick Perkins going to be allowed into Amway Arena for tonight’s game four? Did our eyes deceive us? It was right there for the whole world to see.

Jackson went on to say, “Certainly, in this case had he made contact in the head area, we'd be evaluating it on a different level,"

Wait a minute. Doesn’t the rule clearly state, “above the shoulders”?

I, unlike my wife and some of you, am not a conspiracy theorist. I’ve been covering this league way too long to believe that Commissioner Stern is up there in his NYC office controlling the league’s referees as if he were a puppeteer.

I don’t believe that Stu Jackson says to himself, “I am gonna dock the Orlando Magic because they’re the up-and-comers….and I am gonna let the Celtics off easy because they’re the defending champs and they get TV ratings.”

But, it seems that now, with the league office receiving rightful criticism for the rash of postseason suspensions, the NBA is trying to make an about face and attempting to bring some common sense to the equation.

How can that be? Stu Jackson cannot change the rules midway through the game, can he? But, that’s exactly what he’s doing by allowing Perkins on the court tonight. All of a sudden, there are a new set of rules?

Frankly, all the suspensions and flagrants and so forth are a joke. This is the NBA Playoffs. The intensity, energy and stakes are through the roof. That’s why we love this time of year. Every possession is critical. Every call is monumental. Players get caught up in the emotion. Tempers flare. It's physical.

But, because of these pie-in-the-sky on-court violence rules we started out with, we are now using them as excuses to suspend players here in the postseason. I don’t think that’s healthy for the league. Let the players play, I say!

With that stated, you cannot start the playoffs with one set of rules, and all of a sudden bring common sense to the equation and changes those rules halfway in.

Under the rules, Dwight and Rafer were suspended. Under the same rules, Kendrick Perkins is playing tonight.

Makes no sense to me.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, May 8, 2009, 10:50 AM

Time to Revisit the Rulebook

After the Playoffs end, the NBA needs to take a long hard look at its penalties for fighting.

Thursday night, the league suspended Magic point guard Rafer Alston for the slap to the back of Eddie House's inflated head.

I know...I know...The rule is clear: "When a player intentionally swings his hand, whether open or closed, if the hand connects, it is an automatic one game suspension."

But, come on...It was a love tap for crying out loud! Intent was obvious. Rafer wasn't out to injure House. He merely wanted to warn him about the elbow he just got to the sternum after the loquacious House had drained yet another three pointer in our face.

Now, Rafer shouldn't have reacted the way he did. But, come on...A suspension? The punishment certainly does not fit the crime here.

While we're at it, how about nailing House with a technical foul every time he taunts the opposing bench? Eddie had the gumption to say after game two, "If I hit shots, I might yell at my teammates or stuff like that. I never disrespect the game by talking crazy to the other team." Eddie, your nose is growin'. Eddie House is one of the biggest trash-talkers and taunters in the game today. He, his coach and his teammates justify Fast Eddie's act as 'emotional'. I call it classless.

With that stated, the stakes are so huge and the play is so intense this time of year that I just have a hard time with all these suspensions we are seeing in the Playoffs. The NBA game is a very physical game. Intensity is through the roof.

I also have a problem with lack of equity here.

For example, how in the world has Celtic point guard Rajon Rondo avoided suspension this postseason?

In the first round series with the Bulls', not only does Rondo not get suspended for knocking Brad Miller into yesterday with a haymaker right to Miller's choppers, he also gets off scot-free for dragging Bull Kirk Hinrich into the scorer's table in game six. Where's the equity?

This summer, the league needs to revisit the rulebook. There is no place in the game for on-court violence.

What I have a problem with is the lack of a uniform nature of these penalties.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, May 7, 2009, 1:14 AM

Mama Said Nothing About Nights Like This

I am no basketball genius.

But, I know this much…When your team cannot score, and your team is unable to prevent the opponent from scoring, your team is going to lose.

Such was the case Wednesday night in Boston where the Celtics blitzed our Magic in Game 2.

First off, give credit where it is due. The Boston Celtics showed why they are the champions. They played with more energy, more fire, more purpose and more desire.

Rajon Rondo’s star is rising. Rondo authored his third triple-double of these playoffs in Game 2 with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 18 assists. The 18 assists set a playoff opponent record vs. Orlando. Rondo is too speedy, heady and quick for our point guards, and if we don’t find an answer on how to subdue this guy, the Celtics will be marching onto the Eastern Conference Finals soon.

By the way, if the NBA suspends Rafer Alston for that love tap to Eddie House in the fourth quarter, it would be a travesty. Where’s the equity? Rondo pummels Brad Miller and gets a slap on the wrist? No way. The NBA cannot suspend Rafer for Game 3.

Kendrick Perkins (16 and 9 ) outscored and outplayed Dwight Howard (12 and 12). Ray Allen showed up (22 points). House did what he does best off the Celtic bench. He punked us. Everything he threw up went in (31 points, 11-14, 4-4). But Eddie, beware, don’t go bringin’ that punk-talk to Orlando!

The Boston Celtics did anything they wanted on both ends of the floor. They had 34 assists.

And keep in mind, Paul Pierce played a total of 15 minutes and scored just three points.

Reports of the Boston Celtics’ demise were greatly exaggerated.

Now, for our Magic….It was a very disappointing performance by a Magic team that apparently gave lip service to the fact that they were not happy with a mere split of the first two games of this series after the Game 1 win.

We knew what was coming. We knew that the Cetlics were in a sour mood after the Game 1 loss. We knew that the champs would be out to bury us. We were not ready for the onslaught

The most disappointing aspect of Game 2 was the fact that we just did not compete until the game was well in hand. Usually, this team will stay in a game with sound defense when their offense goes south. That was not the case Wednesday.

Offensively, the only guy who showed any sort of mettle was J.J. Redick, who kept us in the game, temporarily, in the first quarter with 11 points on 3 threes.

Overall, it was an awful night for the Orlando Magic.

But, I have some good news. This game is only worth one win for the Boston Cetlics.

We went to Boston and got our split. We come home where we’ve sold out Games 3 and 4 Friday and Sunday.

Magic fans, get fired up. We’re gonna need you to bring the House down!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, May 5, 2009, 12:46 AM

Bottom Line: 1-0!

The game just ended.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry?

The first 27 minutes were a thing of beauty. The final 21 minutes reminded me why beauty is only skin deep.

Final in Game 1: Magic 95 - Celtics 90.

Who am I to complain about stealing home court advantage from the NBA champions in Game 1?

Point…The Magic outscored the Celtics 54-36 in the first half.
Counterpoint…The Celtics outscored the Magic in the second 54-41.

Point…The Magic played with poise, confidence and desire in the first half.
Counterpoint…The Celtics played with poise, confidence and desire in the second half.

Point…Rashard Lewis set the tone in the first quarter with 12 of his team-high 18 points.
Counterpoint…Rashard scored zero points in a shaky fourth quarter.

Point…Boston shot zero free throws in the first half.
Counterpoint…Boston made 22 of 26 free throws in the second half.

Point…Hedo Turkoglu scored 14 points through three quarters.
Counterpoint…Hedo scored just one point in the final period.

But, come on Scott! Look at the big picture here...

Dwight Howard came back from suspension with a vengeance. Dwight had 16 points, 22 rebounds and three blocks. The Celtics took a whole half to figure out that playing vs. Superman is a wee bit different than going up against Brad Miller.

This was, by far and away, the best game I have ever seen Mickael Pietrus play in a Magic uniform. M-P scored 17 big ones off the Magic bench and he had two big second half three’s to temporarily stem the Boston tide.

What about the play of our shooing guards, M-P and J.J. Redick. Our two two’s would outscore Ray Allen 29-9. Unbelievable!

Let’s not forget about the late game heroics provided by J.J., who calmly drained four clutch free throws in the final :14 to ice the victory.

The more time goes by in these wee hours of Tuesday morning, the less and less I think about the gaffes of the final 21 minutes of Game 1….and the more I think of how important a win this was.

Bottom line is this: Magic 1, Celtics 0.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Sunday, May 3, 2009, 2:07 PM

This Is The Way It Must Be

In the back of our minds, I think we all knew that this is the way it had to be.

In order for us to get where we want to go, we have to get by the defending champs.

Saturday night, the battered and bruised Boston Celtics ended their epic first round series by beating the Bulls 109-99 to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Orlando.

Don’t give me that gobbledygook that the champs are worn out after playing such an incredibly draining series. Everyone’s tired. Everyone’s beaten up.

The thing is, adrenaline takes over this time of year, and, sometimes after such a grueling series, teams find that extra shot of get-up-and-go. The Shamrocks will be so glad to be done with the Bulls that they will come out with fire in their eyes in game one. That is a guarantee!

Coach Doc Rivers has proclaimed Kevin Garnett out for “these playoffs”. As strong-willed as Garnett is, I have trouble believing that we’re not gonna see KG at some point in time this postseason.

With or without Garnett, this Cetlic team has the heart and the will of a champion, not to mention their new Big Three (Pierce, Allen and Rondo).

So, how do we topple the kings? Here are my five keys to Magic victory in this series….

1…OFFENSE
Typically, this time of year, teams are focused on the defensive end of the court, and well we should be. But, the Boston Celtics have done as solid a job as any team in the league of crippling our offense. In four games this season, the Celtics held Orlando to an average of 84 points and 40 percent FG. Boston is as good as any in running out to our three point shooters while clogging up the lane for Dwight to operate. To beat the Celtics in this series, we must keep the ball moving. We play right into their hands if we’re stagnant.

2…STOP DRIBBLE PENETRATION
Rajon Rondo is the guy who straws the Celtics’ drinks. He’s the guy who makes them go. Rondo has transformed into a key player on this team because he’s become an offensive force. Not only does he see the whole court, but he can now knock down that 15-18 foot jumper consistently now. He’s cat quick and can make ya look silly. Our point guards, Rafer and AJ, must stay in front of him and challenge him. If not, this series will be shorter than expected. Our transition defense has to be better than it was in the first round vs. Philly.

3…RASHARD
… In the close out game in Philly, Rashard Lewis carried us with his game-high 29 points. I’d love to see Coach Van Gundy find a way to plop Rashard on that low left block in this series again. This is where not having Garnett really stings for the Celtics because I don’t see anyone on that Boston roster that can handle Sweet Lew defensively. Rashard scored 30 points in Boston this season. He averaged 21.5 ppg vs. them in all four games. Sweet Lew is a huge key in this series.

4…RAY ALLEN
…The Celtics don’t have anybody who can check Rashard….but do we have anyone who can contain Rashard’s former Sonic teammate, Ray Allen? With Courtney Lee sidelined at least the first two games of this series, it’s gonna be up to J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus to try stay with Ray Ray. Allen had 17 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter in a Magic win in Boston back on March 8. Allen lit up the Bulls for 51 points on nine three’s in game six vs. Chicago. With our defensive issues at the shooting guard spot, Allen scares me to no end in this series,

5…PLAY LOOSE!
...For some reason, through the first five games of the Sixer series, we played not to lose. The Orlando Magic cannot win this series if they play tight and bothered. We’ve got to come out and play our game. Defend, rebound, run up and down the court, move the ball and just play as you did in the regular season. Have fun!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, May 1, 2009, 12:17 AM

Welcome Back Orlando Magic

Be honest…How many of you gave the Orlando Magic a chance to win Game 6 in Philly? OK…I see a number of hands. Now, how many of you thought we would romp by 25 points? Anyone?

What a performance! The Orlando Magic, for the second consecutive season, are headed for the Eastern Conference Semifinals after the impressive 114-89 pummeling of the Sixers in Game 6.

“It’s one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of”, said Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy after handing the Sixers their worst playoff loss since 1970.

An 11-0 run coupled with an 8-0 spurt in the first quarter gave Orlando a 30-19 lead after one. It was a quarter that set the tone for the rest of the game.

For the first time in four weeks, the Orlando Magic played like the Orlando Magic! I am certainly no t stupid enough to suggest that this team is better off without Dwight and Courtney. But, for one game, for this Game 6, they turned into our Magic again.

This was by far and away the best offensive game this team has played since leveling Cleveland back on April 3. The Magic, for the first time in this series, played loose. They played with passion. They just looked like they were having fun. The ball was moving…The three’s were dropping. It was a thing of beauty.

--For the first time since April 3, the Magic scored over 100 points.

--They tallied a whopping 31 assists, three off the franchise playoff record.

--Rashard Lewis was clutch. On a night when we needed someone to step up big, Lew was Sweet with his game-high 29 points. When Dwight returns for the next series, I think Coach Stan is gonna have to find a way to get Rashard on that left block to work his low post magic.

--Rafer Alston was huge. Rafter had a double-double (21p and 10a). He was aggressive from the get go on both ends and was responsible for getting his team in a good rhythm.

--Marcin Who? I guarantee you there were 20,000 Sixer fans muttering Marcin’s name as they dejectedly exited the Wachovia Center. The Polish Hammer comes up with 11 points and 15 rebounds. What a clutch performance!

--JJ was outstanding. He was 5-for-7 from three-point range with a career playoff-high 15 points. Magic GM Otis Smith told JJ to just go out and have fun. That’s exactly what he did.

Man, there will be so many terrific performances to talk about over the next few days. Tony Battie played big with his seven points and six rebounds. Mickael Pietrus adds 14 points off the bench.

Be proud of your ballclub, Magic fans. In the face of nothing but adversity, this team banded together and came up with one of the best performances of the season.

Welcome back Orlando Magic!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, April 30, 2009, 11:22 AM

I Get It, But I'm Not Happy

OK...I have now seen the elbow to Sammy Dalembert's melon. I have seen it over, and over, and over again.

I will admit that, under the NBA rules, the punishment fits the crime. I understand why Dwight Howard was suspended for game five in Philly.

Am I comfortable, or happy, with the ruling? No. Frustrated. You bet.

Why did Dwight react the way he did? Because Dalembert was trying to shove him out of the lane with two hands. Was there a foul called on Sammy? Nope. Such is life in Dwight Howard's world. Everyone is allowed to beat him up, yet when he reacts, he is the one who has to pay. Welcome to Dwight's world.

The Sixers have beaten Dwight silly in this series. Any other mere mortal would have succumbed long ago. Not Superman. I don't blame Dwight for reacting the way he did. Put yourself in his shoes. The guy is being mugged for over 40 minutes a night.

I don't want to excuse the elbow in any way, but I can certainly understand his reaction.

As the Sixers and the Magic were playing game five in Orlando Tuesday, the Celtics and Bulls were playing another instant classic in Boston. Late in the game, as Chicago's Brad Miller was going up for a potential game-tying layup, he was absolutely flattened by Celtic guard Rajon Rondo.

No one can tell me that Rondo went for the ball. He aimed squarely for Miller's noggin. Not only did he go for his head, Rondo wound up and swung a haymaker right at Miller's mouth.

The refs whistled Rondo for a foul. It was just a regular personal foul. No flagrant? Surely, the NBA would suspend Rondo for Game 6 after going to the videotape, right?

Nope. No fine. No suspension. Not even an after-the-fact flagrant!

Where's the fairness? Where's the equity? If the NBA was gonna suspend Dwight, didn't the league have to do the same with Rondo?

Whatever...

After Game 5, Philly Head Coach Tony DiLeo moaned and groaned about Dwight allegedly camping out in the lane.

Has Dwight, Stan or anyone on our team cried about the Sixers' going UFC on Dwight in this series? You have not heard word one from our side.

You know what I would love? I'd love to see our team rally around our fallen heroes, Dwight and Courtney Lee, and come out with a vengence tonight. I'd love to see Marcin Gortat and Tony Battie dominate the Sixer frontline. I'd love to see JJ Redick hit three after three. I'd love to see Rashard and Hedo bury Philly in the fourth quarter.

And I'd love to see Tony DiLeo cry his way right into the offseason.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, April 29, 2009, 12:05 PM

Free Dwight!

Will the NBA suspend Dwight Howard for the elbow thrown at Sixer Samuel Dalembert in the first quarter of the Magic’s Game 5 91-78 beat down of Philly?

I certainly hope not.

The rule states: "Officials have been instructed to eject a player who throws a punch, whether or not it connects, or an elbow which makes contact above shoulder level. If elbow contact is shoulder level or below, it shall be left to the discretion of the official as to whether the player is ejected. Even if a punch or an elbow goes undetected by the officials during the game, but is detected during a review of a videotape, that player will be penalized."

So, NBA, the ball is in your court. What will the penalty be? Will Dwight get suspended, fined, or both?

Star player or not, the NBA has a history of zero tolerance when it comes to violence, or potential violence on the court.

Phoenix Sun fans, to this day, say their road to the title was derailed thanks to Commissioner Stern’s edict that Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw be suspended for one game for leaving the bench area and stepping on the court after a scrum between Robert Horry and Steve Nash back in the 2007 Playoffs.

It happened to us here in Orlando back in the 2001 NBA Playoffs. The NBA office suspended Magic guard Dee Brown vs. Milwaukee. Dee had taken on step onto the court from the sideline area during an on-court disagreement in Game 3. Brown was suspended for the next game and the Magic eventually lost that series.

This is a bit of a different scenario, but I think those two cases illustrate that the NBA has no grey area when it comes to on-court violence, especially in this post Basket-Brawl era (2004 Auburn Hills melee).

What’s your opinion? Obviously, that depends on perspective.

If you’re a whiny Philly fan following in coach Tony DiLeo’s footsteps, you are claiming that Dwight should have been ejected from the game immediately after the play. You want him gone for Game 6. You are also crying about Dwight camping in the lane too long in this series? What a crock! Someone give DiLeo some cheddar with his whine. There’s no crying…There’s no crying in basketball!

If you’re like me, you are hoping that common sense and perspective enters the picture.

Dwight Howard is no Ron Artest. There is no history whatsoever of Dwight wanting to hurt anyone on the basketball court. Heck, almighty Sports Illustrated recently labeled the smiley Superman as being too nice, too easygoing. The article implied that Dwight is too much of a goofball to lead a team to a title.

We Magic fans who have watched this kid mature into the most dominant big in the game today know that article’s premise was totally off base. But, those fun loving characteristics described by SI were on target. Dwight’s just a good kid.

Keep this in mind too. Dwight has been clawed, bitten and mauled in this series. By my score, Dalembert, Ratliff and Evans have fouled Superman some 47 times through five games. That’s not counting the hack job the Sixer guards have done on him in double teams.

Through it all, Dwight has kept his cool and has dominated.

With that stated, I realize that there’s a real possibility that the NBA suspends Dwight for Game 6. We don’t have a very long history of playing sans our star since he came into the league in 2004.

Earlier this season, Dwight’s string of 351 straight played came to an end on a December trip to the left coast when a balky knee sidelined him for a couple of games.

In the first game, the Magic beat the Jazz 103-94 as Rashard Lewis had 27 points.

Two nights later, Marcin Gortat tallied 16 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks in a 109-98 victory at Golden State.

The Prince of Poland is more than capable.

But, I hope the NBA sees the light. I hope the league office sees it fit to bring perspective to this ruling and not suspend Dwight Howard.

Philly, as Coach Van Gundy said so eloquently last night, "Just play the game!"

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, April 27, 2009, 12:10 AM

Hedo Turns the Tables

Prior to this series, my blood pressure was normal, my cholesterol was down, my hair was brown, my hand was steady and I didn’t have to worry about this nervous twitch in my right eye.

So much for good health!

We’ve had four dramatic games in this series so far—three of them have gone right down to the nub, and one (Game 2) went into the final minute before being decided.

Sunday night, Hedo the Hero showed up as the Orlando Magic withstood a furious Philly fourth-quarter rally to upend the Sixers 84-81.

The Magic led 79-69 with just over 4:00 to play. That’s when Philly decided to go on a 12-2 run to knot the score at 81 after a Dalembert bucket at the 14.8 mark.

So, what do ya do if you’re Stan Van Gundy in the huddle? Hedo was playing well in game four (7-10, 14 points to that point), but overall in this series, he had been M-I-A. Hedo was shooting just 23 percent from the field through three games and had become Andre Igoudala’s personal punching bag.

But, do you recall what Coach Stan said after the tough game Game 3? Stan expressed confidence in Hedo when he said that he was gonna keep going to Hedo in clutch situations. I must admit, I cringed when I heard that. But, Stan stuck to his word and Hedo repaid his coach’s confidence with the biggest shot of the year!

Prior to this game, many of us in Magic Nation had wondered aloud, where did Hedo go? What’s wrong with him? Is the ankle bothering him more than he’s leading on? Is he thinking too much about his contract and not enough about a championship?

Wonder no more.

Turk stepped up nailed the three over Thaddeus Young. Game over!

The thing ya loved about the play was that Hedo got his feet set and got a good look. At the end of Game 2, Turk was criticized for being a little too hasty and not getting a better shot with 2.2 left. Sunday night, he got that look and knocked it down.

Thank goodness he did, too, because, I am not quite sure we had the energy to challenge the hard-chargin’ Sixers in overtime (Dwight 44 mins, Rashard 42 and Courtney 41).

Going into Game 4, I was looking for our playmakers to make a difference. We had seen Andre Igoudala and Thaddeus Young win games in the closing seconds.

Sunday night, it was our turn as Turk turned the tables.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Saturday, April 25, 2009, 12:45 AM

I am Amazed, Dazed and Confused

I've never seen a more unlikely game winning shot in all my years of covering this league.

Thaddeus Young goes baseline with the clock winding down. He is stripped by Dwight Howard in the lane. Young gathers himself and the ball. It appeared that Dwight was surprised that Young sprung up with his left, his strong hand, he puts it off glass with :02 left and the Sixers win, 96-94.

What a way to lose a game!

A closer look, though, tells you that this game was lost in the first two and a half quarters of game three.

I am as stunned as many of you Magic fans at the play of our team for the first 30 or so minutes of game three. Granted, Philly's playing out of its mind right now. But, for the first two and a half quarters, we showed no intensity, no drive and no passion.

How is that possible? Here is a team that has made us all proud because they've been so impressive all season long in outworking its opponents. Effort has never been an issue.

Now, all of a sudden, in the postseason, we lack intensity? For some reason, this team has played tight for most of this series. It is truly a Jekyll and Hyde transformation that baffles and dismays. I just don't understand the lack of passion we have seen from this Magic team in this series. It's almost as if they are playing not to lose.

With that stated, our Magic did awaken midway through the third quarter when, down by 17 points, they went on a 17-2 run to get back into it.

We saw some good signs in that final 18 minutes of game three:

--Dwight Howard ( a playoff career-high 36 points) carried his team with posterizing dunks and big free throws. I hope the national media caught a glimpse of the two free throws hit with 6.9 to play. Perhaps they'll get of his back now? Superman scored 11 points in the fourth quarter.

--Rashard Lewis showed up. We finally saw those vintage late game three's from Sweet Lew, who had three treys in the second half, two of them coming in the fourth quarter.

--This team finally showed the intensity, the want, and the desire that we have grown accustomed to seeing out of this Magic team.

On the dark side:

--Hedo Turkoglu continues to be a liability. I hate to write that because Turk is such an extreme talent, but he's being abused by Andre Igoudala defensively. Offensively, he goes 2-12 from the field with 11 points in game three. He continues to turn it over (5 TO's) . I am not quite sure how ironic it is that the Magic made their 17-2 third quarter run with Hedo on the bench. We have to get something positive from Turk, or this series is over on Tuesday.

--Where's the defense? This was the third best defensive team in the league this year? Coulda fooled me! The Sixers are shooting over 50% FG in this series. The disturbing thing about that is that they are not killing us on the boards....They not killing us on the fast break...They're not beating us on turnovers. They are just flat out out-shooting us in this series by getting anything they want for the two Andre's.

--Where's the bench? Pietrus did get us six points. Tony Battie had four. That's it. The Magic reserves were outscored by the Sixer bench 21-10. Overall, our bench has been very disappointing in this series.

--Will somebody, other than Dwight, step up and make a play? Philly's play makers are doing their thing. The Sixers have gotten two game wining shots in this series. Where are our playmakers?

I'm ticked. I'm tired. I'm out.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, April 23, 2009, 2:30 PM

We Gotta Get Turk and Lew Going

Wednesday night, the Orlando Magic knotted their first round playoff series with Philly with the 96-87 win.

After two games in this series, it's become painfully obvious that these Sixers are not gonna cooperate and make this easy.

Philly's execution of its defensive gameplan has been outstanding in the first two games.

Coach DiLeo and his staff have obviously decided that they are not going to allow Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis to beat them. Apparently, he got his fill during the regular season when Turk and Sweet Lew drained a total of 21 three-pointers on Philly in three matchups.

Through the first two games of this series, the Sixer defense has smothered Hedo. The numbers are not pretty. Turk's averaging 10 points per game. He's shot just 27.8% from the field and is just 1-3 on his three point attempts. You read that right: 3-three pointers attempted by Turk in two games. Keep in mind that this guy averaged nearly five three point attempts per game in the regular season.

Turk is not alone in his offensive struggles. Philly is holding Rashard to just 36% from the field through games one and two. He's averaging 15.5 points, but, Lew is just 2-10 from the arc. This is a guy who led the NBA in both three-pointers made and three's attempted this season.

Are Rashard and Turk 100% healthy? No, they're not. Are they still a bit rusty after missing some action at the end of the regular season? Sure, they're still trying to get into a flow.

But, I believe that our bookends' struggles early in this series have much more to do with Philly's stifling defense than anything else.

One of the strengths of this Magic team over the last two seasons has been the rather unconventional route we take at the small forward and power forward positions. Very few teams can match our versatility at those spots. But, through two games, Philly is doing as good a job as any team has this year in shutting down Hedo and Lew.

In double teaming Dwight Howard, Philly is coming with either one of their guards, which enables the likes of Thaddeus Young and Andre Igoudala to stay home. Other teams have attempted such a strategy, but very few clubs are long enough, quick enough and athletic enough to succeed.

Young and Igoudala are two incredible athletes. Turk and Lew are having issues trying to shoot over them. They are having problems going around them. They are having trouble finishing at the basket.

If this trend continues, we are in for a long and grueling series. I love the fact that our unflappable rookie Courtney Lee is stepping up and leading this team in scoring right now (along with Dwight). I love the fact that our point guards, Rafer and A-J, are knocking down shots. But, it's obvious that Coach DiLeo does not think those guys can do that on a consistent basis.

The Orlando Magic had the third best defense (FG%) in the league this year for a reason. If need be, we can win with heart and hustle. This team can win ugly.

But, I get the feeling that in order for us to close out this stubborn Philly team, we're gonna have to figure out a way to unleash Turk and Rashard.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 12:45 PM

Get Off Stan's Back

Stan Van Gundy won 59 games during the regular season. He finished third in the balloting for the NBA's Coach of the Year Award (given to Cleveland's Mike Brown).

Now, all of sudden, he's lost respect and control of his team? What a crock!

Criticism has come Stan's way in the wake of his team blowing that 18 point late third quarter lead of game one. Some of the criticisms are valid. Any time your team gags on that large a lead in an NBA Playoff game, you open yourself up to be panned.

Did Stan leave his reserves on the court too long late in the third and early in the fourth as the Sixers were gaining confidence and whittling down the deficit? Perhaps.

Could Stan have gone in another direction in drawing up that last second play for a struggling Hedo Turkoglu? Maybe.

Hindsight is 20-20, especially come playoff time when the stakes heighten and the lens magnifies. Of course, it doesn't help that we in the media have to fill space any way we can due to there being three full days of fluff between games.

All of a sudden, Stan is the "Prince of Panic"?

Earlier this year, Orlando backup center Marcin Gortat gave an interview to a Polish newspaper. Marcin was quoted as saying "He (Stan) often panics during games. He's got some behavior which is not good for us. With his gestures, he makes us nervous on the floor."

Is this a troubling statement? Somewhat. Frankly, it would be more troubling if it were uttered by Dwight, Rashard or Hedo. Marcin commented on the quote Tuesday, saying, "I don't know anything about this. Thanks to Coach Van Gundy, I made my dream came true. He made my name and I am happy I can play for him."

Whether he made the comment or not, Marcin has rekindled some old flames. Shaquille O'Neal recently labeled Stan the "Master of Panic" after Stan needled the Shaq for taking a dive vs. Dwight Howard after the game back in early March.

To know me is to know that I put zero credence in what "The Big Flopper" has to say. The man is unable to get any attention by his play on the court now--so he opens his mouth and shows his ignorance every time he shoves his foot into it.

Is Stan a perfect head coach? Quite frankly, I don't know of any of us who are perfect (except my lovely wife, of course). If you put the truth serum to some of our players, they'd probably tell you that they wish he'd be a little less demonstrative and a little more nurturing.

But, you know what? This is the NBA (No-Boys-Allowed). This is the 'show'. I don't want my team babied. I don't want my team comfortable. I want my players on edge. I want my coach on edge. I want my coach poking and prodding his players to get the very best out of them.

That coach is Stan Van Gundy.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, April 20, 2009, 10:02 AM

A Philly Fluke in Game 1?

Now we know why Stan Van Gundy is not a flip-the-switch guy.

Sunday night, we saw something we had not seen all season. The Orlando Magic gave away a late third quarter 18-point lead only to fall to the Sixers in Game 1, 100-98. The 18-point lead was the largest Orlando had blown all year.

The Sixers flat out turned the tables on the Magic in Game 1. Remember, back on February 28th, we went up to Philly and blitzed them 36-20 in the fourth quarter to rally for a 106-100 win.

Sunday night, Philly put on their rally caps, as they outscored Orlando 35-19 in the fourth.

The NBA game has a way of humbling the exalted, doesn’t it?

There were some disturbing signs in game one…

Our team came out flat. For whatever reason, the Magic just did not play with that razor’s edge intensity and focus that clubs must have this time of year to win.

While Dwight Howard and Courtney Lee were outstanding and Anthony Johnson was our only reserve to give us anything substantive, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and our bench were, for the most part, non-factors.

Turk’s performance, to me, was the biggest disappointment of the day. I don’t know if it was rust, whether he was bothered by the sprained ankle, or whether his head was buried in the low lying cumulus clouds hovering over Amway Arena. Turk just looked lost.

I know Hedo has been our Mr. Fourth Quarter over the last few seasons, but, the way he played Sunday, I'd think twice about drawing up a play for him with 2.2 seconds left. He had plenty of time to get a decent shot there, yet, he heaves a desperation fadeaway three as the buzzer sounds? Heck, give me any other option besides that one. I’d rather see Dwight get the ball on the low post and take my chances with Superman on the free throw line with a chance to tie!

And why, for the love of Donyell Marshall, is Turk leaving him wide open on the three-point arc in the fourth quarter? The 35 year old Marshall is out there to do one thing and one thing only.

Now, to Turk’s credit, he played outstanding defense on Andre Igoudala in the closing seconds. On that play, you have to tip your cap to the guy. Andre made an incredible shot to win it with 2.2 to play.

If you’re a Magic fan, it’s even more painful to realize that the team that takes game one of seven game NBA Playoff series wins that series 79 percent of the time.

No one said this was gonna be easy. The Sixers are a pesky bunch.

But, come on. Think objectively here. As lackluster as the Magic were Sunday, the Sixers played out of their minds in the fourth quarter.

They nailed five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Keep in mind that Philly is the worst three-point shooting team in the league.

The Sixers shot 74 percent (14-19) in the fourth quarter. That’s just not gonna happen again.

The Sixer bench outscores out bench 42-13? I realize that Lou Williams is instant offense, but to allow greybeards Marshall and Theo Ratliff to have that much of an impact on the outcome is ridiculous. Marshall played in just 25 games this season, while Ratliff saw scant action in 46 games.

Overall, we did what we wanted to in terms of limiting their fast break and taking care of the ball.

I am still keeping the faith and sticking to my prediction of the Magic in five.

But, if we’re gonna sweep from here on out, our Magic must turn up the intensity…We gotta get better play from our bookend forwards, Hedo and Rashard…Our bench has to rise to the occasion….And the Philadelphia 76ers have to come back down to earth.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Sunday, April 19, 2009, 11:55 AM

Magic in Five!

I believe that the Orlando Magic are gonna win this first round series with Philly.

The bottom line is that the Magic are the better basketball team. Customarily, in a seven-game NBA Playoff series, the better team wins.

Question is—how quickly do we want to dispose of these pesky Sixers?

The season series, on the surface, was dominated by Orlando, 3-0. It was our first season sweep of Philly since 1997-98.

But, a closer look tells you that the season sweep could very well have favored Philly 2-1. For the most part, the Sixers controlled games two and three, until the fourth quarter.

On November 26, it took a Rashard Lewis clutch 3-pointer with 4.8 seconds left to put us up for good, 96-94. On February 28, the Magic trailed by 12 at the half and by 10 after three. But, then Orlando outscored Philly 36-20 in the final stanza to run away, 106-100.

Truth is that the Sixers have the ability to bother the Orlando Magic in this series because their strengths are our weaknesses.

The Sixers finished the year in the top five in points in the paint, points off turnovers, fast-break points and second-chance points.

--The Magic must cut down on miscues or Philly will make us sweat.

To know the Orlando Magic is to know that, while they only averaged 13.9 turnovers-per-game, they have a tendency to throw the ball all over the yard when they get flustered. Remember back to last year’s second round series with Detroit, when, in the deciding game five, we had seven turnovers in the first 8:45 of the first quarter. Dwight Howard leads the team in turnovers. Superman (3.0 TO) and Hedo Turkoglu (2.6 TO) must protect the ball against this team or this series could linger.

--Orlando must get back on defense.

The Sixers were third in the NBA in fast break points this season. Philly fuels itself by capitalizing on its opponents mistakes and jetting into the open court. Andre Igoudala, Lou Williams and Willie Green are at their best when they’re running. They’re very athletic. We gotta sprint back on defense on makes and misses or they’ll make us pay.

--We must keep the Sixers off the offensive glass.

That’s easier said than done. Sure, we have the league’s leading rebounder in Dwight Howard. But overall, this Magic team is far from being a great rebounding club. We struggle against clubs like Philly, teams that do the dirty work and crash the offensive glass. The Sixers were second in the NBA in offensive rebounding this year (12.7 per game). They were also fourth in the league in second chance points. Looking at the three matchups between these teams this season: the Sixers collected 17 OR’s in game one, 14 in game two and 14 in game three. We must keep Philly offensive glass or things could get dicey in this series for us.

So, while the Sixers have the ability to make things very uncomfortable for the Orlando Magic in this series, I do believe that our Magic will rise to the challenge and keep Philly at bay.

Magic in five!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, April 15, 2009, 1:22 PM

What a Season!

It started way back on October 29. Tonight, the NBA’s regular season ends for the Orlando Magic.

It is amazing how quickly this season has flown. But, the old expression, ‘time flies when you’re having fun”, certainly applies this year. Believe me, we’ve been through some long and grueling seasons like the Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings, and the LA Clippers have experienced. This is much more fun!

What will I remember most about this season? Where do I start?

…Dwight Howard’s progression. Remember, the guy is just 23 years old! He, right now, is the most dominant big in the game. Can you imagine where he’s gonna be in a couple of seasons? Superman had NINE 20-20 games this season.

…Defense! In order for this team to take that next step this season, we had to get stingier on the defensive side of the court. Numbers don’t lie: 94.6 ppg vs. (seventh in the NBA) and 43.55% vs.(good enough for the third best defensive mark in the league).

…I will remember the emergence of Jameer Nelson as this team’s catalyst and leader. Jameer, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for you next year.

…I will also remember the incredible 11th hour deal GM Otis Smith and his staff put together in getting Rafer Alston from Houston. Without that deal, this is a good team that likely disappears early in the playoffs. With Rafer, we now have a chance to do some damage come playoff time.

…Road warriors! For the second consecutive season under Stan Van Gundy, this team just refused to lose on the road. This season’s road record was identical to last year’s: 27-14. It’s the second-best road record in the NBA.

…I will remember the 2009 NBA All Star Game, when the Orlando Magic were the only team in the league represented by three players (Dwight, Rashard, Jameer).

…I will remember Dwight’s big night: Feb. 17 vs. Charlotte. Superman tallied 45 points, 19 rebounds and eight blocks in an overtime victory over the Bobcats.

Man, what a season it was…

We had two-seven game win streaks. We swept the Lakers and Spurs for the very first time. We nailed an NBA-record 23-three pointers in a 139-107 win at Sacramento on January 13. We went 12-2 in the month of March. We won the Southeast Division for the second straight year.

Wednesday night is Fan Appreciate Night at Amway Arena. It is a night when the Orlando Magic will rightfully take the opportunity to thank you, the fans, for your support this season.

May I take this opportunity now to thank you, Magic, for a fantastic regular season.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, April 13, 2009, 10:08 AM

And then, there were three

With just two games to go in the NBA's regular season, we are finally starting to pare down our potential first round playoff opponents.

Here's what we know -- Miami will not be in O-Town this weekend. With its 122-105 victory over the Knicks Sunday night, Miami claims the No. 5 spot in the East and will head to Atlanta for a first round date with the Hawks.

So, what team will be at Amway Arena this weekend?

Either Philly, Chicago or Detroit.

Will it be the Sixers?

Just when ya think the (40-40) Sixers have the inside track to clinching that sixth spot and a date with the Magic in round one, Philly's free fallin'.

Sunday's 111-104 loss to the Raptors in Toronto was the Sixers' fifth straight. The possibility of a Sixer seven-game losing streak to end the season is distinct. Philly hosts No. 2 Boston Tuesday night. They'll visit No. 1 Cleveland to close it out Wednesday.

Will it be the Bulls?

Tonight, (40-40) Chicago visits the Pistons. If the Bulls win, they would capture the season series over Detroit and guarantee themselves of avoiding the No. 8 seed and a matchup with Cleveland in round one. Problem is, even though the Bulls have won eight of their last 10, they own a 12-28 record on the road. Wednesday night, the Bulls close out their season by hosting Toronto.

Or, will it be the Pistons?

I still believe, that somehow, someway, the basketball gods will finagle a way for these guys to be here in Orlando this weekend. For that to happen, the (39-41) Pistons must beat the Bulls tonight and win at Miami on Wednesday. Then, they must hope for some help from Philly and Chicago. Will the stars align in order for that to happen?

Tie breaker anyone?

If, say, the Sixers and Bulls finish tied for the six-spot, Philly (better conference record) would take the tie breaker and come to Orlando this weekend.

If the Sixers and Pistons finish tied for six, the tie would go to Philly because of a 2-1 regular season record vs. Detroit.

If the Bulls and the Pistons finish tied for the six spot? We'll see. The Pistons would likely earn the tie-breaker due to a better conference record.

A three way tie? Ugghh....Don't get me started. The team with the better head-to-head winning percentage would get the nod. Let's save that for another day.

One thing's for sure. It will be late Wednesday night before we sort out just what team we'll face in Orlando this weekend. Stay tuned...

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Saturday, April 11, 2009, 11:29 AM

Stan, what’s the plan?

What do ya do now if you’re Stan Van Gundy?

With the Celtics winning Friday night and the Magic falling to the Knicks, Boston creeps to two games up on the Magic with three to play. Considering the Celtics own the tie breaker with us, it is highly unlikely that we’re gonna overtake the C’s for that second spot.

In order for the heck to freeze over, we would have to win all three of our remaining games, which is not out of the question. But, what is not favorable is the fact that the Celtics must lose their three games.

I can see the C’s losing in Cleveland. I can also see the Sixers giving the C’s fits. Philly, a loser of four straight games, has fallen on hard times lately. The Sixers are fighting to hold off the Bulls and Pistons (one game back) for the sixth spot. Despite the recent troubles, the Sixers still lurk one game back of No. 5 occupied by Miami.

But, what I don’t see is a Wizard upset of Boston on Wednesday. It’s just not gonna happen at the Garden.

So, if you’re Stan Van Gundy, what to do?

First and foremost, you’ve got to be concerned with the way your team is playing heading toward to second season next weekend.

Since the romp over Cleveland last Friday, your team has shown very little enthusiasm and effectiveness. Stan said after the loss to the Knicks that he’s not a big “flip-the-switch-guy”, meaning, he does not believe that his team can just turn it on for the playoffs.

So, do you keep the pedal to the medal and try to force this team to break out of its late season funk? Do you go out and play it straight up and allow Dwight, Rashard, Hedo and the boys to try to bust out by playing them 35-40 minutes.

Or do ya ease up on the reigns a little bit?

If I am Stan (let’s all thank the basketball gods I am not), I am pulling a Doc Rivers-Kevin Garnett scenario.

For the next two games (NJ tonight and at Milwaukee Monday), I am playing our Big Three six minutes in the first quarter and six minutes in the third quarter. That’s it. No more.

Then, on Wednesday vs. Charlotte, I play our Big Three about 25-30 minutes each to tune up for the weekend.

Don’t get me wrong. I still desperately want 60 wins! In the end, that magical mark is the difference between a very good regular season and a great season. I would love to break the franchise record mark of 60 because that number is gonna look impressive in the media guide for years and years to come.

But, I am not gonna chase 60 at the expense of not being able to re-charge my guys’ batteries.

Contrary to some of you, I am not overly concerned with the imposters that we’ve watched over the last week. I think this team is mentally and physically fatigued right now. I think they’re a bit bored. I think this team sees the finish line in full view right now and just wants to get this over with.

So, that’s my plan and I’m stickin’ to it.

Let’s get our key guys some rest over the next few games. Let’s increase the playing time a wee bit on Wednesday. Then, let’s gear up for what we all hope is a long, long playoff push.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, April 8, 2009, 11:37 AM

Is the second spot worth it?

If the Orlando Magic want that number two seed in the east…If we really want that two seed, I still believe it is there for the taking.

All the Magic have to do is go undefeated the rest of the way.

Tonight, the 57-20 Magic host the Memphis Grizzlies. While the Griz have been a doormat for the rest of the league, this team has been a pain in our backside. Memphis beat us in the second game of this season to send us to 0-2 and the Griz have taken four of the last six from Orlando.

I really think that in order for the Magic to gain that second spot, we must win all five of our remaining games: Memphis tonight…NY Friday…at NJ Saturday...at Milwaukee Monday…and home to Charlotte one week from tonight to close it out.

We go into tonight’s game trailing the Celtics by one game for #2.

What is Boston’s schedule down the stretch? They have NJ at home tonight…They’re home to Miami on Friday…They’re at Cleveland on Sunday…They’re at Philly on Tuesday...Then, home to Washington to close it out.

I am counting tonight’s game vs. the Nets as a Boston win. Friday’s game vs. Miami is gonna be close. The Heat almost beat’em up there a couple of weeks ago, but I’m puttin’ it down as a Celtic ‘w'. I am relying on LeBron to hand the Celtics a loss on Easter. I just think, with the national audience and with the possibility of the Cavs tying the Celtics for best ever home record, I just don’t see the King allowing that opportunity to go by the wayside. The game at Philly for them on Tuesday is a possible loss. The Sixers are jockeying for playoff position, and by the way, they are a very real possibility for us in the first round. Their final game vs. the Wizards is a Boston ‘w’.

So, the potential exists that the Celtics to go 3-2 down the stretch. Therefore, with us being one game back and with Boston likely holding the tie breaker advantage in case of a tie (best conference winning percentage), we don’t have any wiggle room. I believe we gotta go 5-0 if we want that two spot.

How likely is that? Well, the teams left on our schedule this year, other than Memphis, are 0-11 vs. Orlando this year.

Now, if you were to ask me, “What would you prefer? Go hard down the stretch, go 5-0 and gain home court in the second round (if we get there)? Or, ease up a little on the gas a bit, get our key guys some rest, get healthy, and be ready for the playoffs next weekend?"

Quite frankly, I take the latter. I would rather see us rested and ready for the first round instead of being ragged from going all out to win our final five games.

So bottom line is that I believe the Magic must go undefeated down the stretch to gain that second spot in the east.

I wonder though…Is it worth it?

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, April 2, 2009, 10:52 AM

Lew Is Sweet Once Again

With :20 to play Wednesday night and the Magic down 98-95, Dwight Howard leveled two Raptors with a monster screen at the foul line, setting up a Rashard Lewis three-bomb to tie. Rashard appeared stunned as no one came out to guard him. He hesitated, then fired. He missed. Game over, Raptors win.

But, you give Rashard that shot and nine times outta ten, he makes it.

Up until the loss to Toronto, our Magic were winners of six consecutive games.

It is no coincidence at all, that, over those six, Rashard Lewis has become Sweet Lew again.

Here in the second half of the season, Rashard had been struggling. For about over a month he just didn't have any spring in his legs. The big three-point shots he had come to be known for were clanking off the front of the iron.

We found out recently that Rashard's daughter had been sick for a while. Thank goodness she's now doing better now. You can certainly make a direct correlation from his daughter getting healthy again to Rashard becoming Rashard again.

During that six-game win streak, Rashard averaged 18.5 points per game. More importantly, his penchant for nailing the big three in clutch situations came back.

During the streak, Rashard hit on 19 of his 39 three point attempts--that's 49 percent from three point range. That's awesome.

In the win in Miami Monday, Lew nailed four of his five three's in the second half. The biggest of which came with 1:32 to go in the game when he would drain a huge three from the left corner to give the Magic the lead for good at 95-92.

Welcome back, Rashard! This guy is so important to this team's success and identity.

He is our most consistent three point shooter...He is a guy who opens up the paint for Dwight...He's a guy who has a competitive fire about him that alotta people don't really know about due to his serene demeanor...He's a guy who can shoot the three as well as go inside and post up for ya.

When Stan Van Gundy needs a big bucket, he goes to Rashard

Good news Magic fans, with just eight games to play and the postseason on the horizon, Rashard Lewis is back to being Rashard again.

And, I guarantee you, the next time he spots up from three point range in the clutch, COUNT IT!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, March 30, 2009, 9:10 AM

Stan Van Coach of the Year

Coach Stan Van Gundy should be the Coach of the Year in the NBA.

There are other guys deserving of the honor. Mike Brown, Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers have all had phenomenal seasons. One could certainly make a case for Gregg Popovich in San Antonio and even Rick Adelman of Houston.

But, I contend that Stan is the NBA's Man.

Now, to know the unpretentious and no-nonsense throwback is to know that he could not care less about such trivial matters. He's not gonna campaign for it--so I will do it for him.

Here are my Five Reasons why Stan Van Gundy should be the NBA's Coach of the Year:

1. Defense!
....To get to the elite level this year, Stan knew that his team's defense had to continue to improve. Last year, the Magic gave up 99 points per game on 44.6% shooting. This season, those numbers have shrunk to 94.8 points and 43.24% (third lowest in NBA). There is a misconception across the league that this Magic team is the second coming of Paul Westhead's ole Denver Nuggets. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, we like to hoist three's, but the backbone of this 2008-2009 club is defense. Teams that defend in this league are the teams that have head coaches who sell--and players who buy. Stan has molded his Magic into one of the best defensive teams in the game.

2. It's all about the 'W"
....You don't get to 60 wins in this league by accident. Stan's Magic must go at least 6-4 down stretch to reach that magical 60-win plateau. We've got five at home and five on the road left. We're gonna get there. As a matter of fact, we're gonna hurdle sixty to notch the best regular season in Orlando Magic history.

3. Road Warriors
....Show me every great NBA team and I'll show you a great road team. For example, look at Michael Jordan's Bulls. During their 72-win season in 1995-96, those Bulls went 33-8 away from home. In 1996-97, Chicago went 30-11 on the road. In their three-peat season of 1997-98, the Bulls won 25 road games. So far this season, the Orlando Magic have amounted a road record of 25-11, the best road winning percentage in the East right now. To win road games in this league, you have to be tough-minded, you have to play defense and you have to a head coach who never allows his team to let its guard down.

4. We lose our quarterback and hardly miss a beat
....Name me another elite team in this league that loses its All Star point guard and leader and still is in contention to win 60 games? It just does not happen. When Jameer Nelson went down with the torn labrum right before the All Star Break, we Magic fans were resigned to the fact that this team would be destined for an early playoff exit. Now, thanks to Otis Smith's deal for Rafer Alston and to Coach Stan's leadership and motivation, our Magic are primed for a push.

5. Superman's star soars
....I seem to recall Coach Stan saying on Media Day that if Dwight Howard leads the league in rebounding and blocked shots this year, this team would have a chance to challenge for at title. Magic assistant Patrick Ewing gets a lot of credit for Dwight's ascension as the game's greatest big--and well he should. But, Stan's constant prodding, poking and pleading has made Dwight into the player that he is. Stan has challenged Dwight at every turn--and Superman has responded. He continues to develop his offensive game and will be crowned the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year this year. Dwight is not the player that he is without Stan Van Gundy watching and critiquing his every move.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, March 27, 2009, 10:11AM

The Greatest Season in Magic History

Many of you Magic fans have fond memories of "the day", and well you should.

But, I am here to tell you that the golden age of Orlando Magic basketball is RIGHT NOW!

In 1994-'95, Shaq, Penny, Nick, 3-D, Horace and the boys burst onto the scene with a young, brash and entertaining brand of basketball. It was a 57-win team that made its way all the way to the NBA Finals in just its sixth season of NBA basketball.

The following season, the Magic would bulldoze their way toward 60 regular season wins, but they would be swept out of the Eastern Conference Finals by Jordan and his Bulls.

We all have fond memories of those mid-90's teams, not only because they were good, but because they had personality. They had pizazz. They had style and substance. Major league sports was a novelty in Orlando. We were all riding the crest of a wave of euphoria for the very first time.

Those were great times.

But, I argue that these are the best of times, Magic fans.

In case you haven't heard, the 2008-2009 Orlando Magic are on the verge of attaining the NBA's regular season holy grail: the elusive 60-win season. All this team has to do is finish out 7-4. Of those remaining 11 games, seven will be vs. teams that are currently out of the playoff picture. Folks, we're gonna get to sixty. I would even go as far to say that I am taking the 'over' on that bet.

You look at the accolades this team continues to pile up: a second consecutive Southeast Division title; an Eastern Conference best 25-11 road record so far; Dwight Howard, who leads the NBA in rebounding and blocked shots, will be named the Defensive Player of the Year next month; we were the only team in the league to sport THREE All Stars; we have both an MVP candidate and a Coach of the Year candidate; we sport one of the most exciting teams in the league. I'll stop there.

Now, we all know that NBA teams are judged by what they do come playoff time--and rightly so.

The Utah Jazz won 64 games in 1996-97 and captured 62 regular season victories in 1997-98. Yet, all we remember is Malone and Stockton being ousted by Jordan's Bulls in the Finals in both seasons.

We remember Charles Barkley's Phoenix Suns of 1992-93. That Sun club notched 62 regular season wins--but, MJ would get the best of the Round Mound in the Finals 4-2. That same Sun team would win 62 in 2005 and 61 in 2007, only to be ousted by its nemesis, the Spurs, in the Western Conference Playoffs.

What people remember most is what your team does come May and June. I realize that.

But, what do ya say we take time out for some perspective. Let's stop and smell the roses before we head into what we hope is a deep playoff run.

Magic fans, take time out to celebrate the fact that we are experiencing the greatest regular season in Orlando Magic history.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, March 23, 2009, 10:24AM

THIS IS A TWEET-FREE ZONE

The NBA all is all-a-twitter about Twitter.

What is Twitter? According to Wikipedia, Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read other users' updates known as 'tweets'. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 bytes in length. Updates are displayed on the user's profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them.

Last week, the Milwaukee Bucks' Charlie Villanueva raised the eyer of Head Coach Scott Skiles by tweeting at halftime of Bucks-Boston game. "In da locker room, snuck to post my twitt", Chuck tweeted. "We're playing the Celtics, tie ball game at da half. Coach wants more toughness. I gotta step up."

Skiles nipped that issue in the bud the very next day, saying, "We made a point to Charlie and the team that it's nothing we ever want to happen again," Skiles said after practice Tuesday. "You know, [we] don't want to blow it out of proportion. But anything that gives the impression that we're not serious and focused at all times is not the correct way we want to go about our business."

Over the weekend, our ole buddy Shaq got into the act. Shaquille O'Neal, at halftime of his Suns' game vs. Washington, tweeted, "Shhhhhhh".

It's typical Shaq. He loves to goad front offices into some sort of reprimand so he can fire back. That's his M-O. But, the Suns did not take the bait. Asked about Shaq's tweet, Sun coach Alvin Gentry responded, "As long as he gets 25 and 11, he can do whatever he wants. He can Twitter, Facebook, MySpace."

As is always the case, The Big Flopper has his rules.--the rest of the team has its rules. It was a politically-correct, spineless reaction to Shaq being Shaq.

What do you think would happen if one of our Magic players was caught tweeting at halftime? W-W-S-D (What Would Stan Do)? I don't know for sure, but, man, would I love to be a fly on the wall of that locker room!

Frankly, the question is moot because I don't believe any of our guys would be as clueless and classless to be tweeting on the job.

The locker room, especially at halftime, is all about the business at hand. A locker room is a haven for players and coaches to put distractions aside and to prepare, motivate and focus. Anything that takes away from that kind of atmosphere should not be tolerated. That's not being old school. That's just having common sense.

I guess I am a dinosaur because this tweeting phenomenon is just so perplexing to me. Whatever happened to talking, face to face, to one another? Whatever happened to old fashioned human interaction? Whatever happened to grammatically correct sentences?

Believe me, I have been forced to become fairly familiar with this stuff because I have a daughter who has a cell phone permanently connected to her right index finger. I had no idea, 'til just a few months ago, that the actual phone part of the device is 'so yesterday'. "It's all about texting, Dad." Whatever....

The whole social networking craze is sweeping the nation. Fine. Go ahead. Tweet 'til your heart's content.

But, can we please put signs on every NBA locker room that state, "THIS IS A TWEET-FREE ZONE".

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, March 20, 2009, 10:32AM

The Magic should consider sitting down Rashard Lewis for a little while.
RASHARD NEEDS A REST

I agree. We need more out of Rashard Lewis.

That's why I think we need to sit him down for a while.

Even though this Orlando Magic team has climbed that 50-win plateau for the second consecutive season--even though we're knocking on the 60-win door--even though this team is scaring the four leaf clovers out of Boston Celtics right now--some of you Magic fans are calling and emailing about Rashard Lewis's recent struggles.

You tell me that Rashard is a max-player and that max-players are supposed to carry their teams. You are questioning the reasoning into why Otis Smith would give Rashard such big dollars?

Why are we going there again?

Bottom line is this--sure, Rashard makes a mint. Is he on par with the likes of the LeBrons, the Kobes and the D-Wades? No. But, we needed Rashard's services in the summer of '07. Did we overpay? Yes. I don't know how many times I will say this, but if we didn't overpay for Rashard, some other team would have.

Rashard is a great talent and this team would not be in the position it's in without him.

So, now that we've gotten that old, stale argument out of the way, it looks to me as if Rashard is plum-tuckered out.

Going back to right before the All-Star Break, Rashard has not played with the same zest as he did in the first half of the season when he earned an All-Star selection. Recently, he's been battling a quad injury and a cold. But, I think it goes beyond that.

Sure, everyone's gassed this time of year. Everyone's banged up, battered and bruised. But when Rashard gets worn down, he just cannot get his legs under him. Those late-game clutch threes are not falling as they did in the first half of the season.

The numbers are not pretty. Over the last five games, Rashard is shooting 24 percent from the field. He's just five of his last 31 from three point range. He's averaging just nine points per game in the last five.

To know Rashard is to know that he is not dogging it. This guy is a fierce competitor who's trying to give everything he's got. That's the problem--there's not a whole lotta petrol left in his tank right now.

Why not sit him down for a few games? It's certainly nothing to be ashamed of. The Spurs have begun to rest Tim Duncan here in the final month of the season. The Heat sat Dwayne Wade for the first time this year in Boston Wednesday night.

Heck, if you give me a choice of having a rejuvenated Rashard for the playoffs or nailing down the 2nd seed with Rashard playing every regular season game, I take the former every single time.

Let's sit him for 2-3 games or so because, without an effective Rashard Lewis, we have no shot to make a late run come playoff time.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, March 17, 2009, 8:59AM

Dwight Howard and the Magic are still aiming for the top spot in the East.
STILL PLENTY TO PLAY FOR

So, we have that playoff spot in our back pocket.

It's not official just yet, but the Orlando Magic also have the three seed and our second consecutive Southeast Division title in the bag.

So what is there to play for?

For one, how about that magical 60-win mark? The Magic must go at least 11-5 down the stretch to turn their very good regular season into a great regular season.

Secondly, why not shoot for the top? Getting to the second spot, at least, would be huge.

Going into Cleveland, the 49-17 Magic sit just a half game back of the 50-17 Boston Celtics. Orlando is tied with Boston in the all important loss column.

That second spot is highly coveted. Why? Home court advantage come the second round of the playoffs.

Believe me, I'm as far from cocky as I am gonna get because I know that a first round series with Detroit is a very real possibility. But if we can get past the first round, it's looking more and more as if the Celtics would be our second round opponent.

Remember, Boston lost just one game at home during last year's run toward the NBA Championship. Home court will prove to be a very important confidence booster for a team like the Magic vs. a veteran club that's been there before.

Heck, even if Cleveland falls apart and tumbles back to the two spot, home court will be key. The Cavs are 29-1 at the Q this year.

But, for the sake of today's Sez, let's take a look at the Celtics, who trail the Cavs by three and a half atop the East.

Boston's schedule? They have 15 games left...seven on the road. Of the remaining 15 Celtic opponents down the stretch, eight of those teams are currently in the playoff picture.

The Magic? We have 16 games left...eight on the road. Of those 16, eight of those games will be vs. teams that are currently in the playoff picture.

There's not a whole lotta difference in strength of schedule here. So, next Tuesday's Magic-Celtic showdown here in Orlando will prove to be humongous! It's a game that will decide the season series and a game that will go a long way in determining the second seed in the East.

So, even though we have a playoff berth in our back pocket...even though we have the third seed all but won, there's still plenty to play for!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, March 12, 2009, 11:35AM

Tony Battie and J.J. Redick helped the Magic clinch a playoff berth Wednesday.
A BIG BENCH BAILOUT

Go figure…

Here we are coming off an emotional loss in Mo-Town.

Our Superman plays just 22 foul-plagued minutes.

Our All-Star forward goes 0-of-9 from the field, ending his Joe DiMaggio-like 56 game streak of hitting at least one 3-point shot.

Our Mr. Fourth Quarter is sitting on the bench in civvies with a sore Achilles.

And yet, here we are, 30 games over the .500 mark, because of a huge bench bailout!

Wednesday night, the Magic pulled off one of their most impressive wins of the season in bombing the Bulls 107-79.

Why was the win so impressive? Well, because our ‘not ready for prime time players’ were more than ready, willing and able to win the game for us.

Let’s start with Tony Battie, the consummate pro. Going into the Bull game. Tony had received two DNP-CD’s in the last five games. It looked to me as if he took the DNP vs. Detroit personally because Tony came out and played the best game he’s played in years. He had a team-high 18 points and eight rebounds. It was the liveliest I have seen Tony in a long time. Perhaps Coach Stan unknowingly lit a fire under TB-4 by not playing him in the Detroit game? If we face the Pistons in the first round, we’re gonna desperately need Tony to hold off the likes of McDyess and Maxiell.

Marcin Gortat, who despite a forgetful final half of the fourth quarter in Detroit, is playing the best basketball of his NBA career. When Dwight Howard picked up his second personal with 6:42 to go in the first quarter, Marcin rose to the occasion. With the game being broadcast back to his native country, the Polish Prince would finish with eight points and five rebounds in the final 6:42 of the quarter. He would eventually tally 13 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. Marcin has become an asset instead of just another big body we throw out there to spell Superman for a few minutes.

How about JJ’s play Wednesday night? JJ Redick had 11 of his 13 points in the first half. He also racked up four assists. Coach Stan is showing alotta confidence in him and JJ is responding by making smart basketball decisions. You can tell he’s gaining confidence with each meaningful minute he’s on the court.

In all, the Magic bench accounted for 56 points, 27 rebounds and 15 assists in what was the most impressive performance of the season from our reserves.

Kudos on the bailout, bench!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, March 10, 2009, 10:32AM

Richard Hamilton helped lead the Pistons to a season sweep of the Magic.
THE NEVER ENDING NIGHTMARE

I keep having this dream. Let me tell you about it.

I keep dreaming that we’re playing the Detroit Pistons.

In the dream, over and over again the Pistons beat us like a drum.

Over and over again, Detroit makes us wilt under pressure with sound, tough, physical, clutch basketball.

Such was the case in my dream Monday night, when the Pistons beat us for the 19th time in the last 24 games.

In my dream, the Pistons actually had 91 field goal attempts to our 64. There’s no way that could happen in real life, could it?

In my dream, our Hedo Turkoglu had to leave the game in the third quarter with an Achilles issue.

Go ahead and stop me if you’ve heard this before….

In my dream, we took bad shots late in the game and didn’t execute. The Pistons, on the other hand, made all the big plays.

In my dream, we turned the ball over (15) and the Pistons did not (7).

In my dream, Antonio McDyess (18 boards) made us look silly by grabbing offensive rebound after offensive rebound.

In my dream, Rip Hamilton scored 10 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter.

It’s amazing how similar all these dreams are.

It doesn’t matter who’s wearing that Piston uniform or who’s on the Piston sideline. It’s the same ole predictable script…We play ‘em close in the first half. Detroit pulls away in the third. We rally in the final quarter, only to see the Pistons pull away with big plays down the stretch.

What’s even more depressing is that I also dreamt last night of the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs. Guess who our opponent was?

UGGHH!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, March 9, 2009, 11:41AM

Tayshaun Prince notched 17 points against the Magic in a 93-85 win on Feb. 27.
BEAT DETROIT OR I LOSE IT

I cannot take it anymore!

I try to tell myself not to take it personally. I try to tell myself to just relax. SERENITY NOW...SERENITY NOW.

But, I have reached my boiling point.

If we lose to the Detroit Pistons tonight, you might want to tune into Rewind after the game because I am gonna absolutely lose it.

I have had it with losing to these guys.

For some reason, we turn into puppy doo-doo when we play this team. Sure, the Pistons are a very good defensive club. Yes, they're very physical, borderline dirty. And without a doubt, the Pistons are in our heads. Heck, they're in MY head (can ya tell?). I see the name 'Detroit' on the schedule now and I break out in a cold sweat after hearing Mason scream in my head, "DEEE-TROIT BASKETBALL!".

But, come on guys. As Coach Van Gundy recently said, "Eventually, you get tired of getting your butt kicked. It's like the kid on the playground whose getting beat up all the time and runs home. At some point, enough is enough and he stands up for himself."

The Detroit Pistons have beaten the Orlando Magic in 16 of the last 19 games. They've toppled us in 13 of the last 14 there at the Palace. They've beaten the Magic in eight of the last nine playoff games.

Now, ya wonder why I have high anxiety?

I used to have nightmares about Chauncey Billups. Now, I chase #32 around screens in my dreams.

Rip Hamilton is averaging over 31 points in his last three games against the Orlando Magic. He almost singlehandedly killed us in the playoffs last year. Will someone please guard this guy?

Problem is, we've never had anyone who can match Detroit's physicality. We've never had anyone who will protect Dwight against Rasheed Rallace's head games. I would love for someone, anyone, to knock 'Sheed's headband clear across the upper peninsula.

It's time to take a stand, Orlando Magic!

With this matchup being yet another potential Detroit-Orlando first round series, this is as much a must-win as a regular season game can be.

We have to win this game to prove to ourselves that we can beat this team. We have to win this game to prove to the Pistons that we can beat them.

Last but not least, we have to beat the Detroit Pistons tonight to prevent a meltdown of monumental proportions by yours truly after the game.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 9:21AM

Turkoglu is averaging 22 points, 8 rebounds and 4.5 assists since Rafer Alston's arrival.
Turk Awakens Just In Time

Here's a golden nugget for ya....

The Orlando Magic are 20-3 when Hedo Turkoglu scores 20 or more points this season.

That's how important this guy is to this Magic basketball team.

Over the last two games, Turk's awakened.

Let's call it like it is...It's been a challenge measuring up to the standard he set last year when he deservedly won the NBA's Most Improved Player Award.

I don't know why that is...Perhaps Turk put too much pressure on himself in this, a potential contract year. Maybe he's been distracted by dollar signs in his eyes. Maybe he's been preoccupied by the birth of his first child later this week (can't blame him for that). Perhaps we've been asking too much of Turk, especially lately with him playing the point forward spot after Jameer Nelson went down with the shoulder injury.

Heck, it's certainly possible that Turk has been off kilter for no apparent reason. It happens in this league.

On the surface, Turk's numbers are solid: 17 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists.

But, Hedo's issues this year really show up in his shooting percentages, which are actually rising lately. He's got his shooting percentage over 40% for the first time in a while (45.6% last year). He's also shooting 36.6% from three point range (40% last season). The turnovers are up to 2.8 per game, which, even he will tell you, is way too high.

Overall, the numbers are decent. But, to know Turk is to know that he's better than that. This guy is one of the most versatile basketball players in the world. There's nothing he cannot do.

Over the last few days, we've seen the 'old' Turk work wonders.

Last Friday in Charlotte, he scored 24 points in a 92-80 victory over the Bobcats. Sunday, in the romp over the Heat, Turk tallied 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

Does the recent resurgence have anything to do with new Magic point guard Rafer Alston opening up the court with his up-tempo, creative style? Probably has a lot to do with it. With 'Skip' in the lineup, the dynamics of this team change for the better, in part, because Hedo can now concentrate on being Hedo again instead of trying to be everything to everybody.

His energy has been terrific lately. He's attacking the hole again. He's getting good looks from beyond the arc.

For the first time this season, Hedo looks like Hedo again.

That bodes well for the Magic down the stretch and on into what we hope is a long, long playoff run.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, February 20, 2009, 12:18PM

We Don't Have to Wait 'Til Next Year

Otis Smith has a great poker face, doesn't he?

Prior to the NBA Trade Deadline Thursday afternoon, 'Trader Otis' pulled the trigger on what was a surprise deal to everyone but Otis and a select few.

Otis dealt Brian Cook to Houston. He shipped Adonal Foyle, Mike Wilks and a 2009 first round pick to Memphis. In return, we get 'Skip 2 My Lou'.

Let me count the ways why I like this deal...

Alston is a legitimate NBA starting point guard. He's no Jameer, mind you, but he gives us a solid floor general who has a keen sense of how to play the game from the point.

He will add much-needed athleticism to our point guard spot. We've seen in the time that Jameer's been out that we just don't have that guy who's gonna break down defenses and create open space for his teammates on the wing. Alston, though not as quick as Jameer, has that ability.

Rafer is accustomed to running our bread and butter, the pick and roll.

Rafer is also accustomed to playing with an impactful low post player (Yao). No learning curve here. He will come in and know right away how to play with a star big man.

Rafer will not shy away from hitting a big shot late in a game. Alston will be a crafty pass-first guy here but he has the moxie to come up with clutch shots down the stretch.

I like the fact that Alston is familiar with Coach Stan Van Gundy and his style. Rafter played for Stan in Miami back during the 2003-2004 season.

Most importantly, with Jameer now definitely out for the season after Thursday's successful shoulder surgery, Alston gives us a chance! Nothing against Anthony Johnson or Tyronn Lue, but I just didn't see this team being able to topple, say, Cleveland come the second round of the playoffs if we had just stood pat and allowed the deadline to come and go. I still think it was a wise move to go get Tyronn, who will give us depth at that position. A-J is gonna prove to be a valuable backup, but, beating Cleveland or Boston come playoff time would have been a near impossibility. Now? We're back in the championship conversation.

Alston will also add some much needed punch to a stagnant team right now. We are 6-6 in our last 12 games and 3-4 sans Jameer. We are alarmingly stagnant offensively and disturbingly charitable defensively right now. We need something to shake us up a little bit. Perhaps, Alston will be the guy to kinda arouse us from our mid-season slumber.

I like this deal because we give up three guys who were not contributing. So we don't give up a whole lot, other than our 2009 first round draft pick. I hate parting ways with a first, but knowing that we'll be selecting anywhere from 25-30, perhaps we won't miss giving a low first rounder a guaranteed three year deal.

On the downside, Rafer's been known to open his mouth a time or too and become a disruptive force during his NBA career. Will he toe the line in Orlando? How will Rafer react to being a backup next year when Jameer returns?

We'll see.

In the meantime, we Magic fans don't necessarily have to wait 'til next year.

Thanks Otis.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, February 18, 2009, 12:40PM

Superman Authors a Perfect Game

Just for kicks and giggles, I went back in time and pulled some of scouting reports from the summer of 2004. Here are some excerpts of what some of the “experts” were saying about high school senior, Dwight Howard:

“Critics fear he lacks passion and might be more Kwame Brown than Kevin Garnett."

”The biggest complaint from scouts is a perceived lack of passion. I'm not sure he really has the edge that the great ones like Garnett and Stoudemire had.”

“Questions surrounding Howard's mean streak (or lack thereof) have been raised. After the Kwame Brown/Tyson Chandler/Eddy Curry debacles, clubs have put more emphasis on examining a player's intensity level.”


Cut to nearly five years later. Is anyone questioning Dwight Howard’s “mean streak” now?

Tuesday night, Superman would account for a career-high 45 points, 19 rebounds and eight blocked shots in the 107-102 overtime win over Charlotte.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no player has ever had 45 points with as many as 19 rebounds and eight blocks in a game since the NBA began tracking blocked shots in the 1973-74 season.

It’s somewhat comical listening to some of Coach Stan Van Gundy’s post game news conferences these days. Stan is a guy whose nature it is to push and plead his players toward perfection. He’s a guy who is constantly challenging his players. But, you get the feeling that Stan flat out does not know how to react because he’s simply running out of challenges for his young center.

Stan said after the game Tuesday night, “He was phenomenal…phenomenal”. To know Stan is to know that he doesn’t throw around those types of words lightly.

The numbers aside, Dwight Tuesday night showed incredible heart and a desire that are reserved for MVP’s of this league.

Just think about this guy’s schedule recently. He flies to Phoenix Friday…He coaches the Rookie-Sophomore game Friday. He takes part in the Dunk Contest Saturday. He plays in the All Star Game Sunday night. He jets back to O-Town and gets home at 6am. He gets a couple of hours of shuteye and is up for a 12 noon practice.

If there were ever a night when Superman was allowed to turn into a mere mortal and just punch the clock, it would have been Tuesday.

The line is worth repeating: 45, 19, 8!

Simply put, Dwight Howard authored a perfect game Tuesday.

Oh by the way, here’s yet another quote from one of the critics back in the summer of ’04:

“Howard’s main weakness is that he’s not as proven a commodity against big-time competition as Okafor. “

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, February 16, 2009, 12:04PM

NBA All-Star Weekend Memoires

...Dwight got robbed in the Dunk Contest! But, if he reverses the order and saves that Superman-phone booth-12 foot rim scenario for his last dunk, he brings the house down, gets 90% of the fan vote and takes away all doubt. Oh well...

...There's a big difference between being charismatic and flat out annoying. Case in point? Dwight Howard vs. Nate Robinson. Dwight was playful, good-natured and respectful. The loud-mouthed Krypto-Nate was thuggish, self-centered and inconsiderate. Take that stuff back to the hood, Nate!

...Braid-less in Phoenix. Allen Iverson went old school and clipped the corn-rows for All Star Weekend. I like the look.

...Poor Rashard Lewis. The guy makes the All Star team for the first time in four years and what is he asked to do? Guard Shaquille O'Neal! Due to Chris Bosh's injury, Rashard was pressed into the backup center role. I haven't seen a mismatch like that since our buddy Richie Adubato tried to match his purple valor jacket with a pink shirt, pink tie and pink cuff links.

...Speaking of Rashard, he was edged out by Daequan Cook in the three point shootout. But, you put a real live NBA game on the line, who you takin'? Me too.

...Dear Dwight...That makes three straight years in the Dunk Contest. In two of the three, you got ambushed. It's time to hang up the cape and fly off into the sunset.

...I couldn't take it anymore. I finally had to go soundless Saturday night. Did Reggie Miller and Kenny Smith actually think they were enjoyable to listen to? Hey, 'Jet', lay off Rashard. No, his release is not picture perfect, but last time I checked, the guy leads the league in three pointers made and attempted.

...With that said, Saturday's Dunk Contest would draw the largest audience in the 24 year history of the event. My guess is that Cheryl Miller's hard-hitting, probing interviews must have been the thing that really put TNT over the top.

...Is there anything more unsavory than Bill Laimbeer in his old Piston uniform?

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, February 6, 2009, 10:35AM

CHILL OUT MAGIC FANS

Got an email from a Magic fan last night..."Why couldn't we get a better point guard to replace Jameer?"

My response? We could have done just that...if you are willing to give up, Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis or Hedo Turkoglu!

Folks, you're not gonna replace Jameer Nelson. It's just not gonna happen. Were you actually thinking that we were gonna get Chris Paul or Tony Parker or Jason Kidd? UGGHHHH!

Another fan emailed me to suggest that we should have dealt Hedo Turkoglu for a point guard. What? Sure, Hedo will likely become a free agent next season. Even though the Magic will be backed right up against the luxury tax, I think this club will find a way to re-sign Turk.

But, come on, do you really think that this is a prudent thing to do, now? Good night Irene, we're 37-11! Even without Jameer, you still have a chance to make alotta noise come playoff time. Hedo is part of a core that has the ability to challenge for the title this year and for years to come.

We should have gone after Stephon Marbury...We need to go get Darius Washington...Why not Jannero Pargo or Jason Williams?

First and foremost, let's get this straight...The goal here was not to replace Jameer Nelson, because you CANNOT REPLACE JAMEER NELSON! No how, no way.

The goal here was to add much-needed depth to the point guard spot without surrendering a rotation player. Knowing our roster is full and that we're bumping up against the luxury tax wall, we couldn't afford to offer an unemploywed guy a ten-day contract. We needed to trade backup for backup. Goal achieved.

Tyronn Lue is no Jameer. Tyronn is the definition of an NBA journeyman. Heck, he's been with eight different clubs over his 11 year career.

But, ya know what? He fits.

During that miserable 2003-04 season, T-Lue played 76 games (started 69) for the Magic. He averaged 10.5 points and 4.2 assists. More importantly, he kept a positive attitude and never seemed to get weighed down by the intense negativity that surrounded that club. Don't forget who the Director of Player Development was that season--Otis Smith, who obviously was as impressed as I was with how Tyronn handled the nightly misery.

To know Otis is to know that he is a big team chemistry guy. No boneheads allowed! Otis has built this team with talent and good character. Character matters in Otis's world. T-Lue will fit right in with this group because he's just a solid guy.

Tyronn is a veteran. He's appeared in 540 career NBA regular season games. He's been in 20 playoff games and he's won two championship rings (Lakers 1999-2001). He's smart enough to know that all he has to do is run this ballclub and get outta Dwight's, Rashard's and Turk's way.

T-Lue also can drain the three in a pinch, something that seems to be a prerequisite for being a member of this Magic club. Even though he's seen limited playing time in Milwaukee this season, he's shooting .467 (21-45) from the arc this season.

Look, I am not saying that Tyronn Lue is the next coming of Magic Johnson. But, he gives us depth, character, veteran leadership and the threat of the three-bomb off the bench.

So, people...PLEASE...stay away from those wacky NBA chat rooms and just chill out!

We got a guy who's gonna help us.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, February 4, 2009, 12:48PM

SAY IT AIN'T SO JAMEER

The second it happened, my heart sank.

As Jameer Nelson, bent over and in serious pain, was trotting to the locker room with 9:11 to go in the third quarter of the loss to Dallas Monday night, I tried to tell myself that everything was gonna be OK. Docs were gonna pop that dislocated right shoulder right back into place. We were gonna see Jameer doing his best impersonation of Willis Reed and everybody would live happily ever after!

Deep down, I knew better.

Reality hit Tuesday morning when our fears were realized: Jameer has a torn labrum.

Now what? Here are the options:

1...Rehabilitate the shoulder and come back in two to six weeks.

2...Have season-ending surgery as soon as possible and be ready for next season.

Option number one, on the surface, would be the preferred choice for all of us in Magic Nation.

Jameer rehabs hard and comes back in time for the final month of the regular season, just in time to gear up for the playoffs. Sounds great!

There are a couple of NBA blueprints for such a scenario.

Dwayne Wade suffered a torn labrum back in February of 2007. Wade missed 23 games, but rehabbed and returned in time for the playoffs. He averaged 23.5 points, six assists and five rebounds as his Heat were swept by the Chicago Bulls in round one. That summer, Wade had surgery to repair the shoulder.

Laker Lamar Odom actually played with a torn labrum back in the "05 playoffs and averaged a double-double in five games. After that, Odom would undergo, not one, but two surgeries to repair his left shoulder.

So, playing, and playing well, with a torn labrum can be done....But, I just don't know if that's the prudent choice here.

The rehab process is tempting, especially considering how close this team is to an NBA Championship. But, I think we all have to keep in mind that, whether it's now or later, Jameer is going to have to have surgery to repair the shoulder.

If he does attempt a comeback this season, there's risk. There's a significant chance that, as rugged as the NBA game is and as physical as Jameer is, the shoulder will give out again.

My orthopedic buddies tell me that once the labrum is torn, it's only a matter of time for an ahtlete at this level. Without getting too "House" on ya, the shoulder joint is composed of a ball and socket. That socket is extremely shallow. The labrum, which is a cuff of cartilage that circles the joint, allows for a very wide range of movements. When the labrum is torn, all bets are off and the shoulder becomes unstable.

It's a risk-reward scenario. To me, the risks outweigh the rewards, considering there are absolutely no guarantees here.

As painful as it is to say....What's best for Jameer Nelson and the Orlando Magic is for Jameer to have surgery as soon as possible.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, February 2, 2009, 11:29AM

STAN DESERVES EXTENSION

Rumor mill has it that the Orlando Magic may want to start talking contract extension with Head Coach Stan Van Gundy soon.

Anez Sez...Do it now...Heck, do it yesterday!

The guy deserves it.

I can't say enough about the job that Stan has done with this team.

Sunday, Coach picked up his 200th career win as his Magic routed the Raptors 113-90. After the game, Stan, in us typical self-deprecating way, stated, "I think it means that I get another ball in my office, one of those lettered balls that says 200 wins? That's good because the more balls you put in there then it really looks like you're accomplishing something. You can fool a lot of people like that."

You're not fooling anyone, coach. What you are doing is making believers out of all of us in Magic Nation.

Stan Van Gundy has played an integral part in transforming this organization's culture. Now, players are held accountable. Now, we expect to win. Now, we're contenders. That's due in large part to what this guy has brought with him from Miami.

At this level, the player-coach relationship is all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T. If NBA players have respect for their head coach, you're going to have a successful team. Obviously, talent factors into that equation heavily, but the respect must be there. Phil Jackson's got it. Gregg Popovich has it. Doc Rivers, now that he's won a title, has it. Jerry Sloan has it in Utah. Larry Brown's got it in Charlotte. Stan has it in Orlando.

The Coach has bent and molded this team's mindset into truly believing in itself. He's constantly creating the next challenge for his team.

There's a certain tough-mindedness about this team that this stems from its head coach. Case in point: look at the road record. Over the last year and a half that Stan's been the Man in O-Town, the Magic are 45-20 away from home. The 27-14 road record last year was the best in franchise history. This year, at an NBA-best 18-6, Stan's Magic are on pace to surpass last year's record mark.

The guy is relentless in his pursuit of excellence. Now, such an obsession can sometimes wear on an NBA ballclub during a grueling 82 game schedule. Heck, over the last year and a half, we've seen players getting into heated discussions with Stan on the sideline. But, there's a relationship there. There's two-way communication. When you have communication, trials and tribulations of a long NBA season become more bearable.

He'll go through his gyrations and his machinations in the sideline...He'll huff and puff. But in the end, players know that's just Stan being Stan. They understand he wants desperately to win and that he and his assistants put in the necessary time to win. In the end, players know he's going to make them better basketball players.

Bottom line is that Stan Van Gundy is a winner. He's a keeper. Before the season is out, I hope the Magic see it fit to give him a well-deserved contract extension.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, January 29, 2009, 1:42PM

WHAT TO DO WITH M-P?

What are we gonna do with that starting shooting guard spot now that Mickael Pietrus is back in the lineup?

It's a good problem to have.

Surprise! M-P returned to the court Tuesday night after sitting out the previous 12 games due to the fractured right wrist. He tallied season-high's of 27 points and 10 rebounds in the 135-111 win over Indy. Pietrus was shockingly sharp and expectedly energetic in a performance that reminded us all of how much we sorely missed his incredible athleticism.

M-P looked terrific and it was great to have him back....but, now what?

If you're Coach Van Gundy, do you put Pietrus back in the starting lineup?

After all, Pietrus was the original starter at the two guard position this season. He's started 15 games at that spot. If the old adage applies here, Pietrus should not lose his starter's role because of injury, right?

But, ole adages are made to be broken. I think we need to leave well enough alone, at least for now.

Why?

First and foremost, rookie Courtney Lee has done the job. While Courtney may be bumping up against the dreaded 'rookie wall', let's all keep in mind that the Orlando Magic are 8-2 with Courtney in the starting lineup. Courtney has solidified that shooting guard spot in the starting lineup. He's given us a consistent defensive presence to start games. His high basketball IQ, role play and improving three-point shot has proved to be very valuable for us in that starting lineup.

Secondly, can we rely on M-P to stay healthy? I love Pietrus. I think he has tremendous raw potential. But, let's keep in mind that he has been inactive in 23 of our 44 games this season. M-P missed 10 games due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb. He also missed one game due to busied ribs, not to mention the recent 12 game stint on the shelf. M-P's late game vicious dunk attempt late in the blowout win over Indy is a perfect example. It was freakish and spectacular. But, it was unnecessary considering the circumstances. One of the reasons why we love M-P is because he believes he can out-jump, out-run and out-hustle anybody on the floor. Sometimes, that overly aggressive attitude can be M-P's biggest drawback.

Finally, we need M-P to provide a bump to our bench right now. The Magic reserves, outscored in the previous three games 102-31, have been having their issues recently. Knowing Pietrus, he will not be afraid to come into a game and bring instant offense, disruptive defense and an energetic, athletic presence we desperately need off that bench.

Mickael Pietrus is back. That's great news. He will add depth and energy to this Magic team as we head into the NBA Dog Days.

But, for now, let's keep Courtney Lee in that starting lineup.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, January 26, 2009, 2:27PM

SEZ SHOW PREP

...The NBA's marathon season is full of peaks and valleys. The trick is this: make your low points less deep and stay humble at your peak. For the first time since the outset of the season, our Magic are losers of consecutive games. But this team has built up enough in my bank! Perhaps we got a little too full of ourselves after that incredible 4-0 western trek. Maybe all the media attention that came with the Boston game distracted us. And, quite possibly, all the All Star talk surrounding Dwight, Jameer and Rashard threw us off point. No worries. We'll get back on track for the Indy game Tuesday.

...It's no coincidence that this mini-skid has occurred with Jameer Nelson playing 'ordinary' basketball over the last two. It goes to show you that, as Jameer goes, so goes this team! Over the last two, Jameer has lacked an attack-mode that, in my opinion, made him an All Star in the first half of the season. We need Jameer to be Jameer again.

...With that said, while he has struggled with his energy lately, one thing remains the same...Jameer Nelson still owns the fourth quarter! By my count, Jameer is eight of his last nine from the field with 21 points in the final periods of the last two losses.

...I love Courtney Lee. The rookie has been solid all the way around in his first pro campaign. But one has to wonder whether he's crashing into the dreaded 'NBA Rookie Wall'? Courntey had seven points in the loss at Miami. Courtney was O-fer vs. Boston. Lately, Courtney has not played with that same edge that we're accustomed to seeing out of him.

...It's been over a decade, but now I can officially say with confidence....The Eastern Conference is better than the West.

......The Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers are all on pace to win 60 games this season. I wondered aloud on the air Saturday night whether three teams from the same conference had ever won 60-plus? Leave it to loyal Inside Magic contributor, Stat Man, to come to my rescue. In 1980-81, the Celtics (62), Sixers (62) and Bucks (60) all topped that magical mark. In 1997-98, three Western Conference teams finished with 60-plus wins: Utah (62), Lakers (61) and Seattle (61). Kudos Stats!

...Will the Magic make it to 60 this year? It'd be a nice milestone, but to tell you the truth, I don't really care one way or another. All I care about is that this team is healthy and playing its best basketball come late April, May and June.

...We gotta get more of a pick-me-up from that Magic bench. Over the last three games, our reserves have been outscored by a whopping total of 102-31! That ain't gonna cut it.

...How will this team react to having an 'X' on its back now? With the incredible first half this team had, and with all the media attention we've gotten lately, we ain't sneaking up on anybody. How will this team react to being the hunted instead of the hunter? We're about to find out.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 10:45AM

JAMEER NELSON SHOULD BE PHOENIX-BOUND

I've already made a most convincing case for Rashard Lewis. He's got to be in Phoenix on Feb. 15. Dwight Howard? He doesn't need my help. The NBA All Star Game just wouldn't be the same without Superman.

Jameer Nelson? He absolutely deserves to be there. But, he needs all of us to voice our opinion loud and proud so that the Eastern Conference coaches hear us.

Typically, the way All Star rosters shape up is as follows: five guards, five forwards, two centers.

Miami's Dwayne Wade is a lock. It goes without saying that Wade is one of the top-three all around talents in this league.

The only other given is Atlanta's Joe Johnson. Johnson will have to be voted in by the coaches, but I don't think there's any question he'll deservingly get that vote.

Here are the best of the rest....

...It looks like the Pistons' Allen Iverson is going to get the fans' vote. Iverson is averaging 18 points for an underachieving Detroit club. In Sez's opinion, Iverson doesn't belong in Phoenix. Apparently, the fans think otherwise.

...New Jersey's Vince Carter is having a fine season for a team that is over-achieving this year. Carter is averaging 21.5 points per game. Frankly, I would take Ray Allen over Vince on this team because of the fact that Allen plays for a winning ballclub.

...Vince's teammate, Devin Harris, has gotten plenty of positive pub by averaging 22.3 points. My question is...If Carter is gonna make this roster, how can you justify having two Nets on this 12 man roster? NJ's sitting three games under the .500 mark!

Coaches, you cannot leave Jameer Nelson off this list! The guy's averaging 17.1 points, a team high 5.4 assists. He's shooting 51.1% from the floor, which leads ALL NBA guards. Jameer's three-point shooting sits at an incredible 45.4% (sixth in the Association).

For good measure, let's not forget that Jameer Nelson, not Wade, not Johnson, not Iverson, not Harris, nor Carter has been named the NBA's Eastern Conference Player of the Week two times in the past month.

Frankly, it's all about a numbers game this time of year. If Iverson is voted in by the fans, which it appears he will be, then it looks to me as if it may come down to the coaches' vote between NJ's Devin Harris and our Jameer.

If so, coaches, ask yourselves these questions:

...Who's had more of an impact upon his team's success this season?

...Which player has stepped up more in clutch situations?

...Which point guard plays for the team with the best record in the NBA at mid-season?

The answer to all of those questions? Jameer Nelson...NBA All Star.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, January 14, 2009, 3:09PM

THUNDER IN A BOTTLE

Catching lightning in a bottle is not the easiest thing to do in the NBA. We succeeded back in the mid-90’s here in Orlando.

I sense something special happening again.

The numbers are beautiful: 31-8...winners of five straight games and 14 of the last 16….an NBA-best 15-5 on the road.

In the Tuesday win over Sacramento, we made an assault on the record books. The Magic would set a new NBA record with 23-three pointers made in a 139-107 obliteration of the Kings.

It’s obvious that the talent, the coaching and the chemistry are all in place. But there’s something else going on here…and it looks somewhat familiar.

This 2008-2009 Magic team will undoubtedly be compared to the Eastern Conference Championship club of 1994-1995.

Personnel-wise, the ‘94-95 team may have been more talented in its starting five (Penny, Shaq, Horace, 3-D and Nick) than our current group. That season, Shaq averaged over 29 points per game and Penny scored 20.9 points per in shooting 51% from the field. The numbers are still astounding.

But, back in the day, it was a three-ring circus around these parts. That Shaq-era Magic team was loaded with personalities. They were young, immature, moody, wild and temperamental. It was a team loaded with rock-star like figures, characters who played hard on and off the court.

In 1994-1995, we captured lightning in a bottle with that team.

But, in my 20 years of covering Magic basketball, never have I seen a team like this one.

The mental toughness, the resolve, the professionalism, the poise and the determination that this team displays every single game night is extraordinary. This team just refuses to lose.

This club has a maturity about it that the ‘94-95 club flat out did not have.

For example, the game in Sacramento Tuesday night would have scared the living heck outta me back in the day. After all, you’re coming off a big win in San Antonio. The Lakers are looming. A letdown is inevitable, right?

Not with Dwight, Jameer, Rashard, Hedo and the boys. All these guys did was set an NBA record for three pointers made (23) and score 139 points in a total obliteration of the sad sac Kings.

Ya want another example? Look at the road record. The current team owns the best road mark in the NBA (15-5) and has almost as many road wins as the ’94-95 had for an entire season (18).

I don’t want to diminish that Shaq-era club in any way because those were special times, times that will never be duplicated. We caught lightning in a bottle and it was a thrill to witness it.

But if that Shaq-led team was ‘lightning’, this Dwight Howard-led group is ‘thunder’.

It would appear that we’re catching thunder in a bottle for the first time here in Orlando.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, January 12, 2009, 9:39AM

NEW LIFE FOR JJ REDICK

Over the last two and a half seasons, we’ve all rooted for JJ Redick.

I often wonder why we have such a fascination with this kid.

Perhaps it’s because he’s one of the best college basketball players of all time. Perhaps it’s because he comes from one of the most storied and highly visible college programs of all time. Maybe we just want to see the kid succeed because he we’ve had it up to here with all the critics who say he just can’t play at this level.

He’s been knocked down, but he keeps on getting up. Perhaps we see a little bit of all of us in JJ?

Whatever the case, JJ Redick is resurrecting his career, again, before our very eyes.

You have to give the kid credit. He started the regular season in the rotation. He went 0 for his first nine shots and landed back on the bench. If you’re JJ, you can’t afford to go 0-9 considering that the position you play is occupied by three other shooting guards who are more athletic and better defensively. Courtney Lee’s exceptional play as a rookie along with the steady hand of Keith Bogans and the explosive, yet erratic, play of Mickael Pietrus moved JJ back to being the biggest garbage-time fan favorite in the NBA.

But, going into this four game western road trek, JJ is making the most of his latest opportunity.

With Pietrus on the shelf and with Bogans struggling, JJ has connected on 13 of his last 19 three's (68%).

He’s coming off 15 points (4-5 three’s) in the romp over Atlanta. Friday's game was was monumental for JJ, who has regained that Blue Devil-like swagger.

In the win at San Antonio Sunday, JJ was great. He would hit a clutch three with just over 2:35 to put us up by three, 97-94.

JJ is now seeing significant playing time again. He knows when he is going to get into the game. He knows not to worry about looking over his shoulder anymore. JJ’s averaged about 20 minutes-per the last five games. Getting those consistent minutes creates a huge comfort zone for a gunslinger like JJ.

I must admit, I became a JJ doubter earlier this season. With all the frustration and heartache that he’s had here in Orlando, I thought that, if JJ was gonna succeed in the NBA, it would have to be somewhere else. There have been reports of possible deals to Phoenix. The Boston Celtics and other teams have expressed interest in JJ.

Can I take a mulligan? JJ Redick is good right where he is. You have to give this guy credit. In the face of nothing but adversity, JJ has kept a positive attitude and kept his head in the game.

How long will the fun last? Hard to say. The hope is that, two and a half years in, JJ is finally starting to hit his NBA stride.

Whatever the case, JJ Redick is back to NBA life here in Orlando.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, January 6, 2009, 9:50AM

ONE ON ONE WITH OTIS

Recently, Anez Sez sat down with Magic General Manager Otis Smith for an exclusive one on one:

Scott...You knew this team was gonna be good. Did you know this team was gonna be this good?

Otis...You always think your team is gonna be good if it can stay away from injuries. We had the injury bug early and we kinda sustained through that. M-P is down now, but we've survived so far. As crazy as it may sound, other than the first half vs. New Orleans, I still don't think we've played our best basketball yet. I think we've played good basketball at times, but I don't think we've played our best basketball.

S...You look around the NBA with the Celtics, the Cavs and the Lakers getting most of the pub so far. Where's the love for our Magic, Otis?

O...That's fine by me. The championship is not won in December and January. It's won at the end. It's gonna come down to whoever's playing the healthiest basketball come June. You've got to play healthy basketball and I think there's an inside-outside formula to that as well. I think your point guards have to be very good and I think you have to have a defensive presence. We have all the elements to be pretty good in June. We just have to sustain our health.

S...How do you think your team matches up with the Celtics and Cavs?

O...I think we play them well. Both of those teams are very good, but considering our strengths and weaknesses, we match up very well. We caught the Celtics when we had three guys down earlier this year. When you have three of your eight guys in your rotation out, that's a tough time to play them. They came out to deliver a message in that game and they did just that. But I think we match up with those teams well. We just have to continue to defend. Dwight has done a good job. Our wing players have done a good job. If we continue to defend, we have a chance.

S...Knowing how well Jameer is playing this season, do you feel any sort of vindication about signing Jameer to that contract extension at the beginning of last year?

O...Not at all. It's not about that. Even when I go back to last year, when I talked about a contract extension with him, ya start saying, are there ten point guards better than Jameer? I am not sure there were ten point guards better than him at the time. I probably had more confidence in him than he had in himself at the time in doing more. I continue to press him every day to be the best he can be. I am his biggest fan and I am also one of his biggest critics as well.

S...With the injuries that Dwight Howard has encountered this season, is there a concern on your part about Dwight Howard taking part in this year's Slam Dunk Contest?

O...Scott, any time there's a dunk contest, there's always a concern. Honestly, I was more concerned last year than I am this year and I'll be concerned when we get to February. That's just me. Anytime you compete in these things, I am concerned. I am just as concerned about the All Star Game as well because anything can happen in those events. I am not as nervous about a regular season game as I am with these things. But he will do what he's gonna do and what he wants to do. He's a freakish athlete and he will defend his title well.

S...Do you, as his General Manager, sit him down and say, OK Dwight, perhaps it's time to give up the Dunk Contest?

O...Well, Scott, if I told you I sat down with him after the last Dunk Contest and told him the same thing, would you believe me? But, hey, it's fun for him. That's kinda who he is. I understand that. He has a good time doing the dunks and seeing the fans' reaction to it. Ya can't take away something he has passion for, but as I tell the P-R guys, the Dunk Contest is still a long ways away. I know Kobe and Vince all signed up for it one year and they all backed out of it as it got closer. So, who knows what's gonna happen at this point.

S...I am very impressed with the job Coach Stan Van Gundy has done with this team, Otis. They seemed to have taken on Stan's personality.

O...I am not sure they have a choice! He's relentless in his pursuit of perfection. That's what I like about Stan the most. He's not gonna take a day off or a minute off or a second off and he expects the same from his players. So he's gonna push them to as close as they can get to perfection. Stan definitely has us heading in the right direction.

S...Hedo Turkoglu has an opt-out in his deal for this summer. Will Hedo be back in a Magic uniform next season?

O...Well, I think so. It's kinda hard for me to sit here with my crystal ball. Does he opt out, does he not opt out? I kinda know in my mind what may happen, but I would assume he'll be back. It's just difficult to sit here in January and tell you, at least publicly, what's gonna happen. Is there a market for Turk? Sure, there's a market for him. But, I also think he has a good situation here in a system that fits him very well.

S...Do you see any moves made prior to trade deadline or are you confident you can make a run with the team you have today?

O..Well, I think we can make a run as the team is. But, I would be remiss to sit on my hands and not at least look to get better. I think we always have to look to get better. We have to look at ways to add a little bit more punch to this team. That goes without saying.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, January 2, 2009, 1:50PM

SWEET LEW A SLAM DUNK STAR

In the third ballot returns for next month’s NBA All Star Game, our Dwight Howard, once again, leads all NBA players.

It’s a forgone conclusion that Superman will be starting for the East.

I could also make my case for Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson joining Dwight in Phoenix. Due to the Magic’s incredible first half success, I believe this team should be represented by at least three of our guys.

But, the purpose of today’s Sez is to let the world know via the World Wide Web what we in Orlando have grown to realize--Rashard Lewis is an NBA All Star!

This, quite frankly, is the easiest argument I’ve ever made.

A quick look at the list of deserving Eastern Conference forwards sees LeBron, Garnett, Bosh (who made the All Star squad as a center last year), and Paul Pierce as shoo-ins.

Last year, the NBA took a total of five forwards from the East. So, if that formula holds true, who’s the rest of the best (aside from Rashard and Hedo)? Danny Granger, Josh Smith, Tayshaun Prince, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison?

Let’s crunch the numbers:

*Granger—24.9 points per game (5th in the NBA)…Having a break-out year and is deserving of consideration but his team has struggled…To me, the tie should go to the guy who plays on a winning team., not a guy who plays on the club with the second worst record in the conference right now.

*Josh Smith—14 points and 7.2 rebounds per game…Smith’s numbers are not overly impressive. His Hawk team that is giving us a run for our money atop the Southeast, but Smith is just not as much of an impact player as Rashard is.

*Tayshaun Prince—14 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for a Piston team that, ‘til this point, has underachieved.

*Jamison and Butler—The Wizard tandem both made the East roster last year. This year, the Wizards are the worst team in the conference. Frankly, they don’t deserve to be All Stars this season.

Here are Rashard Lewis’s numbers to date—19.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Rashard leads all NBA players in three-pointers made and is shooting .406 from long range.

Looking back to last season, I really didn’t know who Rashard was. I mistook that tranquil, laid back appearance for a guy who was a bit soft and aloof. It turns out that outward appearance is a really good poker face. Rashard Lewis is as fierce a competitor as there is in the game today. The guy burns to win. I love that!

I would contend that there’s not a player in this league who takes more pleasure in hitting sit down shot after sit down shot. It’s uncanny how many big three’s Rashard has drained when the opponent’s making a run at us. Rashard is one of the most clutch players in the league.

Rashard Lewis is a coach’s dream. The guy plays out of position each and every night, but do you ever see him pouting or barking at Coach Stan?

In the most recent fan balloting, Rashard Lewis is nowhere to be found. Heck, even Miami rookie Michael Beasley has more votes than Rashard.

But I guarantee you that NBA head coaches realize how good this guy is and I have faith that these coaches will make the easiest decision they’ll ever have to make.

Rashard Lewis is an NBA All Star.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Saturday, December 20, 2008, 12:00PM

JAMEER IS HERE

So, you wonder what Otis Smith was thinking when he granted Jameer Nelson a contract extension at the beginning of last season?

You questioned what Otis’s plan was this year after jettisoning Carlos Arroyo and Keyon Dooling over the summer. Y’all wondered why Otis seemed to lack urgency in going out and signing a third point guard after Mike Wilks suffered a year-ending knee injury in the pre-season.

Sure, I did too.

But, ya know what? I am ecstatic our GM had foresight—the ability to see not what Jameer was, but what Jameer was soon going to be.

Often times, that’s what we lay folks miss about this league. We see players as they were, and as they are. We base our opinions on a player’s imperfections, not on his promise. We’re about the here and now and the “what have you done for me lately”.

But the great basketball minds of this league are not swayed by public outcry. They’re not affected by what outsiders think. The great ones stick to their plans of trusting their own instincts in the building of a franchise.

That’s exactly what Otis Smith has done with Jameer Nelson, and now that plan is paying off!

Jameer is making believers out of all of us. Coming of age here in year # five, he is averaging career high’s in nearly every category, including field goal percentage (.507) and free throw percentage (.919), and career low’s in turnovers (2.24).

Beyond the numbers, even the most ardent critic sees that the kid is playing with the utmost in confidence right now. Jameer is taking over a leadership role with this basketball team. He’s running when he needs to run. He’s passing when he needs to pass. He’s shooting when he needs to shoot. He’s defending on a regular basis.

Don’t try to make Jameer Nelson into Jason Kidd, Tony Parker, Chauncey Billups or Steve Nash. He’s not any of those guys. But, ya know who he is? He’s Jameer Nelson,.

In order for Jameer to be the catalyst of this team, he’s got to be who he is—a shoot first point guard who has the ability to take over a game. Vs. the Spurs, he tallied 11 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter. In the win over Golden State, he scored a career-high tying 32 points.

Jameer has been doubted all of his life...”He’s too short…He’s not a playmaker…He shoots too much…He’s not this. He’s not that”. He seems to relish the doubt, because he eventually proves them wrong every single time.

I got news for you Magic fans, the grass ain’t greener on that other side of this fence.

Jameer Nelson is becoming the point guard we all want him to be, and he’s becoming the player Otis Smith knew he was going to be.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, December 9, 2008, 1:43PM

Dwight Howard is yanked down by Zach Randolph Monday night against the Clippers.
WE GOTTA GET TOGETHER FOR SUPERMAN'S SAKE

We’ve seen a lot of encouraging signs from this Orlando Magic team this year.

We’re 16-5.

Dwight Howard, who recorded his second straight 20-20 game in Los Angeles, continues to play MVP-like basketball.

This team continues to find a way to beat ya in the fourth quarter, a trait that we can trace back to last year. We just refuse to lose.

On the downside, I am still waiting for that complete game.

We need to learn how to bury teams when we have them on the ropes early.

And we also need bury individuals who are literally beating up our superstar!

Case in point…Monday night in L.A. Just over 6:00 to play in the fourth quarter as the Magic are in the midst of a 22-2 run to bust it open. Clipper Zach Randolph decides to not only foul Dwight. He literally almost rips Superman’s head off.

Immediately after what would be called a Flagrant Foul 1 foul vs. Randolph, who by the way can’t guard his own shadow let alone a man who leaps over tall buildings in a single bound, Dwight remained on the hardwood for seconds trying to gain his wits about him.

I was waiting for someone to come to his rescue.

The only teammate who decided to protect Dwight was Brian Cook! Yes, that’s right. Brian Cook, the little used big man who had played a total of 26 minutes going into last night’s game.

One would have thought that the entire team would run over to Dwight, help him up and even get in Randolph’s face. Didn’t happen.

Note to Team: Dwight Howard is the franchise. He is the rock upon which this team is built.

Every man on this Magic roster has to come to that realization quickly. The nightly mauling of Dwight Howard cannot be tolerated any longer.

Dwight has been pushed, shoved, bitten, scratched and clawed one too many times this year, and it’s about time his teammates send a message to the rest of the league.

Message being: WE ARE NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE!

This Magic team is very talented. We have a chance to go a long, long way this year.

But guys have to realize that we’re not going anywhere without D-12. He’s our meal ticket. In this league, those types of guys are protected.

The next time a Zach Randolph mauls Dwight, I’d love to see two Magic players help Dwight up…and the other two get in the Zach’s face.

We gotta get tougher.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, December 3, 2008, 9:30AM

Dwight Howard and Mickael Pietrus know a little something about defense.
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS

What does it take to win championships at the NBA level?

First and foremost, it takes talent. The NBA is unquestionably a players' league. Ya gotta have superstars to win championships.

Secondly, it takes team chemistry. Along with those marquee guys, ya have to have the role players, guys who do the grunt work. All championship caliber teams have those integral players who do the little things to win basketball games.

Coaching is a big part of it as well. Don't believe the so-called experts who tell us that the NBA head coach is a mere figure head. Bullhockey! While this is certainly a players' league, the coach at this level has to be more of a really good salesman than anything. He's got to sell his personality...He's got to sell his X's and O's...He's got to sell his trust in his team.

The most important thing that coach has to sell is defense!

It's no coincidence that the league's best defensive team usually wins the NBA championship. Case in point: the Boston Celtics. Last year, by far and away, the Celtics under Doc Rivers sported the league's best defense.

Listen to the Celtics numbers this year...They're are tops in the NBA in points per game against, allowing just 90....Boston is also number one, by far, in opponent's field goal percentage at 40.8 percent.

If the Orlando Magic are gonna get where the Celtics are, the defense must improve. Even with the 107-88 loss in Boston Monday night, there are signs this season that our defense is stiffening.

Last year, this Magic team allowed 99 points per game and 44.6% field goal shooting.

So far this season, opponent's digits have decreased to 94.9 points and 43.4% FG. Both those numbers are good enough for the fifth best defense in the league right now.

Do we have that lock-down ability as the Celtics do right now? No...We're not in that class. Not yet.

To get to that next level, to get to where the Boston Celtics are now, it's all about getting defensive and bringing that competitive edge to the court every single night.

The good news is that we're headed in the right direction.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, December 1, 2008, 12:46PM

ROAD MOJO NEEDED AT HOME

It was just as inexplicable last year as it is this year.

The Orlando Magic are, overall, playing better basketball on the road than they are at home.

After dropping the first game away from home this season, our Magic have rallied to capture their last six straight roadies. Sure, the schedule has been soft. But winning on the road is a no small feat in this league. I don't care who the opponent is.

Last season, we won our first seven away games. As a matter of fact, the Magic notched nine victories in the first ten road games and finished with a team record 27-14 slate away from home.

Keep in mind, this franchise to that point, had never, even during the Shaq years, played consistently well on the road.

If there were any question as to whether last year's road record was a fluke, let that question be answered early this season. This year’s Orlando Magic are winners of six straight roadies and six of their first seven.

Why does this team seem to play with more of an edge on the road? Why does this team seem to play looser on the road? Why does this team seem to play better in the fourth quarter on the road?

Wish I had an answer for ya. Not that a 7-3 home record is putrid. Far from it. But, for whatever reason, these guys seem to come together after sleeping in someone else's beds rather than sleeping in their own beds.

The road success does suggest that this team is just that: a team! Back in the day, Shaq and the boys were just as interested in party-night as they were game-night. This group? Very businesslike. This really is a close-knit club that is high on character and shy of any real boneheads who can drag a team down faster than you can say 'Ron Artest'.

So how do we bring that road edge to the home parquet? I do have a suggestion. As a matter of fact, I mentioned this last year. Let's take a page outta the pro and college football handbooks...The night before home games, sequester them in a local hotel!

Think the NBA Players Association would have something to say about that? Yeah, I do too.

To be a great team in this league you have to win on the road. With one of those dreaded western trips coming up next week, I don't have that feeling of impending doom about the trek as I normally do.

Now if we could just bottle some of that road-mojo and save it for the home court, I'd rest a little easier.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, November 26, 2008, 11:22AM

DARE I TALK ABOUT THE I-WORD?

It's a sore subject in the NBA. It's a topic that produces more paranoia than any other. As a matter of fact, I kinda get the heebie-jeebies even writing about it.

I am talking about the "I" word, as in "Injuries".

Coaches would rather have a root canal than think about the possibility of injuries hampering their teams.

Why? Well, because they know, especially in the NBA, that there's a very fine line between winning and losing...and perhaps, being employed or actively seeking a job. More than any other factor, injuries can derail your team's success faster than you can say "Grant Hill ankle boot".

There's sorta like this unwritten rule in the NBA that you jinx yourself once the "I" word is used, a jinx will ravage your roster to the point of no return.

Magic starting point guard Jameer Nelson will not play tonight. Jameer will be sidelined for one week to ten days with a strained right hip flexor. Anthony Johnson will start in Jameer's stead while the Magic go in search of a backup for the backup.

Magic reserve shooting guard Keith Bogans is also on the shelf. Keith will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks after suffering a fractured left thumb in the loss to Houston Saturday.

Gulp...Dare I ask the question? Has the injury bug bitten the Orlando Magic?

Last season, other than Tony Battie's season-ending rotator cuff tear and subsequent surgery, we got off virtually scot-free.

Our core guys, iron man Dwight Howard (played in all 82 games), Hedo Turkoglu (all 82), and Rashard Lewis (81 games started and played), all stayed away from significant injuries in 2007-2008. Jameer played in a total of 69 games, but again, managed to avoid any major injuries. Bogans, who will hopefully be back for Christmas, played in all 82 games last season and was an integral part of the team's success, especially in the first half of the year.

Translation: our Magic won 52 games and captured their first division crown in 12 years.

Now, let's not go overboard here. I wouldn't consider Jameer's injury 'significant'. Not yet anyway. But there's no doubt that Jameer was playing the best basketball of his career before he went down Monday night. It makes you wonder how long it will take Jameer to get back to that level of play after he comes back.

On the other hand, Bogans' absence will hurt. Keith is our best perimeter defender. He usually guards the opponent's best scorer in the fourth quarter. His toughness adds a dimension to this team that it cannot find anywhere else.

So there it is. It's now out in the open. The "I" word is out there for all the world to see.

Please, basketball gods, be kind to us here in Orlando. Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, November 25, 2008, 11:00AM

POINT TAKEN BY JAMEER

Somehow, someway, this team is finding a way.

The Orlando Magic's 10-4 record is pretty--very pretty considering this team has not shot the ball overly well yet.

One of the more beautiful aspects of this early season has been the play of Jameer Nelson.

You Jameer playa hatas, get off the dude's back!

Look at what Jameer has done recently:

21 points and six assists and just one turnover vs. Houston...22 points, nine assists and again one turnover in the win over Indy....22 points in the win over Toronto...15 vs. Charlotte...21 vs. Dallas...17 vs. the Thunder.

For the record, Jameer is averaging 14.9 points and a team-high five assists per game. Jameer's 2.41 assist-turnover ratio is more than respectable and underlines the fact that he is playing the best basketball of his career right now.

Let’s hope Jameer is gonna get back on the court soon. Monday night in the win over the Bucks, he aggravated a strained groin muscle that may put him out a couple of games or so.

Please, don't try to make Jameer into something he's not. He's not Jason Kidd. He's not Chris Paul. You know who he is? Jameer Nelson! Pure and simple, Jameer is a scorer who has had to learn how to run an NBA team.

Learning how to play the point guard position is the most difficult thing to do in basketball, especially for a guy who predominantly played the off guard position as the College Player of the Year at St. Joe's. But in the second half of last season, on into the playoffs and continuing this season, Jameer has been solid on both ends of the floor. You're not seeing as much dribble penetration by opposing point guards these days. Jameer's energy, his assists, his scoring and his consistency are all up, while his turnovers are down.

Before our very eyes, Jameer Nelson just may well be blossoming into that NBA point guard what we all want him to be.

That's prettiest sight these eyes have seen this season.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, November 20, 2008, 9:42AM

THE REAL ORLANDO MAGIC STAND UP

We were midway through the second quarter. Our Magic trailed the Raptors 39-29. That's when it all clicked.

The Magic would go on a 12-2 surge and would end the quarter on a 16-6 run. Final score: Orlando 103 Toronto 90.

By far and away this was the best performance of the season for the Orlando Magic.

It's not as if this team was totally putrid before Tuesday night's game. Heck, we had won seven of the last eight and three straight roadies. But over the first ten games of the season something just wasn't right. They just weren't clicking on all cylinders. They just weren't themselves.

Tuesday night, the Orlando Magic became themselves once again.

At that point in the second quarter, the ball started moving crisply around the horn...The defensive intensity was ratcheted up a couple of notches...The shooting percentage edged up...We started to play inside-out with Dwight...Hedo Turkoglu started driving to the hole...We starting running the floor...We finally started to shoot the three.

There's much reason for optimism after what we saw Tuesday. Hedo Turkoglu became Mr. Fourth Quarter once again after tallying four-three pointers and 16 total points in the final period alone. Rashard Lewis (26% 3FG before this game)started to hit his long range bombs (3-5). That three point shot finally started to fall (11-23). The defense amounted a season-high 12 total steals. Jameer Nelson scored a season-high 22 points as he continued his steady early season play.

Defensively, this team continues to make strides. Sure, Chris Bosh got his (40 points and 18 rebounds). But we held the rest of Toronto's shooters to 34%. An amped Rashard Lewis showed me alotta heart trying to push and shove Bosh in the post. Rashard would come up with a season-high five steals.

The Raptors, who had hit at least one three-pointer in 787 straight games dating back to 1999, made their first trey of the game on a meaningless Jason Kapono bomb with just over three minutes to play.

I also thought that JJ Redick (10 points) gave the Magic a boost in spacing the floor and contributing to our best ball movement of the season. We'll save the "Start JJ" Sez for another day.

For now, let's all be happy. Tuesday night, the 'real' Orlando Magic finally stood up. Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, November 17, 2008, 11:42AM

POINT-COUNTERPOINT

How good are the Orlando Magic? We see some very encourgaging signs this early season. Then again, we also see that this team has some issues:
Point....The Orlando Magic are 7-3 and standing atop the heap in the NBA's Southeast Division. Going into the Toronto game, the Magic are winners of seven of their last eight games.

Counterpoint....Yeah, but who have we played? Our seven wins have come vs. teams with a combined 21-44 record. We've only played two teams with winning records and vs. those guys we're 0-2. We beat a terrible Oklahoma City team without Kevin Durant. We lost to an atrocious Memphis team sans OJ Mayo and we barely got by a terrible Charlotte team without Jason Richardson.

Point....Friday night, the Magic showed that they can come back and win on the road, as they did so many times last season. Overcoming a 15 point second half deficit, the Magic outscored the Mavericks 30-20 in the fourth quarter en route to a thrilling 102-100 victory.

Counterpoint...The Dallas Mavericks are 3-7 for a reason. They have been choking away games in the fourth quarter all early season. That is not your daddy's Mavs.

Point...The Magic are making an average of nearly 8-three pointers per game.

Counterpoint....We're shooting just 31% from beyond the arc this year. Last year, the Magic stroked the three at a 38.6% clip in nailing 801 three's, the second most in NBA history.

Point...Rashard Lewis scored nine of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter in the win over Dallas. Rashard also hit what would be the game-winning free throws with :10.9 to play.

Counterpoint...Rashard's early season has been marred by sub par shooting (39% FG and a dismal 26% from three). One has to wonder if he's grown weary of playing out of position at the power forward spot.

Point....Even though the Magic fell to Portland recently, Hedo Turkoglu had that break-out game we were waiting for. Hedo scored a season-high 35 points. Hedo also scored 20 in the win over Charlotte Sunday.

Counterpoint...Hedo's been slow to catch fire early (37.9% FG and 31.8% 3FG). He just does not look as comfortable, as fluid, as he did as last season's Most Improved Player. Is a pending free agent contract weighing him down?

Point...Mickael Pietrus has become a pleasant surprise...and he's just gonna keep getting better as he gets more comfortable. Our starting shooting guard is athletic, explosive to the hole, has a nice outside shot, and is scoring more than I thought he would (14ppg).

Counterpoint...M-P is having trouble staying on the floor. He's been in foul trouble more times than not this year. He's also not been the defensive stopper we had expected, not yet anyway.

Point...Every Magic starter is scoring in double figures.

Counterpoint...The Magic's offensive bench production has been lacking. Is it time to make Hedo a sixth man extraordinaire in the mold of Manu Ginnobili?

Point...Dwight Howard has been nothing short of 'super'! He's averaging career high's in most every category. He recorded his first career triple-double in the win over Oklahoma City (30p. 19r, 10a). He's swatting every shot in his path right now and leaping tall buildings, and opponents' rebounders, in a single bound.

Counterpoint...NONE! Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, November 12, 2008, 9:38AM

STEP IT UP RASHARD

It's time for Rashard Lewis to take that next step.

I said during the pre-season that I believed that this would be a break-out season for Rashard. The reason? Comfort! Last year, he had to get accustomed to a new town, a new team, a new coaching staff and a whole lot more in his first season in Orlando.

With all that behind him, I thought that as Rashard's comfort level went up, so would his production. I really believed that Rashard would take over a leadership role with this team this year. It still may happen, but the recent trend is a bit disturbing.

Rashard's numbers are OK: 16 points per game...7.1 rebounds per game...He's led the team in scoring twice and rebounding once so far.

But, over the last two games, Rashard has struggled mightily.. He scored five points in the win over Washington. He notched just six points in the loss to Portland. Rashard is five for his last 22 from the field (22%). As a matter of fact, for the season, he is shooting a sub par 38%. Keep in mind, last year, that percentage sat at 45.6%. His three point shooting is also off the mark. Last year, he stroked the three at a 40.9% clip. This year? 26%.

Rashard is never gonna be a guy who shoots an extremely high percentage from the field. That's just the type of player he is. But it's time to expect more from our $118 million man.

After the dismal outing Monday, Rashard said, "I feel like I can't get into a rhythm. I don't know what it is. Maybe I have to be more aggressive early in the game. I feel like I'm just launching three-pointers all game and there's nothing going to the basket."

Even the best players struggle. Perhaps he is experiencing an early season slump.

Rashard's malaise is exacerbated by the fact that Hedo Turkoglu, even though he tallied a game-high 35 points Monday, has not played up to snuff either. Like Rashard, Turk's shooting percentage is way off the mark right now (39%...Turk shot 45.5% last season). Hedo's and Rashard's struggles tell the story of the Magic's stunning, offensive offense so far.

Last year, on our first road trip of the season, Rashard Lewis endeared himself to Magic fans by hitting three consecutive late 3-pointers in beating the Timberwolves.

Let's hope that Rashard can find his road Magic once again.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, November 10, 2008, 2:43PM

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

Here's my take on the good...the bad...and the ugly of the early NBA season:

The Good...
Atlanta Hawks (5-0)...The only undefeated team in the Eastern Conference is....the Hawks? Atlanta is 5-0 for the first time in 11 years. Is this team for real? Depends on how you define "for real". Are they good? Yes. Are they 5-0 good? That's up for debate. There's no debating that Joe Johnson has transformed into a bona fide All-Star. Mike Bibby has given that team a much needed veteran presence at the point. The difference? Defense! The Hawks are holding teams to 85 points per game, which leads the East. Looks like they're finally buying into what Mike Woodson is selling.

LA Lakers (5-0)...Is it me or do the Lakers have that championship look about them this year? LA's the only other undefeated team out there, thanks to a stifling defense. The Lakers lead the NBA in scoring (106.8), points against (84.4) and opponent field goal percentage (.389). Looks like the Lakers have learned their lesson after falling to the Celtics in the Finals. They've gotten tougher and they're trying to keep their star fresh. Kobe Bryant played 39 minutes per game last year. This season, Kobe's minutes are down to 33 mpg.

Boston Celtics (6-1)...Picking up where they left off. You can talk about the explosive trio of Garnett, Pierce and Allen all ya want. But this team won last year's title by holding opponents to 41.9% shooting and 90.3 points per game. This early season, the C's are on defensive pace again (39.5% and 86.7 points against).

Utah Jazz (5-1)...The Jazz, a bit of an early season surprise, considering their gold medal-winning point guard Deron Williams (sprained left ankle) hasn't even played yet. Sure, two of Utah's wins have come vs. the woeful Clippers, but Olympian Carlos Boozer continues to show he's one of the best big men in the league (20.5 pts. and 11 rebs).

The Bad...
San Antonio Spurs (1-4)...This is not a misprint. The Spurs, NBA champions in four of the last 10 seasons, have stumbled upon tough times. They started the year 0-4 until Tony Parker pulled 55 points out of his hat in a double-overtime win at Minnesota. However, Parker will be sidelined for the next month with a grade-2 sprain in his left ankle. Traditionally one of the stingiest defenders in the league, the Spurs are surrendering a whopping 105 points per game. Does San Antonio's amazing run of dominance end this season?

LA Clippers (1-6)...There's plenty of talent out there. Yet, there are plenty of boneheads as well. Baron Davis appears to be merely collecting a paycheck. Marcus Camby is, as usual, underachieving and unreliable. Anytime you have Cuttino Mobley, Tim Thomas and Ricky Davis on the same team, you have a recipe for disaster! The Clippers are turning into the Clippers again.

The Ugly...
Washington Wizards (0-5)...The Wizards are an absolute mess right now. They're giving up 108.8 points per game (last in NBA). Sure, this team misses Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood. But how in the world can you serve up $111 million to Arenas this past summer? The guy has had three knee surgeries in less than a year. Plus, the guy's fifty cents short of a buck. Remember, the Wiz also doled out $50 mil to Antawn Jamison over the summer. Question: What's the trio of Arenas, Jamison and Butler ever won?

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, November 6, 2008, 10:58AM

SERENITY NOW HEDO

Ease up, Magic fans. Breathe.

Your team is 2-2 and I assure you this is gonna be a very good basketball team when all is said and done.

Honestly, do you think that folks in San Antonio are pushing the panic button after losing three of their first four? Nah...It's early!

We have seen some encouraging signs so far. Dwight Howard, as expected, has been an absolute beast!

Sure, it's obvious this team has not hit peak level yet. Perhaps that's not a bad thing. After all, the goal in this league is to be playing your best basketball in May and June...not November.

Over the first four games of the season, this team is averaging just as many assists (16.8) as turnovers (16.5)...That's not a good thing. Turnovers are gonna happen. What ya hope is that we can cut down on some of the more foolish miscues. You also hope that we can solve our late-game offensive lapses.

One of the reasons why the Magic got off to such a great start last season was the stellar play of eventual Most Improved Player Hedo Turkoglu. I still believe the guy should have made the All Star Team.

So far, Hedo's numbers are more than respectable: 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists per game.

Numbers aside, I think it's obvious that Hedo has not yet reached the level he attained last year. Frankly, he's not alone. The only one who's done that so far is Dwight.

But I'm sure you would agree that Hedo just doesn't look right just yet. For whatever reason, he's just not getting the same looks as he did last season.

Monday night vs. the Bulls, Hedo tallied 10 points on 3-16 from the field. He did have seven rebounds and seven assists, but committed four turnovers.

Coach Stan Van Gundy said after Monday's game: "(Hedo's) conditioning's not great and when he gets a little tired, he doesn't want to do anything except jack up a jump shot." Afterwards, Hedo was told by a reporter about Stan's comments. An amused and somewhat bewildered Hedo responded, " Out of shape? I don't know. You'll have to ask our strength and conditioning coach.

Frankly, I am not as concerned about Hedo's physical conditioning as much as his mental state. The hope here is that his head is right where it needs to be instead of focusing on a possible contract opt-out.

We all know that Hedo will have the ability to strike gold this summer. He's never been in that type of situation before. Players can react one of two ways in their contract years: they either thrive off of it and have career years...or they knuckle under the pressure of trying to live up to a mega-contract.

It's very early. This team will begin to play better basketball. Hedo will play better basketball. And we'll all live happily ever after....I hope.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, November 3, 2008, 3:03PM

WE'RE ON BOARD

The real Orlando Magic finally stood up!

Not that Saturday night's 121-103 victory over the Sacramento Kings was a thing of beauty, but for the first time in three games this season, we played Orlando Magic basketball.

In the first two games, everything this team touched turned to stone.

They didn't play with any fire or enthusiasm vs. Atlanta and Memphis. They failed to execute. Shockingly, they couldn't hit shots. They turned it over way too many times. They didn't share the ball. The offense was stagnant. They allowed big fourth quarter outbursts on defense.

The most glaring issue from the first two games was that the Orlando Magic were out-huslted and out-worked.

Glaring because it rarely happened last year.

But, on Saturday we got right. Not that the 121-103 victory over the Sacramento Kings was perfect, but at least we're on the board.

This team scored a season high 121 points on a season high 55% shooting. They amounted a season high 25 assists and a season low 12 turnovers. The Magic out-rebounded the Kings 40-28 and allowed just six offensive rebounds.

All five Magic starters scored in double figures, with four of those players scoring at least 20 (Howard-29, Lewis-26, Hedo-21, Pietrus-20).

Mind you, we still have a long way to go. We've got to get our bench going.

The Magic reserves have been outscored on average 26-13 so far. Coming off a season long layoff post shoulder surgery and struggling with a broken finger, Tony Battie has expectedly looked a bit rusty. JJ Redick is 0-8 from the field in three games. Rookie Courtney Lee and Brian Cook, who made an impact off the bench last year, have gotten as much playing time as I have.

After allowing 53% shooting by the Kings, we still have plenty of work to do defensively.

Sure, we cut down on our turnovers Saturday, but, man, it sure would be nice if we cut down on some of the more glaring, ill-advised miscues.

But, who am I to complain?

The real Orlando Magic are on the board.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, October 30, 2008, 11:57AM

OPENING NIGHTMARE OBSERVATIONS

You just knew it was not gonna be our night when that poor lady stumbled and fumbled her way through national anthem.

…It looked like the Magic were surprised by the speed of the game early. It’s not often that this Magic team is out-hustled and out-worked, but that’s exactly what happened for the first three quarters of the 99-85 loss to the Hawks.

…These young Hawks have absolutely no fear of the Orlando Magic whatsoever (Atlanta is 6-5 vs. Orlando in the last 11 games).

…Why wasn’t Mickael Pietrus checking Joe Johnson (9 of his game-high 25 points in 4th quarter) in the final period? Isn’t that why we went out and got MP?

…Overlooked in the loss was the fact that the Magic’s NBA record of hitting at least 5-three pointers in all 82 games last year ended in the first game of this season. Our Magic hit just 4 of 25 (16%) from beyond the arc.

…Sure, Rashard Lewis fouled out of the game early in the fourth quarter. But when he picked up his fifth foul a minute earlier, the usually reticent Rashard let Mickael Pietrus know, in not so subtle tones, just how he felt about Pietrus allowing his man to get to the basket. Rashard didn’t dress down MP. But it was the most vocal I have ever seen Rashard. Folks, I am telling you, this is a very good sign!

…Another silver lining in Wednesday’s grey clouds? The play of Dwight Howard. They roughed him up pretty good, but I love the way Dwight kept battling in the fourth quarter. He demanded the ball. He dove for loose balls. He was telling his team in the huddle to leave everything on the floor. Ya get the feeling Superman’s begun to really despise losing. That’s also a very good sign!

…JJ Redick’s line from game one: 0-4 FG….0-3 on 3’s….2 points. On one hand, the Hawk defense was hell bent on preventing JJ to get off a shot. That’s a good thing because JJ’s mere presence opens up options for his teammates. The bad news is that most every time down the court, when JJ was guarding Flip Murray, the Hawks cleared out and went right at him. Murray had 14 points. I love JJ, but Wednesday’s opener illustrates the double-edged sword ya get when JJ is on the court.

…Great to see all the players from that 1989 inaugural Magic team at the game Wednesday. Sam Vincent told me before the game that harbors no ill will toward Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Bobcats for firing him after just one season. Sam’s a class act. Truth is, Sam got rooked up there!

…Magic fans…it’s just one of 82. Don’t let one game fool you . This is a really good basketball team.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, October 28, 2008, 3:23PM

FIVE THINGS

...The 5 Things I like most about the 2008-2009 Orlando Magic.

1. Stan's the Man. I don't know of a head coach who is a better communicator than Stan Van Gundy. The guy is prepared. He is intense. He has the respect of his players. He tells his players just where they stand, yet, is able to coddle and cajole. The guy's a winner.

2. Dwight's All Right. We already know that 22 year old Dwight Howard is the best center in the world. This year, the world will come to find out just how good this kid is. D-12 is playing with a scowl and a serious-mindedness that spells doom for the rest of the NBA.

3. Rashard's no Canard. Not that 18 points per game was overlooked, but Rashard Lewis is playing with a comfort level and a leadership that we did not see last season. Look out. Rashard may be on his way back to All Star form this season.

4. Hunger! As Coach Van Gundy has said from day one of Training Camp, "we cannot assume anything!" Even though the Magic won 52 games and advanced to the second round of the playoffs last season, nothing is guaranteed in this league. But, I get the feeling after being dumped by Detroit, this team has a bitter taste in its mouth and is ready to take that giant leap from being good to becoming great.

5. Tony Battie. We haven't seen Tony a whole lot in the pre-season (broken finger), but I saw what I wanted to see early. Tony will add a veteran presence and a toughness to this team. He'll do the little things that we didn't get all of last season. He'll box out. He'll defend. He'll be physical.

...The 5 things I question about the 2008-2009 Orlando Magic.

1. Lack of toughness? This team has plenty of heart. They proved that last season by winning on the road and winning alotta close games. Physically, the jury's still out. They were pushed and shoved out of the playoffs by the Pistons. They're going with their 'small' lineup to start games again this season. Can this team measure up to the physicality of the league's best teams?

2. Defense? If this team is going to make that quantum leap from good to great, the improvement is gonna have to come at the defensive end. We must do a much better job in preventing the dreaded dribble penetration this season.

3. Turnovers? The 14.3 TO's per game last year were much better than the 17 we had in 2006-2007. I'd love to see that number come down even more this year. The Magic had 21 miscues in their elimination game vs. Detroit. The Pistons had 3 turnovers in that game. Great teams don't beat themselves.

4. Point Guard? I love Jameer Nelson...but can Jameer take that next step in his development as he begins his fifth season? Can Jameer bring energy every night? Can Jameer take care of the ball? Can Jameer continue to assume leadership? Can he hit the slew of open jump shots that he's gonna get this year?

5. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Why isn't this team getting more love across the league? I see this team winning 55 games this season. I see this team winning the Southeast. I see this team challenging for the East. I see this team as a contender. Where is the love?

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, October 20, 2008, 9:37AM

LIMITED OPTIONS AT BACKUP POINT

So, with Mike Wilks gone for the season, who will the Orlando Magic go get to be their third point guard?

On this team, don't ya have to have a third point guard? Starter Jameer Nelson, I believe, is gonna have a solid season. But there's no denying that consistency has been an issue with Jameer in his short career.

Our backup, Anthony Johnson, is reliable. But if Jameer happens to go down, you’re looking at a 34 year old point guard who’s just not gonna be able to give you 35 minutes a night.

We could stand pat and rely on the duo of Hedo Turkoglu and Courtney Lee as our fallback. That option, to me, doesn't cut it. Hedo's too valuable to this team offensively...and Courtney's just too young and green.

So, what are we gonna do?

Two options: make a trade or sign a free agent point guard.

If the Magic make a deal, it would seem to me that we’re gonna have to choose between two players: Keith Bogans or JJ Redick.

Both play the shooting guard spot where we are stacked with four players right now. Mickael Pietrus isn’t going anywhere due to the fact that he’s the projected starter who just signed a free agent deal. Courtney Lee, the Magic’s first round draft pick, isn’t going anywhere right now. So, it looks to me as if it would come down to these two guys. Bogans has one more year left on his contract. JJ has two years left on his deal. JJ has played well in the pre-season. Bogans, who was in the doghouse for a while, started slowly but has come on of late.

Now, if you go the free agent route, your choices are limited.

Lindsey Hunter is a veteran, a guy who killed the Magic in the playoffs last year. Jeff Mcinnis has been nothing but trouble everywhere he’s gone. Dan Dickau was just released by Golden State. Other point guards still out there? Donnell Taylor, Corey Alexander, Derrick Martin and Jay Williams.

I know Jason Williams' name has been bandied about. But the former Heat player officially retired after being signed by the Clippers last month.

I’m gonna throw another name at you: Darrell Armstrong.

I have asked GM Otis Smith about Flash in the past and, reading between the lines, let's just say that Otis is not as big a fan as I am. Granted, Darrell's not the Flash of old. But, ya know what? The guy still plays with such heart and passion. He’d be an excellent practice player. He’d be a great character guy to have in the locker room. If need be, the guy would be able to give you 15-20 minutes per game in a pinch.

I admit that I am biased. I may be living in the past, but shouldn’t we take a look at Flash? Kick his tires a little? If it’s determined he can’t do it anymore, fine. We move on...

Whether it's via a trade or a free agent deal, it looks to me that our Magic are gonna have to make some sorta deal for a third point guard.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, October 17, 2008, 9:50AM

20th Anniversary Chat

Throughout this season, we're going to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Orlando Magic basketball by chatting with coaches and players who made significant impacts upon this franchise...

This week, we start with the franchise's all time leading scorer, Magic Community Ambassador Nick Anderson.

S...Take me back to 1989, Nick. Your Illini team had just been to the Final Four. You announce you're coming out early. Did you have an inkling that General Manager Pat Williams was gonna take you with the #11 pick?

N...I knew there was some interest. What I was hearing was that if Minnesota didn't take me with the 10th pick, Orlando was gonna get me at 11.

S...You remember who was taken with the 10th pick, don't you?

N...Oh yes! I'll never forget...Jerome Pooh Richardson out of UCLA.

S...I remember it well because you had it out for Pooh your entire career, didn't you?

N...Oh yes...No doubt.

S...You come to Orlando in your rookie season and you're playing behind veteran Reggie Theus at the shooting guard spot. What did you learn in that very first year?

N...The veterans we had on that club, Sydney Green, Scott Skiles, Sam Vincent, those guys taught me to play every minute like it's your last. When I got in the game, I played loose to have fun and to win, even though wins were very tough to come by back then. But, I learned from some crafty veterans.

S...Many Magic fans remember you as an outside shooter. But I remember when you came into the league you were known as a slasher, Nick.

N...Yes.. A guy who gets to the basket. A guy who runs the lanes. I remember Coach Guokas telling me run the outside lanes..Stay in your lanes...Post up, hit that 8-9 foot jump shot. That was my game. But when the Big Fella (Shaquille O'Neal) arrived, I had to get outta the house and go in the backyard, so to speak.

S...But even before Shaq's arrival in '92, I remember you before, during and after practice, working diligently on your jump shot.

N...It takes hard work. I would tell all the young ballplayers out there today that it's about going out and putting in the work. I used to go out and shoot a thousand jump shots over a period of time. Not just to shoot them, but I was shooting to make them. It paid off. But it took hard work. I was the first one in the gym and the last one to leave.

S...Tell me about 'Nick Anderson stole the ball'. May 7, 1995 NBA Playoffs. It's likely the most famous play in Magic history. Is that the one signature moment in Nick Anderson's career?

N...It has to be one of them because it happened to, if not thee greatest, one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

S...What do you remember most about that play?

N...I can remember, when the ball was inbounded, MJ got around me and got out in front of me. I was just trying to catch up to him. He was dribbling with his right hand going down the right side of the court and he looked over his left shoulder to see where he was. Luckily, I was on his right side. I got my hand on the ball and tapped it right to Penny. Penny pitched it ahead to Horace and Horace dunked it down.

S...Had you ever heard it louder in that arena?

N...No. You're talking about the best Sixth Man in basketball. The fans were wonderful. They cheered us on and gave us that extra boost. That night, the roof came down!

S...I have to ask you this question...you know I do...the four missed free throws at the end of Game 1 of the NBA Finals?

N...Oh man... It's what, 13 years ago? I still get that question by alotta people. I wasn't the best free throw shooter, but I made a fair share. I concentrated on just stepping to the line and making them. I wasn't scared or anything. I missed the first two...The ball bounced right back to me and was fouled again. I was thinking...I am a competitor...I am not gonna quit...I am playing to win. Well, I missed four in a row. It happens. That's part of the game.

S...Did the missed free throws affect you negatively?

N...Yes it did. It was like a bad song being played over and over and over again. I'll be honest...I let it get to me and it affected my play all around. Once you hear something for so long, you start believing it. I actually started believing that I couldn't shoot free throws and couldn't make baskets. This was something I did my whole life and it really tore me up inside because I was labeled 'Nick the Brick' and other names. I really let that affect me. Before then, I was the type of player who didn't let anything affect me. I always said there are two parts of being in the game: you're either the hero or the goat. I didn't mind being either. I wanted to take the big shot. I was out there to win, but it just didn't happen.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, October 13, 2008, 9:22AM

I LIKE MIKE

Orlando, meet Mickael Pietrus.

He says you can call him: Michael...My-KEEL...Mike...M-P...He's actually partial to 'Peaches'.

What Do I call him?

A welcomed sight.

Over the last three pre-season games, the new Magic shooting guard is averaging eight points per game.

Those pedestrian numbers aside, this kid has shown me that he is a definite upgrade to that starting shooting guard spot.

I admit that I didn't know what to expect from Pietrus, who had sorta melded into the wallpaper at Golden State for the last five years. But here's what I have learned about him so far...

He's not shy offensively. M-P fits this team's identity because he's much more versatile than I thought. He can shoot the three. He can post up. He is explosive to the hole. Athletically, the kid stacks up to most anybody in the league.

Defensively, Pietrus is solid. Now, he's not Bruce Bowen lockdown-good, but I think the east's two-guards, guys like Dwayne Wade, Joe Johnson, Michael Redd and Rip Hamilton, all guys who've had their way with us in the recent past, are gonna have to work much harder this year to get theirs.

I like that Pietrus's motor revs high on the court. I like that he seems to have a distinct personality out there as well. He's a character. M-P really seems to have alotta fun on the court and I think he can be a much needed energy guy for this team. That is something we desperately need now with Keyon Dooling living in New Jersey.

Now, it's obvious that Pietrus is still trying to fit in with his new teammates. He's doing more thinking than reacting. Shot selection, at least for now, is suspect at times.

But you can tell, after sitting for the bulk of the last five years in Oakland, this kid is ready to make his mark on the NBA.

With Dwight, Rashard and Hedo in that starting lineup, we don't ask for a whole lot. We have enough offense. What we need from Pietrus is a guy who's gonna fit in. What we need from him is role play. What we need from MP is to make things even more difficult for the opposing shooting guard.

So far, I really like what I see out of MP.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, October 9, 2008, 3:20PM

PLAY JJ PLAY

It is amazing.

We in Orlando have the best center in the game in Dwight. We get to watch one of the most versatile players in the game in Hedo. We have one of the most potent offensive weapons in the game in Rashard.

Not to take anything away from our great playres, but here's the cold hard fact: JJ is the fan favorite!

I would venture to say that JJ Redick, a guy who's gotten little-to-no playing time over the course of the two last seasons, is the most popular player on this team.

On the air...via email...as I go about town...everyone wants to know as to why JJ isn't playing.

Well, Magic fans, playing time for the all-time leading scorer in ACC history may be coming to an arena near you soon!

Tuesday, the Orlando Magic picked up the 2.8 million dollar option on JJ's contract for next season. The move comes as a bit of a surprise considering JJ has been a non-factor so far. But GM Otis Smith, who refused to cave to JJ's trade demand last season, has said from the get-go that he's got confidence that JJ is gonna be an impactful player in this league.

In the first two pre-season games, JJ (along with Tony Battie) was the first substitution for Coach Van Gundy. JJ has played well, scoring 12 points in both outings.

He's looked good. JJ's been aggressive on the offensive end. Defensively, he's held his own.

Coach Stan has stated that if the season started today, JJ would be part of his regular rotation. Of the three reserve shooting guards, Stan says that JJ was the guy who stood out in training camp.

We all need to keep in mind that this is the pre-season. Countless times over the last 19 plus years I've been caught in the trap of putting way too much credence into games that mean absolutely nothing. Veterans coast. Rookies try to play way over their heads. Coaches experiment. Fans yawn.

So we need to take a deep breath and look at this through our pre-season prism.

With that said...We JJ fans, and there are many of us out there, should be encouraged by what we see so far.

If he keeps playing like he has been over the last 9 days or so, JJ's gonna become a regular contributor to this team

And I, thankfully, won't have to dodge any more JJ questions.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, October 7, 2008, 12:00PM

DEEP THOUGHTS FROM GAME ONE

...Let's start off by saying this: give me four pre-season games, then.... LET'S PLAY FOR REAL!

...Rashard Lewis looks to be in mid-season form. Rashard continued his stellar play in camp by leading the Magic with 22 points in the Monday loss to the Hawks. Rashard looks so much more comfortable at this point this season as compared to this time last year.

...Speaking of mid-season form, how about Dwight Howard's performance Monday? 8 blocks? Are you kiddin' me? Apparently not. Dwight wasn't fibbin' when he stated on Media Day that one of his goals this season is to lead the league in blocks.

...We had a JJ sighting Monday night! JJ continued his solid camp play on into Monday night as he tallied 12 points vs. Atlanta. No...I'm not getting my hopes up about JJ breaking into Coach Stan's regular season rotation. I've learned over the years to never believe what my eyes are seeing in the pre-season. But, I do see a JJ who bulked up over the summer. I see a JJ with more resolve. I see a JJ who wants to be in this league next year, somewhere.

...One of the more intriguing aspects of this exhibition season is the play of the newcomers. What's my take on their performances Monday?

...Mickael Pietrus: Actually, a better offensive player than I thought. We knew about his athleticism, but I didn't know he's as explosive as he is. As advertised, he's a very good defender. But, right now, he's runnin' around at 100mph. He's still learning Stan's system. He's trying to impress his teammates. Let's wait for the game to slow down a little bit for Mickael.

...Courtney Lee: Not once did I see a deer-in-the-headlights look from the rookie from Western Kentucky. Not that he looked totally comfortable, but you can tell that Lee has a high basketball IQ. He's a solid on-ball defender. He can handle the ball in a pinch. You can tell his teammates really like him. Courtney Lee has a chance to make an impact in year one. That's saying a lot considering the kid was taken with the 22nd pick.

...Anthony Johnson: A pro's pro. Not the fastest, most explosive point guard in the world. He's not gonna dazzle you with his defense. The guy shoots the ball like ole Al Orter used to throw a shot put. But the guy is just solid. He's not gonna make many mistakes. He's gonna make sound decisions. He's not gonna do anything to lose a game for you.

...It was great to see Tony Battie back on the court Monday night. Man, did I miss this guy. His line wasn't gaudy by any means (6 points and 7 rebounds). Tony will be the first one to tell you that he's struggling with his timing after missing all of last season. But this guy does all the little things that championship caliber teams do. He boxes out. He offensive rebounds. He helps on defense. Tony Battie adds that veteran presence that we sorely lacked last year. Welcome back Tony!

...Marcin Gortat (8 points and 2 rebounds) is gonna see ample action off the Magic bench this year. The kid is strong. He's got quick feet and hands. He's got a little bit of a mean streak to him. He's not intimidated by the big stage.

...Finally, I have to tip my cap to our broadcast partner Richie Adubato. A few weeks ago, Richie had hip replacement surgery. Yet, crutches and all, there he was calling the game with Dennis Neumann Monday night. If our team shows the same kind of grit and determination as Richie did Monday, we're going a long way this year.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, October 6, 2008, 9:49AM

JAMEER ON POINT

An NBA point guard is a quarterback, a shortstop, a lead-off hitter, a coach on the floor, an inspirational leader all wrapped up into one. As your point guard goes, so goes your basketball team.

No pressure, Jameer Nelson!

This year, as Jameer enters his fifth NBA season and a five year $35 million contract extension, the pressure sits squarely on his shoulders. But I get the feeling that he wouldn’t want it any other way.

Last season, Magic GM Otis Smith raised several pairs of eyebrows throughout Orlando and the rest of the league by granting Jameer that extension.

I wondered aloud, on Inside Magic, if this was an extension Otis could have hammered out during the season? Callers into the show and Magic bloggers trashed the signing, saying that Jameer hadn’t done enough to warrant such a commitment. The critics wondered whether Jameer would ever transform into the point guard of the present and future. He’s not a true point guard. He doesn’t have innate play-making abilities. He’s too small. He becomes much too invisible on the court…etc…etc.

I’ve heard all the criticisms, trust me…and quite frankly, I’ve had my doubts as well. But the one thing I have never doubted about Jameer is toughness. The kid is from Chester, PA. ‘Nough said.

In the 2007-2008 regular season, Jameer averaged 10.9 points, 5.6 assists. He cut down his turnovers (2.04) and upped his field goal percentage to nearly 47%. Not bad. He played much better basketball after the All Star Break, but he made his mark in the playoffs.

Going into the series with both Toronto and Detroit, every so called expert was picking the Calderons, Fords, Billups and Stuckeyes to have their way with Jameer. The experts were flat out wrong.

In the Magic’s playoff push, Jameer averaged over 16 points and nearly 5 assists per game. Numbers aside, he really took over a leadership role with this team. He pressured the ball. He made sound decisions. He hit big shots. He broke down defenses. He ran the floor. He ran the team. He brought energy and attacked.

One could argue that Jameer was our best playoff performer. That was the Jameer Nelson we all wanted to see. That was the Jameer Nelson that Otis Smith signed to the extension.

Now, can Jameer build off the outstanding playoff performance and take that next step toward becoming this teams’ leader? Can Jameer bring that same type of quiet intensity onto the court every night? Can he bring that same kind of energy every night? Can he become more of a vocal leader? Can he pressure defensively and attack offensively on a consistent basis?

We know what we’re gonna get from Dwight this year. He’s gonna be a monster.

We know what we’re gonna get from Rashard. He’s gonna be a lot more comfortable.

We know what we’re gonna get from Hedo. He’s gonna to continue to frustrate defenses with his versatility.

If we get what we got from Jameer in the playoffs, we know that this Magic team is gonna contend for a trophy this season.

No pressure...right Jameer?

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, October 1, 2008, 9:40AM

CAMPING OUT WITH OTIS

Otis Smith goes into his third full season as the General Manager of the Orlando Magic. At training camp, our Scott Anez caught up with Otis for a pre-season chat.....

S...Otis, are you happy with the crew you've assembled for this season?

O...I think we have a good nucleus coming back. They have an understanding of what Stan wants on the floor. We have nine guys returning. The second part of that is that we add some complimentary pieces and we don't lose things like shooting, which is a prime concern when you have a big guy. I like our team and I like the pieces we've brought in.

S...Is there a sour taste in your mouth and this franchise's mouth collectively after what happened to you in the playoffs vs. Detroit last year?

O...Our goal is to continue to improve. We know that they beat us pretty handily, not only by the score but they physically beat us. So in order for us to get past that we have to have another level of toughness, another level of growth that I think this team is capable of. We have to be a little bit angry about how we finished, but I keep reminding them that we have to work three times as hard to get back to the same place we were last year. We're not gonna sneak up on anybody this year. Everybody expects us to be a pretty good basketball team. The character we have to test that adversity is gonna be our true test. I think I'll be able to tell a lot in the next 20-25 days. I'll be able to tell what we have...What we don't have...What we need and what we may need to subtract. So, it's a matter of just watching to see where we are.

S...Is there any concern about a potential complacency factor?

O...I'm not actually. Having sat down and talked with our guys, they're more focused than I've ever seen a group of guys. They're actually saying my stuff back to me! It's just a matter of our big four needing to understand what it takes for us to be good: Dwight, Turk, Rashard and Jameer. It clearly rides on their shoulders one way or another. I think they all understand that, but it's another thing to go out and produce.

S...What does Dwight Howard need to improve on for this season?

O...Probably the biggest thing with him is free throws. He has to be able to shoot 70 percent or better from the line. The second part of that is that he has to own the paint on both ends of the floor. If you're supposed to be the best center in the NBA, you need to make your mark there. He's focused and poised to do just that This team is gonna go as far as he's gonna take us. So his steady improvement is really gonna help us.

S...Dwight wasn't exactly option number one in Beijing. Were you happy with the work he got in this past summer in the Olympics?

O...I was happy that they won a gold medal! I told him this...One of the things I wanted him to get out of the Olympics was that we wanted him to get a newfound appreciation for playing a role. That makes it easier for him to understand Tony Battie's role or Brian Cook's role. You have a role and you play that role and there's no deviation. Once you understand other people's roles, your role actually becomes so much easier to do. So, I think that's what he got out of the summer. I think he understood his role as the Olympics unfolded and got to the later games. I thought he fought it early on but I think he understood his role later.

S...What do you look for our of Jameer in year #5?

O....For me it's a continuing leadership role. He's responsible for how we come out of the gates every night. Whereas Dwight sets the tone, Jameer is responsible for getting us organized and making sure he gets us to play at a high energy level. He understands that of all our guys on the floor, he's the guy who's going to be left open the most so he has to make shots. He has to make open shots because he'll get a ton. Anyone who comes in in that position is gonna have to make open shots. That's just the reality of that position.

S...Rashard comes off his first year in Orlando. What do you expect out of Rashard this season?

O...I think he's comfortable now. I think he's more comfortable with his coach. I think he's more comfortable in Orlando. I think he's more comfortable with his teammates. So, from my standpoint, it's a matter of continuing to get comfortable. But at the same time, I need him to be more of a vocal leader, which is not exactly in his character. He is a 'lead by example' guy and he's very good at that. He'll have to continue to do those things and be more aggressive. He needs to realize that he doesn't have to take a back seat to anybody.

S...How about Hedo? He made great strides last year. Much has been made about his potential free agent year this year. What are your thoughts about Hedo?

O...He just has to have the same year. I want him to have the same year and not spend so much time focusing on the potential of becoming a free agent after the season. I want him to spend more time focusing on 'how do I help this team win'. I think he understands and is focused to do that. He just has to have the same type of year and improve in just one area and that's turning the ball over . If he can cut down on the careless turnovers, then I think we will improve as team.

S...As if I don't know the answer to this silly question, Otis...What is the goal for this team this season?

O...It's the championship. That has not changed. Now, once it's your goal, you gotta be willing to do the work. That's what starts here in camp. It's time to put in the consistent work over time to give you an opportunity to win an NBA Championship. I think everyone understands that. We will see how we handle adversity and the fact that now we're expected to win instead of just hoping to win.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, September 30, 2008, 10:08AM

MEDIA DAY MEMOIRES

Here are my observations as I made my way around Magic Media Day Monday....

...The over-under on Coach Van Gundy losing his voice this week is 1 full day of camp. Coach was already a bit hoarse after finishing his interviews Monday.

...Great to see Tony Battie back in uniform. I went up to our former broadcast partner and asked him, "What would happen if I smack you on that shoulder?". He answered, "I'll smack you back!" He's ready.

...This was my 20th Magic Media Day. I couldn't help but reminisce with ole timers Nick Anderson, Morlon Wiley and Otis Smith. All three were here on that very first Media Day. We all had a big belly laugh over that very first expansion season and how the loquacious Reggie Theus became the apple of the local media's eye. We reporters would crowd around the Reggie's locker after every game seeking that one perfect quote, and before you knew it, Otis, Morlon and Nick would slide out the back door.

...JJ Redick told the media that he is "mentally in the best place I've ever been." JJ added, "Nothing is going to break my spirit." He's not only sound in mind and spirit...but body as well. It was obvious that he spent the off season gettin' his 'swole' on. JJ's more chiseled than in years past.

...Coach Van Gundy's quote about Dwight Howard: "Dwight is the most gifted big man I've seen. I had Shaq, but I think Dwight's combination of size, strength, athleticism and intelligence...He has every gift you could ever have."

...I think it's notable to point out GM Otis Smith's relationship with his coaches and players. Customarily in the NBA, when the GM's around, everyone sorta puckers up. But I think Otis has built a culture of comfort, trust and pointed honesty. Otis watches every practice. He travels to most every game. He has the respect of his players and has a great relationship with his coach. It's very unusual in what is a very insecure business.

...Hedo Turkoglu's potential contract year was a hot topic on the RDV practice court. Hedo says it will not be a distraction. But I wonder...He's never been in this position before. It's gonna be interesting to see how Turk reacts.

...After a sound playoff performance, I really believe that Jameer Nelson is gonna take that next step toward becoming a great point guard. Don't give me the nonsense that Jameer's too short...he's too this...he's not that. If Jameer keeps his energy level high, there's no reason why he cannot take this team to higher heights this year.

...Coach Stan says that he's interested in getting a training camp look at a dual threat of Hedo and rookie Courtney Lee sharing ball handling duties. Coach Stan says that, behind Dwight and Mickael Pietrus, Lee is the best athlete on the team.

...When I asked every Magic player and coach about Courtney Lee, the one word used by all of them was: "maturity".

...Quote from Otis: "We have to play twice, three times as hard to get back to the same place."

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, September 25, 2008, 9:45AM

Amazing how 20 years fly by!

I actually remember covering the Orlando Magic's very first uniform unveiling over in 1989. Ironically, the 2008 unveiling occurred in the same location as the very first: Cheyenne Saloon on Church Street.

Tuesday's uniform change was the fourth in Magic team history. The first, the classic pinstriped uni's, were in existence from 1989-1997 (below).

In 1998, the Magic dropped the pinstripes for a cleaner, fresher look (below).

In 2003, the Magic changed up and went to an even fresher, less busy look (below).

Now, while the look of the uniform is important, it's who's occupying said uniform that counts the most! You can look like a million bucks, but if you have a bunch o' dogs playing for ya, it doesn't matter if your team photo is on the front cover of 'GQ'.

Style is good...but substance is paramount in the NBA business.

With that said, I was hoping that the Magic would go 'retro' for this 20th anniversary season. I pined for pinstripes of yesteryear. I got what I wanted.

The 20th anniversary uni's are snazzy! They've been freshened up to reflect modern times. The lettering is more video game-ish, i.e. the current Dallas Maverick look. I like how the color black is featured on the sides of the home and away jerseys. And of course, let's not forget about the pinstripes, which have evolved into a tapered look.

All in all, I like the new uni's. I'll like 'em even more if the Magic make a big playoff push this season.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, September 17, 2008, 9:54AM

A BIG YEAR FOR HEDO

This is a big year for the Orlando Magic. This is perhaps an even a bigger year for Hedo Turkoglu.

The Orlando Magic's reigning Most Improved Player comes off a monumental season, a season in which he started every game. Hedo tallied career highs with averages of 19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 36.9 minutes and a .456 FG%.

Back on March 5, on this very blog, I proclaimed Hedo Turkoglu the most versatile player in the NBA:
"He can handle the rock with both hands...Turk has the most feathery shooting touch of any big man this side of Dallas. Hedo's one of the best passers on the team. ...The two areas I have seen marked improvement this year from Hedo are rebounding and defense....Ask guys like Paul Pierce, Richard Jefferson and Andre Igoudala about Hedo's defense this season. He's shut down all three of those stars and many more...Turk has been clutch as well. He’s among the league leaders in fourth quarter scoring, averaging 6.5 points in final stanzas. He's had 10-plus fourth quarter points 13 times."

After this coming season, his fifth on a six year $36.8 million deal, Hedo has the right to opt out and become a free agent. Somehow, someway, we gotta keep Hedo in blue and black for the rest of his career. This guy is too good to let him get away for nothin'.

In a 'believe it or not' look at today's whacky NBA financial landscape, there are currently over 100 players who earn more than Hedo Turkoglu. Now, I'm sure his agent would argue that Hedo has transformed into one of the top 30 players in the game today. Frankly, he is. So you tell me...Does Hedo deserve to get paid? Absolutely. Question is: can the Magic afford him? I realize that luxury tax land isn't far away...but we have to do anything we can to keep this guy in O-Town.

This is gonna be a very interesting year for Hedo. Not only will he likely be playing out the final year of his contract, he'll also be a marked man. How will he handle the pressure and attention that he's undoubtedly going to see from opposing defenses this season?

Will Coach Van Gundy move him into a sixth man's role? It's an idea that may seem like blasphemy to some Magic fans, but it's an interesting potential scenario considering Tony Battie is coming back from his one year hiatus. Rashard Lewis played out of position all of last year and in the playoffs we discovered that we're gonna need more girth under the hoop to compete for the East.

You glance at history and you realize that the sixth man's role has done wonders for the careers of greats like John Havlicek, Vinny Johnson, Michael Cooper, Tony Kukoc and Manu Ginnobili. Notice how all the aforementioned guys played for championship teams? Would Hedo view such a move as an opportunity or a demotion? What would that kind of transition mean to a potential free agent contract next season?

Will Coach Stan play Turk at the shooting guard spot more? The common thought is that Mickael Pietrus will step right into that starting shooting guard spot this season...but nothing in this lineup, aside from Dwight (center) and Rashard (forward), is set in stone right now. As stated earlier, I believe that Hedo is the most versatile player in the NBA. Do I think he could handle the two guard spot? In spots...10-15 minutes per game. I just don't know if Hedo could handle the grind of defending that spot night in and night out.

As we embark on training camp later this month, there are many questions swirling around the role of Hedo Turkoglu this year.

But there's no question about it: we gotta find a way to keep Hedo in a Magic uniform for years to come.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, September 9, 2008, 10:13AM

CAN DWIGHT TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL?

What have you done for me lately?

It's a fact of life in the NBA. This is a business of the present tense. Last season is but a memory. A new year and new challenges await each and every NBA team.

So, here's the question: what can Dwight Howard do to take his game and his team to a higher plain in 2008-2009?

As unfair as it may sound, NBA super stars are held to a higher standard. And make no mistake about it...Dwight Howard is as luminous as they come in today's league.

In 2007-2008, Dwight's fourth professional season, superman broke out in a big way. He averaged nearly 21 points. He would capture the NBA's rebounding title by hauling in 14.2 per game. The kid shot 59.9% from the field. Dwight led the franchise to its very first playoff series victory in 12 years. Heck, the kid is wearing a gold medal around his neck after playing his part in that American revolt in Beijing.

Dwight Howard has been on Oprah. He lives in a mansion. He begins an $85 million contract extension this season. He's got a multi-million dollar shoe contract.

It's been an incredible run for a 22 year old kid who, conceivably, could have been playing his senior year in college last year.

Fame and fortune are his.

Now, it's winnin' time!

I grew up during the NBA's heyday when Bird and Magic would compete for championships seemingly every year. Each and every off season, these two great foes would spend hours upon hours in the gym working on their games. Magic would develop his jump shot to beat Bird. Larry would develop his left hand to combat Magic. Even though they dominated the game, both men would work restlessly to be the best they could be to out-do the other.

Remember back to 1995 when our Magic would stun Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Semifinals? Jordan would use that loss as motivation for the following season when he would lead the Bulls to 72 regular season wins, a four game knockout of Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals and the eventual NBA Championship.

The common thread with all the great ones throughout the years is that they all motivate themselves. The great ones challenge themselves. The great ones make themselves better each and every year because they all have that unique, burning desire to win. They never ever settle.

Does Dwight have that unique desire to become great? Does he realize what price has to be paid to attain greatness?

Dwight Howard is the apple of our eye in Orlando...He is the best center in the game today...He is a physical marvel. He's got his fame. He's got his fortune.

NOW...it's time to take it to the next level.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, September 2, 2008, 10:38AM

HOW BADLY DO WE WANT IT?

The NBA's Eastern Conference is up for grabs.

The way I see it is that the East's beasts, the Celtics and Pistons, are falling back to a pack that's gaining more and more ground daily.

The Boston Celtics are the defending champs. There's no question that they should be the favorites to capture the East for the second year running. But, while most every Eastern team has improved, the Celtics have sorta stood pat. One could certainly argue that with the loss of James Posey and with the Big Three getting a little longer in the teeth that the Celtics may have slipped a notch.

Detroit will still be one of the more powerful teams in the league. But new coach Michael Curry takes over a team that has some serious issues. Rasheed Wallace's future is in limbo as he enters the final year of his deal. Chauncey Billups has lost a half-step. The Pistons will continue to infuse youth as they attempt to walk that fine line of trying to build for the future and trying to win now.

Pistons, Celtics, that rumbling you hear is the footsteps of the rest of the Eastern Conference.

...LeBron's Cavaliers are better with the addition of Mo Williams.

...The Raptors, at least on paper, are much better after the acquisition of Jermaine O'Neal.

...The Sixers are vastly improved with the addition of Elton Brand.

...As we saw in Beijing, Dwayne Wade is back and so will be his Miami Heat.

...Miami picked Michael Beasley #2. Chicago got Derrick Rose with the #1 pick. The Bulls were baffling in 2007-2008 but will be much better this season.

...The Wizards re-signed Arenas and Jamison.

...The Baby Birds took the Celtics to the limit last year. This year, those Hawks will take that next step in their development.

...Coach Scott Skiles and Richard Jefferson will make the Bucks playoff contenders again.

How do the Orlando Magic fit into this Eastern Conference picture?

There's no doubt in my mind this team will be improved.

You have Dwight Howard with another year under his belt and a gold medal around his neck. You have Hedo Turkoglu going into a contract year. You have a more comfortable Rashard Lewis. You have solidified your shooting guard spot with the acquisition of Mickael Pietrus. You have a dependable back up point guard now in Anthony Johnson. And, after missing all of last season with the shoulder injury, Tony Battie will be back to add his veteran leadership and grit on our front line.

The East will be improved. The Cetlics and Pistons ain't goin' down without a fight.

Question is: how badly do the Orlando Magic want it?

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, August 25, 2008, 9:54AM

MIGHTY DWIGHTY'S GOLDEN

Redemption!

Early Sunday morning, Team USA held off Spain for the golden 118-107 victory. After six years of international humiliation, the gold medal is back where it belongs.

Our Dwight Howard tallied eight points and five rebounds in the Olympic clincher.

For the tournament, Dwight averaged 10.9 points, 5.75 rebounds in over 16 minutes per game. He shot an impressive 74% from the free throw line and turned the ball over one time per game.

For a kid who averaged 20.7 points and an NBA-leading 14.2 rebounds per game in 2007-2008, these Olympic stats are relatively tepid. But, what was far more impressive was the way that Dwight bought into the Olympic dream and played the part of the consummate team player.

As I watched our Redeem Team in Beijing, I couldn't help but feel proud of the way these guys represented themselves. Many a critic believed that this collection of NBA multimillion $ corporations would fall short of gold again because of a perceived selfishness and self-centeredness. It's a credit to boss Jerry Colangelo, Coach Mike Krzyzewski, the assistant coaches and most of all, the players, that we proved the critics dead wrong with a three year commitment culminating in a team-first attitude and our first Olympic triumph since 2000.

No one epitomized that unselfish attitude more than Dwight Howard.

If you're a Magic fan and you watched Dwight during his Olympic experience, let me guess? You're ecstatic about the victory, but ya feel a wee bit cheated, don't you? Just a little frustrated? I do too. After all, we've seen Dwight do some amazing things on the court over the last four years. He has the ability to dominate like no other big man in the world.

In Coach Stan Van Gundy's scheme, Dwight is the prime option. He is the focal point of everything the Magic do both offensively and defensively. The Magic fan in me wanted to see Dwight bury his man. I wanted to see what Dwight could do facing the basket. I wanted to see more dunks, more spin moves, more power, more facials. I wanted more of D-11!

But, under Coach K's direction, Dwight was transformed from Superman to Utilityman.

I totally get it. I accept the fact that the U.S. Olympic team was built on a foundation of speed, great perimeter players and defense. On this team, Dwight's jobs were to rebound, run the floor and block shots.

Now, he'll never admit it, but the shackles placed on Dwight during the Olympic tournament had to be a source of some irritation. The only game in which Team USA actually threw him the ball consistently was the pool play finale when Dwight accounted for 22 points and 10 rebounds in a 106-57 squashing of Germany.

But, Dwight isn't the only one who sacrificed to win gold. Keep in mind that, of the top eight scorers in the Olympic tournament, none of them wore red, white and blue! Incredible, isn't it? You're talking about the best players in the world...guys like Kobe, LeBron and Wade (ninth in the tourney at 16 ppg). Heck, even an Iranian joker by the name of Hamed Ehadadi finished with a better average (16.6) than any of our guys.

In the end, Coach K and his staff knew that individual play was not going to win us the gold medal.

It was all about the team in Beijing...and no one was about the team more than our Dwight Howard.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, August 20, 2008, 9:54AM

SUMMER REVIEW

So what do you think of the Orlando Magic's offseason so far?

It's amazing the amount of Magic fans I run into who tell me they are a bit disappointed with what GM Otis Smith has done this summer. Seems that these same fans were hoping to land Kobe, LeBron, Chris Paul and Carmelo to play alongside Dwight Howard this year.

Let me just say this to you folks...

What the Boston Celtics did last summer happens in this league slim-to-never. But when the Celtics wheeled and dealt for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, it made fans of every NBA team believe that their club was capable of making blockbuster deals that will catapult them to the Championship. Truth of the matter is that the moon and the stars had to align just right for a deal like that to happen.

Kevin Garnett ran his course in Minnesota as the Wolves looked to re-make their roster. Danny Ainge just happened to be the best of buds with Minnesota's Kevin McHale. The Seattle Sonics just happened to be starting a rebuilding/cost-cutting project with the number two pick in the draft, Kevin Durant, making Ray Allen expendable.

Everything that could have gone right...did...for the lowly 24-win Boston Celtics. In 2007-2008, they reaped the rewards as the C's captured their 17th title.

Now that we've established the near impossibility of such a deal, let's get back to our Magic.

First off, we draft Courtney Lee. Otis got the guy he wanted with the 22nd pick. Lee showed over the summer that he's heady. The kid's got a nice offensive game, a good head on his shoulders and he'll get a chance to work himself into Coach Van Gundy's system.

Then, Otis signs free agent Mickael Pietrus. I must admit...I was hoping for Corey Maggette. Corey was telling friends and associates that he wanted to come home. But, from what I gather, in the end, we didn't have nearly enough dough for Maggette, who would ink that five year $50 million deal with Golden State.

Do I like Pietrus, our likely starter at the shooting guard spot? Frankly, I have no idea yet. Pietrus has played in virtual secrecy over the last five years at Golden State.

What I do like about him is that he's big...He's a defensive stopper, which we need desperately. He can guard as many as three positions. He's a character kid and I like the fact that Pietrus seems hungry to finally make his mark on this league.

Otis then signs Anthony Johnson. Now, I realize that this move may have eluded even the most ardent NBA fan. But, I must admit, I love this pick-up. Don't get me wrong. A-J's no J-Kidd or C-Paul. What A-J is is dependable. He's akin to a good NFL veteran backup quarterback. Anthony Johnson will in no way, shape or form get you beat. He will get your team into the right sets. He'll make wise decisions. He'll guard the position. A-J is dependable. That's more than I can say about Carlos Arroyo, who's now in Israel.

I will miss Keyon Dooling (New Jersey) and Maurice Evans (Atlanta). Keyon's absence from this lineup leaves a gaping hole in the energy-bunny-off-the-bench category.

What else do we need? I wouldn't mind adding another point guard to the mix. Going into the season with just Jameer and A-J at the point is a concern.

In the end, let's all keep in mind what Otis Smith had to work with this summer: a low first round draft pick, zero, zilch, nada in salary cap room and nary a marquee trade attraction (no way am I dangling Hedo Turkoglu in a trade now).

No, we didn't pull off a Celtic-like trade of the century. But, what ya have to realize is that the Magic, a team that captured the Atlantic Division crown in 2007-2008, got even better for 2008-2009.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, August 12, 2008, 10:50AM

DON'T TELL MY WIFE

While I was on holiday, the Orlando Magic's 2008-2009 schedule was released. How did I know? My wife found it on-line and immediately reported to me that our Magic are playing on Thanksgiving eve, Thanksgiving night, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve.

I took the next 20 minutes trying to talk her off the ledge of the hotel.

In all honesty, my lovely wife is a very good sport. After 20 years of this stuff, she knows the drill. She knows that if you're good, you're gonna play on national television in front of huge holiday audiences. Our Magic won 52 games last season. They captured the Southeast Division crown. They won their first playoff series in some 12 years. They sport one of the best young players in the league in Dwight Howard. We're a marquee attraction again!

Good for us Magic fans...Bad for the Anez family's holiday fans.

Unlike my wife, I have no major beefs with the schedule-maker this year.

I like the fact that this team doesn't have to go overseas in the pre-season as it did last year when we traveled to China. I like the fact that we have 11 national TV games. I love that we have 16 back-to-back scenarios, which is low-end in the NBA. I like that we play five of the first six at home. I like that we get our west coast trips out of the way by the middle of January. I like that we have 18 home games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Most of all..I like that fact that this team won't have to overcome what it had to face last year. Not only did the league send us to China, but we also had to survive a brutal early season that saw the Magic play 13 of the first 19 away from home.

What don't I like about this year's schedule? December! Nine of the 15 games in the month are away from home. It's not that I mind my team being on the road for the holidays. Quite frankly, there are many more distractions that time of year when you're sleeping in your own bed. But, look at the quality of some our road opponents in December: Boston, Portland, Phoenix, Utah and Detroit. At home, we have to face teams like Oklahoma City, the Spurs, Lakers and Hornets. December's gonna be a bear!

I still don't get why the league puts us in Houston on April 7 then has us hosting Memphis at home the next night. For years, the NBA has inexplicably believed that Texas is a hop, skip and a jump from OIA.

But, you know what? All in all, not bad. I have no major complaints about the Magic's upcoming schedule.

My wife? Well, that's a different story.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, August 11, 2008, 9:14AM

MY TOP 20

Back from vacation, I am anxious to talk Magic again. As I thought about today's topic, it dawned on me that we are on the verge of the 20th season of Orlando Magic basketball. Hard to believe that I have covered this franchise for two decades. It's even harder to believe that I haven't aged a bit (and if ya believe that....)

So here they are...

Anez's Top 20 Magical Moments:

1..The very first pre-season game vs. Detroit when we beat the defending champs! (I put this one #1 'cause as a kid who grew up here, it was such a thrill to see Orlando finally make the big leagues)

2..Nick Anderson stole the ball! ('95 playoffs)

3..Scott Skiles' 30 assists (December 30, 1990). It's a record that still holds today.

4..Game 7 win over Indy in '95.

5..Magic close out MJ and the Bulls in game six in Chicago in '95.

6..NBA Finals come to Orlando, 1995.

7..Dwight's mega-dunk on the Spurs last year!

8..Penny's block during game four of Celtic series (May 3, 1995).

9..Superman soars at All Star Weekend.

10..Drafting of Dwight.

11..Drafting of Shaq.

12..Shaq pulls the goal down in Phoenix and NJ in '92-'93.

13..Penny's dunk over Patrick Ewing (December 3, 1994)

14..TMac's 62 points vs. Washington in March of '04.

15..Hedo last second shot beats Boston this past season.

16..Penny's 42 and 43 points and games 3 and 4 of '97 playoffs vs. Miami.

17..Rashard's last second shot to beat Pistons this past season.

18..Darrell Armstrong steal with :03 to beat Sixers in March of 1999.

19..TMac self-oop in All Star Game in 2002.

20..New Arena!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Saturday, July 5, 2008, 3:14PM

MAGIC ON POINT
Chris Duhon, what's it gonna be?

NOTE: Scott Anez will be on vacation beginning July 7th. Check back later this month for more Sez!

The Orlando Magic have reportedly made a 3 year $10 million offer for the free agent's services. So much for the whole Corey Maggette idea, huh?

Apparently, Duhon is mulling it over. Earlier this week, he received a 2 year $7 million offer from the NY Knicks. To me, there ain't a whole lot to think about. The difference between the two offers comes out to about $3 mil, playing alongside Dwight Howard and a chance to win a championship. In NY, Chris, you pay more in taxes, most of your teammates are boneheads and you'll have about as much chance of winning a title as I do a Pulitzer.

Duhon is a four year vet. He became expendable when the Bulls selected Derrick Rose with the #1 pick in the NBA Draft. Duhon is a role player who primarily plays the point.

GM Otis Smith's pursuit of Chris Duhon tells me three things: 1. The Magic want so shore up their point guard position. 2. The Magic would like to split their mid-level exception to sign another player, preferably a big, later in the summer. 3. Otis apparently feels more urgency about his point guard spot than his starting shooting guard position.

Chris Duhon would be an ideal backup to Jameer Nelson. Duhon is not gonna knock your sox off with Sportscenter dispsy doo dunkaroos. He's more substance than style. The thing that really jumps out at you about Duhon is that hes had a 4-1 assist-to-turnover ratio the last two years with the Bulls. The man doesn't give games away. We could have used some of that in the playoff series vs. Detroit, huh?

If Duhon decides that we're the apple of his eye, it's a move that would signal an end to Carlos Arroyo's tenure here. Talent has never been an issue with Carlos. Consistency and leadership has. Duhon would bring a steadying presence to that back up point guard spot, something that Carlos was just not able to do.

It's interesting, knowing how tenuous our shooting guard spot is right now, that Otis is choosing to make a back up point guard his free agent priority. There are other pressing issues on this team. We need another big. More importantly, that starting shooting guard spot is in some serious flux at the moment. Perhaps Otis feels confident about re-signing Maurice Evans? Maybe we're gonna piece together that spot with Bogans, JJ and free agent Keyon Dooling?

That brings us to another question. What about Keyon? To me, he's the one free agent on this team we can ill-afford to lose. Keyon brings so much passion to this team off the bench. If Duhon decides to come here, I don't believe that should impact Keyon's status here. Sure, Keyon plays some back up point guard, but Keyon is more of a combo guard, an energy guy who you can't really pigeon hole into one set position. Guys like Keyon are hard to find. We can't break the bank, but I believe that we have to do everything we can to re-up Keyon.

Chris Duhon, the ball is in your court. Please make your decision quickly. Otis has much to do this summer.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, July 1, 2008, 9:40AM

IS MAGGETTE THE MAN?
Let the courting begin.

The NBA free agency period began at 12:01 am Tuesday.

What will the Orlando Magic do?

Let's all keep in mind that this is not last summer. In 2007, the Magic and General Manager Otis Smith had oodles under the salary cap to throw Rashard Lewis a $118 million bone.

This year, the well is all dried up. All we have this summer is our good looks, the lure of playing with Dwight Howard, sunshine, no state taxes, a shot at a championship and the mid-level exception (circa $5.6 million a year) to try to woo free agents to town.

That list of unrestricted free agents is less than overwhelming. Baron Davis has shockingly opted out of a Golden State deal that would have paid him $17.8 million next season. Baron, what in the name of DeShawn Stevenson are you and your agent thinking? Perhaps Davis and Arenas will switch uniforms? I don't know, but I am pretty sure that Baron Davis will go down as the only person in the history of the world to walk away from nearly $18 mil in guaranteed money.

Other names on that list include Elton Brand (expected to re-sign with LAC), Gilbert Arenas (expected to re-up with Washington), Corey Maggette and Michael Pietrus. Let's put the Bulls' Chris Duhon on this list as well for Magic purposes. Duhon may make a nice defensive-minded back up in Orlando.

The top five restricted free agents are as follows: Andre Igoudala, Josh Smith, Jose Calderon, Luol Deng and Monta Ellis. With the possible exception of Smith, I suspect the rest on that list will re-sign with their respective clubs.

Now, our options are extremely limited but I guarantee Otis is gonna do something (how's that for a prediction?).

Maggette is an interesting option.

Corey's 'people' are shouting out to most every Orlando media member who'll listen that he would love to be courted by the Magic. Frankly, I'd love to see it happen.

Tuesday, Corey opted out of a Clipper deal that would have paid him $7 million next year. Corey played his rookie season with the Magic back in 1999-2000. He would certainly fill a need at our starting shooting guard spot. Last season, he averaged over 22 points per game, a career high, and is still the freakish athlete we saw in his rookie season.

Corey's parents still live here in town and he would certainly fit the bill for a Magic team built upon a foundation of character guys. Corey's a good guy and a hard worker who's entering the prime years of his career (he turns 29 in November).

Will he take less $ to come home? Good question, considering he'll likely have three of four other teams throwing big dough at him.

Maggette's my man....But I don't count.

Never a dull moment at Two Magic Place.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, June 27, 2008, 9:21AM

OTIS GETS HIS MAN
Courtney Lee is the guy we targeted. Courtney Lee is the guy we got.

Thursday night, the Magic selected Lee with the 22nd pick in the NBA Draft.

The 6-5 shooting guard from Indianapolis played four seasons at Western Kentucky where he averaged over 20 points per game in his senior season. Lee is known as one of the purest scorers in the nation. He led the Hilltoppers to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. One of his most memorable games was the Tournament win over San Diego in Tampa where he tossed in 29 points to send the vertically challenged 'toppers to the Regional Semifinals. Lee's Cinderella season would end with a loss to UCLA.

Considering the uncertainty of our shooting guard position, Lee is a kid who has the ability to come in and make an impact. With a few tweaks here and there, he'll have an NBA-ready body. He is a scorer who is not shy about pulling up from mid-range, a lost art in today's game. Having played the point guard spot during his sophomore season, Lee can handle rock a little as well, but don't plan on seeing him become our floor general any time soon.

On the down side, Lee will have to overcome the stigma of jumping into the NBA fire from a mid-major program. We know the kid can score. Now, he's now gonna have to show that he can defend the two guard position at the next level and improve his consistency.

Courtney Lee is a high character kid. Why doesn't that surprise me?

Otis Smith has not been a GM for long, but the one common thread in Otis's short tenure is that he is high on character, low-maintenance guys, team-first players. No Boneheads allowed!

Courtney Lee is no bonehead. Finding any sort of baggage on this kid is not easy.

Now, Lee will be the first one to admit that the main reason he attended a small school after finishing second in the running for Indiana's Mr. Basketball is that he just didn't take his early years of high school as seriously as he should have. Many of the big boys backed off. He settled on WKU.

Early in his collegiate career, Lee would suffer the loss of his mentor, roommate, best friend and teammate Danny Rumph to a heart condition. Lee credits the late Rumph for convincing him to remain at WKU when severe bouts of homesickness would hit. To this day, Courtney Lee dedicates his basketball career to the late Rumph and the impact he had on his life.

What kind of impact will Lee have in Orlando in year one? That remains to be seen.

What we do know is this: Otis Smith got his man in Courtney Lee.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, June 26, 2008, 9:13AM

JUST THE WAY I LIKE IT
This year's NBA Draft grab your fancy yet?

Me neither. But, ya know what? This is the way it should be. Picking late in the first round of the NBA Draft translates into a great regular season. Give me boring draft nights for the next 20 years!

Let's get this straight: the player we pick at 22 tonight is gonna have warts. He won't be perfect. We won't be throwing a ticker tape parade down Orange Avenue for him tomorrow. It's highly unlikely that we'll be hanging this kid's number from the rafters in 15 years.

With that said, I think we're gonna get a solid player. This draft, while lacking star power after the top two or three picks, is deep enough to where the Orlando Magic can walk away with a guy who can help us now and into the future.

Magic GM Otis Smith held a pre-draft news conference Tuesday. Otis talked for 13 minutes, but didn't say a whole lot. How can you blame the guy? NBA execs cannot, and should not, tip their hands at this very crucial time of year.

So, we're left with an educated guessing game.

I could throw a whole host of names at ya...but I've narrowed my list to three:

Chris Douglas Roberts. I stated a few weeks ago that my pick would be CDR. But rumor mill has it that his stock is falling rapidly. Apparently, NBA types are concerned about his ability to score at the next level. From what I hear, CDR's workouts in Orlando and other whistle stops were less than stellar. We'll see. I still think he would fit this team. He's versatile and big for a two guard. The kid shot 54% from the field last season. He averaged 18 points per game and stroked it at a 41% clip from beyond the arc.

Courtney Lee. I like the fact that he's stayed in college for four years. Excellent shooter. He averaged 20 points and shot 48% FG last season at Western Kentucky. Lee has the ability create his own shot at the next level. He has a high basketball IQ and I am told he's a good character guy. The red flags? Lee has a tendency to become invisible on the court at times and disappeared in the NCAA Tournament. Defensively, he needs work.

Marreese Speights. Will he be around when the Magic pick 22? It's unlikely, but if Otis is gonna stick with his strategery of picking the best available player on the board, the kid from St. Pete is the one! We need a big. Marreese is plenty big and still growing. In just 24 minutes per game for Coach Billy this past season, Speights averaged 14.5 points and 8 rebounds. If those numbers were to be projected out to 40 minute per #'s, they'd look like this: 28 points and 18 rebounds. The question marks surrounding young Speights center around his work ethic and a raw outside shot.

If Marreese Speights is still on the board, don't ya have to take the Florida Gator?

There ya go. That's my finalist list for the Magic's #22 pick. It's not the most exciting list in the world. But, ya know what? That's just the way I like it.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, June 23, 2008, 2:54PM

DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YA READ
Who's it gonna be?

Courtney Lee? Chris Douglas Roberts? Roy Hibbert? Bill Walker? Robin Lopez?

Who will be the Magic's pick at #22 in the first round?

You NBA Draft geeks are in your glory this time of year.

I have been covering the draft for a long time now. Some of you consider the draft a passion of yours. I enjoy the draft...but I'd much rather watch the fourth quarter of a tight NBA game. I actually covered the draft before the internet age when reporters actually had to work their contacts and the phones instead of browsing the web to get their 'inside' information.

There are scores of NBA Draft related websites. They each have their own mock drafts, team needs and player profiles. Heck, some even proclaim to have the 2020 NBA Draft already broken down! Now, these websites are invaluable. I love 'em. I couldn't do my draft prep without them. But can we please get real with some perspective here?

Did you ever notice that each potential draftee is the next coming of (insert name here)? Derrick Rose is Dwayne Wade. Michael Beasley is Carmelo Anthony. OJ Mayo is Ben Gordon. Kevin Love is, gulp, Wes Unseld? Wes Unseld? Kevin Love couldn't carry the ole Baltimore Bullet's jock strap. Derrick Rose is a very good player, but comparing him to D-Wade? PUUHLEAASE. Let's allow these guys to become who they are, not who we want them to be.

Ya ever notice how, according to the web, every player has tremendous upside and is seemingly a Hall of Famer in the making? "Incredibly explosive"..."Great Shooter"..."Athletic"..."Excellent floor vision"..."Gifted offensive player". Not once have I seen, "This guy's a bust waiting to happen" or, "Stay away from picking this cancer!". 1-60, these potential draftees all have the potential to become the next coming of Bird, Magic and Michael combined. You want to know that truth? The truth of the matter is that a majority of these 60 players won't even be in the NBA in three years.

With that said, these sites can be valuable tools to find out what's going on in other cities. So, because of their popularity, they're also used in counter-intelligence. Say, for instance, that Magic GM Otis Smith is interested in taking Courtney Lee from Western Kentucky with the #22 pick. Do you think that, in this day of the instant information age, Otis would allow that 411 to get out on the web so that other teams can peruse in real time? What I am saying here is that there is a whole bunch NBA execs whose noses are growing this time of year. Why in the world would any NBA GM show his hand?

I have my favorite NBA Draft websites. The depth of some of these sites is absolutely phenomenal.

But, this time of year, don't believe everything ya read.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, June 11, 2008, 9:51AM

SEZ'S MAGIC MIX
...Word is that Adonal Foyle will opt out of the final year of his contract and not be back with our Magic next season. Adonal's a wonderful human being and I wish him well...but Adonal was his own worst enemy in the second half of this past season when he allowed himself to get outta shape. He just couldn't keep up. Marcin Gortat, who has promise, took over Adonal's minutes in back of Dwight Howard in the playoffs and made his presence known. Can't say as much for Adonal in the second half of the season.

...With the #22 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Sez takes....Chris Douglas Roberts from Memphis!

...Since the Magic have been in the league, check out some of the names pick 22 has yielded: Victor Khryapa (2004), Corey Jacobsen (2002), Jeryl Sasser (Orlando-2001), Donnell Harvey (2000), Ed Gray (1997), Roy Rogers (1996) and George Zidek (1995).

...There have been a few mild success stories at #22 over the years. Last year, the Nets took the promising Jared Dudley at 22. Jarrett Jack went 22 to the Blazers in 2005. Zoran Planinic went to NJ at 22 in 2003. Kenny Thomas went 22 to the Rockets in 1999 and Chris Mills was the 22nd pick in the 1993 draft. So history tells us that, barring a trade up, don't expect our draftee to come in and turn City Beautiful on its ear.

...We have had our issues over the years picking mid-to-late first round, as has every NBA team. 2003 Reece Gaines (15). 2001 Sassafrass. 1997 Johnny Taylor (17). 1996 Brian Evans (27). 1995 David Vaughn (25). 1994 Brooks Thompson (27). 1993 Geert Hammink (26).

...Trader Otis is gonna be active this summer, but even if he flops in the draft, free agency and potential trades, this Magic team is gonna get better. Dwight will have another year under his belt. Rashard will feel more comfortable in year two in Orlando. Jameer will have gained more confidence playing the point. Tony Battie will be back. The coaching staff will be more settled and this team will have more experience of playing together.

...For you emailers telling me that the Magic should trade Hedo Turkoglu before he opts out of his contract next season: POPPYCOCK! Sure, Hedo had a tough series vs. Detroit, but this guy is the most versatile player in the game today. He is such a huge part of what we do offensively. He's improved drastically on the defensive end. Believe me, the grass ain't greener on the other side of that fence.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, June 3, 2008, 8:51AM

WELL DESERVED
Monday, Orlando Magic President and CEO Bob Vanderweide gave General Manager Otis Smith and Assistant GM Dave Twardzik contract extensions. The deals are well deserved!

Heck, I am of the belief that Bobby V. should have granted Otis a lifetime deal back in February of 2006 when Otis, somehow, dumped the mercurial Steve Francis and his gross contract on Isiah Thomas's doorstep. That deal, to me, should have earned Otis the Executive of the Year Award for the lifetime of Francis's contract.

Actually, Otis is being rewarded for a full body of work. He's built a nucleus of young, talented and winning basketball players here in Orlando. He's also being rewarded for playing a major part in altering the culture of this franchise. You sit down and talk with Otis and I guarantee you not a sentence goes by without him uttering the word "championship". This franchise is pointed upward thanks in large part to O!

Would Otis and Dave like a do-over in the drafting of Fran Vazquez in 2005? Sure. Was JJ Redick the pick in 2006? That's up for debate. The point is that I do not know of any perfect NBA execs...

Red Auerbach, the patriarch of the Boston Celtics, built that franchise on the strength of great drafts and shrewd trades. However, even Red had his share of blemishes. The ole Celtic fan in me still has a hard time forgiving the late and great Red Head for trading Danny Ainge to Sacramento for Ed Pinckney and Joe Kleine in 1989.

Speaking of Ainge, the current GM in Boston, Celtic fans were ready to run him outta Beantown on 'The T' after his C's recorded a scant 24 wins in 2006-2007. Yet, Ainge gets a little help from his friend Kevin McHale in trading for KG and all of a sudden the guy's a genius and the NBA's Executive of the Year.

Look at Mitch Kupchak in Los Angeles. Last May, after winning 42 regular season games and being eliminated from round one by Phoenix, Kobe Bryant demanded that his old buddy Jerry West take over for the embattled Kupchak. Kobe had one foot in Chicago in October. Yet, a few months later, Kupchak robs Memphis blind in getting Pau Gasol. Now, Kobe and Laker fans are smitten with ole Mitch as his Lakers go into the Finals series with Ainge's Celtics.

Go on down the line...Detroit's Joe Dumars, considered one of the best bosses in the NBA, is not without blemish. Joe would love a mulligan after drafting Darko Milicic in 2003 ahead of guys like Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh.

The point is that in this fickle business of NBA basketball everybody makes mistakes. The key to NBA front office longevity, though, is to make sure that the list of credits far outweighs the list of debits.

Otis Smith has done just that.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, June 2, 2008, 9:14AM

THIS IS GONNA BE GOOD
The league could not have scripted a better NBA Finals.

The Lakers and Celtics will play game one in Boston Thursday.

This series will be the most watched since the Jordan years of the '90's because this is a match up that will attract those casual fans that make a marked difference in the television ratings game.

Why will this series be Must See TV?

...The two best teams in the world are playing for a championship. Boston wracked up 66 regular season wins by smothering teams defensively. The C's held opponents to a league low 41.9% shooting. The Lakers, averaging over 108 points per game, are of the best offensive teams goin'. They're led by an unstoppable force, MVP Kobe Bryant.

...It's all about the stars, stupid! You have Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce on the Boston side. You have Kobe on the Lakers' side. You have the Zen Master, Phil Jackson, on the Laker sideline. You have a lot of big names and big personalities in this series.

...You have that whole east coast-west coast thing goin' on. You cannot get more polar opposite than these two cities. Boston's blue-collar and hard core. L-A's white collar and late arriving. In Beantown. they're already chanting, "Beat L-A, Beat L-A"!

...You have two of the biggest markets in the league.

...You have the two marquee NBA franchises opposing one another: the Celtics, with their league leading 16 Championships, though this will be Boston's first Finals appearance in 21 years...The Lakers won their 14th title back in 2002.

...LET'S GO RETRO! How many highlights have we already seen of those classic '80's battles between the Celtics and the Lakers. In 1984, '85 and '87, Magic and Bird squared off in a rivalry that elevated the NBA to unparalleled popularity. Magic won two...Bird, one. Back in the '60's, these clubs met a total of six times in the Finals with Bill Russell's Celtics coming out on top each time. In all, this will be the tenth Finals meeting between these two ole foes.

How do these 2007-2008 Celtic and Laker teams compare to greats of the past? PLEASE, let's not even go there! Those great '80's Boston and L-A squads were some of the best the world has ever seen.

However, that doesn't take anything away from what should be a great series...a series that will undoubtedly lift the NBA to higher heights.

The Celtics. The Lakers. This is gonna be good.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, May 23, 2008, 9:30AM

A CHAT WITH OTIS
(Scott Anez)...Otis, you've had more than a week to digest the second round of the playoffs and the season that was. What are your thoughts about the big picture of the 2007-2008 season?

(Otis Smith)...I think we made strides as a club. I think we have a little ways to go to understand how hard and how disciplined you have to be in the playoffs in order to win games, but I think we definitely made strides. Our guys, as late as last Friday, were still really hurting from the loss to Detroit, so that's encouraging in a way to know that they, to a man, think that we should be still playing right now.

(S)...This team's accomplishments this year are many: 52 wins, a divisional title, a playoff series win over Toronto. But, in this league, you're only as good as your last game. So what, if anything, did the series vs. Detroit reveal to you about your team?

(O)...Number one is that Detroit's been there before. The Pistons are a veteran team. We didn't take care of the ball and we didn't make shots. All the things we did during the course of the season, we didn't do particularly well during the playoffs. We all know the game slows down a bit during the playoffs, so we have to figure out ways to score points. Our better players, Dwight, Turk, Rashard and Jameer, have to figure out ways to improve as well. We just have to continue to improve and add a few pieces for us to get better to give us a chance to win a championship.

(S)...Dwight Howard was amazing this year. What have you told Dwight about what he has to do to get this team to the next level?

(O)...It's more of what Stan has told him, and I echo Stan's thoughts. He needs to do two things. The first is free throw shooting. He has to be able to shoot free throws at a better rate than he did this year. The second part is that he has to develop something to get away from double teams, whether it's a turn around jump shot or a hook or something on the box that's gonna give him a chance to be effective throughout the course of a game when double teams are coming. Our assistant coach, Patrick Ewing was a master at that for years. But Dwight's free throw shooting is the biggest thing.

(S)...Rashard had a forgetful game five in Detroit, but on the whole he had a fantastic year. Did you get what you expected from Rashard this season?

(O)...I think so. We asked him to do what he's done his entire career, and I think he did just that. We asked him to play the power forward position when Tony went down and, to his credit, he did that on both ends of the floor playing against some of the better players in this league at that position. Rashard has to continue to get better and attack the basket, don't become just a perimeter shooter. And we have to do a better job of getting him more opportunities on the block. Those are some of the things that he's taken advantage of throughout his career and I think as time goes on we'll take advantage of his strengths.

(S)...What about Jameer: I thought he kicked it up a notch in the playoffs. What are your thoughts about Jameer and how he played this season?

(O)....Well, Jameer's gonna continue to grow. My concerns with Jameer are twofold. First, he has to take care of his body. Small guys have a tendency to get hurt because of where they are on the floor. They have to work harder to compete, so he has to take care of his body. Secondly, in the area of leadership, I always harp on our better players to be leaders. He has to continue to improve there. If he continues to shoot the ball well and make the decisions that he's capable of making on the floor, he'll continue to grow and flourish as a player.

(S)...The NBA Draft Camp comes to Orlando next week. What's the plan?

(O)....You evaluate and continue to evaluate the prospects and see what unfolds. We're picking 22nd. I do think that it's gonna be a deep enough draft to where we can get a player that we really like because of all the underclassmen that have declared so that makes the draft more attractive.

(S)...What are you looking to get in the draft?

(O)...I am not really one of those guys who goes into a draft saying that I need to have that position covered and this position covered. As many free agents we have in our back court, I probably am more apt to say that we need the best player on the board, regardless of position. I think that player will be there. Whether it's 1-5, I think you have to take the best player on the board.

(S)...Knowing you don't have salary cap room this off season, is it safe to say that you will not be a major player in free agency this summer?

(O)...I don't think it's THAT safe to say. I think there are three big time players in free agency: Philly, Memphis and Seattle. The rest of us are right around the mid-level. So I think everyone will be players. The difference this year is that there are more players that have the potential to become available through unrestricted free agency and opt outs than there is money to spend. So that makes available players a bit more attractive. You just have to do your best sales job, identify your player or players and kinda stay on that path.

(S)...There's been some talk about Hedo Turkoglu. He had such a great season. But knowing the economics of the game, the fact that he and Rashard play the same position, and the fact that Hedo can opt out of his deal next summer, does the possibility exist that Hedo is not here next season??

(O)...You always look at how to improve your team. But Turk is such a big part of what we do and he allows us to be what I call 'flexible' as a team. We're able to play him at the three or the four. Perhaps you can envision playing Turk some at the two, Rashard at the three, when Tony comes back at the four-spot. So, the flexibility of our roster has been one of the things that's been intriguing about our team. But you're still trying to make your team better and that's how you have to look at the off season.

(S)...You will have a share of your own free agents to deal with: Keyon Dooling, Maurice Evans and Carlos Arroyo to name a few. What's the plan with your own guys?

(O)...They all had good years. Maurice probably had his best year as a pro. Keyon had a good year for us. Carlos was big for us especially when Jameer was down. We're gonna look at it and talk about it and talk about the economics of it all. We're gonna figure out how it all fits. We like all those guys and we have to figure out how to get our team better.

(S)...I know this is a sore subject, but is there any chance whatsoever that Fran Vazquez, your first round pick from 2005, come over and play next season in Orlando?

(O)...If I had to put a percentage on it, I'd say less than two percentage points. A lot of it depends on him at this point. I think we've done a good job as an organization of letting him know how important he is to us. But he has two years left on a contract that has a buy out that's roughly around $10 million. There would have to be concessions on his part to say ya know what, I'm gonna come over and take a little less and I'll pay out my buyout and come over and play. That's the concession he has to make as a pro. He likes the idea of being in a Magic uniform, but financially, I think it might be tough for him.


Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, May 15, 2008, 10:40 AM

LET IT GO SCOTT...LET IT GO
Less than 48 hours after Tayshaun swatted us from the NBA Playoffs, I have had time to try to put things into perspective.

Four seasons after finishing with the worst record in the Association, our Orlando Magic won 52 regular season games. They captured the Southeast Division title. They notched their first playoff series triumph in some 12 years. Dwight Howard soared to worldwide prominence in New Orleans. Superman also made the First Team All NBA and Second Team All NBA Defensive Team. Hedo Turkoglu was honored as the NBA's Most Improved Player.

I could go on and on about how this 2007-2008 Magic team put Orlando on the NBA map once again. But, being the eternal masochist that I tend to be, I can't help but think...What if?

What if NBA rules are different and what if Chauncey Bills' shot at the end of the third quarter of game two is (correctly) ruled no good?

What if Hedo drives, pulls up and takes a patented 10 footer instead of heaving a three point prayer with :42 left in game two?

With the Magic leading by 15 points in the third quarter of game four, what if we put the pedal to the medal and bury the Pistons?

What if referee Mike Callaghan (correctly) called a block on Jason Maxiell on the final play of game four?

What if we came out with any sort of energy at all in game five? What if we cut down on the 21 turnovers? What if we had hit more free throws? What if we decided to box out or guard Antonio McDyess? What if we had more poise early in the fourth?

UGGHHH!

The thing that really tears me up about this Eastern Conference Semifinal series is that the Orlando Magic beat themselves. I am not saying that the best team didn't win. The veteran Pistons are the better team. Detroit made clutch plays...They hit their free throws and they smothered us defensively.

But...I can't help myself. What if...What if?

Let it go, Scott...Let it go.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, May 14, 2008, 9:44 AM

It's Over
It's over. The 2007-2008 NBA season in Orlando is dead and buried.

Pains me to say it...but the better team won!

FIRST QUARTER:

With nothing to lose, I expected the Magic to come out firing to begin the game. However, we were inexplicably tentative aloof! The Magic had seven turnovers in the first 8:45 of the quarter. Rashard Lewis had four of our eight total turnovers in the quarter. In an ominous sign of things to come, the Pistons hauled in five offensive rebounds and had nine more field goal attempts than Orlando. As poorly as the Magic played, the score read 20-20 after one.

SECOND QUARTER:

The Magic continue to play give away and miss free throws. Yet, we take a 33-27 lead after Rashard's first field goal of the game at the 5:35 mark of the quarter. Then, as the Pistons did all series, they went on a huge run (11-0) and took a 47-41 lead at halftime. We got a big time reprieve. Seems like we should be down by 20 considering the free throw shooting (7-16), the turnovers (12) and Detroit's 10 offensive rebounds.

THIRD QUARTER:

The Magic finally show some life. They started to play their game. They upped the tempo, cut down on the turnovers (three in the quarter), gave up just one offensive rebound and went on a 14-4 run to end the quarter to take a 68-65 leading going into the fourth.

FOURTH QUARTER:

It's 70-65 after a couple of Rashard free throws. Then, the Pistons go on a 13-0 run keyed by Antonio McDyess, who had 8 points and a couple of huge offensive rebounds during that game deciding jaunt. We start oh for our first eight from the field and don't hit our first field goal until the 3:38 mark. Magic cut it to 85-84 with :40 to play, but again, the Pistons make the plays late, i.e...a huge Prince block on Hedo to end all Magic hope. 91-86. Game over. Season over.

SUMMARY:

The Pistons made plays in crunch time....They took care of the ball....They hit their free throws....They defended.

The Magic just did not execute in late game situations. We didn't take care of the ball. We were frustrated by Detroit's physical play. We didn't take advantage of Chauncey Billups' absence and could not control Rip Hamilton all series.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, May 12, 2008, 9:21 AM

A GUT-WRENCHING LOSS
Now I know what a Thomas Hearns haymaker to the gut feels like.

Pistons 90 Magic 89.

We couldn’t have picked a worse time to play one of our worst quarters of the year.

After a Mo Evans three pointer at the 9:06 mark of the third, Orlando led 63-48. Detroit was demoralized. Their shoulders were slouched. Rasheed was being Rasheed, sauntering over to the scorer’s table instead of listening to his head coach during timeouts. The Pistons were on the verge of packing it in without their star, Chauncey Billups, and heading home content with home court advantage at 2-2.

Then, we inexplicably fell asleep.

When you have a great team on the verge of throwing in the towel, you have to go right for the jugular. We just couldn’t close. Unfortunately, it’s a common theme in this series so far.

The Pistons, awakened by the Magic’s inability to make shots and by Orlando’s curious submission to suddenly play a half court slugfest, came to life. They went on a 15-0 run to tie the game at 70 going into the fourth.

The giant lead had evaporated. We let the Pistons off the hook. The momentum was all Detroit’s.

Give credit to the Magic in the fourth. They fought back from seven down thanks to Hedo Turkoglu, who tallied 13 of his 20 points in the fourth. But, we just couldn’t control Rip Hamilton (32) and Tayshawn Prince, who hit the winning bucket with 8.9 seconds to play.

Turk was amazing in the fourth. But once again, he comes up empty in a late game situation. He beat Boston and Chicago on buzzer beaters in the regular season but in this series he’s come up goose eggs. Did he get hit on the final play? Sure…But you’re not gonna get that call, especially against Detroit. I would have liked to have seen Hedo pull up from 10 feet. Better yet, I would have liked to have seen Jameer Nelson with the ball in his hands with a chance to win it.

What if…What if….We can replay this one over and over again.

We had the Pistons on the verge of calling it a night. We let ‘em off the hook. Detroit made plays with the game on the line. We did not.

Gotta go now…I’m headed to the bathroom for another Tums.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, May 8, 2008, 9:26 AM

YA GOTTA HAVE HEART
The Orlando Magic have showed some incredible resolve all season long. That's why Wednesday night's game three doesn't surprise me one bit.

Detroit, you are seeing a much different Magic basketball team this go-round.

The Magic pounded the Pistons in game three 111-86. Can we bottle the first and fourth quarters of this game? The Magic outscored Detroit 30-16 in the first and 38-17 in the final.

In that fourth, I must admit, my collar was getting tight. The Pistons had cut what was once an 18 point deficit down to just four going into the final period. Then, that resolve I mentioned kicked in!

Rashard Lewis began the fourth with a huge three to make it 76-69. It's a shot that kickstarted a whopping 11-0 surge that ended all Piston hope for a commanding 3-0 lead in this series. Now, this IS a series thanks to Rashard and his three friends.

One game after 6-21 from the field with six turnovers and four missed shots in the final three minutes, Rashard made amends in a monumental way. He scored a career played high 33 points on 11-15 from the field and 5-6 from beyond the arc. Rashard set the tone all night long with his aggressive drives and dead-eye shooting.

Dwight Howard adds a ho-hum 20 points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots. Superman must have altered 15 of those Piston shots. We can ill afford to have him off the floor. Dwight played over 44 minutes for the second straight game.

Jameer Nelson continues to rise to the occasion in the playoffs as Jameer totaled 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Jameer's getting to the hole when he wants and he's defending his position better than ever.

Hedo Turkoglu got untracked in this series with eight of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, as Turk hit a couple of huge three-point daggers in the fourth.

A huge key to this series will be the status of Piston leader Chauncey Billups, who suffered a strained right hamstring in the first quarter. Piston coach Flip Saunders says that he expects Billups to play in Saturday's game four. But, it makes you wonder, even if Billups goes Saturday, will he be close to 100%?

Billups or no Billups, people continue to doubt the Orlando Magic....and the Orlando Magic continue to prove them wrong.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, May 2, 2008, 10:41 AM

TALE OF THE SECOND ROUND TAPE
Magic fans, you wanted 'em...you got 'em!

For the third time in the last six years, the Magic will take on the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Playoffs.

Detroit has owned us over the last number of years. They've beaten us in 14 of the last 17 games. But don't get cocky, Piston fans. This Orlando Magic team is a much different club you'll face this go-round.

POINT GUARD: Jameer Nelson vs. Chauncey Billups

In the Philly series, Mr. Big Shot became the third leading scorer in Piston playoff history. He is the Pistons' all time playoff leader in three's made. Billups scares the heck outta me. He may have lost a quarter step over the last few years, but he still gets anywhere he wants on the floor and scores at will. Will this year be different? The critics (yours truly included) gave the advantage to Ford and Calderon in the last series. Ford and Calderon are now on summer vacation. Jameer is playing the best basketball of his career on both ends of the floor. Jameer was inspired by the first round diss. Here's more fuel for the fire!

EDGE: DETROIT

SHOOTING GUARD: Maurice Evans vs. Rip Hamilton

If Billups is fire, Rip is ice. Rip's the second leading scorer in Piston playoff history. He had 32 against us earlier this season. We couldn't guard him in last year's first round. But we have Rip's former teammate, Mo Evans, to chase him this year. At the very least, Mo's gonna make Rip work much harder than he did in last year's sweep.

EDGE: DETROIT

SMALL FORWARD: Hedo Turkoglu vs. Tayshawn Prince

Prince is a winner. Heck, the guy's been in the Eastern Conference Finals the first five years of his pro career. He's heady and he serves as the perfect compliment to the All Star backcourt. But Tayshawn has his hands full with Hedo. Turk needed the the R and R this week to get that calf strain right. Prince is one of the best defenders at his position, but, for some reason, Hedo gives Prince fits.

EDGE: MAGIC

POWER FORWARD: Rashard Lewis vs. Antonio McDyess

McDyess is a grizzled vet who fits in nicely with this squad. He's big, physical and will see time guarding and hacking Dwight. As usual, Rashard poses a big time matchup problem for Detroit. Mr. Max $ was worth his weight in gold in the Toronto series. Saturday night, Rashard shoots for his third consecutive double-double.

EDGE: MAGIC

CENTER: Dwight Howard vs. Rasheed Wallace

Wallace is a difficult matchup because of his versatility. Look for Rashard to guard him defensively. 'Sheed will be one of many bodying up to Dwight. He'll try to frustrate Dwight. He'll foul him hard and try to strip him of the ball. Superman became the first player since Wilt in 1972 to record three 20-20 games in the playoffs. He's playing the most determined basketball of his young career. Dwight will be tested physically and mentally.

EDGE: MAGIC

COACHES: Stan Van Gundy has had the midas touch all year. I don't see it stopping now. Flip Saunders gets a lot of flack, but the guy accumulated 59 wins this year, the second most wins in the NBA.

EDGE: MAGIC

PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE X-FACTOR: This Piston team has been to five straight conference title series and has won the Central Division in six of the last seven years. This team has played 100 playoff games the last five years. The Magic, during that span, have played 16 playoff games.

EDGE: DETROIT

PREDICTION: Since stumbling early vs. Philly, these Pistons are finally in a playoff rhythm. They have the experience factor going for them. Plus, they have home court. The Pistons were 34-7 at the Palace this season. But this homer loves the look of his team right now. Upset: MAGIC IN SIX!



Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, May 1, 2008, 9:58 AM

MOTOWN BOUND?
We threw out a poll question on the air earlier this week...What team would you like to see in round two of the NBA Playoffs? Detroit or Philly?

Every single one of you claimed to want the Pistons!

I understand the sentiment. Magic fans are sick and tired of being a Piston punching bag.

Before this season, Orlando had made the playoffs in two of the last five years. Detroit ushered us out of both those appearances. In 2003, our Magic became a statistic after blowing a 3-1 series lead to Detroit. Last season, they swept us in four straight. As a matter of fact, going into this year, our Magic had dropped eight straight and 12 of the last 13 meetings to our Motown nemesis.

So, be careful what ya wish for, Magic fans. Sure, Detroit has shown a lack of zest vs. a young, athletic Philly team in round one. But, there's a reason why that Piston team finished with the second best record in the NBA. They're really good.

But, they are beatable!

The Magic went 2-2 vs. Detroit this year. As a matter of fact, two of the season's benchmark wins came vs. this team. On January 21 in Orlando, Rashard Lewis drained a jumper as time expired lifting us to a 102-100 victory. Back on February 19, we stormed out of the All Star break and battered the Bad Boys on their home court, 103-85.

That win was huge psychologically for this team because we proved to ourselves that we can not only beat the unbeatable foe....but we can destroy them in their backyard.

The keys to a Magic-Piston series? Here are just a few...

History tells us that we must somehow get our mitts around Detroit's All Star backcourt. In a 101-93 loss to these Pistons back on January 25, Rip Hamilton scored 32 points and Chauncey Billups had 21. Going back to last postseason's sweep, Billups and Rip had their way with us. But I love the way Jameer Nelson is playing on both ends of the court right now and remember, Grant Hill had trouble running around those screens set for Rip last year. Now, we've got Rip's former teammate, the hard-nosed Mo Evans, who will be shadowing Rip all series.

Sounds simple, but, we also have to hit our free throws. In light of what Greg Poppovich did to Shaq in the first round, you have to think that the Pistons are gonna test Dwight. Last year in game one, Dwight went 3-11 from the line. Our team missed 18 total free throws in losing that game 100-92. The Pistons will test us at the line.

Prediction? I'll save that for later when we know the outcome of the Detroit-Philly series.

In the meantime, just between you and me, I'll be packing my bags for the Motor City.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, April 29, 2008, 9:51 AM

IT’S OVER….IT’S OVER
...It’s enough for us ole timers to get a wee bit misty eyed. Magic win game five 102-92. We’re into the second round for the first time in 12 years. There have been some nights over the last 12 years that I have wondered aloud, “Why do I seem to care more than the players do?” I wonder no more…..

…”There was a different demeanor from him”. That’s a quote from Coach Stan Van Gundy on Dwight Howard. That ‘demeanor’ translated into 21 points and 21 rebounds in game five. Make that three 20-20 performances in five first round games. You can drop the ‘child’ from the ‘Man-Child’ moniker. Superman arrived!

…Can’t help but think back to 2004 when yours truly, in the final days of the regular season, started the chant, “Three games to Okafor….Two games to Okafor…One game to Okafor.” If I were GM back then, I’d still be trying to get the tar and feathers off my backside today.

…Speaking of ’04, how about the play of Jameer Nelson in these playoffs? Jameer outplayed TJ Ford and Jose Calderon in the Toronto series. Don’t let Jameer fool ya. He heard the hype about Toronto having the point guard edge on us. He scored 12 points in a huge fourth quarter of the game four win. Then, in game five, he nails a monumental three to put us up 102-92 with 2:57 left. Jameer Nelson is coming of age.

…I have to admit that I was a bit shocked after Monday’s game five. I actually saw Coach Van Gundy smile! What a job this guy has done. From day one, he’s called for this team to be tougher and more accountable. Coach Stan’s team has played in the mirror image of its coach all year. I don’t know if there’s a higher compliment you can give a coach than that.

…The House was rockin’ like it was 1996 Monday night. Not an empty seat to be found. It was loud all game, but with 2:00 to play, I could sense the 12 years of frustration just boil over. Celebrate, Orlando! We have a present and a future.

…Keith Bogans doesn’t get a whole lotta pub. As a matter of fact, Coach Stan admitted after the game that he was ready to yank Bogans in the fourth quarter. Thank goodness he left him in there. Bogans nailed a couple of huge three point daggers in the fourth. The biggest the shot at the 5:00 mark to push a two point lead to 5, 87-82. Then, Bogans would put the cherry on top with another bomb with just over 2:00 to play to make it 95-84. You’d never know that Keith Bogans was playing in his first playoff series, would you?

…My two favorite chants from Magic fans on Inside Magic Monday night: “Canadian Bacon”.....and “Flop-ters….Flop-ters”

…How about the play of Rashard Lewis in this series? In game one, he shuts down Chris Bosh. In the final two games of the series he gets ya a couple of double-doubles. I guess Otis Smith knew what he was doing last summer after all, huh?

…If our second round opponent is nemesis Detroit, which I suspect it will be, beware Pistons! While I am in no way predicting a Magic victory, I will say this: This is not the team you swatted off your shoulder last year.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, April 28, 2008, 9:22 AM

MAGIC WIN GAME FOUR
...Just got off the air, so forgive me in advance for any typos…My heart’s still pumpin’ a mile a minute!

…A huge victory…106-94…We needed incredible performances to win up there, and we got them. Let’s run ‘em down:

…Jameer Nelson: The Closer has now out played Toronto’s point guards in three of these four games. Jameer scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth. He hit on ten straight points in the fourth after the Magic got down by three with 6:40 to play. He was on his back during one of the time outs due to the back spasm issue, and yet the little guy comes up huge. Jameer’s a gamer!

...Rashard Lewis: Mr. Max $ earned all of it in what I believe is his best performance of the season. Keep in mind that Rashard was 6-26 from the arc in the first three games but Rashard nailed a couple of three’s in that fateful fourth quarter. He would finish with 27 points, 13 rebounds (7 offensive), five assists and two steals. Rashard may be quiet, but his game was heard all over Canada Saturday.

…Hedo Turkoglu: How about Turk’s play in the fourth quarter? He hit a couple of big three’s in the fourth and finished with 10 of his 18 in the final period. All this after it looked like that Turk wanted to gift wrap the game to the Raptors. Early in the third, Turk would storm out of the locker room and give the ball away to Toronto five times in the first four minutes! But give credit to Coach Van Gundy. He left Turk in the game and Turk, as he always does, produced.

…Dwight Howard: He talked after game three how the Raptors wanted that game a lot more than his team. Saturday afternoon, there was no denying who wanted this game more. Dwight sets a team playoff record with eight blocked shots. He added 19 points and 16 rebounds. Toronto, don’t you dare tug on Superman’s cape again!

…It was about time! Since the first quarter of game one, the Magic had struggled mightily from beyond the arc. They were 6-22 through three quarters of game four. The conventional thought was that the three point slump couldn’t last forever. Well, it didn’t. The Magic would nail five daggers in that fateful fourth quarter (Jameer 2, Rashard 2, Hedo 1).

…Key to this win was the defense. We started running at their three point shooters. Jason Kapono scored just three points in the second half (12 total), and Jose Calderon finished with just two points on 1-7FG. Bosh got his playoff career high 39, but I believe that if you can control Kapono and Calderon, you win this series Monday.

…Orlando showed why it was the only NBA team to have a better road record than at home this season. We outscore them 33-21 in the fourth quarter to take a commanding three games to one lead in the series.

…Orlando, let’s sell out game five Monday night at 7:30 at Amway. Call 1-800-4NBA TIX. You can also pick up your tickets via blueandwhiteignite.com and via the Amway Arena Box Office. Time to close it out Monday night!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, April 25, 2008, 12:07 PM

DEEP THOUGHTS FROM GAME THREE
…Well, so much for the back court advantage, Magic fans. Our point guards got the better of the Raptors in O-town. Thursday night, a different story north of the border: Ford and Calderon combined for 39 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds…Jameer, Keyon and Carlos? 16 points, eight assists, four rebounds. Ford set the table, but Calderon buried us with four timely three’s.

…We hope Jameer is gonna be OK. He got kicked in the back on a pick and roll in the second half. After the game, Jameer collapsed on his way to the locker room with a severe case of back spasms. The little guy is tough. Get well soon, Jameer.

…First priority at practice Friday: If you’re getting a screen at the top of the key from Dwight Howard, WAIT for the pick!

…Does Jason Kapono look at the basket before he shoots? We continue to give him slivers of daylight….He continues to drain bombs. He and Calderon are lights out right now.

…Chris Bosh scored his first point of the game with just under four minutes to play in the second quarter. The score at that time was 45-31. So much for the “you control Bosh, you control this series” theory. The NBA, Where Amazing Happens.

…”H-O-W-A-R-D…H-O-W-A-R-D…”Did you hear the Toronto crowd in game three? They even chanted “SUPERMAN S_ _ _ S!” Magic fans, remember that for game five Monday night at Amway Arena. Tickets are on sale right now for game five at blueand whiteignite.com or by calling 1-800-4 NBA-TIX.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 12:05 PM

DEEP THOUGHTS FROM GAME TWO
...First, I must throw props to you, the Sixth Man. Sunday, empty seats dotted the upper bowl end zones. Tuesday night, your fannies were in those seats. You were loud and made me proud. I held off in dissing Orlando sports fans because I wanted to see how you reacted in game two. You were rabid. You were electric. You had much to do with that Magic one point win.

…Dwight Howard is a beast! Superman becomes the first player since Kevin Garnett four years ago to notch consecutive 20-20 games in the NBA Playoffs. He had 29 points and 20 rebounds in game two. ESPN, TNT, you guys finally gonna take notice?

…”If I didn’t get hit, then I don’t know what anybody’s saying”. That’s a post game quote from Chris Bosh, who claimed he was roughed up by Dwight on a driving play with :23 to go and the Raptors down one. Dwight would make a key block on Bosh. Then, on the final play, Bosh decided to pull up from 16 feet and miss over Dwight’s big paw. Please, Chris, don’t start moanin’ about disrespect. WEIGHT ROOM!

…Toronto’s soft. Heck, we had seven dunks against these guys in the first quarter (35-18). Coach Sam Mitchell finally gave up trying to make his Raptors into his ole 1994 Indiana Pacers. Mitchell went to a small lineup early, and in turn, forced Stan’s hand in putting Dwight on Bosh defensively. I would be shocked if we see Rasho Nesterovic ever again. Even though we lead 2-0, Toronto’s got to feel as if it has created a little bit of mojo with that small lineup.

…Before this series began, many of us know-it-all media types gave the point guard edge to Toronto. Read the numbers and weep Raptor fans: TJ Ford…2-17 FG, 11 points, 11 assists. Jameer Nelson…13-23 FG, 42 points, 13 assists. Ford’s been outmatched by Jameer so far. I’d be shocked if we didn’t see Jose Calderon start vs. Jameer in game three.

…Both clubs can ill afford to have their two all star big men off the floor. Dwight played 44 minutes in game one….41 minutes in game two. Chris Bosh got 38 minutes in game one and 45 minutes Tuesday. If either Bosh or Dwight comes off the floor, their respective teams hold their breath ‘til their big fellas come back.

…We’ve outscored Toronto 78-41 in the first quarters of games one and two. Problem is, the Raptors have pounded us in second quarters 63-41.

...Former mob informant Bob Delaney would have needed a military escort, full body armor and a Sherman Tank to escape City Beautiful if Chris Bosh’s buzzer beating shot goes in. Delaney is one of the better NBA officials, but he has a bad habit for making theatrical calls at crucial moments of a game. Thus was the case Tuesday night when he whistled Keyon Dooling for a ridiculous offensive foul on an inbounds play with nine ticks left. CYO refs don’t even make that call!

…I realize this is easier said than done, but can we please put a GPS on Jason Kapono? Why do we leave him even for a split second? Kapono is shooting 67% from the field in the first two games. He’s nailed eight of his 12 three pointers. Kapono has 38 points off the bench.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, April 21, 2008, 10:45 AM

DEEP THOUGHTS FROM GAME ONE
...For weeks, we watched an Orlando Magic team that was stuck in neutral. With virtually no chances of moving up or down in the standings, this team played out the string with ambivalence. All that pent-up energy poured out in the first quarter of game one vs. Toronto: a team record 43 points....they tied an NBA playoff record with nine three-pointers. Safe to say, our team was ready to erupt!

...25 points, 22 rebounds 5 blocked shots...Shaq-like numbers for Dwight Howard. We all know how talented Dwight is. But, the unbridled determination this kid showed in game one reminded us ole timers of a young Shaq. Dwight's lust for winning is catching up to the phenom's extreme talent.

...This was the best overall performance I have seen from Jameer Nelson in a Magic uniform! You have to love this kid's competitive fire. No doubt, Jameer heard "experts", like Anez Sez, opining that TJ Ford and Jose Calderon would get the best of him in this series. In game one, it was the other way around. Jameer set the tone very early with his aggressive play on both ends of the floor. I can't recall one time when the cat-quick Ford (1-9 FG, 5 points) broke Jameer down. This was Jameer Nelson at his best. This is what Jameer Nelson can become.

...Orlando's point guard spot in game one (Jameer and Keyon Dooling) combined to tally 34 points and 8 assists. Toronto's tandem wracked up 14 points and 14 assists. We know what we're gonna get out of our Big Three. But if we can get similar production out of our point guard spot, this team can beat anybody in the league.

...How about Coach Van Gundy putting Rashard Lewis on Chris Bosh in game one? Wow didn't see that comin'! I suspected Coach Stan would go with Hedo, who has a little more girth to his frame. But he sides with Rashard, who played his most inspired defensive game of the year. Rashard got up into Bosh's grill all game. He took away his dominant left hand dribble and made things difficult on the "Magic Killer". Bosh says he will be ready for game two. I wonder if Stan has something else up his sleeve?

...It was obvious that Dwight used the off days leading up to game one to work on his free throws. He nailed his first eight free throws Sunday and finished 9-11 from the line. You can bet your bottom dollar that the Raptors are thinking that the Rick Barry-like performance was a fluke.

...Let's not get cocky! Momentum is overrated in the playoffs. Each game is an entity unto itself. Heck, we ole timers remember the 1995 first round when the Magic would blow out the Celtics in game one by some 47 points. Game two saw the Celtics rally for a stunning 99-92 victory. We would close out the series in Boston, but the point is that the Magic have to keep the pedal to the metal. This Toronto team is very explosive and capable of stealing home court advantage in game two.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, April 18, 2008, 1:56 PM

TALE OF THE TAPE
Point Guard

Jameer Nelson/Keyon Dooling/Carlos Arroyo vs. TJ Ford/Jose Calderon

...Both teams will platoon freely at the point guard spot. The Raptor duo of Ford-Calerdon combined on a 4.35-1 assist-to-turnover ratio this season. Calderon is tops in the league in assist-to-turnover and is fifth in the NBA in assists (8.3). Toronto point guards make winning basketball plays and don't make many mistakes. Orlando's point guard play has been spotty this season, though Jameer has been solid since the All Star Break. I truly believe that a huge key to a Magic playoff run is going to be Keyon Dooling. Keyon has post season experience. He also is our best on-ball defender at that spot and will be counted upon to contain Toronto's lethal pick and roll game.

Edge: TORONTO

Shooting Guard

Maurice Evans vs. Anthony Parker

...This is a match up of two relatively unheralded but effective players for their respective teams. Parker, a former Magic player, is long and lanky and is within shooting range as soon as he steps over half court. Mo Evans is a gamer. He's a two guard who does the grunt work. He's not the most polished offensive player but hits the offensive glass hard and is a stubborn defender.

Edge: EVEN

Small Forward

Hedo Turkoglu vs. Jemario Moon

...The rookie, Moon, has come outta nowhere to start 75 games this season. The kid's athleticism is scary. But Jemario will square off against a guy who's on the verge of becoming the NBA's Most Improved Player. Hedo is a two-time Eastern Conference Player of the Month and should have been an All Star. Turk has become our go-to-guy this season and is averaging career high's in every category. Moon's athleticsm is no match for Hedo's versatility.

Edge: MAGIC

Power Forward

Rashard Lewis vs. Chris Bosh

...I don't expect Rashard to check Bosh defensively. Look for that assignment to fall upon the shoulders of Hedo and Dwight. Bosh has strangled us over the years with his inside-out game. CB-4 had a couple of 40 point outings against the Magic over the last few years and just loves going up against Dwight Howard. Rashard was paid max dollars in Orlando for this time of year. He's been terrific this season. Rashard's second in the NBA in three's attempted and third in three's attempted. Rashard poses a serious match up problem for Toronto.

Edge: TORONTO

Center

Dwight Howard vs. Rasho Nesterovic

...Rasho, you have your hands full! As gaudy as Bosh's numbers are against Orlando, Dwight's numbers vs. Toronto have been grotesque vs. the Raptors. The fame Superman's attained by dawning the red cape in New Orleans back in February is nothing compared to the glory he will get when he succedes in the playoffs. Dwight has a long memory of last year's sweep at the hands of the Pistons and will not allow that to happen again. The Raptors will be physical with Dwight and will make him beat them from the free throw line. Can Dwight hit some big three throws in this series? I think he can....

Edge: MAGIC

My Pick: The last five years, the #3 seed has lost an opening round series just four times. It may happen out west this year (Spurs-Suns), but it ain't happenin' here in the east: MAGIC WIN IN SIX

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 9:31 AM

COME ON DOWN RAPTORS
Due to a Toronto win over the Heat and a Philly loss to Cleveland Monday, the Raptors secure the sixth seed in the East and a first round playoff match up with the Orlando Magic.

As much as they've attempted to prevent bulletin board material for Coach Stan Van Gundy's Magic in Toronto, it's obvious that the Raptors wanted us! The alternative would have been facing a seasoned and rested Detroit team in round one. Toronto is 1-3 vs. Detroit this season.

The Raptors are 1-2 vs. Orlando (Toronto's Chris Bosh did not play in the series finale) But don't let the record fool you. Toronto truly believes that this is its best possible playoff match up...and, quite frankly, history would indicate that it's hard to argue with that assessment.

Last season, the Raptors swept us, 4-0! Going into this season, they had beaten Orlando eight of the last ten.

The main reason for Toronto's temerity? Chris Bosh.

Bosh has averaged nearly 23 points per game in 13 career games vs. Orlando. That's Bosh's highest average against any NBA opponent. Bosh has scored at least 40 points twice against us. The first was a 41 point outburst last February. He dumped 40 on us a couple of months ago in Canada.

To say Bosh's blood races through his veins when he sees Dwight Howard's Magic #12 jersey is an understatement. Bosh is just a very difficult match up for Dwight because of his versatility. He can score inside and out. Coach Stan Van Gundy is gonna have to develop a game plan to contain Bosh, whether that be doubling him or even putting Hedo Turkoglu on him. Bosh plays with way too much confidence against us.

Conversely, the Raptors have had their hands full with D-12! In 14 career games vs. Toronto, Dwight has averaged 27 points. He had 37 and 15 vs. them this season.

Weeks ago, I said that I didn't want any part of the Raptors in the playoffs. Weeks later, if I had my druthers, I'd still take Philly over Toronto. But this has not exactly been a banner season NBA campaign in Canada.

Last year, the Raptors captured the Atlantic Division with 47 regular season wins. They would lose a first round series to New Jersey in six games. But the table was set for a Raptor rising in 2007-2008.

However, instead of stepping up this season, the Raptors have stepped back. Their second half has been dreadful. Going into their final regular season game, Toronto's lost 17 of their last 25.

This is a Raptor team that has beaten the likes of Boston, San Antonio and New Orleans on the road. But, this is the same team that has beaten two teams with winning records in their last 21 games. They've really struggled vs. sub .500 clubs.

Injuries to Bosh and point guard TJ Ford have certainly added to Toronto's inconsistency in a season that GM Bryan Colangelo has labeled "disappointing".

But these Raptors now feel as if they have new life and said 'disappointment' will no doubt turn to exuberance if the Raptors can pull off a first round win over our Magic.

There's no doubt about it: Toronto wanted us in round one.

Come and get it Raptors!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 9:23 AM

REBOUND THAT BASKETBALL
One of the main concerns going into this season for the Orlando Magic was rebounding. But for the most part, this team has camouflaged that frailty...'til now.

Coach Stan Van Gundy made the call very early that he was going to side with the strength of his new team. Coach Stan decided to sacrifice some girth and toughness up front for more of a finesse lineup by pairing two small forwards, Hedo and Rashard, alongside center Dwight Howard.

Coach Stan rolled the dice hoping that Dwight, who when all is said and done will be one of the best rebounders ever, would dominate the glass and leave a few scraps here and there. The gamble has paid off. The Orlando Magic are knocking on the door of 50 victories. They lead the East in scoring. They are first in the NBA in three pointers made. The Magic are second in three's attempted. They're in the middle of the pack in rebounding statistics.

However, over the last few weeks, we're starting to see this team's lack of 'physicality' rare its ugly head.

In five of the last six games, the Orlando Magic have been outmatched on the glass. The Bucks out-rebounded the Magic 59-44. Milwaukee also stole 25 offensive rebounds from us. New Orleans pounded us on the glass (51-30) and beat us down with 21 offensive rebounds to our TWO! Cleveland got 18 offensive rebounds on the way to a 48-33 rebounding advantage. Even the woeful Knicks out-rebounded us 55-52 (17 offensive) Sunday night.

Of those six games, the Magic lost four of them.

Are the latest rebounding woes legitimately disturbing? Or, with their playoff fate decided long ago, is this team taking the pedal off the medal a bit?

Yes and Yes.

This team has not had to play on edge for a while now. But, with the playoffs approaching, this is undoubtedly a very disturbing trend.

We all know that the intensity is turned up tenfold come the post season. Every possession is crucial...Every shot, magnified...Every rebound, imperative.

How will the Magic react to the physical nature of the playoffs?

I hope they react better than they have the last few weeks.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, April 7, 2008, 9:20 AM

A LITTLE LOVE FOR P-G
Bloggers jab at him.

Sports talk radio callers hit him below the belt.

Amway Arena fans throw haymakers at him.

Do me a favor: GIVE A LITTLE LOVE TO P-G!

With Brian Cook sidelined with the fractured knuckle, Pat has stepped into Cook’s place and played well. He had a season-high 13 points in the come from behind win over Cleveland Saturday.

Pat Garrity could very well play a key role off the bench for the Orlando Magic here late in the season and on into the playoffs.

I know…Pat’s not the fleetest of foot. He’s not the most athletic guy in the world. He’s undersized at his position. I realize that Pat is not your prototypical NBA player. To boot, his confidence level has gone belly up over the last number of years. Fan acrimony has certainly not helped Pat’s confidence. The angst in Amway Arena is palpable every time Pat throws a ball out of bounds or clanks a three point shot. That is why, I believe, Pat tends to play much better on the road than he does at home.

But, I believe, with your help, that Pat can help us once again!

Did you know that Pat Garrity is second on the Magic’s all time games played list? As a matter of fact, no player, with the exception of Nick Anderson (10) and Darrell Armstrong (9), has played more seasons for the Orlando Magic than Pat (9).

Also D-Y-K: Pat Garrity led the Orlando magic in three-point shooting for four consecutive seasons (1999-2003).

Pat Garrity will never be accused of dogging it... He’s one of the few players on this team who actually boxes out. He plays as hard as he can. He mixes it up under the boards. He always comes to the arena prepared to play.

Pat Garrity has longevity because he’s a pro’s pro. Through nine lean seasons and six head coaches, a couple of knee injuries and a bout with a sports hernia, not once has Pat griped, moaned or groaned. Not once has he embarrassed this town or this organization. Quite the contrary…

Pat gets it. He continues his outstanding work with Feed the Children. As a matter of fact, this past week, Pat handed out 25 pound boxes of food and personal care items to 400 local families. Pat also runs a 3-on-3 basketball tournament every year here in Orlando.

This is likely Pat’s swan song in Orlando. He is set to become a free agent after this season and his future in a Magic uniform and in the NBA is certainly uncertain.

I realize that this is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ result-oriented business. Pat realizes that too. But this guy is gonna give you everything he’s got. He’s gonna bring his hard hat and lunch pail to very game. Sometimes the result isn’t gonna be pretty, but it’s never for a lack of trying.

Pat gets it. He understands his place in the community. He comes to work hard each and every day and handles himself with class and dignity.

Isn’t all that worth a little love, Magic fans?

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, April 1, 2008, 9:41 AM

DESPERATE TIMES?
"There's a slim chance that Tony comes back. I have to look at the longterm ramifications of Tony playing for us next season too."

That's what Magic GM Otis Smith told me recently when I asked him about the possibility of Tony Battie coming back this season from October rotator cuff surgery.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. The question that the Orlando Magic need to answer ASAP is: how desperate are we?

At Monday's practice, Magic reserve forward Brian Cook suffered a fractured knuckle on his right (shooting) hand after being swatted by Dwight Howard. Brian is expected to wear a soft cast over the next week and will likely miss one to two weeks of action. Brian will likely be back for the playoffs but there's no way of knowing how the injury will affect Cook come game one on April 20.

Now what? I get the feeling that the aforementioned "slim chance" just walked back in the door and the time line for Tony's return has been ratcheted up due to the injury to Cook.

Otis now says he'd be willing to think about Tony returning to the lineup in time for the playoffs, provided he can play a game or two in the regular season.

To know Tony Battie is to know that he is salivating over the possibility of coming back sooner than later. Let's not forget that Tony, in many respects, is the inspirational leader of this basketball team. Let's also not forget that Tony was a projected starter this season. Now, I don't believe that Tony's starting job would have lasted very long considering the fact that Hedo and Rashard have played so well together this season. Point is, Tony has been sorely missed and would be a welcomed addition for the postseason providing that he is fit to play.

But Otis is right on the money when he says he has to take Tony's future health into consideration. Right now, Tony's got full range of motion in the left shoulder. He's been working out for months now and has built back his strength.

The problem is that the shoulder has not been tested. Tony is a big. Bigs operate with their shoulders and hands. The NBA game is physical. The playoffs are physical to the tenth power. Gosh forbid, if Tony re-injures the shoulder, 2008-2009 would be in jeopardy for a 32 year old player who is in the twilight of his career.

We need a big guy to replace Brian Cook. Tony Battie is far from 100% but he is ready and willing to try.

I'm glad I'm not making this call. Otis, it's all yours brotha!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, March 24, 2008, 9:24 AM

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
The Orlando Magic have improved markedly from last season to this year.

Numbers never lie. Therefore, let's examine some of the stats:

At this point last season, Orlando's record was 33-39. This season, we're 46-26, and with ten games to play, this team is well on its way to 50-plus victories.

Last year's road record? 15-26. This season, the Magic are 23-13 away from home and with a win at Milwaukee Friday, this team would set a franchise record for road wins set by the 1995-96 team.

A year ago, the Magic went 26-26 vs. Eastern Conference teams. Against the East so far, Orlando is 32-13.

Last season, this team really struggled vs. teams they should have beaten. The Magic went 24-19 vs. sub .500 clubs. This season, the Magic have taken advantage of their opportunities vs. losing teams. Orlando is 27-10 vs. teams with losing records.

Scoring? Last year, the Magic scored 94.8 points per game. This season? 104.7 points per game.

Three point shooting? We all know that's a no contest. This year's Magic team is setting all sorts of records. This team leads the NBA in three point attempts and is second in three's made. This Magic team has stroked nearly 18-hundred three's, making 38.6% of them. Last year, this team shot just 962 three's, making 35.6% of them.

So, what do the numbers tell us? Well, what they tell me is that General Manager Otis Smith has done exactly what he sought out to do last May. Otis has created a culture of winning.

He's done it with a head coach in Stan Van Gundy, who's had a midas touch all year. He's done it with free agent pickup Rashard Lewis, who, even though he's played out of position, has been solid all season. He's done it by giving Hedo Turkoglu the opportunity to become all he could be. Allowing Grant Hill and Darko Milicic to walk in free agency, Otis added by subtraction. Dwight Howard's game has flourished in year #4 due, in large part, to the chemistry around him.

Is this Magic team a finished product? No...There's still improving to be done.

Point is, we're now on a winning trackl! The Orlando Magic are on track to win this season, and for many years to come.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, March 20, 2008, 11:17 AM

WHO DO YOU WANT?
Right now, http://580wdbo.com/features/ScottSez.html you can vote on just what team you would like to face in round one of the NBA Playoffs.

Would you like to see the Washington Wizards? The Toronto Raptors? The Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers come round one?

I love that this team believes it can challenge Detroit for the two seed, but I just don't see us making up that big a deficit.

Now, keep in mind, we take nothing for granted. The Orlando Magic have not won a playoff series in 12 long, long, long years. Heck, we haven't won a playoff game in five seasons. So, instead of looking ahead to a potential showdown with Detroit in round two, let's examine the three first round possibilities....

Magic-Toronto....This is the match up I fear most. Why? The Raptors have a very good point guard and they have Chris Bosh. Bosh, who has been sidelined since February 29 with a sort right knee, has singlehandedly beat down the Magic over the years. We just have no one to guard this guy. Unlike the rest of the league, Bosh seems to thrive on the match up with Dwight Howard. Toronto went 2-9 with Bosh on the sideline. Bosh's return might best for us in the long run. (MAGIC IN 7)

Magic-Washington....The Wizards are sneaking up to that five spot, thanks to a recent Raptor swoon. All Star Caron Butler has re-joined Antawn Jamison in the starting lineup after being out with a hip injury. Word is that Gilbert Arenas is on his way back soon after early season knee surgery. Will the Hibachi have enough time to heat up or will he go the way of the Easy Bake Oven? Washington is a scary offensive club, but even with Arenas, the Wizards don't guard consistently. (MAGIC IN 5)

Magic-Sixers....Philly's young, athletic and quick. They have won four straight and 16 of their last 20 games for a reason. Andre Miller would be a handful for the Magic because he's big and strong is able to post up our smallish point guards. Miller's killed us this season and so has Louis Williams, who comes off the bench and heats up like the ole Microwave. Igoudala is a nightmarish match up, but Turk has handled him pretty well this season. Samuel Dalembert gets the Blue Flu when he sees Dwight on the schedule. (MAGIC IN 5)

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, March 17, 2008, 12:43 PM

WE GET NO RESPECT
The Orlando Magic have transformed into the Rodney Dangerfield of the NBA.

You know what? That's just fine with me.

The 2007-2008 Orlando Magic have already clinched a playoff spot. They're on the cusp of capturing the Southeast Division title. They're well on their way to 50-plus victories for the first time in 12 years.

The Magic sport the most dominant low presence in the game today, a guy who I believe should be an MVP candidate in Dwight Howard. Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu has developed into a guy I consider the most versatile player in the Association. Rashard Lewis is a nightmarish match up for any opponent. Coach Stan Van Gundy should, at the very least, be considered for the NBA Coach of the Year Award.

Curiously, no one outside Orlando gives this team its just due. I can't quite figure out why?

We all know about Kevin Garnett's recent comment about Boston, Detroit and Cleveland being the only three contenders in the conference. Someone needs to tell the Big Ticket that our Magic have beaten his C's twice. We've toppled the mighty Pistons two times. So far, we've split with the Cavs.

But KG is not the only source of the disrespect. Look around. It's everywhere.

Heck, even our coach's sibling, analyst Jeff Van Gundy, recently gave his bro's team less than a ringing endorsement. Jeff ripped our back court and said he didn't think the Magic would advance deep into the playoffs. Stan now knows how Abel felt when Cain whacked him back in the day!

I don't remember the last internet NBA Power Poll that had the Orlando Magic in the top ten teams in the league.

National TV? Fuggetaboutit! ABC, ESPN and TNT have treated the Orlando Magic as if we have a serious case of halitosis down here in Hooterville.

But, you know what? All the dissing....all the ignoring...all the criticisms have built a residue in Orlando. It's a residue that's formed a big ole chip on the Magic's collective shoulder. Every Magic player is well aware of the fact the entire league believes that this team is a fluke. To a man, they are angry about the lack of respect and seem to be aggravated by it.

I am reminded of that Rodney Dangerfield joke: "I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous--everyone hasn't met me yet."

Keep hatin' NBA! I love the fact that this team is ticked off. Playoffs here we come.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, March 5, 2008, 11:47AM

TURK THE TERRIFIC
You'd be hard pressed to identify a more versatile player in the NBA than Hedo Turkoglu.

I'm talking guys who can dribble, pass, score, rebound, defend, and shoot…guys who can sell tickets and peddle popcorn and peanuts on a given night.

I have wracked my little brain trying to come up with some names: Dirk, KG, LeBron, Marion…

There may be others to add to that list. But here's my point: I truly believe that Hedo Turkoglu has developed into the most versatile player in the NBA.

The 6-10 Hedo can legitimately play four positions on the court. Who knows, we give him some goggles and a hook shot, he might even take over Dwight’s spot on the low post!

He can handle the rock with both hands. Hedo loves driving to his left, but at times he'll cross you over, tie your shoes, powder your nose and finish at the hole with either hand.

Turk has the most feathery shooting touch of any big man this side of Dallas.

Hedo's one of the best passers on the team. Remember the guy who threw that lob to Dwight Howard in the big win over the Spurs last year? Yup...Hedo!

The two areas I have seen marked improvement this year from Hedo are rebounding and defense.

Ask guys like Paul Pierce, Richard Jefferson and Andre Igoudala about Hedo's defense this season. He's shut down all three of those stars and many more! In past years, Hedo's been allergic to the defensive side of the court. This year, he's taking the challenge and having fun defending. .

Hedo's averaging a career high 6 rebounds per game this year.

Turk has been clutch as well. He’s among the league leaders in fourth quarter scoring, averaging 6.5 points in final stanzas. He's had 10-plus fourth quarter points 13 times.

He's also provided his share of late game heroics. He buzzer-beat the Bulls on New Year's Eve. He sent Boston to a national tv loss with a last second shot and hit free throws with 2 seconds left to win in Philly last month.

So, go ahead, take your best shot. Name a more versatile player in the NBA than Hedo Turkoglu!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Scott Anez Golf 4 Kids Scramble

The Golf for Kids Scramble is a fundraising event benefitting Destiny Foundation of Central Florida. All proceeds raised will be used to ensure low income children in our community to have access to nutritious foods, health care and social services that will help build healthy bodies, minds and prepare them for a bright future.

A Note from WDBO's Scott Anez…

I would like to invite you to my first annual Scott Anez Golf 4 Kids event to benefit the Destiny Foundation of Central Florida coming up on May 19 at MetroWest Golf Club in Orlando.

What attracted me to the Destiny Foundation is the fact that they’re not just helping the working poor of Central Florida. They are empowering people as well!

The Destiny Foundation is less about handouts and more about helping people help themselves.

Every day people are walking into that building on Michigan Ave. hopeless. They walk out of the building with hope…hope for a better life for themselves and their children.

Unfortunately, the innocent victims in the vicious cycle of poverty today are the kids.

Under the Desinty Foundation umbrella falls: the Greater Orlando Food Outreach, which serves over 17-hundred families each week, the Compassion Outreach Center, the largest social-service Access Center in Florida, and the Compassion Children’s Clinic.

The Compassion Children’s Clinic is a free children’s medical clinic for uninsured and underinsured kids in our community. It’s operated by a team of volunteer doctors and nurses who see children for much-needed physicals and basic sick visits. Prescription assistance, follow-up care and insurance application assistance is provided to each family that visits the clinic.

That’s just an example of the difference the Destiny Foundation is making in our community. With your help, Destiny will continue to help those most in need, the children!

Thank you and I hope to see you on May19!

For more details: http://580wdbo.com/cgi-bin/info.cgi?type=event&id=2569862


Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, February 29, 2008, 9:51 AM

COOK HEATING UP
Back on November 20, forward Trevor Ariza was dealt to the Lakers for Brian Cook and Maurice Evans.

In January, in this very column, I questioned the trade. After all, Trevor was our best on-ball defender last season. He's young. He's got tremendous upside. He's a great athlete.

On December 20, I wrote: "Brian Cook, so far, has been slow to adapt to any sort of role here in Orlando. He just has not been effective. Offensively, he's forcing three's. Defensively and on the boards, he's been soft."

Fast forward to today and need I dare say that the early season trade now favors the Orlando Magic?

Amid whispers of chronic lower extremity issues, Ariza broke his right foot in January and has been out of the Laker lineup since.

Maurice Evans has since moved into Orlando's starting lineup and has been solid. Mo's numbers are less than gaudy, but his defensive toughness and explosive athleticism have stabilized the Magic's shooting guard spot.

But the linchpin of that early season deal was, and still is, Brian Cook. He was brought to Orlando to give this team a much needed big body who would spread the floor and hit the three.

That's exactly what Brian Cook is doing lately.

It would appear that his customary showing on the DNP-CD list is over. Coach Van Gundy is finally to the point where he's comfortable making Cook a permanent fixture off the bench.

Percentage-wise, Cook is the Magic's best three point shooter at 46%. Last Sunday, Cook ignited his team on a 15-2 run to begin the fourth quarter as he scored 11 points on three-three bombs in that game-deciding surge as the Magic beat the Kings.

Cook has also showed signs of becoming more aggressive on the boards. We're gonna need much more of that as we head toward the playoffs.

Defensively, he still has a ways to go. When Brian moves his feet as quickly as his hands, he and the Magic will be better for it. In that win over the Kings, Brian piled up three personal fouls in the span of about 4 minutes of game action.

But, looking back at that November trade, sure, we surrendered a promising young player. But the Magic got two-for-one. Mo Evans has become our starting shooting guard. Brian Cook is starting to pay dividends with his three point shooting and aggressiveness under the hoop.

Advantage: Magic.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Sunday, February 24, 2008, 1:23 PM

DWIGHT OR AMARE?
After his Phoenix Suns’ win over Boston Friday night, new Sun Shaquille O'Neal had this to say:

“Amare Stoudemire is the best big man in the game right now, period, bar none. I didn’t know he was that good, but talking to him and watching him play, he’s the best big man in the game at 25. I mean that. I’m not just saying that to pump him up.”

Over the years, it’s been astonishing how Shaq’s rhetoric has been altered depending on which jersey he’s worn.

In L-A, he called Kobe Bryant the best player on the planet. While he was with the Heat, Shaq labeled Dwayne Wade the best player in the league. Which one is it Diesel?

Well, Shaq, we here in Orlando utterly disagree with that ridiculous statement!

22 year old Dwight Howard is better than 25 year old Amare Stoudemire now, and Dwight will be much better than Stoudemire in the future.

Let’s get the tale of the tape:

Amare: 23.6 points…58.4%FG….9.3 rebounds….2.3 blocks

Dwight: 21.8 points…60.4%FG…An NBA-best 14.6 rebounds…2.4 blocks.

OK, Shaq, I’ll give you the fact that Amare is scoring more points per game. But, if Dwight had Steve Nash throwing him the ball, he’d average 30!

Dwight’s 200 dunks (Amare’s second at 127) by far and away lead the league…Dwight was the NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Month for November and December…Amare: zero Player of the Month honors this season….Dwight leads the NBA in double-doubles with 48… Amare has half that many (24)…Dwight has 12 20-20 games in his career. Amare has 3!

Dwight Howard is much more durable than Stoudemire as well. Dwight’s played in 303 consecutive games …Amare’s missed a total of 109 games the last four and a half seasons.

Dwight’s bigger and stronger than Amare…He’s more consistent than Stoudemire….and, Dwight’s prettier!

Shaq, you stand corrected. Dwight Howard is the best big man in the game, period, bar none.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, February 22, 2008, 10:07 PM

DEADLINE WINNERS AND LOSERS
Man, my head's still spinnin' post the NBA Trade Deadline. I still am coming to grips with the three team deal shipping Adam Haluska and Sergei Lishouk to Houston. You talk about a blockbuster!

All kidding aside, I don't remember a more active trade season involving so many marquee players.

From the Orlando Magic's standpoint, GM Otis Smith stood pat. He would have liked to have dealt for a big, but when San Antonio honed in on Kurt Thomas, Otis decided to let other GM's have their fun.

I agree. Why make a change for the sake of change? This team is in first place on its way to a #3 seed and home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

With just 26 games left, you don't want to make a deal that will totally alter a roster that's gotten you to this point. Even though the Magic have some attractive expiring contracts, you don't want to put yourself in an awkward position by taking back a hefty contract for a guy you're not enamored with. I didn't see anybody out there who caught my fancy.

There were plenty of teams that did revamp their rosters at or near the deadline. Here are my winners and losers

WINNERS

Los Angeles Lakers...I am still trying to figure out how Mitch Kupchak pickpocketed Pau Gasol from Memphis. It's a deal that could vault the Lakers to the NBA Finals this season.

Miami Heat...I know. How can a team with the worst record in the NBA be viewed as a winner, right? But, the Heat rid themselves of the Big Albatross, his attitude and his daunting contract. In doing so, Miami pairs Wade with Marion and will likely get a top pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. It's not gonna take long for the Heat to rebuild. Thanks Phoenix!

Atlanta Hawks...It's a deal that flew under the radar, but prying Mike Bibby out of Sacramento is a deal that, I believe, will propel the Hawks into the playoffs for the first time in ions this season. Atlanta's struggling at the moment, but once Bibby gets settled, he'll be the perfect compliment to Joe Johnson in that lineup.

San Antonio Spurs...No mega-deals here, but very quietly the reigning champs are allowing the Lakers and Suns to grab the headlines. Very quietly, they've won four straight games. Very quietly, they just got Tony Parker back and trade for quality veteran big man Kurt Thomas. Don't sleep on the champs!

LOSERS

Phoenix Suns...Seeing what the Lakers did in landing Gasol, the Suns sold their soul in trading Marion for Shaq. This was purely a knee-jerk reaction to the Gasol deal. The Phoenix Suns are about to find out two things: 1. Shawn Marion was under-appreciated. 2. The Big Cactus is over-the-hill.

Dallas Mavericks...The Jason Kidd deal was a bad deal for the present and the future for the Mavs. Five years ago, I pull the trigger. Not now. Jason Kidd is 36 years old and is slowing fast. You just don't mortgage the future in giving up on a point guard in Devin Harris for a guy who just cannot keep up with the better point guards in the league (see Kidd's last game vs. Chris Paul).

Cleveland Cavaliers...Do I detect a hint of desperation here? This deal, to me, is all about GM Danny Ferry feeling heat from LeBron to make some sort of change. But a total overhaul this late in the season? Is this a deal that makes the Cavs better? I don't think so...The linchpin in that 3 team 11-player swap is Ben Wallace. Ferry's hoping to rejuvenate Ben by playing alongside LeBron. Ben's apathetic play this year tells me otherwise.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, February 19, 2008, 9:03 PM

DUNKIN' DWIGHT A SAVIOR
In recent years, interest in NBA All Star Weekend's Slam Dunk Contest has waned. Not only have the league's prime time players taken a pass, but, the contest has lost much of its luster because, frankly, we see these dunks on a nightly basis in the NBA. These dunks have become all too common. The onetime crown jewel of the weekend had become stale. The thrill was gone.

Thanks to our Mighty Dwighty, the thrill is back!

I am not easily awed. But I have to tell you I jumped outta my chair on each and every one of Dwight Howard's eye-popping dunks Saturday night in New Orleans.

All four dunks were, and should have been, perfect 10's.

If I had to pick my personal favorite, it would be dunk #1. I am convinced that Dwight Howard is the only person on the face of the planet who could have pulled off this stunt. He starts from behind the basket. He throws the ball off the back of the backboard, and in one fell swoop, reaches under the board with his left hand and dunks it home. Gerald Green, Jamario Moon, Rudy Gay: thanks for comin' and have a nice trip home. Game over! 50.

In Dwight's second and perhaps most memorable slam, D-12 whisks off his Magic jersey only to uncover an appropriate Superman shirt. The crowd goes nuts. Teammate Jameer Nelson brings out the red cape and Superman proceeds to leap a tall building in a single bound. Jameer alleys from back of the baseline. Dwight oops. He not only oops, he literally heaves the rock down through the bucket as he towers over the rim. 50.

In Dwight's third slam, which displayed incredible coordination, he runs, jumps, taps the ball left-handed off the backboard, then slams with his right. Unbelievable! 50.

For his grand finale, Dwight could have merely shot a free throw grandma-style and gotten a 50! But Dwight goes for the jugular. He sets up a little 'Magic' mini-hoop on the corner of the backboard. Jameer sets the ball in hoop. Dwight leaps up, takes the ball, and slams it home. Crowd goes wild. 50.

Let the coronation begin.

It was one of those seminal Dunk Contest moments, akin to the Jordan-Wilkins duel in 1988, Dee Brown pumpin' up his Reeboks in '91 and Vince Carter struttin' his stuff in 2000.

Dwight Howard is a freak of nature. I don't know of any other big man in the history of the game who has possessed such incredible athleticism, strength, size speed and style. Dwight was plenty popular before Saturday night. That popularity will now be raised to the roof not only here in Orlando but across the globe because of what he pulled off Saturday night.

The NBA Slam Dunk Contest is now officially off life support thanks to the efforts of Orlando's Superman, Mighty Dwighty!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, February 13, 2008, 10:08 AM

STAN'S THE MAN....DWIGHT'S RIGHT
So, have you taken sides in what's become a very public disagreement between Orlando Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and All Star center Dwight Howard?

I have. I am on Stan's side. I am also standing with Dwight! How's that for being politically correct?

I admire the hudspah of Coach Van Gundy, who benched his star center for nearly two minutes of a key fourth quarter stretch during Monday's loss to Cleveland. After the game, the coach called out his stud center, saying that there's a "little bit of a conflict" and that the two are "not on the same page".

Stan wants Dwight to get more defensive. "I think his priorities need to be defense and rebounding. His focus is on the offensive end. He gets discouraged when he doesn't get the ball."

The numbers prove that the coach is right on the money.

The Magic are 22-3 when Dwight blocks three-plus shots. In an even more staggering statistic, Orlando is 10-2 vs. winning teams when Dwight records 3-plus blocks...This team is 1-12 vs. over .500 clubs when Dwight blocks less than three shots.

In the last three losses on the current five game home stand, Dwight has ONE blocked shot. In those defeats, the Magic surrendered 107 points in a loss to Dallas. We gave up 117 points in a loss to the Lakers. We allowed the Cavs to score 118 points Monday night.

Stan is absolutely right. When Dwight defends, blocks shots and rebounds, this team wins.

But ya know what? I see Dwight's point too!

No question about it, Dwight must get more defensive. He's well aware of that. But, I've been around long enough to know how this game works. That leather Spalding is a 'magic pill'. Big guys, especially, who get ample touches of said 'magic pill' tend to play harder, tougher, better. Amazing how that works!

The Orlando Magic have done plenty right this season. But one of the things I'd love for this team to do more of is to throw Dwight a bone. Pass him the ball in fourth quarter! I don't have the stats of how many touches or points Dwight has in the final periods of games this season, but I can tell you with a great degree of confidence that those numbers are underwhelming.

Dwight Howard is on his way to becoming the most dominant player in the game. The guy's working his tail off each and every time down the court to get low post position. It's human nature to get discouraged when you're working your tail off, getting pounded each and every night, only to have your teammates look the other way. He's proved that he can hit his free throws in crunch time. Throw him the ball!

If we do that, I guarantee you, the blocked shot totals will start to go up again. The wins will pile up again...and Dwight and Stan will live happily ever after.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, February 8, 2008, 9:15 AM

PLAYOFFS COACH STAN?
Go ahead. Take a gander at the standings. Your Orlando Magic are running away with the Southeast Divison.

Going into Friday's action, the Magic lead the Southeast by six and a half over the fading Washington Wizards, who have lost five consecutive games. That lead may just be expanding soon because the battered and bruised Wiz begin a four game western road trip at Denver Friday. They'll visit Phoenix, Golden State and the Clippers before the break next week.

So, with just 31 games to go in this NBA season, the Orlando Magic are sittin' pretty. We trail the Pistons by four and a half for the second spot. Odds are that the Magic will gain that third seeding in the Eastern Conference Playoff picture come late April.

There...PLAYOFFS...I said it!

So did coach Stan Van Gundy after the win over NJ Wednesday night:

"You're down to 73 days now before the playoffs start. That's not tomorrow, but as it gets closer and closer, the mind set has to change. We have to expect more out of ourselves in terms of playing all the way through the game, ahead or behind."

How many of you knew exactly how many days there were before the playoffs? Stan did.

This is precisely the reason GM Otis Smith pursued Coach Van Gundy after Billy Donovan left us at the altar last summer. I will reiterate: we got the better end of that deal!

I can't say enough about the job SVG has done in Orlando so far.

He's had the unique ability to keep his team grounded in the present. Yet, the big picture has always been to get this club into the second round of the playoffs and beyond for the first time since 1996.

Stan was hired to improve this young team's approach and mental toughness. Check that one off the list. The Magic have recorded an NBA-best 19 road victories and have won countless fourth quarter cliffhangers with a unique resolve that very few teams have.

Look at the improvement of certain players on this team. Hedo Turkoglu's transformed into an all star caliber player. Dwight Howard has progressed to the point where he's become the most dominant post force in the NBA. Keyon Dooling has played out of his mind off the bench. Rashard Lewis has played very well despite playing out of position all season.

You talk to Magic players, and to a man, they'll tell you that Stan is the Man to lead this team. They respect him. They play hard for him. That tells me a lot, considering SVG has, from day one of training camp, been extremely demanding.

Are there some soft spots on this team? Sure. The backcourt is still a huge question mark. The defense needs to get better. This team needs to learn how to play a full 48 minutes and figure out how to close out games. But, I'm from Missouri (not really). Show me the perfect NBA team. There are none!

At this time last season, the Magic experienced a second half melt down. They were 26-25 on their way toward 40-42 and a #8 seed in the playoffs.

This season, with no sign of a swoon in sight, the Orlando Magic are in first place and they are pointed toward the playoffs thanks in large part to the efforts of Coach Stan.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, February 6, 2008, 9:20 AM

Sun Block
What in the name of Alvan Adams is going on in Phoenix?

The word is that the Suns are gonna trade Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to the Miami Heat for Shaquille O'Neal.

From Miami's standpoint, I love this deal!

It's a trade that would give Heat fans hope again. Not that they have a snowball's chance in Hades of making the playoffs this season, but this is a trade that rids the Heat of a soon to be 36 year old albatross who is a shadow of his former self. If you're Pat Riley, you waive good-bye to the final two and a half years of a $100 million contract. Now, depending on what Marion does this summer with his opt-out in the final year of his deal, Riles at least has some salary cap flexibility to start rebuilding a franchise that has crashed into rock bottom.

Now, if I am a Phoenix Sun fan, I am wondering if GM Steve Kerr is overdosing on peyote!

This would be an atrocious deal for Phoenix for a plethora of reasons:

...The Suns love to run and gun. Shaq can't run and I think he lost his gun in the divorce. Shaq would clog up the lane for Nash and Stoudemire. The slow, lumbering Big Sloth flat out just doesn't fit the Suns' system.

...This appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to the Gasol deal the Lakers pulled off last week. But Gasol is 28 years old and can actually get up and down the court. Shaq will be 36 next month and may need a walker when his ailing hip and balky knees continue to give out.

...With this deal, not only do the Suns get older and slower. They get more expensive too. In recent years, Phoenix has pinched pennies to avoid the luxury tax. They have given away Kurt Thomas...They've traded away James Jones...They've given up draft picks. This is a deal that flies in the face of recent strategy.

...Why has Marion been the subject of trade rumors for years? This guy is one of the most versatile players in the Association. He fits that Sun style of offense to a tee. The Suns would miss him more than they think.

If this deal is done, the Miami Heat will be able to pick themselves up off the NBA ash heap and start building for the future.

If this deal is done, the Phoenix Suns will ruin their chances of winning an NBA Championship this season, and for years to come!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, February 1, 2008, 9:27 AM

HEDO HOODWINKED!
Thursday night, the NBA all star reserve list was unveiled. I'm still lookin'. For the life of me, I can't find Hedo Turkoglu's name on the list.

Problem is, Hedo's name was NOT on the list...and that's a shame!

We all knew that this thing was gonna be somewhat of a long shot. Not that Hedo is not deserving, because he is (the numbers alone are all star-like: 19 points, 6 rebounds 4 assists). But, you look at the forward position in the eastern conference and it's capsizing with mega-talent.

The guys who made it ahead of Hedo? Boston's Paul Pierce, Washington's Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler...

As for Pierce, how can you argue with that coach's pick? Pierce is an amazing player, averaging over 20 points per game on the best team in basketball. The Truth deserves to be in New Orleans.

If you're looking for a beef with this all star reserve picture, look no further than the fact that not one, but TWO Washington Wizards made the reserve list. In my opinion, that's one too many!

You can't take away the fact that Jamison and Butler have had phenomenal seasons so far. Washington was given up for dead a few months ago when Gilbert Arenas was forced to go under the knife again. However, these two have carried that team.

Jamison is averaging 21 points and 10.5 rebounds a game. Butler is scoring 22 per game on 48% shooting.

But look where the Wizards are, and have been, this season? They're in Orlando's rear view mirror! Currently, Washington sits 3 and a half games back of the Magic atop the Southeast Division.

If a team gets to have two all stars, shouldn't that team be a first place club?

That's why I would have voted Hedo to join Dwight in the Big Easy.

But, I don't have a vote. Shockingly, none of the NBA coaches called to ask my advice.

Hedo, you can be on my all star team any day!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, January 28, 2008, 10:48 AM

MEASURE STICK WEEKEND
So, with Measuring Stick Weekend behind us, what have we learned about the Orlando Magic coming off meetings with the #'s 1 and 2 teams in the conference?

1. We have learned that this Magic team matches up better with the Boston Celtics than it does vs. the Detroit Pistons.

...The Pistons are strong where we're not: in the backcourt. Friday night, Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton combined for 53 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists and 3 steals in that convincing 101-93 victory over Orlando. The Celtics' Big Three are a nightmarish matchup for any team. However, it looks to me as if Orlando's front line of Hedo, Rashard and Dwight gives the Celtics just as many, if not more, problems. The Pistons, to me, are still the team to beat in the east.

2. Hedo Turkoglu is becoming a star.

...Sunday, the rest of the nation found out what we have known for a few months: Hedo is an NBA All Star! He beat Boston on the off-balance 29 footer. He's already buzzer-beaten Chicago this season. Hedo leads the Magic in fourth quarter scoring with 274 points in the final period. Perhaps more impressively, Hedo showed Paul Pierce Sunday that his defense is much improved. NBA Coaches: Vote Turk!

3. This Magic team still has lessons to be learned.

...When the Magic marched into the Palace Friday night, they should have been well aware that the Pistons were going try to bury them. The Magic had clipped Detroit at the wire five days earlier, so ya just knew that a veteran team like Detroit was gonna surge early. We weren't ready for the 39 point on 77% shooting onslaught in the first quarter. We didn't meet force with force. That was very disappointing, even though the Magic outscored the Pistons in the final three quarters.

4. When Dwight gets defensive, this team can beat anybody!

...Dwight had 22 points and 14 rebounds in Auburn Hills Friday night. It was a solid night for Dwight, even though he missed 8 of his 16 free throws. Offense aside, when Dwight's defensive, this team wins! Coach Van Gundy has been shouting it from the rooftops all year. When Dwight blocks 3 or more shots, the Orlando Magic are 21-2. Look at how many blocked shots Dwight had vs. Boston: 5!

5. Our backcourt has to become more consistent.

...The Magic beat the Celtics Sunday in spite of poor point guard play. Carlos Arroyo. who played well against the Pistons (16 points and 6 assists), committed a total of 6 turnovers. Carlos' backcourt mate, Maurice Evans, had 4 turnovers. The uneven nature of Orlando's backcourt must smooth itself out as the playoffs approach.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, January 23, 2008, 9:15 AM

DEFENSE
Defense wins championships!

Not a truer phrase has been uttered in NBA circles.

Look at recent NBA championship history. Those great Bad Boy Piston teams locked ya down. Michael Jordan's Bulls were some of the best defensive teams in NBA history. Shaq's and Kobe's Lakers could put the clamps on ya. The backbone of Tim Duncan's Spurs has always been defense.

I, in no way shape or form, am about to compare the Orlando Magic's recent defensive efforts to those great teams. Not yet anyway. Point is, there are signs that we're making strides on the defensive end.

Going into Memphis Wednesday, Orlando has allowed 100 points or less in four consecutive games. Not so ironically, the Magic have won three of those four. In the last three games, Magical opponents have been held to 40%, 41% and 43% field goal shooting.

That's a monumental jump, considering, on their most recent western road trek, the Magic allowed the Kings, Clippers, Nuggets and Jazz to shoot an average of 50% from the field. Three of those four games were Orlando losses.

So, what's the difference? Why have the Magic seemingly reversed field defensively?

Head Coach Stan Van Gundy is terrific with his X's and O's. But, I don't believe that the Magic's recent epiphany has anything to do with Stan's scheme. I believe it has everything to do with Stan's message: effort!

The Orlando Magic are flat out getting after it on the defensive end right now because they are hustling.

For the first time this season, they are contesting opponents' shots consistently (It's amazing what a hand in someone's face can do). They are getting into passing lanes (They forced 10 Detroit turnovers in the first half Monday. The Pistons lead the NBA for the third straight season in fewest turnovers). They are blocking shots (Heck, even Rashard Lewis had a swat on Tayshawn Prince late in the big win Monday).

Sure, we're still far from those great defensive teams of the past. We're not the most physically imposing team in the NBA. As Coach Stan said after Monday's victory, "We're not the most physical team in the world. All ya gotta do is look at us and there's not gonna be any steroid allegations."

But, the Orlando Magic are giving much more effort on the defensive end recently.

That's a very good sign!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, January 18, 2008, 10:10 AM

MAGIC MID-TERMS
Dr. Scott has graded the Orlando Magic's mid-terms. Some aced the first half of the season. Some passed with flying colors. Others, not so much...

EXEMPLARY:

Dwight Howard: Dwight's been lights out. He's been the conference's Player of the Month for November and December. 22.4 points per game...a league leading 15.2 rebounds per game. Dwight's been a joy to have in class!

Head Coach Stan Van Gundy: Winning 16 road games in the first half of the season is a feather in Coach Stan's cap. Sure, the overall record could be better. His team needs to do a better job of playing with the lead. But I think Stan has instilled a much needed mental toughness. He's walked that very thin line between demanding and fair this season. So far, so good!

Hedo Turkoglu: Turk's hit a little lull lately, but we'll forgive and forget because he's been lights out this year. He's averaging career highs in most every category. Unlike years past when he's been absent with the Turk-o-flu, Hedo's answered the bell for every game so far. Nice job Turk!

GOOD:

Rashard Lewis: It's been a mixed bag for Rashard, but overall, he's been a very welcomed addition to this team. I can't praise him enough for quietly going out each and every night and playing out of position. Recently, he's diversified his offensive game, which will benefit us in the second half. Rashard is a max-player. He must become more assertive on this team!

Keyon Dooling: Hard to give a guy who plays 18 minutes per game an exemplary grade. But if I were to do that, Keyon's the guy. Keyon's energy off the bench has won us a handful of games in the first half. Great character guy. I'd hate to lose Keyon in free agency after this season.

Maurice Evans: Pleasant surprise! Brian Cook was supposed to be the linchpin in the Ariza deal with the Lakers. But, Evans has been the guy who's had impact so far. Mo's taken over the starting shooting guard spot. He's not the most talented guy in the league, but his talent is his energy. Like Keyon, Mo is a great character guy!

Adonal Foyle: He comes in and does his job. I'd like to see Adonal and Dwight team up some in the second half.

WE NEED MORE FROM:

Keith Bogans: Keith started the season incredibly strong. He was shooting the three with remarkable accuracy. He was defending. Recently, he's been replaced in the starting lineup by Evans. To Keith's credit, he hasn't pouted. Instead, he's really upped his energy off the bench. This team needs his toughness!

Jameer Nelson: Speaking of tough, you're not gonna get any tougher than this guy. Jameer has improved his play-making abilities this year. He's seeing the floor better. He's sacrificed his offense for the sake of the team. Success of the new up-tempo style of play is contingent upon the motor of the point guard. We need more high-energy from Jameer in the second half of the season.

Carlos Arroyo: Hard to figure Carlos. He's incredibly talented. He's the purest point guard we have on this roster. He's our best passer. But, you just don't know what you're gonna get out of Carlos on any given night. We need Carlos to be more consistent in the second half.

INCOMPLETE:

JJ Redick, James Augustine, Brian Cook and Pat Garrity: All four have just not played enough to register a rank. I, along with most in the Magic nation, would like to see JJ get more minutes in the second half. Cook, who scored 14 points vs. Chicago last week, is showing signs of awakening. Augustine, who is still very raw, has gained the confidence of Coach Van Gundy with his energy and attention to defense. Pat has been lost on the bench all season.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, January 15, 2008, 9:45 AM

MAGIC STILL STANDING
In your face, NBA schedule maker!

Despite heavy odds against us, the Orlando Magic have taken the schedule maker out to the wood shed and slapped him silly.

At the beginning of this season, I thought that if this Magic team could just hold its head above the .500 water mark, then the first half of the season would have to be considered a major success.

Mission accomplished.

Sure, this 23-16 Magic team has issues right now. There's been much slippage on the defensive end lately. Our inconsistent backcourt is seemingly in a constant state of flux. Our home court 'disadvantage' is mind-boggling.

However, perspective is always needed during the grueling NBA season. Dr. Scott is here to provide it.

Surprise, NBA schedule maker. The Orlando Magic sit atop the Southeast Division. They are 7 games up on the .500 mark. The Magic sport the third best record in the east. We've amounted 16 road wins, which is the most of any NBA club.

Now, if I were a conspiracy theorist, which I am not, then I would contend that the NBA had planned an early burial for us this season. To this point, no team has played more games than the Orlando Magic, and no team has played more road games.

Look at the numbers to this point: Orlando-24 roadies. The Magic's Southeast Divisional opponents? Washington-17...Atlanta-17...Charlotte-14...Dead in the water Miami-21.

This Magic team has had to endure 11 back-to-back scenarios so far, and they've passed with flying colors. They're 8-3 in the first....8-3 in the second.

Finally, we can let out a deep breath! Here in mid-January, the schedule maker tries to play make-up.

Thankfully, we're done with those dreaded western road trips. No second half trek lasts longer than two games. We play 26 of the next 43 games at home. We have a five game homestand in February and the Magic play ten of their 14 games in March at Amway Arena.

Now, considering the Magic's home woes, I am certainly not suggesting that you pencil in victories on your handy-dandy pocket schedule just yet.

Point is, from a schedule standpoint, the load gets a whole bunch lighter in the second half of the season.

Thank goodness....and thanks for nothin' NBA schedule maker!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, January 11, 2008, 10:37 AM

HEDO TURKOGLU, ALL STAR
Earlier this season, I wrote about the possibility of Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu making the NBA All Star Team.

At the time, I am sure many of you scoffed at the notion. Ahh, that's just Anez being a homer again, some of you perhaps thought to yourselves.

Well, with the All Star reserve list ready to be hand-picked by the coaches January 31, allow me to further my case for Hedo Turkoglu, All Star!

First off, our Dwight Howard is well on his way to his first ever All Star start. Deservedly so. Dwight's 1.45 million votes dwarf Shaq's 701,253. So that's a done deal.

Now, I will make my case for Turk:

Hedo has scored 20-plus points 18 times this season. He comes off a season high 28 vs. the Clippers. He's the only Magic player to score in double figures in all 37 games this season. As a matter of fact, Hedo joins Yao, Melo, Iverson and Kobe as the only five NBA players this season to have played and scored in double figures in all of their team's games.

What's more, Hedo leads the Magic in fourth quarter scoring. He's averaging 6.1 points in the game's final period. He's scored 10 or more points in the fourth some eight times and had 13 in the fourth against the Clips Wednesday.

Hedo is averaging career highs in points (19.5), rebounds (6.2), assists (4.2) and minutes per game (38).

Now, I'll give you the fact that Kevin Garnett and LeBron James deserve to be the starters at the two forward spots. I'll also admit that, after the great first half his Boston Celtics have had, Paul Pierce deserves to be part of that forward mix. So that likely leaves one other eastern forward spot available. Let's take a look at some of the competition.

Chris Bosh...Sure, he's having a decent year statistically at 20.5 points and 9 rebounds per game. But, his team is a shade over .500 at this point. To me, team success should be a major factor in the making of an all star.

Caron Butler and Antwan Jamison...Butler made it last year. Yes, he's having his best season ever at 22 points per game. Jamison averages over 21 per game and 10.6 rebounds per game. However, the Wizards sit four games back of Hedo's Magic in the Southeast Division.

Richard Jefferson...Sixth in the NBA in scoring, averaging 24.6 points per game. Again, I point to where the Nets sit in the standings, a hair above the .500 mark, 12 games back of the front-running Celtics atop the Atlantic.

Josh Smith...Second in the NBA in blocks. He's really coming into his own on an improved Hawk team, averaging 18 points and 7.8 rebounds. But, look at where the Hawks sit? Four and a half games back of Hedo Turkoglu's Magic.

All these guys are deserving, but Hedo is the best of the bunch. He's the most versatile player in this lot. Hedo is the best clutch player in this group.

Of all those teams, Toronto, Washington, Atlanta, Hedo's Magic are having the better season. Orlando is nine games over .500, and has captured more road wins than any other NBA club.

That's due in large part to the play of Hedo Turkoglu, All Star!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, January 2, 2008, 12:35 PM

THE GREAT EIGHT
8. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (18-13)...They lost their first game in December and their lost the last game of the month. In between, they won 13 straight games. That, alone, makes the Blazers deserving of being in this week's Great Eight. Brandon Roy's transformed into one of the purest scorers in the league, and fellow super soph. LeMarcus Aldrige is realizing some of his potential after tallying a career-high 36 in Salt Lake City.

7. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS (20-11)...If Chris Paul scores 40-plus points for the third time this season, would anybody in the Big Easy see it? The Hornets are last in the NBA in attendance but Paul is first in the NBA in steals, third in assists and 18th in the league in scoring.

6. DALLAS MAVERICKS (20-11)...Defense wins championships! While the Mavs are unstoppable offensively, I don't see this team playing the defense it did last year. Last season, they gave up 92 points per game and 44% shooting. This season, those numbers are up to 97 points and over 45%. The Mavs still haven't shown me that they can be the best in the west this season.

5. ORLANDO MAGIC (22-11)...It's uncanny what this team has accomplished on the road. We've already matched last year's road-win total with a league high 15. That road-heavy schedule lightens after next week's west coast trip. The Magic have a bad habit of giving up season and career highs (Ben Gordon-39, Jason Richardson-34, Dwayne Wade-48). We've got to figure out a way to tighten up defensively or all these wins we're piling up may seem like an illusion later in the season and into the playoffs.

4. PHOENIX SUNS (22-9)...No surprise that the Suns lead the NBA in scoring at over 109 points per game. Grant Hill is turning back the clock. He's averaging 16 points in over 34 minutes per game. I keep reading how Steve Nash has lost a half-step. I'd love to be that slow, lead the NBA in assists and dominate games without scoring.

3. SAN ANTONIO SPURS (21-8)...Hell did freeze over last month when the champs lost four of five games. Shows you what injuries can do to even the best teams in the league. Manu Ginnobili, Tony Parker and even Tim Duncan have missed some games with ailments. Brent Barry's out a few weeks with a calf injury. Don't fret, Spur fans, your team is still the team to beat in the west.

2. DETROIT PISTONS (24-7)...This, to me, is still the team to beat here in the east. The Pistons are winners of nine consecutive games. Detroit averages nearly 100 points per game, while giving just 89. The Pistons and Boston are the only clubs in the league to sport a double-digit positive point differential. This team doesn't need Chris Webber!

1. BOSTON CELTICS (26-3)...I have to admit...I am becoming a believer! Sure, the league softened Boston's early schedule, but they are beating most everyone handily. The Big Three is even more impressive than I thought they would be. The C's defense, holding teams to 86 points and 41% shooting, is the best in the NBA. What a year for Boston sports teams!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, December 28, 2007, 12:20 PM

AND NOW THE END IS NEAR
I must admit…I am having a hard time watching Shaquille O’Neal's skillz deteriorate before our very eyes.

I’ve had some negative things to say about Shaq over the years. In the final few years of Shaq’s Magic reign, it was tough dealing with the big fella. He had turned into a different person from the young, wide-eyed rookie who showed up at the WDBO studios the night he signed his 7 year $42 million contract in the summer of 1992.

I thought his exodus from Orlando was classless and his subsequent comments about our “small dried up ole pond” were unnecessary and inflammatory.

I knocked him when he failed to show up for the 1997 NBA All Star Game in Cleveland to be part of the 50 Greatest Players celebration.

I dissed him every chance I got.

Why? Well, I am sure if you examined by subconscious back then there would have been a part of me that was jealous….jealous that the greatest center in the game would never wear pinstripes again, thus, the Magic’s chances of parading down Orange Avenue would have to be put on hold for a while.

Enter 2007-2008. The Shaquille O’Neal that some of us loved to hate is faltering.

To Shaq’s credit, he’s logged minutes in every Heat game so far, averaging 14 points, nearly 8 rebounds in just 28 minutes per game. His 35 year old body just can’t go any more than that because his aching hips and knees won’t allow him to.

Shaq’s fouled out of five of the last seven games, and in those other two, he’s accumulated 8 total personal fouls. He’s having a hard time moving.

Obviously, he is not what he used to be. Quite frankly, that’s sad. It’s sad when Father Time inevitably catches up to a once powerful and seemingly invincible athletic icon (see Ali, Jordan, Ruth and Gretzky).

I wonder what the exit strategy is for the big fella? He’s got two more years left on his Heat contract. Barring the discovery of Ponce De Leon’s fountain of youth in south Florida, I just don’t see Shaq playing after this season. Perhaps I am wrong, but I see a buyout in Shaq’s future.

The end of Shaquille O’Neal’s career is near. But, curiously, I take absolutely no solace in this fact.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, December 17, 2007, 11:00 AM

THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD


“IT’S A BUSINESS OF SUFFERING”

Former Magic head coach Chuck Daly coined that phrase….and, in a lot of ways, it’s a phrase that rings very true. With the long and grueling NBA schedule, losses are suffered and dissected while victories are seemingly passed over on the way to the next game.

“THE NBA SEASON IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT”

I can’t attribute that quote to any one particular person because it’s a quote that’s been uttered by many in this league.

Here we are, Magic fans, 17-8 on the season. We lead the Southeast Division by three games over red hot Washington. We have the third best record in the Eastern Conference. Yet, everywhere I go, people ask me, “what’s wrong with the Magic?”

That brings up another infamous NBA quote:

”YOU’RE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST GAME”

Listen, I am as frustrated as many of you by the lax play at home this season. For some reason, this team has not played with the needed aggression and precision that it has on the road so far this season. Barring the cellar-dwelling Miami Heat, the Magic (5-5) sport the least amount of home wins of any eastern team. The Magic have allowed sub .500 teams like Atlanta, Indiana and Memphis to come into our house and stomp on our logo.

I can’t give you an explanation for the lackadaisical play at home lately. It seems like our interest is only peaked only when it’s too late. In the NBA, any team can beat you on a given night. Heck, see the Grizzlie game. Admit it, you had never heard of Juan Carlos Navarro before Saturday, right?

My final quote of the column is this one:

“N-B-A STANDS FOR: NO-BOYS-ALLOWED”

Sure, the Magic are far from full-strength right now. Rashard’s neck spasms are a real concern. He’s been hurting for over a week now. Backup point guard Carlos Arroyo being out for the last three games hurts us in the depth department. Jameer’s banged up. The schedule has been nothing short of brutal. With Dallas, Houston, Utah and Boston on the way, this is going to be a pivotal week for this team.

But, Coach Van Gundy stated on the first day of training camp that there will be no excuses this year. And despite the toughest early season schedule of any NBA team, I have not heard one excuse from anybody.

Yet, with all the problems…the injuries….the homecourt woes….the schedule…If, at the beginning of the year, I told you that the Orlando Magic would win 17 of their first 25 games, you’d take it in a heartbeat, wouldn’t you?

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, December 13, 2007, 9:30 AM

PLUM TUCKERED OUT?


The Orlando Magic are losers of a season high three consecutive games.

My glass half full side puts things into perspective. We’re still 16-7. We still have the third best record in the league and the second best slate in the east. We lead the Southeast by a bundle. We have the most dominant center in the world right now.

If, perhaps, said glass were half empty, I’d lament about the fact that the recent swoon looks an awful lot like the swan dive this team took last season.

I talked with Magic GM Otis Smith on WDBO’s Inside Magic Wednesday night and asked him if his team is tired. Otis told me that he didn’t think so. He indicated that the club’s recent troubles have more to do with opponents making adjustments to our style of play. Otis also said that the maturation process includes learning how to be the hunted, instead of the hunter. He’s absolutely right on the money. But I still think this team is showing signs that the brutal early season schedule is now taking its toll.

1….Turnovers. By my count, the Magic have amounted 79 miscues the last four games. Remind you of last season? Yeh, me too….

2…Matador defense. Over the last four games, our defense has allowed at least five guys to score double figures.

3…Stall and Gundy. We’re walking the ball up the court once again and running half court sets. Jameer’s got to get this team back to an up tempo mode. This is not a good half court team!

4…Horrible free throw shooting. For example, the Magic left 15 points on the line in Milwaukee Wednesday night. They went 18-30 vs. Atlanta. It all catches up to ya in this league. Dwight’s kinda reverted back to his ole ways on the line, so, teams are rightfully gonna play Hack-a-Dwight.

5…Where’s the intensity? Even on the 4-1 western trip, this team got off to very slow starts. They trailed by 12 after the first quarter Wednesday (Bucks shot 69%)….by ten Monday….by four last Friday to Indy. We’ve given up 32, 29 and 32 in the first quarter the last three.

Why? Why, all of a sudden has this team transformed from Jekyll to Hyde? With all due respect to Otis, I truly believe that this Magic team is plum tuckered out right now. They’re just playing tired. This is not the same team we saw in November. The pre-season trip to China…the road-heavy early slate….the trip to the west coast. I believe it’s all catching up to them. There’s no energy…no drive….no passion.

Sure, this December swoon is eerily familiar to what happened last season. But, as much as some of you want to compare this team to last year’s team, my gut still tells me that this is a different squad. It’s more mature. It has more firepower. It’s deeper.

But I am hoping that history does not repeat itself!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, December 3, 2007, 9:30 AM

THE GREAT EIGHT
As we begin a new week, and a new month of the NBA season, here is this week’s Great Eight!

8. Dallas…At this time last season, I was convinced that the Mavs were going all the way. Right now, I just get the feeling as if they’ve lost their edge. Dirk’s numbers are down. I just don’t sense that this team has fully recovered from the first round playoff loss to Golden State.

7. Detroit…The Pistons have been banged up in the early season. Rip Hamilton, after the birth of his baby, hasn’t gotten into the flow yet. I get the feeling, though, that these guys have learned that in order to be primed for the post season, they’ll have to take some lumps early in the regular season. This, to me, is still the team to beat in the east.

6. New Orleans…Go figure! The Hornets are just 4-4 at home. Yet, they are 8-2 away from the Big Easy. Looking at the attendance figures in New Orleans this season, it’s not hard to figure out that the home court advantage this team enjoyed in Oklahoma City the last few years has vanished. Chris Paul (33 points in the overtime win over Dallas Sat.) leads the league in steals and is third in assists.

5. Utah Jazz…Carlos Boozer is playing out of his mind so far. Deron Williams just might be the quintessential NBA point guard. This team has great balance and efficiency. The Jazz lead the NBA in FG% and are third in scoring (106.9 ppg).

4…Orlando Magic…Post this five game western road trek, this team is gonna need the three day break this week. I sense that the Magic, after the preseason trip to China and amounting the most games played in the NBA to date, are fatigued right now. We have learned that Rashard Lewis (28% FG out west) struggles mightily when he is tired. It looked to me as if going back to Seattle got in his head a little bit. We just need to survive this western trip, then head home for a few days of much-needed R and R.

3. Phoenix…The Suns lost two straight last week, but bounced back with a win over the Magic. Take Steve Nash off of that team, they become .500 at best. That’s how good the ‘Maestro’ is. I’ve never seen a player have so much control over the outcome of a game from the point guard spot than this guy. Nash is my hero!

2. Boston Celtics…The C’s are still perfect at home and their two road losses have been by two points in Orlando and in overtime to Cleveland. Ray Allen, shooting just 41% from the field, is off to a slow start. Rondo’s played well at the point so far but depth at the point guard and in the front court are concerns.

1. San Antonio Spurs…A well-oiled machine. They trailed The Wolves in the third quarter Saturday night, and then promptly went on a ho-hum 40-11 jaunt to end the game. Ginnobili (season-high 31 points) is amazing. The champs are the team to beat again.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, November 28, 2007, 9:30 AM

BELIEVE
There are certain ear-marks of really good NBA basketball teams…

1…All very good teams play defense.

2…All very good teams rebound.

3…All very good teams have identities.

4…All very good teams have go-to-guys who can beat ya in the fourth quarter.

5…All very good teams can win while not playing their best.

Sure, there are other qualities that good teams must have. But, in a nutshell, that’s the list.

So, if you’re a fan of the Orlando Magic, let’s run down the check list to see how we stack up. I do this because, there are still some people out there not believing that this team is for real.

1…All very good teams play defense…We’re not there yet, but we’re on our way. A great sign in Portland Monday night when they held the Blazers to a scant 74 points in Monday’s win, 47 in the final three quarters, and 39% shooting.

2…All very good teams rebound….The Orlando Magic are one of the better defensive rebounding teams in the NBA, led by one of the best rebounders in the game in Dwight Howard.

3…All very good teams have identities…We finally have one, folks. It’s a team that sports the best low post presence in the NBA. This is a team that loves to run up and down the court and chuck three point daggers in your face.

4…All very good teams have go-to-guys who beat ya in the fourth quarter….Rashard Lewis has given this team a newfound confidence with the clock winding down. Heck, the $118 mil we forked out looks like a bargain right now.

5…All very good teams can win while not playing their best…See the Portland game. It looked like we were running in mud the first quarter. We’re down 13 in the second, and all of a sudden, the ignition starts on a 16-0 run. The Magic won ugly. That’s a good thing!

What I am saying to you is this: it’s OK to start believing in this 2007-2008 Orlando Magic team. I know some of you have been burnt in the past. But, go ahead….Invest your emotions. It's safe. Start believing in Magic again!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, November 26, 2007, 9:30 AM

THE WEST COAST BLUES
Well, here we go….

Are the Orlando Magic for real, or is the 12-3 record an aberration? Is it fool’s gold?

I, for one, believe that this Magic team is developing into something very special this season. But, for you non-believers out there, tonight’s game begins the ultimate litmus test: the dreaded west coast trip.

Historically, these west coasters have proved to be our kryptonite.

Traditionally, we lose a lot out there…coaches get fired out there…players go down with injuries out west….guys get into fights…all that’s negative seems to happen when the Orlando Magic cross the Mississippi River.

Last season, I thought, well, maybe, just maybe the karma’s changing a little bit. The first western trip saw us go 4-1.

However, the second major trip proved to be the beginning of the end for this team. The Magic went 1-3 at Golden State, the Lakers, Phoenix and the Hornets. The Magic would go on to lose 8 of nine in that stretch….and 18 of the final 28 games to end the season.

Back in 05-06: the Magic went o-fer the west coast. 0-9! The previous season: 3-8.

So, is this team different? Is this team for real? Can this team exorcise its west coast demons?

After watching our Magic early in the season, I believe the answer to all those questions is a resounding YES!

Tonight in Portland…Wednesday at Seattle…Friday at Phoenix...Sunday at the Lakers…and Monday at Golden state, we find out for sure.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 10:30 AM

AN 'A' FOR 'O'
The Orlando Magic are winning games in the fourth quarter. They are winning games on the road. They are winning games they wouldn't have won last season. They are winning more games than any other NBA right now.

Therefore, isn't it time we give props to the man who put this team together in what was an incredibly tumultuous off season?

Last summer, Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith was mocked, ridiculed and dragged over the coals by a plethora of critics.

First, there was the Brian Hill firing. I, for one, was not pleased with the way the Magic handled the situation. I believed that Brian deserved one more year to try to turn things in the right direction.

Then, there was the Billy Donovan debacle. Some of you blamed Otis for holding the gun to Billy D's head to sign that contract.

Many of you dissed Otis for not bringing back Darko Milicic. I ask you now: would you rather have Darko or Rashard? I would hope that 100% of you would take the latter rather than the former after what we've seen from Rashard this season.

Then, Otis was criticized for over-paying for Rashard's services. Now, Magic fans, do you deem this guy being worth the $118 million we're paying him?

Then, right before the season starts, Otis signs Jameer to a five year contract extension. I admit it...I questioned the move, considering that we could have put Jameer on stage for another full season to determine if he'd be worth the investment. Needless to say, Otis's confidence in Jameer has resulted in the little point guard showing all of us that he can turn into the floor general this team needs.

I know...Its early! We all remember last season when this team fell flat on its face after a 22-14 start.

But, at this point, don't ya have to give Otis Smith his props?

So far, the Magic boss has shown the midas touch.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, November 19, 2007, 9:30 AM

I BLED GREEN AND WHITE.
I grew up watching Jo Jo White run the fast break….watching Dave Cowens compete as if there were no tomorrow every single night…watching john Havlicek become the measuring stick for future sixth men…watching Robert Parish and Kevin McHale become the best front court ever….watching Larry Bird become my hero!

I was about as avid a Boston Celtic fan as there ever was.

I ran around the block after the Celtics beat the Suns in that now infamous triple-overtime game 5 of the NBA Finals in 1976. I tore up a poster of Moses Malone after my C’s beat his Rockets in 1981. I actually hugged my sister after we beat the Lakers in 1984. I remember partying on Church Street after the Rockets were once again upended by my 1986 Celtics, still the best team that I’ve ever seen.

I loved my Boston Celtics.

But over the last 20 years, that love has waned for various reasons: M.L. Carr…Not hiring Larry Bird as either a GM or a coach….My following of the Orlando Magic as a profession….Various boneheaded front office and coaching moves…Bad players…bad timing…Bad drafts, etc.

The last 17 years or so have been disgraceful to the history of that once proud green uniform.

However, it would appear that, finally, the Celtic mystique is back!

The new Big Three, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, have forged this franchise to relevance once again. I think this is a great thing!

It’s great for the sports-crazed city of Boston, which lives and dies by its sports teams.

It’s great for the eastern conference, which has been yearning for a marquee attraction.

It’s great for the NBA, which will benefit immensely from having that green uniform mean something again. This is the NBA’s signature franchise. This is the organization with more championships (16) than any other team.

On a personal note, it’s a great thing for me. Not that I am a big fan of the C’s anymore. Frankly, I am not. But, I just got so sick and tired of my old team being kicked around like rag doll year after year. I got so sick and tired of the lack of direction…lack of passion…lack of pride. Beating the Celtics was sorta like kissing your sister. Now, ya beat ‘em: and it means something again. That’s the way it should be.

I am still not convinced that the Celtics are going to be crowned champions any time soon. Their supporting cast leaves much to be desired.

However, at the very least, the Boston Celtics are back on the map. I think this is a great thing for everybody involved in the NBA.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, November 14, 2007, 9:30 AM

THE GREAT EIGHT
Every few weeks during the NBA season, Sez will throw an NBA Power Poll at ya. So, without further adieu, here's this week's Great Eight!

1. Boston: KG, Ray Allen and The Truth are getting along. They're sharing the ball and smiling down upon the rest of the league. The C's have also been the beneficiary of a cake schedule early. Looking forward to Sunday's match up in Orlando.

2. Houston: Yao is the Western Conference Player of the Week this week. TMac got it last week. Will this be the year that Tracy wins a playoff series?

3. San Antonio: I just hate that I've convinced myself that the Spurs are on their way to a fifth NBA title in ten years. They're boring. Tim Duncan's boring. They're uniforms are boring. I'd love to get to a point where winning is boring!

4. Detroit: When the Pistons came to town earlier this season, I saw a team that was hungry again. They've injected some much needed youth into what was a tired ballclub at the end of last season. That Piston team, to me, is still the team to beat in the east.

5. Phoenix: Still think they're gonna miss Kurt Thomas more than people think. It's uncanny what Steve Nash does for that team each and every night. Marion, despite being unhappy, is playing as if he's happy.

6. Utah: Jerry Sloan's Jazz lead the NBA in scoring. Deron Williams has transformed into one of the best point guards in the league. Carlos Boozer has registered seven double-doubles in the first eight games.

7. Dallas: Dallas has already done something it couldn't do in last season's playoffs: beat Golden State. That's not saying a whole lot this year. Is it just me or do you too sense these Mavs are not the same team that went into that Golden State series last season?

8. Orlando: I don't care who the opponents are; going undefeated on a four game road trip is a feather in anybody's cap. Dwight is transforming into a force we all knew he could be. Rashard's becoming our go-to-guy. Hedo's realizing his potential. We need more out of our bench. Our defense is suspect. I get the feeling that this team is going to get better and better as the season progresses.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, November 9, 2007, 9:30 AM

ALL STAR TURK?
His line from Wednesday night's win in Toronto read: 24 points, a career high 15 rebounds, six assists one steal, one blocked shot in 45 minutes.

Who is he? Lebron? Kobe? TMac?

Nope....Try Hedo Turkoglu!

Hedo has gotten off to an incredible start in 2007-08. Through five games, Turk has led or tied the Magic in scoring twice, in rebounding once and in assists once. He's scored 20-plus points three times, including a season-best 25 points at Washington.

Give it up to Turk who seems to be realizing the potential of his immense talent this early season.

Since being drafted in the first round (16th overall) by Sacramento in 2000, the knock on Turk has been his lack of consistency. Though this season, you can throw that criticism out the pencere (that's window for all my loyal Turkish readers).

Turk's skillz have always been scary good. The guy is 6-10. He's possesses one of the sweetest outside shots in the game. He's durable. He can handle the rock. He can dish and penetrate and is a nightmarish matchup for any small forward in the league.

But last season, Turk just didn't play well, for whatever reason. He shot 41.9% from the field and averaged 13 points per game.

Why the down year? Perhaps, Turk's free-flowing style just didn't mesh with coach Brian Hill's regimented offense.

Lest we forget the "Hedo-Flu" that he's experienced on and off over the last few years. Hedo missed nine games last season, due in large part to a mysterious flu-like bug that's put him on his back for 2-3 days at a time. According to GM Otis Smith, doctors believe they have identified this mystery bug. Hopefully, Hedo will be able to ditch the hot water bottles and Thera-Flu this year.

Over the summer, Hedo's name came up in a number of trade rumors. With Rashard Lewis on his way east, it was only logical to test the trade winds for Turk because the two play the same position. It looked like Turk was either on his way out of Orlando or out of the Magic's starting lineup.

Surprise! Turk's still here...in the starting lineup...and I contend that the most pleasant surprise of the pre-season and early regular season has been the chemistry that he has developed with Rashard. The two play extremely well together and fit the Run and Van Gundy offensive strategy to a tee.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, November 7, 2007, 11:30 AM

LEW IS SWEET
Here’s a quote from Sez from October 30th, 2007:

"At what point in time will he gel with his teammates? Does Rashard burn to win? Does Rashard Lewis want to become a great player on a great team? Does he understand the pain and sacrifice it takes to be great in this league? Does he have the confidence, and the cockiness, to know that he is the best player on the court each and every night? Can he take over late in a game? Can he be a difference maker come playoff time?"

Well, after Tuesday night’s performance, I can tell you that I got several of those questions answered!

Rashard Lewis showed me a little somethin’ somethin’ in the 111-103 win over Minnesota.

The Magic had blown a 16 point fourth quarter lead, as the Wolves went on a 14-0 run to cut the deficit to 92-90 with just over 6 minutes to play. Last year, without a doubt in my mind, we lose this game. This season, we win because we finally have a GO-TO-GUY!

With the momentum square on the Wolves’ shoulders and with the less than capacity crowd getting louder by the second, Lewis quieted the faithful with not one, not two, but three consecutive three pointers to build the lead to 101-95. The shot he nailed to make it 95-90 proves to be the biggest shot of this early season.

It takes a special player to make shots like that. The NBA is chock full o’ talent. But, when crunch time comes, there are a select few NBA players who will step up in crunch time. There are a select few who have the intestinal fortitude, the chutzpah if you will, to step up and be goat or hero. It takes a special mindset, a certain cockiness, to convince yourself and your teammates that you can rise to the occasion.

Not only do I like the fact that Rashard made those big shots late. I love the fact that he never flinched in taking those shots. Right then and there, at the 5:54 mark of the fourth quarter, I came to the conclusion that we have a guy here in Orlando that we can count on in the fourth quarter. Finally!

Four games do not make a season. Heck we were 13-4 at one point last year. There will be detours and roadblocks up ahead.

But some of those questions I asked about Rashard last week are being answered sooner than I thought.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, November 5, 2007, 11:30 AM

BOMBS AWAY
The roster is virtually the same as last season. The team is not.

A quick look at some early season numbers show that this Magic team is much different than the one we saw last year.

The Magic led the league in turnovers last season at 16.3 per game . This year, through three games, they are tops in the NBA in taking care of the ball at a scant 12 turns a contest. Not bad!

Last season, this team shot a paltry 70% from the free throw line. So far, so good. The Magic are shooting at a clip of 76% at the line through three games. I'll take that number for now.

The only number that concerns me at this point is the offensive rebounding disparity. The Magic are surrendering over 15 offensive rebounds a game...and we're only getting 9 ourselves. That, of course, is a byproduct of starting Rashard and Hedo, two small forwards. It's obvious that, even with one of the best boarders in the game in Dwight, rebounding is gonna be a key issue this season sans Tony Battie.

Drum roll please....Here's the stat that shows up in bright lights: 70 three point field goal attempts through three games!

You read that right. The Orlando Magic have attempted 70 three's so far. (Keep in mind, through the first three games last season, we stroked just 28 three's)

That's an average of 23.3 3-fga per game (We chucked up 30-3's vs. the Wizards).

Last season, the Magic averaged 11.7 three's per game, the third lowest amount of treys in the league.

Now, I must admit, I got a little antsy when we were throwing up three after three in the fourth quarter of the Washington game Saturday night. But, that's the style Coach Van Gundy has chosen for this team. I'd love for us to tuck it up and go to the hole more late in games, but Coach SVG has given his guys the green light if they're open.

Ya live by the sword and die by the sword. Hopefully, we'll do more livin' than dyin' by chuckin' those late game bombs this season.

So, the uniforms are the same. Most of the names are the same. But, the early season numbers show that this Orlando Magic team is much different than the one we saw last year.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Thursday, November 1, 2007, 11:30 AM

NOTES FROM OPENING NIGHT
I am gonna let you in on a little secret: I take notes….lots o' notes during Magic games.

Here are excerpts from my handy dandy notebook quarter-by-quarter from opening night, 2007:

First Quarter
…The Bucks are gonna be better than people think. They have two very good point guards. Redd is an unreal scorer. Mason’s a nice addition. They have problems scoring in the post, but man this Buck team is loaded offensively.

...Rashard looks great…like he really wants to prove something tonight with 10 points in the quarter.

…Looks like it’s gonna be the Lewis-Redd show. Redd has 12. He’s being blanketed by Bogans and Dooling and still gets his shot off.

Second Quarter
…Magic down 41-34 after a Charlie Bell 3-pointer…Uh Oh…

…Sideline guy extraordinaire Dante Marchitelli reports that Stan rips his team, saying that they are not competing and that they are gonna get blown out if they don’t bow up! Good stuff Dante.

…Out of the timeout, the Magic go on an 8-0 run and outscore the Bucks 14-5 the rest of the half. I guess they listened to the coach.

…Dwight dominating…He has a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, but his four blocked shots are altering the look of this game.

…Magic outrebounded 28-20 in the half….Bucks had 12 offensive rebounds. I would imagine that’s gonna be a problem for a Magic team that is, in effect, starting two small forwards.

Halftime
…What’s the deal with the Blue Man Group? Still trying to figure out why they charging $100 a ticket.

Third Quarter
…Wow! This is what Coach Van Gundy envisions: 19-2 run…7-three’s….Outscore ‘em 35-16….GAME OVER!

….Man, Rashard is just a pure scorer. His shot is knuckleball-like, but it goes up soft and usually goes in.

… I don’t know of another team in the world that has two 6-10 versatile, mobile and agile scorers like Rashard and Hedo. They seem to gel on the court, which is even more surprising.

…Dwight dominates the paint defensively…Add three more blocks in the third!

…35-16 in the third.

Fourth Quarter
… Coach Van Gundy is imploring his team not to let down…Don’t worry coach. Game over!

Post
…12 three’s….7 blocks for Dwight…26 points for Rashard…24 for Hedo.

…This team is buying into coach van Gundy’s system very quickly.

…We owe the Pistons!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, October 30, 2007, 10:38AM

IT'S UP TO YOU RASHARD
How many wins do you think the Orlando Magic will notch in this regular season?

The votes are in at WDBO.COM. 54% of you say that the hometown team will win between 46-50 games (20% say the Magic will win 41-45...17% predict 51-plus wins....and just 9% of you predict we win 30-40 games).

My prognostication? 47 wins. That number could be higher. It could be lower. I see the Magic making the playoffs this season. How far? How many wins? See Rashard Lewis.

Here's what I see happening this year:

I see Dwight Howard on the verge of a breakout season. Dwight has improved his all-around game. He's improved his free throw shooting. He's maturing. I sense a sense of urgency this year that I haven't seen from Dwight in the past.

I see Jameer Nelson and Carlos Arroyo playing with more energy and control at the point guard spot.

I see JJ Redick becoming a 3-point force.

I foresee a team with great depth and explosiveness that has bought into the up-tempo game head coach Stan Van Gundy is selling.

I see a good season ahead. How good, is gonna depend upon our $118 million man.

I admit that I just cannot get a read on Rashard yet.

After watching him in training camp and seeing him play just 61 minutes in the pre-season, here's what I know about him:

No question, he's a great talent. He can get his shot off any where at any time. He can shoot the three with a quick-trigger release. He can penetrate and finish. He's incredibly long and can be a force under the boards.

The talent, in droves, is there. But, I must admit I still find myself wondering...

At what point in time will he gel with his teammates? Does Rashard burn to win? Does Rashard Lewis want to become a great player on a great team? Does he understand the pain and sacrifice it takes to be great in this league? Does he have the confidence, and the cockiness, to know that he is the best player on the court each and every night? Can he take over late in a game? Can he be a difference maker come playoff time?

To boil the entire season's success or failure down to one player's production would be unfair. Basketball is very much a team game.

However, Rashard Lewis is the X-Factor this season.

If he becomes a true go-to-guy, this team may just challenge for the Eastern Conference title. If Rashard becomes a nice player who is content on playing in the shadows of others, this team may be bumped from round one of the playoffs for the second straight season.

As unfair as it may be...It's all up to you Rashard!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, , Tuesday, October 23, 2007, 11:15 AM

TICK TOCK
In one week, the Orlando Magic will tip off their 19th NBA season against the Milwaukee Bucks. Here's the multimillion dollar question: will those of you without a ticket get to see opening night?

The simmering battle between FSN Florida and Brighthouse is on the verge of reaching a full-blown boil.

In the off-season, the Magic came to terms on a deal to air 35 games on Fox Sports Net. A total of 42 games are expected to air on the Magic's long time cable partner, Sun Sports. With one game on ESPN (@ Cleveland April 5), that makes 78 of a possible 82 games on TV this season.

At the crux of the issue is the Magic's decision to put those 35 games on Fox Sports Net Florida (FSN Florida and Sun Sports are separate networks but both are owned by Fox). At this late date, FSN is still not carried by Brighthouse Networks. Negotiations, I am told, are ongoing. Brighthouse spins one way...FSN spins another. The Magic continue to say that they hope the cable companies will resolve the issue to meet the needs of Orlando Magic fans.

For their first 18 years of existence, the Magic aired about half their TV schedule on over the air (UHF) stations via the Magic Television Network. MTN is no more. Over the summer, the Magic decided to televise a portion of their schedule on FSN. Twenty-six of the 30 NBA teams now televise at least a portion of their slate on a Fox Sports Regional network. Nearly half the NBA teams no longer provide over-the-air coverage, including our neighbors to the south, the Heat.

Why has over-the-air coverage seemingly gone by way of the dinosaur? For one, cable saturation rates continue to rise. Another reason is that regional sports networks are forking out enormous dollars for sports properties. Yet another reason is that these regional sports networks are able to devote more time and give the team more in-depth coverage than over-the-air stations.

Over-the-air outlets are looking more mainstream to attract ratings these days. Thus, these are the reasons why local sports have largely gone the way of these niche networks.

I don't like the trend. I believe that fans should be able to turn on their TV's, adjust their rabbit ears, and watch their favorite team play ball. However, I guess I have to come to the realization that the good ole days are over. The media is quickly evolving (see Monday Night Football moving from ABC to ESPN). Sports teams like the Magic must adapt to the new media landscape or be overcome. I'm gritting my teeth when I write that I understand why the organization made the move.

Bottom line is that I hope this thing is settled before the opener. I am of the opinion that local fans are always the ones caught in the middle of the business of sports. Starting with Halloween night, three of the first four Magic games are slated for FSN. I don't think that's an accident. I believe the Magic front-loaded their schedule with FSN games to try to prod the two sides to come to terms.

Come on Brighthouse and FSN. Get a deal done! The clock is ticking...

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, , Monday, October 22, 2007, 9:15 AM

MAGIC GETTING THE POINT
Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis are the stars of this Orlando Magic team. They will be our go-to-guys. However, I will go as far to say that this team will go as far as their point guards can take them.

So far, so good.

If you're a Magic fan, you have to love what you see out of our point guards so far.

Jameer Nelson, the starter, has played extremely well in the pre-season. He's averaged 10 points, 5.2 assists and just 1.17 turnovers in five games. Last season, I questioned whether Jameer had those innate play-making skills that all good point guards have.

Perhaps Brian Hill confined Jameer? Maybe, just maybe Stan Van Gundy has given Jameer a better blueprint for success? Or, does the pre-season production have anything to do with Jameer wanting to earn that contract extension prior to the Halloween deadline? Bottom line is that Jameer is play-making for this team, something he didn't do much of last season.

Carlos Arroyo is the best pure point guard on this club, and right now, coach Van Gundy has gotten the most out of his talents. Carlos is actually playing more minutes than Jameer here in the exhibition season, averaging over 9 points, 4.5 assists and under two turnovers per game.

What do all these numbers mean? It means we're getting solid point guard play.

The point guard is the quarterback. When the Q-B plays well, his team plays well. Conversely, when the Q-B plays poorly, his team usually loses.

Last season, this team turned the ball over at an alarming rate. The Magic also had the second worst assist-to-turnover ratio in the NBA. That ain't gonna cut it this year.

The hope is that both Jameer and Carlos will be able to translate their pre-season performances to the regular campaign. I just knocked on wood with my fingers crossed!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, , Tuesday, October 16, 2007, 10:15 AM

I LIKE WHAT I SEE
I will now write something I have been saying for years.

The NBA preseason is too long...too boring...too irrelevant.

Typically, I don't put much credence into what I see in the exhibition season. Veteran starters coast, bench guys get a lion's share of the minutes and coaches customarily yawn through the interminable eight game slate.

However, this preseason is different than any of the other past 18 preseasons in Orlando Magic history.

This year, I'm fighting back instinct. I am putting much more value into what I see in the preseason.

Coach Stan Van Gundy said last week that, between three preseason games, practices and walk-through's, his team had hit the court a total of 21 times. Of those 21 appearances, Stan says he was pleased with 20 of them (the only dud being the preseason debut vs. Atlanta). From the get go, Coach SVG has shifted into hyperspace because of the the new Run and Gundy game plan, the new players, the current China trip and the very difficult early regular season road-heavy schedule.

Stan's Plan was to play his core players considerable preseason minutes. The numbers bear that out: Dwight Howard is playing 27 minutes per game...JJ Redick averages over 29 minutes. As a matter of fact, nine Magic players are playing over 20 minutes per game so far. That's very unusual this time of year.

But the plan appears to be working to perfection. Last year, this team was content on pounding the ball in the half court. Coach SVG set out to change that mind set from the first day of training camp.

Last season, the Magic were 27th in the NBA in scoring, averaging 94.7 points per game. This preseason, the Magic are averaging 106 points per game. The Magic were one of the worst three point shooting teams in the NBA last year. They are shooting 19 three's per game and hitting 44% of those bombs so far.

Now, there's still room for much improvement. The Magic were one of the most turnover-prone clubs in the NBA last season. So far, they're averaging nearly 19 turnovers per game. That number is too high. But considering the new system, that number is acceptable for now. Defensively, the Magic were good last year. I think they're still trying to feel their way through on the defensive end right now.

Again, here in the preseason, the Magic are facing teams who are coasting. Obviously, we've yet to get an opponent's best.

However, looking through the preseason prism, I am seeing a lot of encouraging signs from a Magic team that appears to be on a fast-track for what will hopefully be a fast start.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, , Friday, October 12, 2007, 12:16 AM

DING DONG THE HEAT ARE DEAD
Remember a couple of years ago when rumor had it that Shaquille O'Neal wanted out of L-A? Some of you called in and demanded that the Orlando Magic make a deal for the big fella. At the time, we really didn't have the pieces to make such a deal happen. But even if we did, I believe the organization would have looked the other way.

Thank the basketball gods above we passed.

On the other hand, the Miami Heat could not resist the temptation. They made a deal with the devil...and now they are paying for it with their future!

Not that Shaq's the devil, mind you. I buried my hatchet with the Diesel a long time ago.

But the point is, take a close look at this Heat team. You've got Shaq, D-Wade (on the shelf right now)...and...that's it. It's a roster fulla' nothin'!

Over the summer, the Heat lost the league's leading three point shooter last season, Jason Kapono, to Toronto. Role player James Posey decided to pal with KG, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in Boston. In the ultimate kick in the crotch, Eddie Jones stated publicly that he wanted to sign with a "contender". Jones would take his show to Dallas.

Boss Pat Riley attempted to attract the likes of Milwaukee's Charlie Bell and Mo Williams to South Beach, only to have the Bucks re-sign both those guards. In an act of desperation, Riley gave Penny Hardaway a non-guaranteed deal. So far, if the reports out of Miami are true, Penny will be lacing 'em up in the Houston Recreational League before long.

Therefore, Coach Riley is trying to pull out all the stops. He conducted a midnight practice on the first day of training camp. Afterwards, Heat players slept on mattresses inside the gym to make sure they were ready for the next day's work out.

Point is, the Miami Heat are in dire straits and Riley knows it. Because this is a franchise that is totally handcuffed financially by Shaq's $20 million a year salary, this is a team that is backed up against the league's luxury tax.

Let's call it like it is: Shaquille ain't what he used to be. Sure, due to his sheer size and girth, he still can be dominant. But, these days, those signs of dominance come when the sun and moon are aligned just right. There are a whole lotta miles on those size 22EEE's.

Shaq's missed 65 games the last two seasons. The over and under on games missed this year is 30! He's 35 years old and he's got 3 more years left on a 5 year $100 million contract.

The Heat will be decent this year. Shaq will play his 50 games. Wade will be terrific (if healthy).

But Heat fans, if I were you, I might want catch a glimpse of that 2006 Larry O'Brien Trophy because it's gonna be the last trophy ya get for a long, long time.



Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, , Thursday, October 11, 2007, 9:16 AM

CALL 'EM OUT STAN
Accountability. It's a lost art today. From politics to the work place to seemingly every branch of our society, people are passing the buck like never before.

That's one of the reasons it was incredibly refreshing to hear Stan Van Gundy's post game news conference on Monday night.

I will always be a Brian Hill fan, but the one thing I wished Brian had done more of is, if one of his players had a bad game...if they dogged it...if they disappointed...say it! Let loose and call 'em out! Brian always protected his players. It's a noble thing to do, but I think, if done tactfully, calling guys out can be beneficial in the long run.

Apparently Stan Van Gundy agrees. After his very first preseason game, the new head coach set the tone for his tenure in Orlando.

Stan the Man criticized his team's effort. He went off on his team's unwillingness to run the fast break. Stan even went so far as to call out individual players, saying that JJ Redick, Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, and Keith Bogans failed to run the fast break. He singled out Bogans, who the coach said didn't get back on defense one play. Thus, Stan "bagged" Bogans for the rest of the game. He said countless times that his team's energy level was "not good". Stan exclaimed that Hedo Turkoglu looked "tired" on the court Monday night.

Customarily, athletes despise being called out in public by their coaches. Egos get bruised. Agents get hacked off. Coach-player relationships can become strained. Public attention is heightened. It's one thing if a huckleberry like me calls out a player. But it's a heck of a lot more impactful if the coach does the dirty deed.

We in the media and you fans have become so accustomed to 'coach speak' these days that we now tend to expect innocuous, generalized, boring comments from our athletes and coaches. It's an understandable situation. After all, there's so much media today. There's an incredible amount of attention focused on the athletic arena. And, there's a whole bunch o' money at stake. The fun has been squeezed out of the interview process.

The Stan Van Gundy post game news conference was a breath of fresh air.

Our new coach is holding guys accountable, both in private and in public.

Keep your radios tuned to Magic Rewind this year because post game news conferences have become fun again.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Monday, October 8, 2007, 1:51PM

LET'S GET IT STARTED
So, for those of you coming to the Amway Arena or listening on 580 WDBO tonight, I will now preview what you are going to see and or hear. For those of you not able to make it downtown or listen to Dennis Neumann and Richie Adubato, I am about to tell you what you're gonna miss.

The Atlanta Hawks will wear new uniforms, for one.

The Orlando Magic will wear their same home whites, but won't much resemble the team that stopped playing basketball back on April 28.

What you'll see tonight is a team that will run. They will run after misses. They will run after makes.

This team will shoot the three. Last year, it seemed as if we were allergic to the three point line.

This Magic team will have a guy who can get his shot, seemingly whenever he wants. I realize there's some mystery surrounding our $118 million man, but, believe me, after watching Rashard Lewis in training camp, the kid's a playa! He's long and can rise over most any defender. He's got quick-trigger release. He can get to the hoop and finish. He can shoot the bank shot from the elbow. Rashard wants desperately to make a positive first impression in his Orlando debut. I think he'll do just that.

This Magic team will start #12 at center. Yes, it's Dwight Howard, but not the Dwight who ended his third pro season back in late April. The new and improved Dwight is a kid who's body and game are maturing. Knowing how the Pistons clamped down on him in the playoffs, Dwight has developed a deft shooting touch from 10-15 feet to keep defenses honest. Now, the fear is that he falls in love with the jumper and uses it on a consistent basis. But I don't think our new head coach will give . Dwight's much too valuable under the basket.

This Magic club is led by a first year head coach. I am a Stan Van Gundy fan! Now I know why Charlotte, Indiana and Sacramento were all hot for Stan this past summer. This guy has total control of this team. He's established that Heat-like defensive mindset here. Yet, he's allowing this club the freedom to run and create for itself instead of calling plays every time down the court (at least for now). What you'll see tonight is a guy who's gonna yell and scream. He's gonna flail is arms in disgust. When we have him on our postgame show tonight, he'll barely have a voice. You're gonna get a treat watching him on the sideline.

You will see defense, and plenty of it...and if a guy slacks, said guy will find himself on the bench. You will see starters get upwards of 30 minutes of action.

With the China trip looming next week, and with a very difficult early season schedule on the horizon, there's no choice. This team must come together quickly by playing the preseason with a sense of urgency.

So while the Magic uniforms will be the same, some of the players, the coaches, and the style of play will be quite different.

Season #19 of Orlando Magic basketball is here. Let's get it started!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, October 2, 2007, 9:45AM

TRAINING CAMP NOTES
1. I love our new head coach! What's there not to love? Stan Van Gundy is a straight shooter, unpretentious and comfortable in his own skin. The coach is demanding, yet fair. He's energetic, loud and demonstrative. I just don't see how the man will have his voice by the end of the week. On nights when our team has nothing in the tank, at least it will be enjoyable to watch Stan's sideline machinations. Can't say enough about how Coach Van Gundy, from whistle number one, has set the tone for this training camp. He's preached defensive intensity and concentration, limiting turnovers and running from the get-go. He won't hesitate to come down hard on a player during practice. He also will be quick to praise a guy for making a good play. Billy Who? Looks to me as if we got the better NBA coach!

2. Rashard Lewis. There's still much mystery to a kid who played in relative obscurity over the last eight years. What little I have seen of him this week has been very positive. He's listed at 6-10, and is every bit that tall and lanky. Rashard has had to learn the small forward and power forward positions in camp, but the learning curve has not been as steep as you might think. He's a quick learner. The one thing that jumps out about Rashard is that he's a pure scorer. He can shoot the three. He can slash through the lane and finish. Can he become our go-to-guy late in a pressure packed game? Jury's still out. Defensively, he, along with his teammates, are gonna have to up the intensity in Stan's system. Rashard is a good kid. His personality fits nicely on this team.

3. Dwight Howard. He looks great! Dwight is even more of a physical specimen this year. Adonal Foyle is beating him up a little bit during scrimmages, but that's good. That's what Adonal is supposed to do. Dwight has not gotten a whole lotta touches in early scrimmages. But everyone knows he will be the primary focus when the real deal starts on Halloween.

4. JJ Redick. JJ's rookie season was marred by foot and back injuries and Brian Hill's doghouse. The new year and the new coaching staff seems to have given JJ new life. It's obvious the kid worked out all off season. He's improved his lateral quickness and his strength. What broken right hand? The kid is as confident as ever in what has to be one of the picturesque outside shots in the history of the game. He hit a couple of big treys near the end of Monday's 52-52 scrimmage. The kid is fearless and is earning playing time at what is a wide open shooting guard spot.

5. The Jameer Nelson-Carlos Arroyo duel. As they did last year in Jacksonville, these guys are going at it again. It's a good natured competition for that starting point guard spot. Coach Van Gundy has let it be known to both players, (you can include Keyon Dooling in on this) that they must pump up their defensive intensity, tone down their turnovers and stop pounding the ball on the perimeter. They seem to be getting it. All three of these players have been very aggressive so far in camp.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, September 29, 2007, 4:54PM

OUCH!
Summer's over. I am so ready to hear the bounce of the ball again. Sure, we lost Billy Donovan and Darko Milicic. But, heck, we gained Stan Van Gundy, Rashard Lewis, Adonal Foyle and a new arena.

To say the least, it was an eventful off season. Some good. Some not so good.

Unfortunately, the off season just got a lot more eventful. Tony Battie is likely out for the 2007-2008 NBA season.

The Magic's projected starting power forward suffered a small tear in his left rotator cuff in workouts a couple of weeks ago. Tony made the Grant Hill-like trek to Duke earlier this week to get a second opinion, but he'll likely have surgery, which would end his season before it ever began. Tony would be smart to have the surgery, because, if he tries to play, he could further damage the shoulder which could cause him to miss more than this season.

This is a huge loss, both on the court and off.

Tony started 66 games last season, averaging 6 points and 5 rebounds in 24 minutes per game.

Now, ya say 6 and 5...and we're gonna miss him, Anez?

Absolutely! Tony Battie is the consummate pro. Quite possibly, what Tony adds OFF the court will be missed more than what he brings TO the court.

Tony is a team leader. When he speaks, guys listen.

Tony plays hurt. He sends a message to his teammates to do the same.

Tony does the little things to win games. He boxes out, which is a lost art nowadays. He uses up his fouls so Dwight doesn't have to. He defends and rebounds. He talks on the court. He has a high basketball IQ.

Tony doesn't complain. He goes about his business in a professional manner.

Tony tutors Dwight. That will be sorely missed.

Tony is one of the elder statesman of this team. Ditto.

While you'll never see him on ESPN's Top Ten Plays, Tony Battie is one of those guys who can transform a good team into a great team because of his professionalism and attention to detail.

Now that Tony's gone, what's the plan?

Well, that Adonal Foyle free agent pickup looms large, doesn't it? You can project Foyle in as our starting power forward, though Coach Van Gundy is expected to go small early and often, utilizing the likes of Lewis, Hedo and Trevor in what will be a very versatile lineup.

Meantime, GM Otis Smith will work the Blackberry, searching for another big. Slim pickins out there. We still have that veteran's minimum salary available. The $1.2 mil is likely not enough to attract the likes of PJ Brown or Chris Webber. Otis will explore an injury salary exception with the NBA. However, odds are better for you to win the lottery AND get struck by lightning than for the league to grant injury exceptions.

Meantime, training camp begins sans Tony Battie.

This hurts...This really hurts.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, September 25, 2007, 10:15AM

TEN QUESTIONS
I love this time of year!

NBA training camp. Suicides...on-court scuffles...muscle soreness...the smell of FlexAll...free media food.

Come late September, every one of the 30 NBA clubs believes that they have a legitimate shot at being the last one standing come June.

Later this week, the Orlando Magic open camp at the RDV Sportsplex in Maitland.

Going into the opening of two-a-days Saturday, let's play Ten Questions:

1...How will this team respond to Coach Stan Van Gundy and his staff? I can tell you that he'll have this team's attention in camp. Heck, every first year coach does. But there's always that get-to-know-you period a team must maneuver. I get the feeling that SVG's players will get to know, admire and respect the affable, tough-minded new leader very quickly.

2...How long will it take Rashard Lewis to mesh with new teammates, a new system and a new town? This is the first time he's had to adjust to new surroundings. I don't foresee any issues.

3...Will 21 year old Dwight Howard take over more of a leadership role in camp? Heck, this is Dwight's fourth year. He's a seasoned pro. We need a leader! His playful personality is not exactly conducive to him transforming into General Patton overnight. But Dwight's an All Star. He's an Olympian. He's the best player on this team and one of the best in the game. To whom much is given, much is expected.

4...What will camp be like without #33? It's the first camp in eight years minus Grant Hill on the roster. As much as I love GHill, I must admit that I'm kinda looking forward to a dark cloud being lifted off of this franchise.

5...Where does Hedo Turkoglu fit in on this team? With Rashard likely our starting small forward come Halloween, where does that leave Hedo? Can he play the power forward spot? How about the two?

6...How do all these interchangeable pieces fit? We'll get an inkling in camp. Rashard can play three positions. Hedo's versatile. So is Ariza. Gonna be fun to see how it all shakes out.

7...How is JJ Redick's right hand? JJ mysteriously broke a bone in the hand earlier this summer. With that shooting guard spot up for the taking, JJ can ill-afford a second straight sluggish start due to injury.

8...Will someone please take over that shooting guard spot? JJ, Keith Bogans and Keyon Dooling will all be vying for the position. Budding star Trevor Ariza, I'm sure, will be in the mix. Who wants it more?

9...What can we make out of our point guard spot? The coaching staff believes that Jameer Nelson will turn it over less and score more this season because of the new early offensive strategy.

10...What will Jameer's mood be after losing his father earlier this month? Floyd "Pete" Nelson raised a tough kid. I get the feeling that Jameer will use his father's passing as a motivator this season.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, September 19, 2007, 11:20AM

DON'T SAY NO TO BO
Earlier this summer, a bunch of us ole fat guys got together at noon time for a little lunch time basketball at the RDV Sportsplex. As we finished up the first game, who comes running out onto the court? None other than the Clown Prince of Basketball, Charles Bo Outlaw.

To know the affable Bo is to know that this guy will take any opportunity he can to ball! Whether he's playing against the best players in the world or going up vs. the shortest, fattest, slowest competition there ever was, Bo just loves playing the game.

So, on this particular day, Bo decides he wants to guard yours truly. Sure, I give up about a foot and 50 lbs. to the man. But I didn't mind because, even though he'll never admit it, Bo usually eases up on us scrubs and lets me hit my first shot.

Well, that theory flew out the window when it got to be game point. 10-10, game to 11. Bo decides he's gonna win the game. He backs me down under the hoop. I'm thinkin' that the only way I'm gonna stop him is to try to rake the ball out of his hands as he goes up for the shot (What in the world made me think that a 40-something midget could pry the ball out the hands of one of the strongest men in the NBA?). I wind up and swing down on the ball as hard as I can... The next thing I hear is SNAP, CRACK, POP!

Broken right hand. I'm outta action for two months. What hurt even more was that Bo made the game winning shot! In typical Bo fashion, he was very apologetic. That's Bo. Wasn't his fault but he apologized anyway.

Next week, Bo Outlaw comes to Magic training camp without a guaranteed contract.

Sure, the best years of his career are behind the 36-year-old vet. Yet, the intangibles he brings to this club are invaluable.

He's still a team leader...He's low maintenance and high energy...He's a great locker room guy...He's beloved in the community...He can still give this team quality minutes off the bench...He's a positive influence on Dwight Howard...He's the first one to practice and the last one to leave...He keeps this team loose with his pleasant and playful demeanor...He's got a high basketball IQ...Bo can still defend, rebound and play defense, the cornerstones of what Coach Van Gundy hopes to bring to this team.

I want Bo back on this Magic team this season. Not just because I want another 'crack' at him on the court, but because I truly believe Bo can contribute to a winning season and beyond. Make him our 15th man. Guarantee him a contract for this season. He'll help us win.

To me, Bo Outlaw IS the Orlando Magic.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.>
Posted by Scott Anez, September 7, 2007, 9:21AM

GOOD RIDDANCE DARKO
Disgusting...Distasteful...Despicable...Nauseating...Revolting...Sick!

These are just a few of the words that describe former Magic player Darko Milicic's actions recently.

After being in this business for a while, I will admit to you that I have become jaded. Nothing tends to surprise or amaze me anymore. However, what I just saw and read on the internet literally frightened me.

Earlier this week, Darko's Serbia team would be upset by Greece in the European Championships 68-67 in overtime. After the hardfought game, the media caught up with an emotional Darko to ask him about the close loss.

I'd like to translate Darko's interview for you but what was said was so incredibly threatening and repulsive that I refuse to re-print the filth that spewed from Darko's mouth. I can tell you that Darko's angry outburst toward to the referees was nothing I had ever heard before. He cursed. He threatened the refs. He degraded their mothers and their daughters. Let's leave it at that.

Darko would be fined 10,000 Euro for his bizarre antics.

The comments would even make our American rap music industry cringe. The matter of fact fashion in which he made the lewd rant...The crazed look in his eyes. It was downright scary.

When salary cap issues led to Darko taking his show to Memphis earlier this summer, I, along with many a Magic fan, was disappointed. With his seven foot frame, his deft shooting touch and shot blocking ability, the enigmatic Darko had shown the potential to become a very good NBA player. I thought that maybe, just maybe, as he felt more comfortable in a foreign country and in his own skin, that he would open up and shake that dreary disposition that he had been become known for in his young NBA career.

The maturation process is one thing. Being mentally and emotionally unstable is another.

What I saw and heard from Darko Milicic earlier this week was the voice of a lost soul who is just not right. The kid needs help.

I wish him well. But, thankfully, this not our problem anymore.

Good luck Memphis Grizzlies...and good riddance Darko!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, September 4, 2007, 1:10PM

WALKIN' WITH MAX
As I am walking my dog Max, my mind tends to wander...

...What's the meaning of life?

...What's my purpose in life?

...How do I get that HDMI cable to be compatible with the DVI knowing that I need support from the HDCP to get HDTV?

I digress.

...I saw that some of our Magic players are getting geared up for the long NBA season by boxing. Great...Terrific...Fabulous. Let's see here. We finish as one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the NBA. We were one of the most turnover-prone teams in the league. We had the second least assists in the league and scored the fourth least points of any team. And we're throwing jabs and uppercuts?

...Did Ali run suicides and shoot free throws to get ready for the Thrilla in Manilla?

...Actually, conditioning is extremely important and boxing is a great way to build stamina. But if we really want to get serious about this I've got a great idea. Let's go pay-per-view...UFC rules...Keyon vs. Trevor in the Octagon...Going by Keyon's performance against Ray Allen a couple of seasons ago, my money's on Trevor! Sorry for the low blow Keyon.

...Here's the joke of the day. Tell it around the water cooler and I assure you'll get plenty o' knee slaps. "The MVP of the FIBA Americas Tournament is Argentina's Luis Scola!" Oh man I can barely catch my breath...

...Hey, Lou Ferrigno, didn't you used to be Dwight Howard?

...Man, Dwight must have bought two tickets to the Vegas Gun Show this summer. I haven't seen arms like that since Moscow's May Day, 1972.

...Did ya see the Magic's slogan for 2007-2008: THE TIME IS NOW be BOLD be BLUE!Catchy. I like it.

...Have you spotted the Seattle Sonics' motto for the coming season yet? THE TIME IS NOW TO BILK AS MANY SEASON TICKET HOLDERS AS WE POSSIBLY CAN BEFORE WE PACK UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AND MOVE TO OKLAHOMA CITY. Needless to say, I was not a marketing major.

And on a very somber note: Jameer Nelson's dad, Floyd "Pete" Nelson, passed away last week. I have heard from countless Magic fans who want me to express their condolences. Thoughts and prayers from the entire Magic Nation are with you, Jameer.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, August 28, 2007, 11:00AM

WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET
With the signing of Polish center Marcin Gortat, General Manager Otis Smith checked off the final task on his summer to-do list this week. So, with 14 contracts heading into 2007-2008, what you see on the current roster is what you're gonna get come September 29.

Coach Van Gundy, it's up all up to you now brotha!

Let's take a snapshot of this Magic team as we head toward training camp.

Point Guards: Jameer Nelson, Carlos Arroyo and Keyon Dooling.

Magic brass believes that Jameer will rebound this season under Coach Stan, who hopes to take pressure off his point guard with his early offense. We need Jameer to take over a leadership role with this club. Coach Van Gundy is a Keyon fan, having coached him at Miami. Expect to see Keyon playing more of a role as a backup point. Carlos is a great talent. The hope here is that the new coaching staff is able to tap into consistency from Carlos. The point guard spot is definitely a concern heading into camp. We need more heady play, play-making and on-ball defensive pressure from our point guards this year.

Question: Can Jameer start creating for his teammates?

Shooting Guards: Keith Bogans, JJ Redick, Trevor Ariza.


If the glass is half empty in your world, you view two guard spot as a potential problem area. If you're Joel Glass, well, you look at this position as being stocked with versatility. Bogans had a falling out with Coach Brian Hill last year. But he's another guy who gets a reprieve under the new coaching staff. Bogans is a tough minded defender who could be the starter come Halloween night. JJ's gonna get a lot more love this year but I just don't see him becoming a full time starter. Trevor will see some time at the 2 as well because, frankly, he's our best defender. Hedo Turkoglu may also get some p-t at the two, but I have my doubts about him defending that position. The two guard spot has great versatility, but with Grant Hill moving west, this is have to be gonna be shooting guard by committee this season.

Question: Can JJ become the offensive weapon we think he can be?

Small Forwards: Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, Trevor Ariza, Pat Garrity.

Without a doubt, this is the most fortified small forward position in the NBA. Lewis is the guy, but again, there's much versatility here. Lewis and Hedo can play the power forward position if need be. Lewis can also play the 2. Depending on matchups, so can Ariza. Hedo was on the trading blocks over the summer but will be back after a down year last season. This position will certainly be a strength.

Question: Can Rashard become the go-to-guy we desperately crave?

Power Forwards: Tony Battie, James Augustine, Marcin Gortat.

I have a lot of respect for Tony. He is a warrior. But, he's not cut out to play 30-plus minutes per game anymore. With Darko now in Memphis, the pickup of free agent Adonal Foyle was huge. Foyle will back up both Battie and Dwight down low. Augustine is young and energetic but still has a long way to go. Gortat brings the bulk. But, again, he's young, green and will have to learn the NBA game on the fly. As good as Dwight is, the power forward spot is more than adequate.

Question: Can we keep Tony Battie healthy and relatively fresh this season?

Centers: Dwight Howard, Adonal Foyle.

Have you seen Dwight in the FIBA Americas tourney yet? He looks like a monster! Granted, Dwight is still shooting bricks at the free throw line. But, playing alongside the likes of Jason Kidd and Kobe Bryant will undoubtedly rub off on the young 21 year old phenom. The addition of Foyle adds a much needed low-post defender and shot blocker to the club.

Question: Coach Ewing, can you help Dwight develop an 8-10 foot jumper to keep defenses honest?

So, there ya go. A snapshot of the 2007-2008 Orlando Magic.

Coach Van Gundy, win or tie, we're with you....

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Friday, August 3, 2007, 9:33AM

THE NBA SCHEDULE BLUES
Have you checked out the Orlando Magic's schedule for 2007-2008 yet?

What do ya think?

I don't like it!

What's there not to like, you say? The schedule doesn't matter because every team plays one another at some point, right?
Well, you have to dig deeper when looking at an NBA schedule.
There are two aspects of the schedule that should be highlighted and red-lettered.

1...When do those dreaded western road trips come?

2...How many back-to-backs does the club have to play?

I will amend this list to include a third aspect: 3...Pre-season overseas trips.

While it is honor of the highest regard to represent the NBA overseas, I just as soon not have to head to China for the pre-season.

The Magic will play two games against Cleveland in October and one game vs. a Chinese club before coming back home. As a result of the China trip, the NBA will allow the Magic to open training camp a few days early, September 29 to be exact.

Back in 1993 I accompanied the Magic to London where for a couple of October games against the Atlanta Hawks. It was a great trip. My wife and I saw the sights, took alotta pictures, ate alotta cold food and drank warm beer. But these preseason trips are routine-breakers. They are physically and mentally draining. It's hard to imagine a trip halfway around the world not having some sort of negative affect on the this team at some point early in the regular season.

Matt Winick, the NBA's schedule maker extraordinaire, apparently didn't get the memo that we deserved a little early season love . 20 of the Magic's first 33 games are on the road. Ouch!

Customarily, this franchise has requested getting its western road trips out of the way early. But, that first trip to Portland, Seattle, Phoenix, the Lakers and Golden State comes at the end of November, after playing eight of 11 away from home. That's just cruel and unusual!

The second western trip comes in early January when we head to Sacramento, LAC, Denver and Utah. How is it that, coming off that trip, we come home for one game, Chicago on January 15, then have to load up the team plane for a trek to Charlotte, Memphis and Detroit? What's even more bizarre is that there's one week separating the Charlotte and Memphis games.

Back to backs? There are 20 of them. That's not an inordinate amount of back to back games. But, why are we loaded up near the beginning of the season? Nine of the 20 come in the first 33 games.

So, Coach Van Gundy had better have the troops ready when the rubber hits the road. If we can survive the brutal early season, the slate lightens up come the final three months. The Magic have a five game homestand in February. We play ten of 14 at home in March and end the season with three consecutive home games.

If the Magic can just just keep their heads above that .500 watermark the first half of the season, let's hope we're primed for a second half run.

No thanks to mean ole Mr. Winick!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Wednesday, August 1, 2007, 10:53AM

DON'T PUNCH THE BIG TICKET JUST YET
I love what the Boston Celtics have have accomplished this off season. Over two decades after it won its last NBA Championship, the most hallowed franchise in NBA history has become relevant again.

But don't crown the Celtics Kings of the East just yet!

In one of the biggest NBA deals ever, ten time all star and former league MVP Kevin Garnett is dealt to Beantown for five players, including Al Jefferson, and two future first's. Garnett joins fellow all stars Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in what Celtic fans are calling second coming of The Big Three.

Does the balance of power shift from West to East? No. Not yet anyway. San Antonio, Phoenix and Dallas are still the class of the league. But with KG and Allen now in Boston, and with Rashard Lewis moving from Seattle to Orlando, the landscape of the Eastern Conference is altered for the better.

A rising tide lifts all boats, so every team in the east gets better. This particular trade adds a marquee team to the east AND to the media rich northeast part of the country. Star studded teams are fun to watch, fun to play against, fun to beat and great for the scope of the league.

Safe to say that we'll be seeing an awful lot of the Boston Celtics on national TV next season.

In the NBA today, the popular thought is that teams must assemble two stars to have any shot at a title. It's virtually impossible to assemble three players of star caliber because of NBA salary cap restraints. Well, the Celtics are putting conventional wisdom to the test with the arrival of Boston's "new" Big Three.

Keep in mind, the cap for the coming year is $55.63 million. Next season, KG, Allen and Pierce will haul in a cool $56 mil.

After trading half their team in the Garnett deal, how are the Celtics going to add the necessary pieces around these guys to make a serious run at a title?

As we speak, we're talking about Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins as the "other" Celtic starters. Off the bench, the C's currently have scrubs like Brian Scalabrine, Tony Allen and Leon Powe. I don't care if you give me Father, Son and Holy Spirit as my three mega-starters, that supporting cast just ain't ready for prime time!

Look back upon the Celtic glory years of the '80's. The 'original 'Big Three', Bird, McHale and Parish, was flanked by guys like Tiny Archibald (Hall of Famer), Chris Ford, Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge and Bill Walton. All of them were very good players. All of them played their roles to perfection.

Point is, it takes a village to win NBA championships. Ya have to have the stars, but those stars must be aligned and supported.

The Boston Celtics are becoming an attraction again. That's great for the NBA.

But let's hold off, for now, on plans for a victory parade.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, Tuesday, July 31, 2007, 10:02AM

JOB WELL DONE
Do you realize how close the Magic were to leaving Orlando?

One vote...one scant Orange County Commission swing vote would have swung the Magic toward St. Louis, or Kansas City or Louisville.

Thankfully, we'll never have to go there thanks in large part to the efforts of Alex Martins.

I would go as far to say that if the Magic had not rehired Alex two years ago, we, today, would be lamenting the eventual loss of major league sports in Orlando.

Mayors Buddy Dyer and Rich Crotty can hug and kiss and sing Kumbaya all they want. No doubt, the mayors were instrumental in getting this venues deal done. But, I primarily credit the Magic's Chief Operating Officer with gaining a new events center, a new performing arts center and a refurbished Citrus Bowl for Orlando.

The Citrus folks, the arts folks, the Orlando Predators...they should all get in line to kiss the man's feet!

During the first arena chase back in 2000 and 2001, the Magic attempted to bulldoze their way toward a new building. The Titanic's maiden voyage was more successful.

I remember being on the front line each and every night on WDBO's Inside Magic, trying as hard as I could to convince skeptical locals that the time was now to build a new arena. I started an ill-fated "Save The Magic" campaign. The Magic took hit after hit and so did I. I still have the scars to prove it. Orlando was simply not ready to talk about a new arena. We were not ready to look in depth at the realities of Orange County's tourist tax. We were just not unified enough to broach the topic of new venues back then.

Then, the tragedy of 9-11 hit home, giving the Magic an out and sending them back to the drawing board.

Enter Alex Martins in June of 2005.

Alex was rehired to, in effect, reconnect with the community.

He had served in a senior level management capacity in Orlando from 1989-1998, before moving on to front office jobs with the New Orleans Hornets, the Cleveland Browns and the Tavistock Group.

When I heard that the Magic had rehired Alex, I was pumped because he was here during the expansion years. He was part of an organizational culture that put a huge emphasis on building relationships and connecting with the business community.

That was the blueprint for putting this venues deal together.

There aren't many people who could have done what Alex did in getting this thing done.

He reestablished relationships within the business community. He got Disney, Universal, Sea World and other tourist industry heavy hitters on board the venues parade. He convinced politicos in Orange County and Orlando that the venues were worth doing. He paired a new arena and remade Citrus Bowl with the arts which, all of a sudden, led certain local columnists to make an about face in their claims that public dollars shouldn't be spent in private enterprise. Incredibly, he unified city and county, something that just has not happened with any sort of frequency over the years. He made Mayors Dyer and Crotty believe that their legacies would be tied to the venues vote. He educated you and me as to why Orlando needed these venues and how we were going to pay for them. Quite frankly, he gave more than he had to give, but he got the deal done!

He executed a masterful plan to perfection.

Thanks to Alex Martins, the Orlando Magic will be here for a long, long time.

Job well done!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, July 25, 2007, 9:56AM

THE PERFECT STORM
It's the perfect storm in the three major league sports, a confluence of controversy that is unprecedented. I don't ever remember three burning scandals like these going on at the same time.

The NBA, NFL and Major League baseball are all under fire.

In the NFL, the Michael Vick dogfighting story continues to rock the league.

Atlanta Falcon owner Arthur Blank wanted to suspend Vick for the first four games of the season, but Commissioner Roger Goodell stepped in and said that he wants to get more information before making a move.

I suspect that Vick will be suspended, possibly for the entire year. Remember, Vick has not been convicted, yet, but I believe the nature of the allegations and the fact that the NFL has been rocked for players' off-the-field conduct plays a key role here.

To the NBA, where Commissioner David Stern says this is the most serious situation he's ever experienced. Stern was referring to the FBI's claim that ex-ref Tim Donaghy bet on NBA games.

The Commissioner says he believes that Donaghy was a rogue ref, but does not know for sure yet if any other NBA official was involved.

He'd better hope not.

Then there's Major League Baseball, where the most hallowed record in all of American sports is on the verge of being broken by a player who most consider to be a cheater, Barry Bonds.

There's a new story that came out recently. The chemist who invented the now infamous so-called clear steroid cream tells HBO that he believes that Bonds and Detroit's Gary Sheffield took performance enhancing drugs.

People smarter than I are speculating whether stories like these are the death knell of major league sports in America?

I don't believe that. These sports are much too ingrained in our culture.

But there's no doubt stories like these erode the integrity of sport, especially the baseball and basketball scandals. Cheating and fixing games go straight to the heart of what people believe they are witnessing. We all expect honest competition. That's the main reason we are drawn to sport.

In the NBA's case, I think it will eventually be proved that Donaghy was indeed a rogue ref and that no players were involved in the scandal. The NBA will rebound. If there ARE more refs, and, gasp, a player or two involved, I will gladly alter my opinion. However, the more I learn about this Donaghy character, the more I believe that this was a bad guy with a nasty gambling habit who got involved with the wrong people.

What that stated, scandals like this add to the growing cynicism of sports fans today. I have seen a huge transformation over the last 10 years or so. People have become incredibly cynical, and rightfully so. Sports figures, whether they are players, owners or refs, like it or not, are held to a higher standard. When that standard is compromised, the cynicism snowballs. It's just not good for sport. But, this is a byproduct of the scandals that pop up all too frequently. Sport is at least partly to blame for our attitudes.

Will these most recent scandals be the death knell of the big three? No. I don't believe that. But, stories like these certainly erode the integrity of competition and add to the growing cynicism we sports fans are spewing these days.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, July 23, 2007, 1:06PM

NBA Not Teetering on the Abyss
What in the name of Mendy Rudolph and Jack Madden is going on here?

I have read the same doom and gloom forecasts you have read. Columnists from Boston to Seattle are predicting the end of NBA days due to the feds' accusation that referee Tim Donaghy bet on basketball games.

Contrary to the apocalyptic chatter, the NBA is not teetering on the abyss. The NBA will survive and become stronger because of this. In the meantime, the league is gonna take several well deserved body blows.

This scandal brings to light the fact that NBA referees, for years, have operated under a cloud of suspicion. Due to the Donaghy saga, that cloud is developing into a full blown hurricane.

I have friends who, for years, have written off the NBA because they believe that the fix is in. They are convinced that the league office, via the officials, dictates who wins and who loses. I proceed to tell them that I have covered this league for close to 20 years and I have never ever seen any proof of book cookin'. Point is, even though I don't put any credence into what I believe is nonsense, perception becomes reality in the minds of some. Stories like the Donaghy scandal further erode fan confidence and legitimize conspiracy theorists' beliefs that the fix is in.

That's not a good thing for the league. It's certainly not a good thing for NBA referees.

I have to admit, I am not a big fan of NBA officials. I think some of them need to realize that NBA fans don't fork out hefty jack to watch them ref. It's to a point where most of them have become so belligerent and downright rude. At times, I wonder where the league is getting its officials. Some of them have no command. No presence. No clue.

Now, I realize that the NBA can be a very unreferee-able game. If officials go by the book, they could conceivably whistle 10 fouls every possession. Players are bigger, faster and stronger. The game is so physical. That's why you have refs picking and choosing fouls by reputation. This is why refs in the NBA have more control over the game than officials in any other sport.

With that said, I don't believe NBA officials are doing their jobs as effectively as they should.

Was Donaghy a rogue ref? Was he conspiring with other refs? Were there, gasp, players involved in the gambling scandal?

Those questions have yet to be determined.

Meantime, the league's referees have much public relations work to do to try to convince an increasingly suspicious fan base that they are playing by the rules.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, July 20, 2007, 9:36AM

While I Was Away...
It's the kiss of death. Seems that whenever I go on vacation, Two Magic Place erupts with activity. So here's the post mortem about the recent goings on...

* GM Otis Smith rolled the die on Darko and came up snake eyes. Am I disappointed that the enigmatic seven-footer won't be in a Magic uniform next season? Yes. Is Memphis' gain an earth shattering loss for us? No. Darko's a great talent, but it's gonna take a special coach to extract any sort of passion and determination from the surly Serb. Coach Iavaroni, you're up.

* Man, it was amazing to read the columns condemning the free agent signing of Rashard Lewis. Otis got grilled, fried and blackened nationally. Sure, we overpaid Lewis. But, goodness, if we don't max him out, there's a handful of salivating clubs lined up in back of us who would have forked out the cash willingly. The Magic needed to make a splash in free agency. We did exactly what we needed to do.

* With that stated, I was not born in Missouri, but I would love for Rashard to 'show me'. Can Lewis become the go-to-guy we so desperately need? Can he step his game up defensively? After playing in Ray Allen's shadows, can this kid carry a club at times and make his teammates better? No pressure, 'Shard. We don't expect you to be a savior. But we DO expect you to take this team to the next level and beyond.

* It was a no-brainer to sign Dwight Howard to that contract extension. I am convinced that the kid will lead us to multiple NBA titles one day. Here's what I'd love to see D-12 work on for next season: 1. Free throws 2. Play angrier

3. Diversify the low post moves 4. Develop a nice 10-12 foot shot to keep defenses honest. 5. Free throws. No pressure, Coach Ewing.

* I read where JJ Redick impressed Coach Van Gundy during the Pepsi Summer League. I knew he would. JJ has the look of a choir boy but has the grit of a pit bull. Sure, he's a bit defensively challenged at the NBA level. But that's where good coaching comes in handy. Coach V-G must find a way to hide JJ's defensive deficiencies and get this kid into games early and often.

* I am happy for Travis Diener. He's agreed to a three year pact with the Pacers. Wow...THREE years for the Fond du Lac half-pint? Yeah...It shocked me too. Larry Bird might be having a Jerry Sichting flashback. Regardless, you'll be missed Travis!

* I was wrong. Steve Francis' NBA career is not dead. It's merely on life support. After being paid $30 million to walk away from Portland, Steve-Oh is taking his show back to Houston. Ironic that, back in '04, Francis was traded to Orlando for T-Mac. Now, the two are T-Mates.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, July 16, 2007, 10:20AM

AN OPEN LETTER TO ORANGE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
Dear Commissioners:

I am writing to implore you to make the right decision on July 26.

Commissioners Fernandez, Stewart, Segal, Moore, Jacobs, Brummer and Mayor Crotty, you will decide the fate of Orlando.

Is this community forward thinking with a vision for a promising future....OR will you confirm the naysayers' argument that Orlando is nothing but a backward, one-horse town that operates at tourism's whim?

It's totally up to you.

Commissioners, it's time. The time is NOW to build first-class community venues for us, the residents of central Florida.

I implore you to say yes to a new arena, a new performing arts center and a renovated Citrus Bowl.

I have made central Florida my home now for over 27 years and I have seen our area make great strides. Back in 1989, we truly became a major league city when the Orlando Magic started playing NBA basketball here.

I have covered the Orlando Magic organization from the very beginning and I have seen this franchise become such a vital piece of the fabric of our town. I also can tell you that I believe there is no finer ownership in all of professional sports in terms of community involvement. The DeVos group bleeds integrity and truly cares about Orlando. On an annual basis, the Magic give more than $2 million to our community in the way of events, tickets, merchandise,scholarships and grants.

The Magic say they will contribute over $135 million towards construction and operations toward a new events center. The club has also committed $10 million towards the construction of a performing arts center.

If you look closely, the Magic's contribution to a new arena dwarfs any other pro sports team in a similar sized market.

The Orlando Magic are operating in good faith. I ask you to do the same, commissioners.

Your job is not easy. I realize most people would very much like to tackle such pressing issues as rising crime, failing schools and improving roads. We all want to live in a safer place, where education is paramount and travel is made easier.

However, the venues project is about more than the physical structures that would be built. It's about Orlando's future as nothing less than a top tier city. It's about adding culture to our area. It's about becoming a major player in the college football landscape. It's about keeping the Magic in Orlando. It's about making Orlando a greater place to live.

The Magic organization has gone out of its way not to state the obvious. But, it's obvious that the bottom line is that if you vote no on July 26, the NBA will cease to exist in Orlando. That would be a shame because I don't see us becoming a major league town again in my lifetime. The NBA will not come back. The NFL has saturated the state of Florida. Major League Baseball just has not been successful here. This is the only chance we have to be in the major leagues.

Commissioners, I realize that you are getting much heat from local hoteliers to build a new arena in the International Drive area. I plead with you not to sign off on what would be a monumental mistake!

Tourism put our town on the map. It's responsible for many benefits to our area, including no state taxes. However, a new arena would be for those who live, work and raise our families here. I deal with many people in our community and I can tell you I have not heard from one person who believes that putting an arena in tourist-town is a good idea. The downtown venue is a much preferred central location and would be a much needed boon to our city.

Commissioners, I realize that this is a very complex issue. I appreciate the due diligence you have given the venues project.

Now, we await your decision on July 26. I sincerely hope that you make the right decision for our hometown and for our hometown team.

Sincerely,

Scott Anez

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, July 5, 2007, 2:09PM

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE
Over the last few days, I have wracked my little pea brain to figure out what Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith is trying to do this summer. If I've got it right...and if it all comes to fruition, we should all petition the Commissioner to hand Otis the NBA's Executive of the Year Award right now.

Remember when Otis told me a few weeks ago that he was going to have to get very creative this summer? He wasn't kidding. He is literally trying to pull off some street magic that Criss Angel Mindfreak and David Blaine would envy.

Don't quote me but here's what I think is going on here....

Get a scorer. If you believe in verbal agreements, Otis has accomplished that goal by coming to terms with Rashard Lewis.

Now, I think that Otis would have liked to get a deal done for Darko Milicic first. However, because Lewis was drawing high interest in other NBA locales, it looks to me as if the GM's hand was forced. He had to act quickly if he wanted Rashard's services. He did just that.

So, Otis gets the crown jewel. But now, things get really jumbled in terms of salary cap in trying to get Darko Milicic signed.

Some of you bloggers are likely much better capologists than I. My eyes tend to gloss over whenever I hear the phrase "base year compensation". But, despite the inflammatory comments of Marc Cornstein recently, I truly believe Otis wants to re-sign Darko.

After Lewis and the Magic agreed on a deal, Otis had to act quickly because they didn't want Darko suddenly accepting their qualifying offer. If that had happened, the Lewis agreement would have gone the way of Billy Donovan.

So then, much to Marc Cornstein's chagrin, the Magic were forced to pull Darko's qualifying offer and renounce his rights, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Here's what I believe the plan is:

Acquire Rashard Lewis in a sign and trade with Seattle. In return, the Magic would send a few players with expiring contracts (possibly Garrity and Arroyo and maybe Dooling) to the Sonics. In such a deal, we could get back roughly $8 million in cap to sign Darko. However, this plan hinges on Seattle doing a sign and trade. If the Sonics decide against making such a deal, then a Darko deal is D-O-A in Orlando and he'll have to go elsewhere.

Next order of business is to trade Hedo Turkoglu. With Lewis (almost) in the fold, we're overloaded at small forward with Rashard and Trevor Ariza occupying the spot. Therefore, do ya trade Hedo for Ron Artest, as has been reported? There's no doubt this Magic team has been as soft as the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man lately. Artest is the NBA's baddest boy but he's tough as nails. Question is, is he too dysfunctional in terms of team chemistry? We'll leave that one for another day.

So that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

It looks to me as if Otis is making Mission Impossible actually look Possible!

Scott's going on vacation. He'll be back July 16!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, July 3, 2007, 9:51AM

SHOW ME THE MONEY DARKO
Caution: Remember Billy Donovan!

We Magic faithful learned a very valuable lesson a few weeks ago. Something about never counting your chickens before they cross the road, or something like that.

That's why I want to see Rashard Lewis with 'Orlando' on his chest before I start getting my hopes up. July 11 can't get here soon enough.

With that said, you have to give credit to the Orlando Magic organization. Otis Smith and company determined that scoring was our most pressing need. They go out and get a guy who averaged over 22 points per game last season. Lewis is a versatile player who was coveted by a bunch of NBA teams, i.e. Houston, New York and Miami. It's a solid free agent move.

More kudos to Team Magic for putting the screws to Darko Milicic.

Before Lewis can be signed, the Darko situation must be resolved one way or another.

Remember, Darko is a restricted free agent, which means that Orlando can match any offer he gets. So, before Lewis is inked to a max contract, the Magic must either re-sign Darko and make another trade to make room for Lewis. Or, we must renounce Darko, ink Lewis and keep the rest of the club intact.

It's obviously been determined that Lewis is higher priority of the two. That's the way it should be. Lewis is proven. Darko is not.

Listen, I like Darko. I'd love to see him back in Orlando. He's young. He's very talented AND ya can't coach seven feet.

However, when I watch Darko play, I sometimes wonder where his head and heart are. He can be incredibly aloof on the court. As a Magic fan, you hope that youth is the root cause of the lack of aggression and focus at times.

Don't ya love sports agents? Darko's guy, Marc Cornstein, said earlier this week that he was surprised that the Magic didn't call him when the free agency period began Sunday.

Surprised? Cornstein knows where the Magic stand. We want Darko back, but, we're not gonna break the bank and endanger the Lewis deal to get this done. It's now up to Mr. Cornstein to go out and get an impressive offer sheet from another NBA team. The Magic will decide whether to match or not.

Cornstein says that he's received calls from ten other teams, and that a few of those teams made offers. Man, this is why I despise talking to agents because I feel the need to bathe every time I get off the phone with one of 'em.

Hey Marc, who are those teams? What are they offering? Look Marc, your nose is growing! Truth is, this is a very soft NBA free agent market. I would be shocked to see Darko finding any mega-deals out there.

The Orlando Magic are calling the Cornstein bluff, and well they should.

They want Darko back, but will not break the bank on him to jeopardize the Rashard Lewis deal.

So, Darko, it's up to you to SHOW ME THE MONEY!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, June 29, 2007, 9:57AM

DRAFT WINNERS & LOSERS
Anez Sez has the biggest winners and losers from Thursday night's 2007 NBA Draft....

Winner: NBA Commissioner David Stern. The man stuck to his guns last year and demanded that high school phenoms get at least one year of college under their belts before going pro. (Three of the first four picks were freshmen). This was the most anticipated draft in years because we knew who these players were. We had seen them in college. We saw them playing in the national title game. Great move Commish!

Loser: Joakim Noah's tailor.

Winner: The city of Portland. Once the most rabid NBA outpost, The City of Roses will soon become a snakepit for opponents again. Not only do the Blazers strike it rich with Oden at #1, they also open the low post by ridding themselves of the last semblance of the "old regime" in dealing the oft-troubled Zach Randolph to the Knicks. Don't sleep on the Blazers other first's (Spaniard Rudy Fernandez at 24 from Phoenix and Peterri Koponen at 30 from Philly). They also get a deal in landing Gator point guard Taurean Green at 52. Channing Frye is a nice pickup from NY. The Blazers have officially transformed from their "Jail-Blazer" days. Add Portland to the list of western heavyweights in a few years.

Loser: Steve Francis. He continues to take a Penny Hardaway-like freefall. Stevie goes from NY to Portland in the Randolph deal and will get a Blazer buyout soon. We've likely seen the last of "The Franchise" in an NBA uniform.

Winner: Seattle. They have two cornerstones in Durant and Green.

Loser: They city of Seattle. Here comes Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, Oklahoma City!

Winner: The Western Conference. Like these guys needed help?

Loser: Kevin Garnett. He's still in Minnesota.

Winner: The University of Florida. U-F becomes the first school ever to place three players in the top nine picks of the NBA Draft.

Loser: Billy Donovan.

Winner: The Boston Celtics. They get a yin (Ray Allen) for Paul Pierce's yang.

Loser: The Boston Celtics. Even with Ray heading to New England, my once beloved C's have become the NBA's version of Siberia. Thanks Danny and Doc.

Loser: Al Thornton. I thought the FSU product would go higher than 14 to the Clippers. Aren't Al and Corey Maggette the same player? Something's gotta give in LA.

Winner: The Milwaukee Bucks. They held their ground and gambled on talented Chinese big man Yi Jianlian.

Loser: The Milwaukee Bucks. It will be a cold day in Shenzhen when the Bucks actually see Yi in a Buck uniform.

Winner: The Orlando Magic. We didn't want or need another young player. Heck, our average age is 26. Most importantly, we need as much cap room as possible to chase Darko and Rashard.

Loser: The Orlando Magic beat reporters. Poor scribes had to stay up way past their bed times Thursday night, only to get a Milovan Rakovic, 2007's Mr. Irrelevant, at #60.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, June 22, 2007, 9:53AM

A CHAT WITH GM OTIS SMITH
On the morning of June 21, one week before the 2007 NBA Draft, Scott Anez sat down with Magic General Manager Otis Smith to pick his brain about the upcoming Draft and beyond.....

SA: Otis, many "experts" are saying that this is the deepest draft in a long while. Overall, how would you characterize this year's draft?

OS: Every year before the draft we all say how weak it is. Then every year as it gets closer all the experts say how great the draft is. When you get in the heat of the battle it's always a great draft. There's no doubt, it's a deeper draft because the underclassmen stayed in. It's deeper due to the amount internationals coming in every year. If you're looking at it for seniors, no, it's not a deep class. But if you're looking at it as a whole, it's deep. It's solid. And I think you can find a player even at 44 and 54 where we're picking.

SA: Oden or Durrant? Is that kinda like choosing between gold and silver?

OS: That's a tough call. It reminds me of the Dwight-Emeka thing we were going through a few years ago. I don't think it's any different. I had a conversation with the GM out there (Portland) and I just told him that one of those kids is gonna be a star. The other is gonna be a good player. Don't pass on a star trying to make the safe and good pick. It's gonna be a tough call. Do you start drafting on need or do you draft the best player on the board? I always have been of the mind set of drafting the best player because when you draft on need, it can come back to bite you.

SA: What about you? No first round picks...But, Otis, knowing your off season priority list...knowing you need as much cap room as possible to re-sign Darko and possibly sign a marquee free agent. Is NOT having a first in this draft a bad thing?

OS: I don't think it's a bad thing. I think it's a deep enough draft, and enough teams have multiple first's that if you want to get into the first round you can find a way to buy your way into the first. But you have to look at the landscape of our team. We currently have three 21 year olds and we're a relatively young team at our core. Does it behoove us to get another young player at this time? At some point we'll have to look to replenish. But at this time I don't know if it's necessary unless it's someone you're gonnna get high into the first that it's gonna make an impact right now. I don't know if that can happen in this current draft.

SA: If the plan is to trade up, do you have a plan to target one or two guys at a certain spot in the draft?

OS: That's how you have to approach it. You have to have a guy, if he's there when you're looking to trade up into a spot, you want to get the pick at whatever cost. It's the same thing we did a few years back with Jameer and the 20th pick from Denver. You target one of two players who slide and if he's sliding to an area where you think you can pick him up, you do it. I think there are gonna be a couple of guys in the first who are intriguing to us, but more importantly is, can we maintain where we are? Free agency...Do we need to hold onto cap room? All of those things come into play this year.

SA: What criteria would that pool of players have to have for you to be intrigued about trading into round one?

OS: He's gonna have to be somebody who will have an impact on this team immediately. I think if you can get into the top five of this class, then it's worth doing. If you start looking beyond, you may have to sit out, unless someone starts sliding. A kid that you say, wow, he has a chance. I don't know. We'll have to see come draft night what happens.

SA: How much input will coach Van Gundy have this week and on draft night?

OS: Anytime you are acquiring a player through the draft and or free agency, your coach has to be 100 % involved, because at the end of the day, Scott, our talent evaluators evaluate and look at the talent, but the coach has to coach 'em. So you don't want to go get a bunch of guys that the coach can't coach. You want him to have some input. Not so much where the coach controls the entire landscape, but where he has plenty of input. But, ya know coach Van Gundy right now is going through an evaluation process that includes 15 guys, so to add another couple onto that plate is a lot to expect out of him.

SA: You currently have the 44th and 54th picks in the draft...What are the chances that Gator point guard Taurean Green be available, and if he is available, would you take him?

OS: I am not sure what's gonna happen there. That all depends on the international influx. Taurean's been projected from late first all the way to mid-second round. We just have to look at the whole landscape and see who is the best player on the board at that time.

SA: Does it make you feel ancient that you played on that original Magic team with Taurean's dad, Sidney?

OS: (laugh) That makes me feel ancient AND the fact that three of those other guys from that team are head coaches in the league. That makes me feel as if we had a more special Magic team than we originally thought. It's amazing where those guys are.

SA: Do these second round picks have a legitimate shot at making the roster next season?

OS: Well, Scotty, when people say that I always go back to the second round picks that ended up being pretty good in this league. Arenas, Rashard Lewis, Dennis Rodman, Kenny Gattison, even Otis Smith. There's a bunch of them. Sometimes you have to get lucky. Today, second rounders have a legitimate shot because the pool of players is bigger and the rounds are shorter.

SA: Once the draft is over with, the free agency period begins. What are you going to be doing July 1?

OS: We're probably gonna bring in one or two guys. We like a couple of guys a lot. For us to make an impact in free agency, we're gonna have to do some creative financing. We have cap room, but it's not a ton of cap room. Some of that has to do with a Darko deal and how he ties it up. It's what we are talking about for 4-5 hours a day right now. I am not sure if we are spending 90% of the time on draft or 90% of our time on free agency, but both of them are consuming us right now.

SA: What's your criteria for the pool of free agents you are interested in?

OS: He's gonna have to make an impact today! That's what you are in the free agent market for. You are not in the free agent market for a guy who's gonna develop in 2-3 years. He's gonna have to have an impact today. Also you have to look at other factors. How's he gonna help our young team grow? Having Dwight, Jameer, JJ and Darko, that becomes important. What kind of character guy is he? And you have to take into consideration how the coach likes to play. We look at a lot of things but mainly what will his impact be on our young basketball team.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, June 19, 2007, 11:29AM

WALKIN' WITH MAX
As I was walkin' with my Golden Retriever buddy Max last night, my mind began to wander....This is the kinda stuff I think about. I need help!

Is Kobe Bryant turning into Penny Hardway right before our very eyes? Kobe says he wants to be traded...then he doesn't...now he wants out again. Can you say, Multiple Personality Disorder?

Is Rashard Lewis a free agent or not? Lewis is highly coveted around the NBA. I believe the Magic would love to get their hands on him. Problem is, he may not be 'free' after all. Apparently Rashard's agent failed to file the necessary paperwork on time. Note to Rashard: BAG THE AGENT! Free Rashard...Free Rashard...

The national champion Gators attended a White House ceremony for the second straight year earlier this week. Word is that Coach Donovan remained in his beloved Gainesville because he had orders to wash the car, mow the lawn, take out the trash, clean the pool, dust, vacuum and fetch his wife's Bon Bons. Just kidding. No Bon Bons!

The San Antonio Spurs are NBA champs for the fourth time in nine years. Yet, all people want to talk about is sour TV ratings. Why aren't we talkin' about how this Spur franchise does it the right way. Why aren't we talking about Tim Duncan being one of the best ever? Why? Because, the Spurs don't make good copy. That's a sad commentary on our media...

Multiple personalities aside, what would I give up to get Kobe to Orlando? I'd send Mickey, Donald, and even Louie Pearlman to La-La land for him. Kobe's a little off-kilter but the man is the best pure scorer in the NBA. He's the best clutch player in the game. He has three championship rings. He burns to win...

Here's the question: Would you give up Dwight to get Kobe? Hmmmm...Let me ponder. I'll get back to you on that one....

The Portland Trail Blazers continue to say, with a straight face, that they don't know who they will take with the #1 pick. That's hysterical!

Kobe and KG on the trading block at the same time? What does this say about having one star on your team. It takes a village in the NBA. See the San Antonio Spurs.

So would you trade Dwight for Kobe? Wow...That's a tough one. As much as I love Kobe's fire and will, I don't do it. As stated earlier, it takes a village, a stable of stars and role players to win championships in this league. Look how Kobe (Robin) has done without Shaq (Batman) the last few years? It'd be great to steal Kobe for any of our other players, but I don't give up the big fella. Dwight's a keeper. He's 21. He still hasn't scratched the surface of his potential. He's the franchise for years to come. No, I don't do it...

Penny for your thoughts?

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, June 15, 9:19AM

GRANT OWES US
I have more respect for Grant Hill than any athlete I've ever covered.

I realize that, for many of you hardened Magic bloggers, Grant conjures up some not-so-good images of crutches, ankle boots and stationary bikes.

But, when I think of Grant, I think of pure class. I think of guts, determination and perseverance. I think of a thoroughbred race horse whose body just wouldn't allow him to be all that he could be.

Over the last seven years, I have seen Grant endure excruciating pain and disappointment. All the man wanted to do was to play basketball to the best of his ability. However, several ankle surgeries and other assorted health problems caused him to miss some 374 regular season Magic games in seven years.

Grant, unfortunately, has become the poster-child for what has ailed the club for years. Is that fair? Maybe, but he certainly didn't plan it that way. His body gave out. But he never gave up.

The man is a champion of life.

Now that you know what I think of Grant Hill, I will now proceed to rip him!

After working the NBA Finals for ABC, Grant says he wants to play in the Finals. So his agent is shopping him around. Grant says the Phoenix Suns' style would best fit his game. Apparently, Phoenix, Detroit and Orlando will be on his free agent radar come July 1.

Doesn't it occur to Grant that the Orlando Magic organization shelled out $93 million to the Hill family coffers over the last seven years? For what? We still haven't advanced past the first round of the playoffs since 1996!

I realize that Grant's free to go wherever he wants...I know his ankle troubles are no fault of his own...I know loyalty is an overused word in pro sports...I know he wants to win an NBA title before he hangs up the Chuck Taylors...I know...I know.

But, come on! Doesn't Grant owe it to the Orlando Magic to come back to O-Town, if GM Otis Smith and new head coach Stan Van Gundy want him back? Furthermore, shouldn't he be content to take the veteran's minimum here? Goodness, we had little-to-no return on our $93 million investment over seven seasons. Isn't that the least he can do?

The Orlando Magic have stuck by Grant through some very tumultuous times. Heck, Magic owner Rich Devos could have bought out Grant's contract years ago. But he didn't. Truth is, this franchise's loyalty to Grant has resulted in it being hampered and hogtied. Coaches and GM's have been hired and fired, in part, because of the debilitating effect Grant's contract has had on this team.

I don't know what's going on with G-Hill right now. Is his agent putting stars in his eyes? Does said agent recall how much money the Magic have put in HIS pocket over the last seven years? Is Grant going through a mid-life crisis?

I do know this: If he comes back next year....and if the Magic want him back, then Grant Hill should be wearing Magic uniform again. He owes us that much.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.
Posted by Scott Anez, June 12, 2007, 9:39AM

MONEY WELL SPENT?
Over the last several summers, I have been asked countless times, "Scott, should I renew my season tickets?" People want the inside scoop as to whether the Orlando Magic are gonna be vastly improved the following season.

I have always struggled with that question because I hate being in a position of telling folks how to spend their hard-earned cash. I am no Einstein mind you, but I am also very much aware of the ole C-Y-A theory. If I suggest buying a ticket package and the Magic subsequently flop, I'd kinda like to avoid being hung in effigy. It's just not my thing....

Word is that the Magic are offering money back to those who purchased season ticket packages in the 48 hour mania after Billy Donovan was hired as head coach. Of course, we all know the story. Boomerang Billy bolted!

Refunds are rarely given by major league sports teams. Season ticket sales are the foundation of any club and offering money back isn't exactly considered a sound business practice. Commissioner David Stern no doubt cringed when he heard this news. But this organization has always prided itself on being community and customer-oriented and if fans want their money back in the wake of the Donovan Debacle, they're getting it. The Magic sold 200-plus packages shortly after Billy was introduced on June 1. No word yet from the club as to how many folks have taken 'em up on the offer, but I have heard that many who bought into Billy-Mania are content with the direction of the team and are sticking with their original commitments.

Again, far be it from me to tell you what to do. However, as we look ahead to 2007-2008, allow me to state the facts and nothing but the facts...

1. Stan's the Man! Sure, The Billy Donovan Experience stung in more ways than one. I think this would have been a perfect place for Billy. But there's a reason why Stan Van Gundy was a finalist for the gigs at Indiana, Sacramento and Charlotte. There's a reason why Pat Riley originally demanded a king's ransom from the Magic for his services. The guy can coach. Let's give him a chance.

2. 21 year old All Star Dwight Howard has another year of seasoning under his belt.

3. The Magic are gonna be active in the free agent market. Rashard Lewis is out there for the taking. With some creative financing, we may just have our go-to-guy in blue and black next month.

4. This team swallowed a bitter playoff pill, but the dose of reality will benefit the Magic in the near future.

5. They will re-sign young seven-footer Darko Milicic, whose full compliment of talents will be utilized by Coach Van Gundy.

Let's be sure to understand that I, in no way, am suggesting you go out and plunk down your dough. However, if you've already put money down on a ticket package, I will tell you, unequivocally, that it is money well spent.

Just don't hold me to it!

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.


Posted by Scott Anez, June 5, 2007, 10:19AM

BOO BILLY!
I am beyond the numbing disbelief stage. Now, I am currently traveling from angry to the outta control hacked-off, kick-my-dog phase of this fiasco!

Say it ain't so, Billy. Pinch me. Tell me I've it was a cruel and unusual joke and I'll let it slide.

When I first heard that Billy Donovan was packing up the Mayflower truck in the middle of the night and exiting Orlando stage left, my immediate reaction was, "The Curse of the Shaquino strikes again". The popular thought is that the Orlando Magic franchise, since the defection of one Shaquille O'Neal in July of 1996, has been cursed with a string of inexplicable misfortune.

Billy Donovan will, unfortunately, become another chapter in the Curse's vast history.

Do I really believe in curses? With all apologies to Chicago's Billy Goat, curses are hogwash. They're excuses. They are figments of the imagination....

This Billy Donovan saga is not about the Curse as much as it is about a man who has dropped several notches on the respect-o-meter in Orlando.

There's no excuse for what Billy Donovan has done to the Orlando Magic and Magic fans alike.

First, he leads Magic GM Otis Smith and President Bob Vanderweide to believe he's genuinely interested in the gig. Then, after what was reported to be much soul-searching, he puts his John Hancock on the dotted line of a contract that would pay him $27.5 over five years. He pulls the wool over our eyes during a 46 minute Orlando dog and pony, a news conference that started with a standing ovation.

Then, Saturday morning, Billy's agent places a call into Otis to undo what was done 24 hours earlier. Billy, couldn't you make that call yourself?

Now, I do believe that Billy was doing what he thought was right at the time.

But, what does this say about the guy's word? What does this say about commitment, loyalty and trust. Billy loves to preach those qualities to his teams. I guess character is easy to talk about, but difficult to live by, huh Billy boy?

If Billy's wife Christine truly wanted to stay in Gainesville, as has been reported, then why didn't she let him know this little tidbit of 411 him before signing the deal Friday morning?

Don't give me this nonsense about the Magic forcing Billy into this deal....That's rubbish. Was there a gun to Billy's head? We're talking about a 42 year old grown man here, a man who, before this sad and inexcusable episode in his life, had been much respected in basketball circles. This is a man who is accustomed to making rush judgments on the sideline in pressure situations. Billy had plenty of time to call time out if he really wanted to. If you're unsure, for the love of Rick Pitino, don't sign your name on the contract!

Here was our knight in shining armor riding in from the north. Here was our savior, the man to wash away 11 years of freak occurrences and mediocrity. Here he was, the young, handsome wunderkind who would be responsible for putting an end to the so-called Curse.

Sure, this too shall pass. Billy D will go back to being the golden boy of the Gator Nation. The Orlando Magic will continue building a championship caliber basketball team minus a coach whose heart is elsewhere.

But, right now, I am ticked off. I am approaching the enraged stage. Billy Donovan, you have reached the pinnacle of unprofessionalism.

Curses!


Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or the NBA.