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 the Anez Sez archive or at http://580wdbo.com.

Posted by Scott Anez, Sunday, April 18, 2010, 11:30 AM

Game One Pep Talk

This was a big hit last year prior to the NBA Finals series…Therefore; I give you the Anez Sez Pep Talk before game one of the first round series with Charlotte.

“Guys…Listen up!

We’ve been pointing toward this day since we assembled back in early October.

For those of you who were with us last year, it goes back even further than that—that June night when Kobe and the Lakers were dancing on our home court.

It’s winning time, gentlemen.

I can’t tell you how proud I am of you and the way you closed out the season—six straight wins….20 of the final 23….23-5 in the final 28 games…33-8 in the second half of the season….59 wins.

You played like champions in the regular season….Now it’s time to do it in the postseason.

This ain’t gonna be easy…It never is. Be prepared for the highs and lows.

You guys who were with us last year know the incredible roller coaster ride this is.

Last season, we were beaten at the buzzer in the postseason four times—four times!

And yet, look where we ended up? Why? Because we never gave into adversity.

When things go south on you—and they will at some point—don’t get down on yourselves. Fight through it and be strong.

When things are going well, don’t trust it. OK? Roll with the good times, but don’t think this is gonna be easy!

We all have great respect for the Charlotte Bobcats. This team defends…They have outstanding wing players and a Hall of Fame Head Coach.

Dwight…They’ve got four seven-footers and 24 fouls to throw at you. They are gonna be very physical with you. Play your game, keep your cool and make sure to give it back to them on the defensive side of the floor.

Vince…This is what you’ve been waiting for 13 years now. Know one thing, Vince—we are gonna help you. Don’t think you have to do this all by yourself. There’s enough talent around you to get the job done.

Rashard…We need you big fella. We need your clutch late game daggers. We need your steady hand. Be aggressive!

Jameer…You and Dwight sat and watched the Lakers celebrate on our floor last year. How’d that make ya feel? Not too good, did it? Remember that feeling. Don’t let it go.

Matt…We need your energy…We need your spirit…We need your nastiness on the defensive end. Steven Jackson is yours—make like a living hell for him in this series.

Play loose and have fun out there. Take every possession, every game, every series, as if it were our last.

This is our time, gentlemen.

16 wins and it’s ours.

One possession, one game at a 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, Wednesday, April 14, 2010, 8:30 AM

Doubt Jameer at Your Own Risk

Going into the 2010 NBA Playoffs, the Orlando Magic have something they didn’t have last year at this time--a healthy Jameer Nelson.

Not only is Jameer as close to 100% as player can be at this stage of the season...He’s also playing his best basketball of the year.

I can’t wait to read some of the playoff previews of the so-called 'experts'. These will be the same 'experts' who dissed the Orlando Magic all the way to the NBA Finals last year.

Jameer’s too small...He’s too much of a shoot-first point guard...He’s not a leader...He’s not enough of this...He’s too much of that. Blah, Blah, Blah.

You watch--I guarantee you they will give the point guard edge to Raymond Felton and DJ Augustin in the upcoming series with the Charlotte Bobcats. Guaranteed!

They are gonna tell you that Felton is shooting .544 from the field over his last 13 games, including .478 from three-point range. In addition, Felton has dished out 80 assists with just 18 turnovers for a ratio of 4.44-1.

They are gonna tell you that over his last eight games, Augustin is shooting .526 from the field, including a red-hot 17-27 (.630) from long range.

Advantage Bobcats, right?

You know it’s coming.

Listen, Jameer is accustomed to hearing all the naysayers doubt his abilities. The good news is that he tuned you out several years ago.

Truth is that he doesn’t care what people outside the locker room think. The great thing about the unflappable Nelson is that the only opinions he cares about are those of his teammates and coaches.

That’s it.

After early season knee surgery, Jameer has hit his stride. I love his look right now.

Jameer’s numbers over his last five games? Solid--16.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists.

His turnovers are down. His assists are up. He’s got a great command about his game.

Defensively, I think Jameer got a taste of what he is gonna see from Cleveland’s Mo Williams come a potential Eastern Conference Finals showdown and throughout this postseason. Sunday, Williams (19 points, 9 assists) tried to blow by Jameer (17p,4r,8a and 2s) every chance he got. The Cavs obviously feel as if Jameer is a weak link defensively. Charlotte will treat him the same way.

Defense is not Jameer’s strength. But, he’s gotten much better in stopping dribble penetration of the opposing point guard.

I am convinced that Jameer will find a way to get it done.

Over the course of the next few months, don’t believe all the nonsense you’re gonna hear about Felton and Augustin having an edge over Jameer...or for that matter, Mike Bibby, Mo Williams or even Derek Fisher.

Most of us who live in Magic Nation know that this guy is a winner.

Go ahead and doubt him...That's when Jameer Nelson is at his best.

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 12, 2010, 8:30 AM

Magic Surge in Second as Cavs Await

I seem to recall many of you scoffed, snickered and even mocked when I stated at the NBA All Star Break that the Orlando Magic will get back to where they were at the end of last regular season.

As a matter of fact, I seem to recall that our very own Richie Adubato, my longtime friend and cohort, had alotta fun at my expense as well.

That steak dinner, on Richie's dime, is gonna be delectable and delightful!

Remember back to the Break...The Magic were 36-18. In order to match last year's record, we would have to capture 23 of the final 28 regular season games to get back to the 59-win mark of a year ago. We're not there yet--but we're well on our way.

Going into Monday night's game at Indy, the Magic are the hottest team in the NBA post-All Star Break.

Orlando is 21-5 since and needs just two victories in its final couple of games to match last year's total.

An NBA Nostradamus I don't pretend to be...The schedule finally lightened up for us and we finally caught our stride.

As objectively as I can put it...I believe that this Orlando Magic team is special.

Are we so special that we can beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in a potential showdown in the Eastern Conference Finals again?

I don't pretend to know the answer to that question. Not yet, anyway.

But I will tell you this...I believe that the Orlando Magic are the only team in the league that can topple the King's crew.

The Lakers can't beat Cleveland. Boston won't. Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, etc? No way. Cleveland's too good.

The Orlando Magic are the only team in the league that has the ability to clip the Cavs in a seven game series. Why? Dwight...our explosiveness and ability to strike quickly with the three...our defense...our depth and our mental edge.

We, unlike the rest of the league, have no fear of the mighty Cavs. Conversely--I think we're still in their heads!

Like last year's Conference Finals games in Cleveland, the Cavs surged out to an early lead Sunday(16)--only to see the Magic rally. It's a story line that's been repeated many glorious times in the past.

That Cav team had to be muttering to itself..."Here we go again."

As we await a possible matchup with LeBron in about a month and a half, let's celebrate what has been a very successful season and get ready for what should be a fun-filled playoff filled with plenty of drama.

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 9, 2010, 8:30 AM

We're Better Than Last Year

I was channel surfing Thursday night and came across NBA TV's replay of game one of the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals.

The first thing that jumped out at me was how downright cocky the Cleveland Cavaliers were.

Remember, they catapulted out to an early 33-17 lead and it looked as if it was gonna be blowout city. LeBron (49 points) was flexing his muscles for the TV cameras...Mo "Mr. Gurantee" Williams was jitterbugging on the sideline...Cav fans were havin' a conniption in the stands.

The Cavs were partying at our expense...that is, until Rashard Lewis would drain the game-winning three-bomb with 14.7 seconds to go!

The second thing that really stood out is how much more talented the current Magic team is this year compared to last.

We have such fond memories of 2008-2009--and well we should. That team did some amazing things in both the regular season and the postseason.

But, this year's team, top to bottom, is better than last year's club.

Starting next weekend, we've got to go out and prove it.

Look at last year's backcourt: Rafer Alston and Courtney Lee.

Rafer will always have a special place in our hearts for leading this team to the NBA Finals after being acquired at the trade deadline. Courtney, a rookie, did not play like one. The kid showed incredible poise for a youngeon.

But, this year's backcourt tandem, Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter, is heads above Rafer and Courtney.

We've got the Full Nelson this year as opposed to the guy we saw in the Finals last season.

Vince, since February, has been spot on. Magic GM Otis Smith told me last week that we ain't seen nothing yet. Otis expects Vince to shift into a higher gear come playoff time.

Matt Barnes has taken the place of Hedo Turkoglu at that small forward position.

There's no denying that Hedo was terrific for us. But, Barnes gives us a hustle guy, a defensive minded, hard-nosed glue guy who we've never had. Barnes adds something we desperately needed on this team--an edge.

At the power forward spot, Rashard Lewis's numbers from last season are better than his numbers this year. He's scoring over three less points per game...He's down one rebound. Why the dip? It's simple. We have more weapons this year. Keep in mind that Rashard's shooting percentages almost identical as they were last year.

Dwight Howard was a monster last year. He's a monster this year--a monster with more experience, more patience, more knowledge, more diversity and even more hunger to win a championship.

This year's Magic bench, a unit that tallied some 65 points in the win over Washington Wednesday, is stacked.

Last year, we would bring JJ Redick, Mickael Pietrus, Marcin Gortat and Anthony Johnson off the pine.

This year, you add Ryan Anderson, Jason Williams and Brandon Bass to that mixp of JJ, MP and the Hammer, and you have one of the deepest benches in the NBA.

Overall, this year's Orlando Magic team has better talent, better balance, better depth and one more year of valuable experience.

We're better. I think it's safe to say that the Cleveland Cavaliers are better as well.

This is gonna be 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, Wednesday, April 7, 2010, 8:30 AM

Cats Have Inside Track To O-Town

Congratulations to the Orlando Magic!

As the result of the Hawks' 109-100 loss at Charlotte Tuesday night, our Magic lay claim to their third consecutive Southeast Division title. We also cinch the #2 spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

Even though we've become a bit spoiled with success of our team over the last few years, these kinds of accomplishments should not go unnoticed. Sure, we want more. But, I think it's important to sorta stop and smell the roses before the madness begins in about a week and a half.

Speaking of the playoffs, it's looking more and more like our first round opponent just may be the Bobcats.

Going into Wednesday night's action, (41-36) Charlotte sits in the seventh spot in the Eastern, three games ahead of fading Toronto and two games back of red-hot Miami and Milwaukee for five.

If the form holds true, don't expect a whole lotta scoring in an Orlando-Charlotte series. These are two of the stingiest defensive clubs in the NBA.

While the Magic lead the league in field goal percentage vs. along with Miami (.437), the Bobcats sit atop the NBA in points against (93.6). Charlotte has held its opponents at or under 100 points in 17 of its last 18 games, giving up an average of 90.8 points during that stretch.

The Cats also rank seventh in the league in opponents field goal percentage (.447) and sixth in opponents three-point percentage (.339). In addition, the Bobcats are third in the league in opponent turnovers (15.51 per game) and eighth in steals (7.76 per game).

Having claimed their first ever winning record with Tuesday night's victory, Charlotte is tough to beat at home, where they are 30-9 this season.

Charlotte has a couple of players who would be of huge concern--Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace.

Jackson is one of those guys who has absolutely no conscience on the basketball court. He has scored 20 points or more in 20 of his last 33 games. During the stretch, he is averaging 21.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Jackson had a game-high 28 points in a win over the Magic back on March 14.

Wallace, who missed the Cats' win in O-Town last month, is a freakish athlete who is one of the most dynamic players in the league. Wallace ranks first in the NBA in minutes played, seventh in rebounds, 12th in steals and he is tied for 25th in scoring right now.

How did we do against Bobcats this year? 3-1.

In their third matchup of the season back on January 23, the Magic claimed one of their most memorable wins of the year, a 106-95 overtime victory in Charlotte. Playing on the tail end of a back-to-back, the Magic blew a 16 point second half lead but Jameer Nelson would key an 11-0 run to start the extra session with six of his 21 points.

What does the Bobcats' remaining schedule look like? They, like the Magic, have five games left. They're at New Orleans Wednesday and at Houston Friday. They're home to Detroit Saturday before closing at New Jersey and home to Chicago next week.

Even though I would expect us to beat them handily, the Cats would prove to be worthy opponents. I seem to recall underestimating the Sixers last year--so, ya never know. Remember, Philly took us to a sixth game sans Dwight Howard.

It's not a done deal--but it would appear that Charlotte would have the inside track to trek to Orlando next weekend.

Meanwhile, give it up to our Magic--Southeast Division champs for the third straight 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, Sunday, March 28, 2010, 1:10 PM

Who Do You Want in the First Round?

The NBA Playoffs will tip off three weeks from this weekend at Amway Arena.

It’s been clear for a while now that the Magic’s first round opponent is gonna remain unclear until perhaps the final day of the regular season.

The Magic will likely finish in the second spot, thus, we will take on the seventh-seeded team in round one.

That first round opponent could be any one of five teams: Milwaukee, Miami, Charlotte Toronto or Chicago.

Let’s make one thing clear…The Orlando Magic will win that first round series.

The question is…How convincing a victory will it be?

That depends upon the match up.

Five-and-a-half games separate teams 5 through 9 right now. Four games separate teams seeded 5th thru 8th.

The No. 5 Milwaukee Bucks, even though they’ve got a monster schedule coming up and Andrew Bogut and Carlos Delfino have been banged up recently, are the team less likely to slip to seven.

The Miami Heat are surging in the last month of the season. The Heat are winners of four straight games. They sit in sixth right now, one game back of Milwaukee. The bad news for Heat fans is that Jermaine O’Neal has suffered a hyper extended knee and his status is up on the air.

Sitting in the seventh slot are the Charlotte Bobcats, who lurk just a half game back of Miami for six. Charlotte’s won three in a row. It’s a team that has two legit go-to-guys in Wallace and Jackson. Plus Larry Brown’s got them playing some of the best defense in the league.

In at eight is Toronto. The disappointing Raptors are 35-36, 2-and-a-half back of Charlotte for seven and 1-and-a-half games up on Chicago for eighth. The word “selfish” has been tossed around in Toronto this year for a team that may be the most underachieving club in the league. It’s a team that just refuses to defend consistently.

And then you have the Chicago Bulls, who are getting healthy again. The Bulls stand one-and-a-half back of Toronto for the eighth spot.

So, if you had your druthers, what team would you want in the first round?

I can tell ya this…I don’t want any part of Miami. We’d come out on top, but that team has given us fits this year. Wade is one of those guys in this league who can beat you by himself. I’d rather bypass Miami in round one, thank you very much.

Here’s my order of selection…

Give me Toronto, one…The Raptors are a chemistry experiment gone bad. Something tells me that they will finish on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.

Give me Chicago, two…The Bulls are getting healthier but I just don’t see the same team this year that took the Celtics to seven games in the first round last year.

Give me the Bobcats, third….Larry Brown has the ability to create problems for us in a first round series,

Give me the Bucks fourth…Scott Skiles should get mucho consideration for Coach of the Year this year for getting that team, led by a rookie point guard and sans Michael Redd, to believe in itself.

Last but not least…Miami. The Heat do just as good a job as the Lakers and Celtics in bottling up Dwight. Wade is an all-time equalizer.

There ya go...My first round wish list: 1. Toronto 2. Chicago 3. Charlotte 4. Bucks 5. Miami.

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 24, 2010, 8:30 AM

A Fine Line For SVG

It's over...It's over.

With 11 games to go, the Orlando Magic sit four-and-a-half games up on the Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics for the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

Because the Magic have taken the season series from those teams this year, that lead, in effect, is stretched even further because those two teams would have to beat us outright.

We trail the Cavs by six games for the top spot in the East.

Let's face it...We ain't catchin' Cleveland--and, barring an unforeseen fall flat on our face, the Orlando Magic will be the # 2 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoff picture. Still paranoid? OK...I understand. Let's play hypothetical.

Let's say that the Magic go 6-5 down the stretch (play along with me). If that happens, the Celtics and/or Hawks would have to go a perfect 12-0 to outdistance us by one game. Not gonna happen. For all intents and purposes, the #2 seed in the East is ours.

So, now what? If you're Head Coach Stan Van Gundy, how do you approach the stretch run?

Knowing Stan as we do, his nature is to keep putting his pedal to the medal. You know he's gonna want to go all out to get to as close to the magical number of 60 victories as he possibly can. But, at what cost?

I think, at some point here during this stretch run, Stan's gonna have to pull back on the reigns a wee bit.

I know...I know...It goes against every fiber of Stan's demanding demeanor.

But I think, in the final five or six games, it would be wise to get our key guys some R and R. Dwight, Rashard, Vince and Jameer...Sit 'em all down for a couple of games and recharge their batteries for what we all hope is a long and fruitful playoff run.

Last year, once his Magic clinched the #3 seed, Coach Stan reluctantly cut minutes for his starters. You know it had to kill him to do that. The Magic ended up losing four of the last six games and sputtered toward the postseason.

Do you remember what happened at the tail end of the 2008-2009 regular season? Probably not. But, I guarantee that you recall beating Philly, Boston and Cleveland in the playoffs!

There's a fine line you have to walk there. You don't want guys to losing their edge. Yet, you also want them as rested and ready as possible for the playoffs.

That's the tightrope that SVG must walk very carefully.

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 22, 2010, 8:30 AM

Dwight Will Be Suspended

Dwight Howard has 15 technical fouls.

One more tech and Dwight will be suspended for one game.

I am not a bettin' man--but if I were, I am taking the 'over' instead of the 'under'. I am convinced that Dwight is gonna be docked one game and a whole lotta $ here in the stretch run.

With just 12 games to go in the NBA's regular season, Dwight has accrued a total of 15 technical fouls. One more tech translates into a one game suspension.

NBA rules state that players or coaches who accrue 16 techs are suspended for one game. The suspensions continue for the 18th, the 20th, the 22nd and so forth. All bets are off once the playoffs begin.

Marcin Gortat, get ready to play 40 minutes...Adonal Foyle, ya might want to hang up the racquetball racket for a few days and start running suicides to get ready for your first action of the season.

Why? I'll tell you why...Because it appears to me that NBA referees are just watching and waiting for any sort of reaction from our center of attention.

Now, I am not saying that Dwight has been an angel and that he doesn't deserve any of the 15 technical fouls he's been assessed this season. Many times Dwight allows his emotions to get the better of him and he says something or does something that often times puts his team in a difficult spot. Now, I can't say that I blame him. The guy is maimed and mauled every single night.

What I AM saying is that, for whatever reason, Dwight Howard is a marked man.

NBA refs have absolutely no idea how to officiate him--and they give him no latitude whatsoever when it comes to venting his emotions on the court.

Case in point...Watch Rasheed Wallace, the ornery NBA leader in techs this season, during a game. Take note how far he takes his antics. Rasheed, who, by the way, has been an absolute and total bust in Boston this season, has been teched up a total of 16 times this year. What a joke! This guy deserves to be ejected most every game he plays. He, by far, gets far more leeway than any other player in the NBA. Are they afraid of this guy?

If Dwight got the latitude Wallace gets, I am convinced that his technical foul count would be in the low single digits.

Thursday night, Dwight was assessed a tech for bouncing the ball high into the air with 3:09 to play in overtime. It was a call that led to the Heat taking a 99-98 lead. Luckily, the Magic rallied to win the game and all was forgiven.

But, come on...Like players and coaches, NBA refs must take into consideration time and score. To be hit with a tech in that instance, a tie game in overtime, a player has to go over the edge. Dwight was far from the edge. Referees customarily keep the whistles in their pockets in instances like that.

This is a perfect case of the refs not giving Dwight any margin of error at all.

This is a perfect example of how Dwight is refereed.

Therefore...Book it...Bank on it...Plan for it. We will have to play sans Superman for one of the final 12 games 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, March 17, 2010, 8:30 AM

Memories of Amway Arena

With 14 games to go in the NBA's regular season and just seven home games remaining, it just hit me--we don't have very many more games left at Amway Arena.

With the highly anticipated move a few blocks south to the state-of-the-art Amway Center set for this fall, the end is near for the A-A.

How do you feel about that? Melancholy? Glad to see it go? Doesn't really matter either way?

Let's call it like it is. It's not that Amway Arena is a national landmark by any means. It's not iconic as the old Boston Garden or Yankee Stadium venues were.

Those old and venerable buildings obviously had much more of a shelf-life and hosted some of the great teams and players of all time.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't get the sense that the Amway Arena creates this overwhelming wave of nostalgia for any of us.

That doesn't mean that I won't miss the A-A.

There's no doubt that the edifice there at 600 Amelia Street has provided many great memories that will be etched in our minds for a long, long time.

Therefore, I give you my top ten Amway Arena/TD Waterhouse Center/Orlando Arena memories of all time:

10...Darrell 'Flash' Armstrong's mid-court steal and layup at the buzzer to beat Iverson and the Sixers.

9...Penny Hardaway's 42 and 43 points in games three and four of the 1997 NBA Playoff first round series vs. Miami.

8...Tracy McGrady's 62-spot vs. Washington in March of '04.

7...The Dwight Howard inbounds mega-dunk over Tim Duncan with 0.8 left to beat the Spurs in Feb. of 2007.

6...Game 7, 1995 Eastern Conference Finals--Final score: Magic 105 Pacers 81.

5...Game 6, 2009 Eastern Conference Finals--Final score: Magic 103 Cavs 90.

4...December 30, 1990--Magic point guard Scott Skiles makes NBA history by dishing out an NBA-record 30 assists in Orlando's 155-116 victory over Denver.

3...Feb. 9, 1992--Three months after announcing that he had contracted the HIV virus, Magic Johnson earns MVP Award of the NBA All Star Game. Magic tallied 25 points and nine assists on a very emotional day at Orlando Arena.

2...Nick Anderson stole the ball! ('1995 Playoffs)

1...My number one moment in Magic history came when the dream officially became reality. It was the very first pre-season game in 1989 when the expansion Magic upset the NBA champion Detroit 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, Thursday, March 11, 2010, 8:30 AM

Master Plan Coming Together

The master plan this season was for the Orlando Magic to be peaking toward the playoffs.

Don't ya love it when a plan comes together?

With just over one month to go in the NBA's regular season, the Orlando Magic are on track to play their best basketball at the most important time of year.

Despite the national pundits salivating, again, over a potential Kobe-LeBron NBA Finals, our Magic are on track to play spoiler for the second straight year.

It's all coming together...

...The defense is kicking it up a notch. After floundering early, the Magic are tops in the NBA in field goal percentage vs. (.436). Remember, last year, the Magic finished third in the league in that category (.433).

...The offense has been equally as impressive recently. During the last 14 games, the Magic are averaging 106.1 ppg and are shooting .488 from the field.

...We are inching our way back to where we were last year in three point shooting percentage. Right now, we're at .363 and lead the league in makes and attempts. Last year, we also topped the NBA in three's made and attempted and shot at a .381 clip.

...This team's starting lineup and rotations are set up nicely as the postseason approaches. Brandon Bass is getting consistent minutes off the bench. Ryan Anderson seems to be the odd man out right now--but, something tells me that we haven't heard the last of Ryan.

...Dwight Howard is well on his way to becoming the very first player in NBA history to lead the league in rebounding and blocks in more than one season. Dwight ranks second in FG percentage. The guy has a league-high 51 double-doubles. Superman has transformed into the most dominant presence in the NBA. Take that, Scottie Pippen and the rest of you hata's out there!

The Magic backcourt, after struggling earlier in the season, is rounding into form.

...Is there a point guard playing better basketball than Jameer Nelson right now? Show me...Look at Jameer's numbers post-All Star Break: 16.2 ppg, 7.4 apg, 4.1rpg, .515 FG and .400 3FG. To top it off, Jameer has committed eight total turnovers in the last six games. After early season knee surgery, a quick and feisty Jameer is back to playing at an All Star level.

...Since a January to dismember, Vince Carter has been solid (Carter has led (or tied) the team in scoring 18 times, scored in double figures 45 times and had 20+ points in 18 games). In all fairness, Vince's first year in Orlando has been a transition season for both V-C and the Magic. He's had to deal with players who can actually play around him...He's had to deal with a demanding coach...He's had to adjust to having a dominant low-post presence for the first time in his career. Vince looks so much more comfortable in a Magic uniform and in his own skin right now.

...Let's not forget about Matt Barnes, who, betwixt and between tweets with Lamar Odom, has given this Magic team a toughness and a grittiness we've never had.

Top to bottom, this Magic team is better than the one that advanced to the NBA Finals last year. With all the new players on this roster, the only thing we lacked early on was team chemistry. The chemistry is now coming together--and so is the master plan.

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 5, 2010, 8:30 AM

Father Time Catching Up With Kobe?

We are committing the cardinal sin of the NBA.

We're gonna look ahead.

I mean no disrespect to the league-worst 6-54 NJ Nets. They've already been dissed enough this season.

No disrespect to our Stan Van Gundy who, undoubtedly, tossed and turned last night in fear of his team looking ahead to Super Sunday.

Forgive me Coach--but that's exactly what we're gonna do in today's Sez.

Sunday, the Lakers come to Orlando for the first time since dancing on our court while celebrating their 15th NBA Championship last June--June 14 to be exact.

Even though the Lakers (46-16) sport the second best record in the NBA, I get the sense that this team has not hit its stride yet--kinda like our Orlando Magic.

Laker Kobe Bryant scored 39 points Thursday night in an overtime loss in Miami.

Are you ready for the question of all questions?

Is Father Time catching up with Kobe? I know...I know. Such blasphemy in Laker circles would have me tarred and feathered in downtown L.A.

But it's a question that Laker management must study closely because Kobe's seven-year $136 million contract is up after the 2010-2011 season.

Even though he's gonna be 32 this August, this is a man who in his 14th NBA season. On top of that, Kobe's played in a total of 175 career playoff games. There's a whole lotta mileage on those tires.

Even though Kobe's fourth in the league in scoring right now (27.6ppg), the 2009 NBA Finals MVP has really struggled in fighting off the injury bug. He's had bouts with a broken finger, a strained elbow, back spasms and, most recently, a sprained left ankle that caused him to miss 18 days of work (including the NBA All Star Game). Having played in all 82 the last couple of seasons, Kobe has missed a total of five games so far this year.

That's certainly not an astounding amount of games missed...But, as we've seen with Boston's Kevin Garnett, who was drafted out of high school the year before Kobe (1995), once those smaller injuries start piling up at an advanced age, it becomes much more difficult to recover and reverse the trend. Often times, when players get older, those little knick-knack injuries transform into bigger ones.

Kobe has struggled with his shot recently. Prior to his break-out in Miami, Bryant had stroked at a sub-par 34% clip in his previous four games. Kobe's even altered his pre-game practice routine. Famous for not even touching a basketball until his team emerges for pre-game warmups about 20 minutes before the opening tap, Kobe reportedly got in some shooting practice some 2-and-a-half hours prior to game time Thursday night.

Is Father Time catching up with Kobe?


I believe that Kobe Bryant is still the best basketball player on the planet. I believe that Kobe is still the best clutch player in the NBA. I believe that Kobe is still the most mentally tough player in the business.

But, ya have to wonder how much longer he'll be able to stand above the rest.

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 26, 2010, 11:45 AM

Would the Cavs Take a Mulligan?

Cleveland Cavalier center Shaquille O’Neal underwent surgery to repair a severely sprained right thumb in Baltimore on Monday.

The injury is eerily reminiscent of what happened to Shaq here in Orlando back in ‘95-96 when he was chop-blocked by Matt Geiger and ended up missing 22 games.

Typically, this type of injury, if all goes well, takes 6-8 weeks to fully heal. There are seven weeks left in the regular season. Essentially, the next time we see Shaq will likely be in the post season.

Honestly, I hate to see Shaq go down. As you well know, I am not a big fan of the Big Flopper--but, I certainly don’t wish any harm upon him. Frankly, in a weird sorta way, I enjoy having him on the Cavs this year because it feels that much more fulfilling to beat them.

I hope Shaq gets well soon.

There’s no denying that his presence (aside from his numbers of 12 ppg and 6.7rpg) has made the Cavaliers a more formidable group than the one we saw last year in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Our Magic begin the day six games back of the Cavs atop the East.

I don’t have any delusions that, with Shaq out and with Zydrunas Ilgauskus likely back in Cleveland circa March 22, the Cavs are gonna tailspin outta control and allow us to catch ‘em. Not gonna happen. LeBron’s too good.

That Cleveland team is too deep, especially on their frontline with guys like Hickson, Jamison, Varejao and Powe. None of those guys are true centers, but, they do have strength in numbers.

The shorthanded Cavs are still good enough to finish with the best record in the NBA.

I also believe they are good enough to waltz through their first and second round playoff series.

But, here’s the question…Will the Cavs be good enough to beat the Orlando Magic in a seven game series?

Keep in mind, Ilgauskus, when he does go back to Cleveland, will be outta shape. He will have not played in an NBA game in about a month and a half and will have roughly 10 games to get ready for the playoffs. I don’t care what you do…running on a treadmill, stationary bike, suicides….nothing simulates NBA game shape like the real thing—especially for a 7-foot giant.

Speaking of giants, we know firsthand what happens to Shaq when he is not running up and down an NBA court. He hulks out! Never known to be able to resist the temptation of a McDonald’s or a Krispy Kreme drive thru, Shaquille is gonna have to fight the battle of the bulge while he’s out.

Questions abound:

…How many biscuits from 400 lbs. will Shaq be when he returns sometime during the playoffs?

…If the Cavs and Magic square off in the post season for the second straight year, how do the Diesel and Big Z expect to run up and down the floor with Dwight Howard? There are many questions left to be answered in what should be a very compelling playoff push--not the least of which is…..

If the Cavs could do it all over again, would they take a mulligan on the decision to trade Ilgauskus for Antawn Jamison?

Just asking….

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 26, 2010, 9:00 AM

Big Z Ain't Going Anywhere

"I'm expecting to talk to about half a dozen teams in the league--including the Cavaliers. He's not going to rush into anything. He has time. He'll let me know what he wants to do." That's a quote from the agent for Zydrunas Ilgauskus, Herb Rudoy.

Hey Herb--your nose is growing!

Come on...Do you honestly expect us to believe the stuff you're shoveling, Herb?

Thursday, Ilgauskus, the 'former' Cleveland Cavalier center who was traded to the Wizards in a blockbuster three-team deal last week, reached a buyout agreement with the Washington Wizards. If Ilgauskus clears waivers (which he will), Big Z will be eligible to sign a free agent contract with any team, other than Cleveland, as early as Monday afternoon.

If Z holds out and decides to go back with his ex, the Cavs, he would have to wait 30 days post-trade, so, he'd be able to do so only on March 21.

Is there any doubt as to what Ilgauskus is gonna do?

Rudoy will make you believe that the Hawks, Nuggets, Jazz and Mavericks all have a legitimate chances to acquire his client's services.

I would hope that's the case--but the cynic, the realist in me says that a deal to go back to Cleveland was struck some time ago.

Sure, you Cav fans can call it sour grapes. Call it anything you'd like. Fact of the matter is...There ought to be a law against this garbage!

It happens much too often in the NBA--where teams strike wink-wink deals with other clubs who waive the guy they acquire. One month later, that player is right back where he started, often times, with a much fatter wallet.

We've seen this happen in recent years with guys like Alonzo Mourning, Antonio McDyess, Gary Payton and Brent Barry.

On Wednesday night's Inside Magic on AM 580 WDBO, I whined to Magic GM Otis Smith about the Ilgauskus situation:

Scott..."Otis, there's got to be some kinda law against this kinda stuff in the NBA!"

Otis..."Scott, I can't be a hypocrite because I did the same thing last year with (Adonal) Foyle. So, the rules are there. We're playing by the rules. You don't like it, but there's not a whole lot you can do about it."


Then again, Adonal is a backup to the backup who doesn't exactly have a great impact upon the outcome of our season.

Ilgauskus, on the other hand, could be the missing link for a Cav team that wants desperately to exact revenge upon the Magic this year in order to keep LeBron next. And with Shaq's throbbing right thumb now in question, the very real possibility of Big Z going back to Cleveland may just pack even more of a punch.

I have another quote for ya. This, from LeBron before the Cav win in Boston Thursday night: "I want him (Z) to be back here, especially while we're contending for a title. He's one of the main reasons why I want to win a title for this team."

What LeBron wants, LeBron gets.

Mavs, Jazz, Hawks, Nuggets...Recruit Big Z all ya want.

Z ain't going anywhere but back to the Q.

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 24, 2010, 9:00 AM

I've Seen the Future and I Can't Wait

I had the unique opportunity of getting a grand tour of the new Amway Center last week.


This spectacular new building is gonna be a centerpiece for our town and our team for decades to come.

Decked out in my hard hat, green vest and boots, I found myself thinking back to the tour I took of the Orlando Arena back in the late eighties. I had two main thoughts:

...Man, it's amazing how time flies.

...I'm almost as old as the dirt under the foundation of this incredible edifice.

In all seriousness, this building, soup-to-nuts, is gonna be simply sensational. I realize that I am telling you something you've probably already heard. But, the Amway Center is gonna be a building that makes you, me, and all of our fellow central Floridians proud!

...The roof has been sealed.

...The signature glass lobby and the outdoor tower are taking shape.

...Nine miles of ice-making and ice-melting piping have been fitted into the arena floor.

...They're in the process of closing in all the outer walls. Once that is done in the next few weeks, the humidity will be lifted from the building and the process of moving all the indoor infrastructure will begin. That's when the flooring and tile work will really start hummin'.

The amenities in this building are gonna be second to none:

...60 suites...1400 club seats....37 public restrooms (there eight are in the current Amway Arena)...concession stands and retail stores galore.

...The Center will feature bars and food courts...restaurants...a Fan Experience, Kids Zone area and an outdoor plaza with a charming look over downtown Orlando.

...There will be 2,500 seats priced $15 or less, 7,000 seats priced $25 or less and 10,000 seats priced $50 or less. For the first time ever, the Magic will offer roughly 600 tickets at five bucks a pop. When I die, I want to come back as an Orlando Magic player. Why? Well, these guys are gonna be treated like royalty in this new building.

Picture it. You're a Magic player and you're driving to work, OK? You motor into a spacious, covered parking area. You practice in the state of the art practice gym while staring out at downtown through a huge glass wall. Then, you get a quick work out in one of the most expansive weight rooms in the NBA. If you're a little banged up, well, how about the a run-walk in underwater treadmill? Afterwards, feel free to check out the game room and have something to eat from the kitchen before leaving for home.

Will there be a few hiccups from now 'til the October premier? Probably. A project of this magnatude rarely goes off without a hitch.

I get alotta questions from you Magic fans about parking. Truth is, the new parking situation may take some getting used to. With about 7,000 parking garage spaces within a five minute walk of the Center, you Magic fans will have to have a plan of action on game night.

There are very few downtown arenas and/or stadiums that actually have surface parking lots. You ever try to find parking around the Garden in Boston or MSG in NYC? Fuggetaboutit! All in all...Not bad. Not bad at all.

Not only do we have Dwight Howard...Not only do we have one of the best teams in the NBA...Not only do we have one of the best ownership groups in the league...Not only do we have never-ending sunshine and no state taxes....

This October, we'll have a brand new state of the art masterpiece--a building that will be the envy of the entire continent.

I can't wait.

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, February 18, 2010, 1:00 PM

Road to Finals Still Through Orlando

Now that the Cleveland Cavaliers have pulled the trigger on a pre-deadline deal, how do you feel now Magic fans?

The sense that I am getting from you is this—at least it isn't Amar'e Stoudemire!

On Wednesday night, the Cavs took part in a three team/six player swap along with the Clippers and Washington.

…The Clips get Drew Gooden, the Cavs' 2010 first round draft pick and oodles of cap room to chase after a couple of mega-free agents this offseason.

…The Wizards, who are starting from scratch after finally blowing up the Big Three, get Al Thornton, Brian Skinner, Zydrunas Ilgauskus and a fresh start.

…The Cavs receive Antawn Jamison, Sebastian Telfair and another perk for Dan Snyder to tempt LeBron in the wake of his coming free agency. With two years at $28.4 million left on Jamison's deal, Snyder is sparing no expense to try to keep LeBron in Ohio.

There's no denying that Jamison adds to an already formidable Cav roster.

The 33 year old Jamison is a pure scorer. He's averaging 20.5 points and 8.8 rebounds this season. He has averaged 19.9 ppg over his career. Jamison is long and athletic. He will stretch teams defensively and give the Cavs yet another quality option on offense.

Oh by the way, there's another reason why the Cavs made this move—the Orlando Magic.

That seems to be a recurring theme for the Cavs. Why? Because, we're still very much in their heads, that's why!

Remember what Rashard Lewis did to the Cavs in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals? Me too. It was a thing of beauty. In game one, Rashard nailed the game winning three pointer with :14.7 left. In game four, Sweet Lew drained a big three from the corner to lead the Magic to a victory that broke the Cavs' backs. In the series, he averaged over 19 points per game and shot over 50% on three's.

The Cavs just could not match up with Rashard. Now, they believe they can.

When asked about Cleveland's move to get Jamison, Rashard responded by saying, "It doesn't scare me."

It shouldn't.

Let's not forget about the man who chewed up Cleveland and spit 'em up in six games last year—Dwight Howard.

With the trading of Zydrunas Ilgauskus, that takes away a seven footer to throw at Superman come playoff time. You mean to tell me that Shaq is gonna play 30-35 minutes a game vs. the real Superman? I think not, Old Timer!

Barring an unforseen buy out of Big Z's contract in Washington, that leaves the Cavs right back to where they were last year in trying to check Dwight. And please, don't give me this garbage about JJ Hickson and Anderson Varejao guarding Dwight for 25 minutes a game! That ain't gonna cut it, Cleveland.

Sure, the Cavs add to their talent base with the addition of Antawn Jamison—but I am still convinced that the road to the NBA Finals still winds its way through 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, Wednesday, February 17, 2010, 8:00 AM

I'm Not Gonna Lose Any Sleep

The stretch drive begins.

28 games to go--and it looks like what ya see is what you're gonna get after Thursday's NBA Trade Deadline, Magic fans.

Magic General Manager Otis Smith says, "We have enough talent to win a title."

Granted, Otis has the ultimate poker face--but, I do believe him this go-round. I think the Orlando Magic will take a pass on any last minute deals this year.

Not so much at this time last year. Remember, after Jameer Nelson had gone down with what we thought would be a season-ending shoulder injury, Trader Otis pulled off a near-miraculous deadline deal by initiating a three-team swap for point guard Rafer Alston. It's a deal that, in retrospect, paved our way to the NBA Finals.

This year, Otis is content to stand pat. I like it! I do believe this Magic team's best basketball is on the horizon.

However, I have received a number of emails and comments over the last few days from some very uneasy Magic fans who seem to be coming unhinged at the news of the league-leading Cavaliers expressing an interest at trading for Phoenix Sun forward Amar'e Stoudemire.

There are also reports that the Cavs are interested in Washington's Antawn Jamison and/or Golden State's Corey Maggette.

It's obvious what the Cavs are trying to do here.

Not only is that team trying to win Cleveland's first major sports championship since 1964--the Cavs are also attempting to keep their franchise relevant!

The Cavaliers want desperately to hold onto soon-to-be free agent LeBron James. They, like all of us, hear the very loud rumblings emanating from NYC. They know LeBron has an affinity for the bright lights. They also know that if LeBron departs for the Big Apple, they might as well move down a division and join the D-League.

It's a little strange to me that the mighty Cavs would want to alter their team chemistry this late in the season.

In my opinion, Cleveland would be taking a huge risk in upsetting the mojo that has developed with that team so far.

Granted, all three of those guys they're talking about are very talented offensive players. But, as we've seen with Vince Carter this year here in Orlando, there are no guarantees. It can take alotta time to develop a chemistry and a familiarity after making a blockbuster deal. One player, as we have seen, can change the dynamics of an entire team.

After 54 games, we are witnessing this Orlando Magic team finally turning into the team that we thought it would be. It looks to me as if this team is gonna be peaking at just the right time. Owners of 13 game win streak and the best record in the NBA, the Cavaliers are rolling.

Sure, adding a piece like Stoudemire would certainly look great on paper.

But, as our Dwight Howard said to the media after practice Tuesday: "I'm not gonna lose any sleep."

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 10, 2010, 8:00 AM

Vince's Manic Monday


I must admit to you that I had my doubts. I really didn't think Vince Carter had it in him.

I wondered aloud on INSIDE MAGIC whether Vince was washed up? Was he burnt out? Injured? Was he having issues dealing with heightened expectations? Did he not know how to play with talented teammates?

What was wrong with Vince Carter? Turns out that, perhaps, Vince was just pacing himself.

That was one of the most memorable individual performances in Magic history.

Vince exploded for a season-high 48 points in the Magic's 123-117 win over the Hornets on a memorable Monday night at Amway. The 48 points, three shy of his career-high number of 51.

With the remarkable performance, Carter became just the fifth player in franchise history to score 48 or more points in a single game. It was the most points by a Magic player since Vince's cousin, T-Mac, pumped in a franchise-record 62 for us in a win over Washington in March of 2004.

Monday night, Vince did things he had not done all season long.

He went strong to the basket. Ten of Vince's 19 field goals came in the paint.

He drained a season-high six of ten three-pointers. This, from a guy shooting in the low 30-percentile from distance this year.

He blew by his defenders, finished strong at the hole and square up to the hoop--things that he hadn't done consistently all year.

I am happy for Vince. He says his confidence never wavered after averaging a scant 8.7 points on 28% shooting in a rancid month of January--but I've got to think that, deep down, he had to wonder whether he still had it or not.

Well, I don't think there's any question that he's got it . Now, can he keep it?

I've got even better news for you. There is evidence that Vince's 'Manic Monday' was more than just a one-shot-wonder.

In the loss to Washington last Friday, he had 21 points. On Sunday in Boston, I thought Vince played his best game of the season to date with his 20 points in the win over the Celtics.

One player does not a team make. I realize that. But, look, we have everything in place--the best big in the game; Rashard and Jameer becoming themselves again; we're deep and talented off the bench; we have a proven coach and a committed front office.

Everything is in place for this franchise to win big--everything except the one aspect of this team that's been lacking to this point.

We need that one guy who can step up and carry when need be. We need that one guy who can take over a game by himself. We need that one guy who has the ability to create on his own and score in crunch time.

I'm not delusional. I am not asking for 48 points every single night!

But let's hope the current trend of positive play continues for Vince Carter.

If it does, the Orlando Magic have as good a chance as anybody to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy come June.

Anez Sez is solely the opinion of Scott Anez and does not reflect the views of the Orlando Magic or 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, February 5, 2010, 8:00 AM

Magic Making Magic Again on Defense

This Orlando Magic team is resembling the one that made it all the way to the NBA Finals last season.

How do I know that? Well, just take a quick glance at the league's defensive statistics.

Recall a Sez penned on Nov. 9, 2009. In that blog, Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy was quoted as saying, "We are more predicated on shooting. We have no defensive toughness and right now we aren't a very good team", Stan said. "It doesn't seem to bother anyone in the locker room."

At that point, Stan's Magic were merely going through the motions defensively. The Magic had allowed five of their seven opponents to top the 100-point mark. At that point, Orlando was allowing teams to shoot a whopping .475. Back then we were giving up 99.6 points per game.

What a difference two or three months make, huh?

Right now, this Magic team is giving up .435 FG. That number is good enough for second in the league right now. We are giving up 95.5 points per game (fifth in NBA).

We in Magic Nation realize that the backbone of the team that captured the Eastern Conference last season was not three-point shooting, It was not the run and gun style of offense. It was defense. Holding teams to 43.27% FG (third in the NBA) and 94.4 points per game (currently 99.6), the Magic were one of the best defensive teams in the NBA in '08-09.

I point to that game in Los Angeles on January 18 as the turning point of our season. Sure, we lost the game to the Lakers 98-92. But, for the first time this season, we played like a hungry team again. We played like the hunter instead of the hunted. We played with energy and intensity. We played with purpose.

That's what I see right now--a team playing with purpose. It all starts on defense.

You look at our roster and, other than our man in the middle, I don't think we have any out of this world defenders. But, what we're doing right now is we're finally buying into what Stan Van Gundy is selling again. It's a system predicated upon a stiff team defense. Everybody's talking. They're all helping. They're all buying in.

Defense wins championships. This team is finally establishing an identity in 2009-2010 because it's gotten back to the basics defensively.

The Orlando Magic are turning into the Orlando 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, February 2, 2010, 9:00 AM

J.J. for Vince?

So, the question came up the other day...

Should J.J. Redick take over for Vince Carter in the starting lineup?

We all know about Vince's struggles this season. Vince comes off the most dreadful month of his career. In January, he gave new meaning to the term 'Vinsanity' when he averaged 8.7 points on 28% shooting in 14 total games. He scored 10 points or less ten times last month. Needless to say, Vince is ecstatic to see January in the rear view mirror.

There's no sugarcoating the fact that the Magic are playing four-on-five right now in the starting lineup. Luckily, this team has decided to streak toward an NBA title with or without Vince. The Magic are starting to resemble the team we saw last season. They playing their best basketball of the season, in part, because this team has stopped waiting for Vince to catch fire.

It's now up to Vince as to whether he wants to come along for the ride or not.

While Vince is struggling, Redick is surging. In year four, J.J. is coming into his own. Already this season, he has recorded career-high's in points, assists and rebounds. Averaging close to 10 ppg and shooting a team-leading .407 from three-point range, J.J. is now playing with a confidence, a spirit and an energy that we haven't seen since his senior season in Durham.

So, shouldn't J.J. replace Vince in the starting lineup?

No. Not yet, anyway.

Believe me, I, like you, am incredibly frustrated with Vince's play and I do believe that J.J. would fit right into the starting lineup and play very well.

But, bottom line is that if we're gonna win a title, Vince is gonna have to be one of the main guys to take us there.

If he continues to take up space with weight, that possibility becomes a very difficult proposition.

I just don't know if we can beat the Cavs or the Lakers in a seven game series without Vince playing at a high level. This is a guy who was brought in to be our missing link, our go-to-guy, the guy we can lean on late in fourth quarters. We have to get this guy going.

I also feel that, with Vince continuing to start, J.J. gets to keep doing what he's doing.

NBA players are creatures of habit. They like consistency. Right now, J.J. is getting consistent playing time off the bench. He now knows when he's gonna get into the game--at about the 3-4 minute mark of the first quarter. He also knows that he's gonna be on the floor with the game on the line. J.J. has become our sixth man and obviously feels very comfortable playing with the first or second units.

So, I am all for the status quo, for now.

Keep Vince in the starting lineup and hope that he wakes up...Don't tinker with the mojo J.J. has going on right now.

However, if Vince continues to drag us down, I reserve the right to change my mind after the All Star Break.

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, January 30, 2010, 12:40 PM

Matt Barnes Day on Inside Magic

It happened, folks. It finally happened.

For years, I have been calling for it. Finally, against the Boston Celtics, it happened.

Finally, a teammate got Dwight Howard's back!

I could have kissed Matt Barnes on Thursday nigh--on the cheek--let's not get carried away here.

As I watching the Hawks beat the Celtics for the fourth straight time this season Friday night, I noticed that Atlanta's Josh Smith was whistled (amazingly) for a flagrant foul after Smith very gingerly grabbed Boston's Kendrick Perkins from behind to stop a shot. I sincerely hope the NBA rescinds that flagrant on Smith because the foul equated to a little love tap.

I thought to myself—self—can you imagine if our games were called that closely? Heck, at least 15 times a game, opponents would be called for flagrants on Dwight.

There are the rules for the rest of the NBA. Then there are the rules governing Dwight Howard. It's just the way it is. The referees officiate Dwight Howard differently than anybody else in the league. It's not opinion. It's fact!

That's why it was so refreshing to witness what took place very early in the Magic-Celtic game on Thursday night.

Early in the game, Paul Pierce had just gotten done with the run-of-the-mill assault and battery of Dwight down low. Then, we saw something that stunned and amazed me (I think it stunned and amazed Pierce too!).

As Pierce walked away, Matt Barnes was right there for a meet and greet. The two exchanged words, bumped foreheads as Pierce kinda shoved Barnes away. Both players got T-d up.

A closer look at the play reveals that Barnes and Pierce got into a little wrestling match right before the foul on Dwight—and whether Matt was responding to that or to the hard foul on Superman is in question. To tell ya the truth, it was probably a little bit of both.

But the message was sent. It's a message that was long overdue.


For too long, we have stood by as our opponents have had their way our star center. For too long, we have watched as opposing bigs put their stamp, literally, on Dwight's forehead.

No more. The buck stops here, with Matt Barnes.

Barnes has added toughness, nastiness and grittiness to this team since he entered the starting lineup.

He's very much old school in that the opponent is the enemy. I like that. To be honest, there's too much man-love in today's game for my taste—everybody hugging and slapping and laughing. There's way too much 'Kumbaya' in today's NBA.

Give Matt Barnes a guaranteed 10-year contract. Mayor Crotty, name an Orange County street in his honor. Mayor Dyer, give the man the key to the city.

Finally, a teammate stood up for our FRANCHISE.

I officially declare this…Matt Barnes Day on Inside 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, January 28, 2010, 11:45 AM

Back From the Brink

I have been a little under the weather this week--so much so that I missed working the broadcast of the Magic and Grizzlies game in Memphis on Monday night.

It was the first regular season Magic game I had bowed out of since my daughter was born on March 26, 1996—the night that the Lakers and Magic Johnson came into O-Town and beat us 113-91.

So, I am 0-2 for my career on the Injured List.

I watched the Magic-Memphis game from my bed on Monday night and, other than Dwight's defensive domination (six blocks), here's what stood out in my mind:

Bad shot selection and turnovers.

We in Magic Nation keep waiting for that "Aha" moment, that one game in which the light turns on—when everyone is on the same page and plays well together. We are waiting for that one game where we all agree that's the moment that this Magic team starts to understand how good they really can be.

Don Larson's 'perfect game' hasn't happened yet. I think the Laker game in L-A was a start because that game kinda awakened us from a chilly mid-season funk.

But, we've all been waiting for that epiphany, the night when Vince goes off for 35; the game when Dwight piles up a triple-double; the night when Rashard hits those customary dagger-like three's and the night when Jameer, alias "The Closer", plays with energy, runs the break, ups his assists and limits his turnovers.

But, the perfect game is not gonna happen until we can get some things straightened out.

We will not come close to that perfect game if we cannot protect the basketball.

Earlier this season, I kinda gave this team a pass on the turnover factor. I figured, with all the new pieces on this club, it was gonna take time. Well, the moratorium is over with. We are beating ourselves with self-inflicted wounds!

The Magic are averaging 14.7 turnovers per game this season.

It isn't a boatload. The number, you would think, is workable. Heck, this team got all the way to the NBA Finals last season by turning it over 13.9 times per game.

But, this year, for some reason, this team just seems to be much more careless with the basketball. We are forcing things that just aren't there sometimes and because we're not as potent offensively as we were last year, the turnovers become magnified because there's very little margin for error.

We saw that error pop up in the game vs. Memphis Monday night. Dwight Howard records six blocks and we still lose? It just should not happen.

So we are gonna have to cut down on the silly, unforced errors and we have to do a much better job of selecting our shots and getting better ball movement.

I am all for this team playing loose and playing to its style, which is, that of a three- point shooting club. But we've got to be smarter. For instance, when we're up 16, as we were in Memphis Monday night, take your time to get a good shot. Work the ball into Dwight and play to your strength, which is inside-out. Know the time. Know the score. Work it to your advantage.

We are seeing some encouraging signs from this Magic team lately.

We are starting to play the "Van Gundy" defense that this team was known for last year. As a matter of fact, the Magic have catapulted to second the NBA in field goal% vs. (.438).

This team's energy and effort have come full circle since the Laker game on Jan. 18.

But, in order to get where we want to go this year, the Magic have got to take better care of the basketball….and they must improve their shot selection.

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, January 23, 2010, 11:25 AM

The East is Anybody's Ballgame

The Orlando Magic go into tonight's contest at Charlotte right in the thick of things atop the Eastern Conference.

That's right—with all the talk centered around this team's chemistry being askew; with all the talk about Vince Carter's recent shooting woes; with all the talk about Jameer and Rashard not being what they were last season; and with all the chatter centered on Dwight Howard not developing an offensive game—folks, we're right there!

With our western road trips out of the way and 21 of the final 39 games at Amway, where our Magic sport one of the best home court advantages in the business right now at 16-4, we're in very good shape.

The Magic begin the day trailing the Cleveland Cavaliers by 4 and-a-half games atop the East. Orlando sits just one game back of Boston and one-half back of Atlanta right now.

The top half of the East ain't going anywhere.

I've got to give props to the Hawks. They are no fluke. They are stubbornly sticking around longer than I thought they would. But, in the end, can they beat the Orlando Magic? No. They cannot. We've taken them twice already this season and I truly believe we're in their heads.

The Boston Celtics have obliged and are waiting for us. The Celtics, if not for a late Ray Allen three-pointer Friday night in a win over Portland, would be a loser of eight home games already this season. Keep in mind; this is a club that dropped 11 total games in the previous three seasons at the Garden. Since Boston played its Super Bowl against the Magic on Christmas Day, the C's are just 5-8. Despite the Magic loss, we took a lot of wind out of their sails on Christmas! Yes, Garnett is now back in the lineup, but that Boston team is old, fragile and ripe. Question is: Can Boston stay healthy and energized through the regular season and into the postseason?

There's no denying that the Cleveland Cavaliers have an aura about them this year. They are playing with that proverbial chip on their shoulders after last year's loss to the Magic in the Conference Finals. Cleveland is 33-11. But, all of a sudden, the Cavs are feeling the bite of the injury bug. Starting point guard, Mo Williams, their second leading scorer and top playmaker, will be sidelined for at least one month with a sprained left shoulder. Backup point guard, Delonte West, just suffered a broken index finger on his left hand. It remains to be seen how long he'll be out. I am certainly not predicting a tailspin for the Cavs. LeBron's just too good for that to happen. But, the Cavs, who by the way have a seven game home stand coming up later this month and next (wonder if they really are a protected team as Stan Van Gundy seems to think?) don't appear to be running away from the pack any time soon.

So, Magic fans, with all the talk of doom and gloom lately, we're right there.

The Eastern Conference is anybody's ballgame.

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 18, 2010, 5:12 PM

How Will The Big Four Respond?

Here's the quote of all quotes from Magic starter Matt Barnes after the loss in Portland on Friday night:

"It's like we are going through the motions," he said. "Just because you went to the Finals last year, you can't go out on the floor and expect teams to lay down. We got no heart. I've played on teams that used to love to punk the good teams in the league. We loved to do that."

Let's re-visit the one sentence from Barnes that really caught my attention: "We got no heart."

Wow…If you ever want to get an athlete's gander up, go ahead and tell him or her that they've 'got no heart'!

That's about as blunt as it gets. This statement cuts deep. It cuts to the core of what an athlete is all about, especially a professional athlete. One of the main reasons why these guys make it big is because of the will and determination, the will they show throughout their careers.

This Magic team, generally speaking, is going through the motions right now. The 'Mystery Magic' have dropped six of their last eight games and are 9-10 since starting the season 17-4. They've shown no heart recently—that, to me, is the most puzzling aspect of this club right now.

Remember last season, Magic fans? This team showed more collective heart than any team I have ever seen.

This team's resolve was as determined as a lion's. They never gave up…never gave in…and always kept coming at you. This team was so special in that regard. They seemingly always had a counterpunch.

But, more often than not recently, they've been knocked down—and they're not bothering to get up.

We've talked about the issues we're having, ad nauseam: offensive woes, defensive woes, Dwight's lack of a turnaround jumper, Rashard's and Jameer's struggles, Vince's impotent offensive game, team chemistry issues, no Hedo. Blah blah blah…

In the end, it's gonna be up to our Big Four to put a stop to this nonsense. This team is so much better than what it's shown recently.

I remember back in the day, after the Lakers embarrassed Larry Bird's Celtics in game three of the 1984 NBA Finals, Bird said his teammates played like a bunch of "sissies". The end result would be a Celtic overtime win in game four and an eventual banner in Beantown.

Point is….Matt Barnes is no Larry Bird. But, I love what Matt said the other night. The truth hurts. But, sometimes during a grueling 82 game schedule, a team needs a wake-up call.

In the end it's got to come from the guys who make this team go—the guys who, I am convinced, will lead this team back from a dark place right now.

Dwight, Jameer, Rashard, Vince…Your teammate said you have 'no heart'.

How are you gonna respond?

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 15, 2010, 8:45 AM

Lew, Old Guard Need To Kick It Up A Notch

Despite the fact that the Orlando Magic are right in the thick of things atop the Eastern Conference--there's no denying it--this is not the Magic team that earned its way into the NBA Finals last season. There is something missing.

Might it be Hedo Turkoglu? Is there a team-chemistry issue? Are guys having trouble living up to heightened expectations? Are we having issues taking the opponents' best shot each and every night? All those topics have become great talk-show fodder. But, they're also intangible. We don't know definite answers to those questions as of yet.

What is tangible is the fact that we need more out of our old guard, the players who were in Magic uniforms last year.

You look at those players and the only guy, perhaps, who has played better this season is JJ Redick.

...Dwight Howard, while he's been very good, has not been as great as he was last year.

...Dwight's backup, Marcin Gortat, has not been as effective as he was in 2008-2009.

...While he's not been as explosive as he was in the 2009 playoffs, Mickael Pietrus has been up and down so far.

...Jameer Nelson has not been the Jameer who made the All Star team in the first half of last season. Granted, Jameer is still in the process of recovering from knee surgery. But, even before the injury, he was far from the pace he set in the first 42 games last year. For some reason, Jameer continues to struggle with his energy level.

...And then there was Rashard lewis, who is such an integral part of this team. He has labored bigtime compared to what he's done his first two seasons in Orlando.

Rashard tells the Orlando Sentinel, "We're not gelling. We're playing OK, but we're not elite--where we need to be. It feels like we're one of the last placed teams."

We've talked in the last few weeks about Rashard's struggles. His average has now dipped to 14.2 points per game, the lowest output since his second pro season. Keep in mind, he averaged 17.7 ppg and led the league in three-pointers made and attempted last year. He averaged 13.7 shots per game last year. This year: 11.4 shots.

I don't know what's going on with Rashard, but he looks like a different player this season. It's just not flowing for Lew as it has the in the past.

Granted, teams seem to be playing him tighter this year. But Lew is just not getting the good looks from distance as he did in his first couple of years here. When he tries to take it to the hole, he's having trouble finishing. And when he posts, usually deadly for opposing teams, he's coming up empty more times than not. Those late-game three point daggers he's become known for? Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't remember any game-breaking three's this season.

I've said it before and I will say it again. In order for this team to be as good as it can, Rashard Lewis must become Rashard Lewis again.

If he does not, then, well, we won't become "elite--where we need 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, January 12, 2010, 12:20 PM

Vince's Struggles Prompt Catcalls

I have received a share of calls and emails recently implying that Vince Carter being off the court may not be such a bad thing for the Orlando Magic.

I don't agree with the implications. Not yet, anyway.

I think we have to give this chemistry experiment more time.

Now, I'm not so sure I'd say that if we were 12-25 instead of 25-12. But, the cushion the Magic have built in the first half of the season allows some of us to have a bit more tolerance than others. Rome wasn't built in a day--and quite frankly, the Orlando Magic team that made the NBA Finals last season was not made in that one year. It took time and seasoning for that club to be as good as it was.

With that stated...Hedo Turkoglu's final regular season appearance in Orlando recently would dredge up the topic once again--Did we make the right choice this past summer?

Personally, I still think we made the sound personnel decision in, essentially, exchanging Hedo for Vince.

In the end, this team's need for a true go-to-guy was its greatest obstacle to a title. Was it the right choice? Will it pay off in the Orlando Magic winning an NBA title in the near future? That remains to be seen.

On the business side of things, I understand why we let Hedo fly in free agency. Here's a guy who is on the verge of turning 31 years old. Do you really want to give Turk mega-money for five years? It's alarming to think of Turk in year four and five of Toronto's $53 million deal. There are folks within the Magic organization who believe that Hedo's best years are behind him. I would agree with that sentiment.

To be fair, one could say the same for Vince Carter. Vince is no spring chicken--he's two weeks away from his 33rd birthday. He's not the high-flying highlight-film he once was. That has become obvious this season. Vince is more cerebral and less athletic these days. That's OK. We knew that going in.

What we didn't know is how much Vince would struggle in his new digs.

Vince (17.7ppg) is shooting a career-worst 39% FG and a sub-par 30.9% on three's. Before he went down with the shoulder injury, he went 11 for his last 49 (22%) and 1-13 from distance. Not good.

Hedo's numbers with Toronto? They're certainly nothing to email home about: 13.1ppg...42% FG...40.4% on three's.

So, it's obvious that the two players, while finding their places on their new teams, have struggled so far this season.

Coach Van Gundy is a big Vince fan. Stan says that the root of Carter's malaise is that he is over-thinking and pressing instead of trusting his instincts and just playing the game.

As the mid-season approaches, I certainly hope that Vince starts playing the game the way he knows how.

If not, I know I can count on more catcalls from you 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, Wednesday, January 6, 2009, 3:52 PM

What Don't I Like About the Magic Right Now?

I like our talent…I like our depth…I like our head coach….I like our record.

Now, I am gonna tell you what I don't like about our Orlando Magic as of January 6, 2010…

I don't like the fact that we have very little team chemistry right now.

Last season, we caught lightning in a bottle because, not only were we good, but we also possessed that elusive team chemistry. What is team chemistry? Well, I don't know if it can be defined within the context of today's Sez, but whatever it is, we had it. We had guys who enjoyed playing together. We had guys who fit the puzzle.

This year, I just don't get the feeling yet that the chemistry has developed yet with this club. Sure, we've had continuity issues with all the new players. We've had injuries and suspensions and whatnot. But, we're approaching the midway point of the NBA season here. Coach Stan keeps searching for different combinations hoping to strike gold. But, so far, we just have not been able to get a grasp of the team chemistry thing.

34 games in, we don't have the same resolve about us on the road as we have in the last two seasons under Coach Van Gundy. Case in point: this team has lost five of its last six away games. There's no excuse for a healthy and rested Magic team to lose to an injury-depleted Indiana club that got blown out by the lowly NY Knicks a few days ago.

This Magic team had a fire, a toughness and a 'refuse to lose' attitude about it on the road. Heck, our road show went 27-14 the last two seasons under Stan. For some reason, this team is becoming an ordinary road team. That's not the Magic that I know.

This team is having issues scoring the basketball? With all the explosive offensive talent on this club, I never thought I'd be writing that line this year. While they lead the NBA in three-pointers made and attempted, we also sit in the bottom half of the league in field goal percentage (.455). So, what that tells me is that we can't throw it in the ocean from inside the arc! I can't explain it. You have some of the most potent offensive weapons in the league on this roster, and yet, we're just not hitting shots right now.

There are other trends that continue to be causes for concern:

…We get very few easy baskets because, for some reason, this team refuses to run.
…Dwight's foul trouble is an issue.
…Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter have combined to go 9-47 from the field the last two games.

That brings me to the big ole elephant in the room with the lampshade on its trunk. It's the Vince Carter-factor.

It looks to me as if this team is having a difficult time adapting to Vince's style. Vince dominates the basketball offensively. He has attempted 175 more field goals than Dwight Howard has—and keep in mind that Dwight has played in three more games than Vince. I like the fact that we have a go-to-guy this year in Vince. I don't like the fact that our identity as an inside-out team that moves the ball around the horn is transforming into a club that stands around the perimeter while Vince does his thing. Whenever you bring in a player like Vince, there's always going to be an adjustment period. My hope now is that Vince begins to adjust his game to the strengths of this team instead of vice- versa.

So, 34 games in, those are my issues with this Magic team. Luckily, we still have a long way to go.

However, I hope we're not talking about these same issues 74 games into the 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 5, 2009, 11:54 AM

We Need Lew To Be Sweet

The Orlando Magic are 24-9. We sit right in the thick of things atop the Eastern Conference. We're right where we need to be.

But, while I have learned never to put credence into any one particular game or games during the grueling 82 game NBA marathon, I am a wee bit concerned with a trend developing with this Magic team.

There's no question that with the five new players on this roster, the chemistry on this club is not what it was last year. We still have to give it some time. Heck, we're just 33 games into a season in which we haven't had a whole lotta continuity yet. Jameer's been out. So has Rashard. We just made an alteration to the starting lineup (Barnes for Pietrus).

This team is still very much a work in progress. I have faith in Coach Stan and his staff that they will have this team peaking come March, April, May and hopefully mid-June.

What that said, I would love for Rashard Lewis to become Sweet Lew again.

It's not that his numbers are god-awful. Au contrare. He's currently shooting 42 percent from three-point range and averaging 15.3 points per game (last year, .397 from long range and 17.7 ppg).

The numbers are similar. But, it looks to me as if Rashard is just a little off-kilter right now.

In my opinion, there's no player on this team who's been more affected by Vince Carter's arrival than Rashard Lewis.

While Vince has put up solid numbers in a Magic uniform so far, he's not Hedo Turkoglu.

That's not a knock on Vince. But, he and Turk are two totally different players, players who bring different dynamics to the court.

The learning curve has been most evident in Rashard's game this season. Vince is a shoot-first guy who dominates the basketball. Thus, the ball movement has not been as swift as it was in the past with Hedo in the lineup. Rashard is in the process of adjusting to the new look.

Lew is a team-first kinda guy. He's as selfless a guy I have seen in this league. But, it's time for him to become a little more selfish.

We all understand that Vince has become our go-to-guy--but that doesn't mean Rashard has to defer. Lew has hit countless big shots for us over the last two plus seasons. This year? Those patented game-breaking daggers have been few and far between.

Rashard is one of the main reasons why this team is so difficult to defend. He's a nightmarish matchup at the power forward spot. So, I think we need to go back to featuring Rashard more offensively to take advantage of not only his deadly three-point shot but also use his effective back to the basket game.

This new-look, talented Orlando Magic team is still kinda figuring things out as we go.

But, in order for this team to become as good as it can be, Rashard Lewis needs to become as good as he can 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, Wednesday, December 30, 2009, 1:25 PM

Are We Tough Enough?

Are the Orlando Magic tough enough to beat the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers again this season?

We know our team is deep. We know our team is loaded with talent. We know that this Magic team has the makings of being great. We just need some more time to sort out some things.

But, does this team have what it takes? Does this team have the resolve and the drive to get past the Cavs and Celtics for the second straight year in the playoffs?

Two months into this 2009-2010 NBA season, the answer remains unclear.

It's a three-team race in the east.

Atlanta is 21-9 after falling to Cleveland Tuesday night.

I like the Hawks--and even though their record says that they should be grouped in with the East's Big Three, Atlanta is still on the on the outside of first class, looking in. They're sitting in the exit aisle of coach right now.

In the end, It's gonna come down to the Magic, Celtics and Cavs in the East.

Like the Cavs did last year, it would behoove any one of those three teams to finish atop the conference. That's the best way to avoid facing the other two in the playoffs.

So far this season, the Magic are 0-1 vs. the Cavs and we're 1-1 vs. Boston.

Last regular season, we finished 2-1 vs. Cleveland and 2-2 against the C's.

The one thing that really jumps out at me this season is the intense animosity that those teams have for the Orlando Magic. They hate us. They long to beat us. They see us in their sleep!

Those teams truly believe that what we did to them in last season's playoffs was a fluke. Therefore, those two teams are motivated to the hilt to take us down this year after we sent them on long summer holidays last year.

Look at what both teams did in the off-season. I guarantee you that both Cleveland and Boston had Dwight Howard in mind when they went out and got Shaq and Rasheed.

The Cavs and Celtics are playing with a great deal of incentive vs. the Orlando Magic this season. They're playing with fire in their belly. They're playing with very long memories. Beating those teams come playoff time is gonna be that much harder than it was last year.

So, the question is…Are the Orlando Magic tough enough to beat Boston and Cleveland again 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, Saturday, December 19, 2009, 5:34 PM

What's Wrong with the Magic?

Some of you fans want to know, "What's wrong with the Magic?"

The Magic, going into the Portland game, have lost three of their last five. Included on that list is a humiliating blowout at Miami Thursday night in front of the entire nation.

You want an easy answer…I don't have one.

First off, we're 19-7, ok? We currently sport the fifth best record in the NBA. Not bad, right?

What's wrong?

Keep in mind that we've had to operate over the last month without our floor general, Jameer Nelson. We miss his leadership. We miss his clutch play. We miss his ability to break down a defense.

Secondly, we don't have that same defensive focus and intensity that we had in 2008-'09. I don't know why. Perhaps this team, so deep and talented offensively, has the mindset that it can outscore opponents at will. Maybe we think we can turn it on and off whenever we want. I don't know. The cornerstone of this team's success is defense. We have to get back some of that hunger and fire we played with defensively last year.

And lastly, the Orlando Magic are getting our opponents' best shot. We ain't sneakin' up on anyone. Teams know what we did and where we went last year. They are measuring themselves against us. They are circling the Orlando Magic in red sharpie on their schedules:

…Miami's played its two best games of the year against the Magic.

…Indiana had us down by 17 in the first quarter.

…Utah played its best half of the season vs. us.

…The Clippers and Warriors played us to a standstill for about 44 minutes.

Teams are playing their Super Bowls against the Orlando Magic this season and if we don't bring our "A" game, we're gonna either be in a dogfight or get beat.

What's wrong with the Orlando Magic?

It's nothing that little Jameer and a little hunger won't cure.

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 16, 2009, 2:32 PM

Dear NBA

Dear NBA:

We here in Orlando would like to join in thanking you for rescinding the technical foul called on our Dwight Howard Monday night vs. Indiana.

We'd also like to thank you for giving Pacer Troy Murphy a flagrant-one foul for the horse-collar job he did on Dwight.

We'd also like to suggest you buy glasses and/or contacts for referees Ken Mauer, Gary Zielinski and Sean Wright. How they missed that call is beyond our comprehension!

But, to be honest, we've grown accustomed to this kinda nonsense.

Since he came into the league, Dwight's been fouled hard. But, this year, those fouls are crossing the line into cheap shot territory. The man is getting beaten, battered, bruised, scratched, clawed, hit below the belt and hit above the neck every single night.

We need your help in stopping this before it's too late.

One of two things is gonna happen if the status quo continues...Either Dwight is going to suffer a significant injury and be out of the lineup for a considerable amount of time...or Dwight will finally succumb to retaliating to one of these cheap shots by striking back.

Both scenarios would be ugly for the NBA. Dwight Howard is such a shining star for not only the Orlando Magic but for the rest of the rest of the league.

There is still time to prevent a such doomsday scenarios from occurring.

We're not asking for much. We simply ask you, NBA, to referee Dwight Howard as you would the rest of the league.

Even though we all know that Dwight is a superstar, we also realize that, for whatever reason, he does not carry superstar cache with the referees. We don't quite understand that down here. But, that's OK. We are not asking for Dwight to be treated as Kings Kobe, LeBron and D-Wade are treated. We've accepted the fact that it's just not gonna happen.

We are simply asking for you to referee Dwight just like everyone else. Call a foul a foul!

Why is Dwight Howard treated differently than any one else in the league?

Is it because he's so big and strong? That should not be reason for referees to officiate him any differently, should it?

Dwight IS big and strong. Those are some his talents. Heck, it's why we took him with the number one pick in the '04 draft. But, why should he be penalized for being physically gifted? Do you penalize Kobe, LBJ or Wade for their multiple talents? No. It makes no sense.

You should be very proud of Dwight, NBA. He's kept his cool over the last few years and has not retaliated to countless cheap shots and over-the-line physical play. He's also said all the right things and been very diplomatic. The kid has taken the high road.

Please, NBA, don't kick the can down the road anymore. It is time to act before it's too late.

All we ask is that Dwight Howard is refereed just like any other player in the league.


Orlando 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, Monday, December 14, 2009, 10:09 PM

What do I want for Christmas?

There is a certain minority faction of Magic fans (you know who you are) that does not believe in Jameer Nelson.

Some of you don't think that this team can win an NBA Championship with Jameer as our starting point guard.

I am not one of you.

Since 2004, when we traded for Jameer on draft night, I have admired Jameer's talent. I have admired his competitive will and toughness. I have admired his ability to stay cool in clutch situations.

Sure, there was a time when I was not so sure that Jameer had enough innate point guard ability to quarterback this team. But, last year, when Jameer would make the NBA All-Star Team for the first time in his career, those concerns were abruptly put to rest.

Jameer's been out of the lineup since surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee back on Nov. 18. Jameer, who missed the second half of last regular season and most of the playoffs after suffering a shoulder injury, is rehabbing and says he would like to practice this Sunday with hopes of coming back and playing next week.

We can use a healthy Jameer back in the lineup ASAP.

Granted, 35-year-old Anthony Johnson has turned back the clock to give us two very memorable performances in this early season.

He would score all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter of that nail-biting loss in Phoenix Friday night. AJ also tallied 17 points in 21 key minutes in a big Thanksgiving night comeback victory over the Hawks.

Jason Williams continues to lead the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.22--114/27). His play has been more than admirable. I love the way that Jason pushes the ball. I love that he sees the whole floor. I love the energy he provides this team.

But, I could make a case that the 34 year-old floor general is plum-tuckered out.

Right now, Jason is just playing too many minutes -- and that those minutes are taking their toll.

He's just losing some of that gusto that we saw earlier in the season. Can't blame him. Heck, the guy spent all of last year playing golf and playing with his kids in 'retirement'.

Case in point: J-Will's turnovers are uncharacteristically up in recent games. He had four at Golden State....Three at Utah...Four at Phoenix.

Jason Williams and Anthony Johnson have done about as solid a job as backup point guards can do in this league. But, we may have reached a point of diminishing returns with our two veteran backups.

What do I want for Christmas? I want Jameer Nelson wrapped up in a No. 14 jersey leading our Magic to a big win over the Boston Celtics!

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 10, 2009, 5:22 PM

Stan, the Sloan of the East?

As we play in Salt Lake City tonight, I can't help but glance over at the opposing sideline and wonder...Does Stan Van Gundy have a chance to become the 'Jerry Sloan of the East'?

Knowing Stan, if he's checking out Sez today on orlandomagic.com, his eyes are rolling and he is letting out a big ole belly laugh.

I realize that the odds are long for any coach in any sport to do what Sloan has done, but there are similarities between the two coaches and the two organizations.

Sloan's coaching career in Utah has been nothing short of astounding.

No, he's never won an NBA Championship, but, make no mistake about it...The guy IS a winner.

Sloan is one of three coaches in NBA history to have 15+ consecutive seasons with a winning record...He is the only coach in NBA history to capture one-thousand wins with one team...Coach Sloan is the fourth winningest coach in NBA history...There have been 235 coaching changes in the NBA (eight in Orlando) since Sloan took over the Jazz bench from Frank Layden back in December of 1988.

Now in his 22nd season, Jerry Sloan is the longest tenured head coach in NBA history and the longest tenured coach in all four major sports.

In today's world of professional sports, Jerry Sloan is an anomaly. Coaches just don't survive for 22 years with one organization. It just doesn't happen. But it has in Salt Lake City!

I am convinced that Jerry Sloan and Stan Van Gundy are brothers from another mother.

Granted, Sloan is a tall drink o'water who starred in the NBA as a player while the stocky Stan never sniffed the league as a player. But let's not the facts get in the way of a good Sez...Follow me here.

...Sloan and Stan are both no-nonsense guys. Both guys will not hesitate to tear into a player both in private and in public.

...While these guys are as demanding as they come, they also realize that the NBA is a players' league. They are smart enough to know that communication has to be a two-way-street.

...Sloan and Stan are relentless in their pursuit of the perfect game.

...Sloan and Stan are both defensive-minded coaches.

...They are both as hard-nosed as they come.

...They both work for stable organizations who have made a commitment to win.

...Sloan and Stan both work in small, one-horse markets where expectations may not as drastic and unrealistic as they are in New York, Chicago or L.A.

Will Stan Van Gundy become the 'Jerry Sloan of the East'? The odds are certainly against him. NBA coaching is much like politics...One day, you're on top of the world, the next, you're running for dog catcher.

But, if there's any coach in the NBA who may have the best shot at achieving Sloan-like longevity and effectiveness, it's 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, Tuesday, December 8, 2009, 5:43 PM

The Best Is Yet To Come

Going into Tuesday's game at the LA Clippers, the Orlando Magic are 16-4.

That record ties the Boston Celtics mark for best in the East. The 16 wins are the most victories in the Association along with the Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers.

With a win over the Clips, the Magic can match the best start in team history after 21 games.

Just twice before (1994-95 and 1995-96) has the team opened 17-4 and never in the 21-year history of the Orlando Magic has this club started a season at 18-4.

And yet, this Magic club has barely scratched the surface of just how good it can be.

...Generally speaking, birthday boy Dwight Howard has been solid. Yet, he's not played up to the level where he was last year, yet anyway.

...Rashard Lewis, having scored 20 plus points in his last three games, is just getting up to speed after the ten game suspension to start the season.

...Vince Carter has become a much-needed go-to-guy for this Magic club, but his shooting percentage is lacking. Vince is a career .446 shooter. Yet, through 20 games, he's stroking a sub-par .415 from the field.

...Leader and floor general, Jameer Nelson, has been out of the lineup since Nov. 16 due to the torn meniscus in his left knee. It could be another couple of weeks before we see Jameer in uniform.

...During the first 20 games this season, the Magic have had eight different starting lineups. Ten different players have made at least one start this season. There's been very little continuity on this team so far.

And yet, here Coach Stan Van Gundy is, warts and all, with the most wins in the NBA.

This team is winning, right now, on depth. They're winning with talent. But, overall, this is a team that is far from playing near peak level.

What does that tell you about the 2009-2010 Orlando Magic?

Well, it tells me that the best is yet to come.

That's a scary proposition for the rest of 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, December 4, 2009, 7:52 PM

It's A Slam Dunk for Superman

The young phenom is growing up in front of our eyes.

Earlier this week, Magic center Dwight Howard told members of the media that he is leaning toward NOT competing in the 2010 NBA All Star dunk contest in Dallas.

"I've got to keep my legs. It's kind of tough. I don't know. I've thought about it. But I think it's time for us to see more guys get out there and show their stuff. Half the time, you can't really show everything you've got in the dunk contest anyways. I would love to see a lot of people in it."

Cue the angels…Alleluia!

I'd be willing bet ya that GM Otis Smith grinned ear to ear when he read that comment.

Last year, Otis, a former dunk contest participant himself, offered some fatherly advice to Dwight. He in no way shape or form ordered Dwight NOT to dunk. Rather, Otis calmly and coolly attempted to convince Dwight to lay low. Dwight told Otis he wanted to do it. Otis begrudgingly agreed and lived to fight another day.

The message must have registered one year later.

For the last few years, I have been shouting from the rooftops for Dwight to stop competing in the Dunk Contest. It means nothing and it eventually takes a toll on the body.

The NBA season is a grind. Dwight, at the ripe ole age of 23, is finding out this year especially that, with opponents hanging all over him every night, it's wise to conserve as much energy as possible.

Truth is...Dwight Howard has outgrown the dunk contest. He doesn't need that platform anymore. The guy's popularity is through the roof. Heck, Nate Robinson won last year's event and now look where ole Nate is...collecting dust in Mike D'Antoni's doghouse.

In two of the last three years, Dwight got robbed on All Star Weekend. Three years ago, the kid stuck a sticker near the top of the backboard only to jobbed by the judges. Two years ago, Dwight rightfully won the thing, but last year, Dwight got hosed yet again when New York's Nate Robinson would take the title after Dwight served as a prop for one of Nate's slams.

Unfortunately, there's plenty of time for Dwight to change his mind. LeBron James, after stating last season that he would like to take part in the 2010 dunk contest, has recently waffled on his commitment.

Keep in mind that the All Star Game will be in Dallas's new 100-thousand seat Cowboys Stadium this year. The NBA will want to showcase its best talent at the event, so, it wouldn't surprise me if the league twists arms to try to get the marquee guys like Dwight and LeBron in the ancillary events.

Dwight...Stick to your guns.

Fuggettabout the dunk championship and focus on the real prize...The NBA Championship.

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, November 29, 2009, 6:43 PM

Thank You Sir Charles

47 points….37 rebounds….8 blocks.

Those are Dwight Howard's combined numbers over the last two games. Not so coincidentally, the Orlando Magic have won their last two games.

On Thursday night, during the Magic-Hawk broadcast on TNT, the entertaining and sometimes bombastic windbag known as Charles Barkley made this statement: "He (Dwight) hasn't gotten better offensively. The last few years, he's been one of the most talented players in the NBA. But his offensive game has not gotten any better."

Thank you, Chuck. Perhaps that's exactly the motivation that Dwight needed to break out of an early season funk.

On Thanksgiving night, Dwight had 22 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks in a victory over the Hawks. Superman tallied 25 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks in the 100-98 win in Milwaukee Saturday night.

I don't know if Barkley's criticism has anything to do with Dwight turning into Dwight again, but we'll take what we can get during a grueling 82-game NBA odyssey.

To Charles' point….Has Dwight gotten better offensively? I think the jury is still out on that question because, up until this week, we hadn't seen Dwight on the court all that much due to foul trouble.

Has Dwight developed that 10-12 foot jump shot everybody keeps talking about? No. Not yet. Sure, it'd be nice to keep defenses honest. But, frankly, the man is so good and he's become such a force in the paint that he really doesn't need that right now. Dwight, as he's shown over the last few games, has enough in his arsenal for this team to win and win big.

What I want to see from the big fella is exactly what we've seen over the last couple of games. He's dominating again…and he's dominating on both sides of the court. That's the Dwight we all know and love.

I don't know whether it was because of the uneven officiating or the overly physical way teams are playing him this year, but, up until a few games ago, Dwight had allowed the frustration to manifest itself the wrong way in the form of foul trouble. He was getting very careless with his fouls.

Well, over the last couple of games he seems to be channeling that frustration into measured aggression. We are not seeing those silly fouls from Superman recently. Case in point: Dwight had three personal fouls vs. Atlanta and three fouls in the win over the Bucks.

Look at the number of offensive rebounds Dwight has accounted for over the last two games…10. That's a telltale sign that Superman is back, baby!

Why? I don't know if it was Sir Charles' statement on national television…or whether it was Coach Stan peeling the paint during a halftime rant in Atlanta.

But, it's great to see the best big man in the world dominating 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, Saturday, November 28, 2009, 6:36 PM

The Consummate Professional

Ya gotta love the man they call 'Old Head'.

Without Anthony Johnson, the Orlando Magic are riding a two game losing skid going into Milwaukee.

AJ scored 15 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter Thanksgiving night. He keyed a 54-25 run by the Magic in the second half as the good guys rallied for a 93-76 win over the Hawks in Atlanta.

If there's anyone on this Magic team who has the right to be sour, salty and sulky, it's AJ!

Look at what the guy did for this Magic team last season.

After Jameer Nelson went down with the injured shoulder at the halfway point, it was AJ who stepped in and got the job done at the point guard slot. Remember what he did in the game after Jameer got hurt? He came up with a game high 25 points in a big win over the Clippers.

AJ played very well in Jameer's stead, but when he would lose his starting job after the Magic traded for Rafer Alston hours before the trade deadline, AJ stayed positive and never allowed his disappointment to affect the ball club. He went out and did his job and never became a distraction.

Come playoff time, AJ played well off the bench. In Game 3 vs. Boston, he would be forced into a starter's role after the one game suspension of Rafer, and produce he did. Not many folks gave the Magic a chance in that game…But, AJ held Rajon Rondo in check and tallied 13 points in a big 117-96 victory.

Come the NBA Finals, the Magic shockingly pronounced Jameer Nelson ready for action. Who was the odd man out? Who else….Anthony Johnson. But ya never heard a peep from the guy. Not one.

Then, in the offseason, as Magic GM Otis smith flirted with trading for point guard CJ Watson, one of the guys who was mentioned as trade-bait was AJ. Who else? The deal fell through…but there was AJ, on Media Day at RDV, with a smile on his face.

This season, AJ was expected to back up Jameer. However, due to Jason Williams' solid play in the preseason, AJ would be demoted to collecting cobwebs as a third stringer.

Yet, Jameer goes down again and AJ produces again.

AJ has gotten the short end of the stick quite a bit here in Orlando.

But all the guy does is produce. That's what he does. He has spent his entire career proving people wrong.

Anthony Johnson, you are the consummate professional.

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 25, 2009, 3:26 PM

J-Willing and Able

The Orlando Magic are winners of five consecutive games.

I don't think it's any coincidence whatsoever that we are in the process of becoming the Orlando Magic again with J-Will running the show.

Over the course of the last week, we have seen this Magic team play with much more gusto than it did earlier in the month. That could be due to a kinder, gentler head coach these days. It may also be because of the fact that this Magic team is starting to gel defensively.

I also believe that the recent surge is due in large part to Jason Williams' solid play from the starting point guard spot.

Jason has brought a zest to this team that we just didn't have prior to the Oklahoma City game last week.

He runs the floor, and guys know that if they don't run with him, they won't get any touches of that magic pill. In pushing the ball, Jason has set the tone for a team was in dire need of an early season jolt.

Jason sees the floor and he makes solid decisions on the court. The numbers don't lie. J-Wil leads the NBA right now in assist-turnover ratio (4.83...58 assists--12 turnovers). While playing an average of 33 minutes over the last three games, the 34 year old veteran has committed a scant three turnovers as a starter. Not bad.

I am in no way shape or form trying to ignite some sort of quarterback controversy here.

Jameer Nelson is my guy. He is our guy. He is an All Star for a reason. The guy is clutch. He is a team leader. Jameer is our starting point guard.

But, while his knee is healing, Jameer would be wise to study how Jason up-tempos the game.

Jameer has his strengths as well. But if there's one thing we need more from Jameer when he returns within the next two weeks, it's energy! Jameer has a tendency to walk-jog the ball up the floor. Jason sprints up the floor. We have seen recently how the racetrack mentality that J-Wil brings to the team has a total trickle down effect.

Get well soon, Jameer.

Meanwhile, it looks to me as if we're in very capable hands with J-Wil as our starting 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, Wednesday, November 18, 2009, 6:27 PM

And the Answer is …

When pigs fly.

That's my answer to the question of The Answer.

With Jameer Nelson out for the next 4-6 weeks after the arthroscopic surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his left knee, there are some in the local media and apparently some folks on the Magic blogs suggesting that Allen Iverson would be a worthy replacement for Jameer.

OK…Let me see if I have this straight here.

Allen Iverson, the same guy who led the Denver Nuggets to mediocrity…The same guy who became such a distraction in Detroit that the Pistons run of six consecutive appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals ended last season….The same player who went AWOL on the Pistons to sulk about not being a starter anymore…The same guy who couldn't find an NBA home 'til the lowly Memphis Grizzlies begrudgingly gave him a $3 million deal late in the summer...The same dude who was waived by the sad sac Grizzlies earlier this week...

You mean that Allen Iverson?

If you haven't figured it out already, allow me to spell it out for you: No…I do not want to see Allen Iverson in an Orlando Magic uniform. Not now. Not ever.

You have a Magic team, with five new players in the fold, attempting to gel here early in the season. And you want to bring in a guy who's historically become a cancer to team chemistry? We're building a team in Orlando, a team with good character guys. Why on earth would you want to throw a Molotov cocktail into the mix like Iverson? Practice?

The Orlando Magic have two very capable point guards backing up Jameer this year in Jason Williams and Anthony Johnson. I actually think A-J is gonna help us with his intensity and ability to bother opposing point guards defensively. While we have to be on alert to the possibility of bringing in another point guard due to potential injuries to one of those greybeards, J-Wil and A-J can get the job done.

Iverson was great in his role with the Sixers back in the day. But those days are long gone. I do believe that the next professional basketball game you see Allen Iverson play will be in Europe. I think his NBA days are done.

So there are my two cents worth on the topic.

My answer…is no Answer at all.

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 16, 2009, 9:23 AM

Outta sight...Outta your minds

The old adage goes like this...Outta sight, outta mind.

But, Magic fans, keep in mind how important Rashard Lewis is to the Orlando Magic.

Monday night, thank goodness, Rashard returns to the lineup following the 10 game suspension for taking a banned over-the-counter supplement last season.

Over the last month, I have fielded questions and comments from a handful of Magic fans who inquired about the potential of trading Rashard. Their reasoning was centered around the fact that, with young Ryan Anderson playing so well early in the season, it might be time to dangle Rashard in a deal.

Question...Are you folks out of your minds? I cannot believe how some people just don't see how invaluable Rashard is to this Magic basketball team.

Rashard is a leader on a team that needs leaders right now.

While Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson are our team captains, Rashard is the guy who will take control of a team huddle. Don't let the quiet, soft-spoken exterior fool you...Rashard is a take-charge type of guy who is one of the most fiery competitors on this team. He is the glue this club has been lacking in the first ten games of the season.

Rashard is clutch. How many times over the last few years have we seen Sweet Lew step up in a late game situation and nail a big three?

Let's take you back a few months to the Eastern Conference Finals when Rashard would score 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter of a game one win in Cleveland. How about the three-pointer Rashard hit near the end of regulation to put us up 100-98 in game four? Going back even further, Rashard would tally 28 points in the game three win over the Celtics. These are just a few examples of Rashard being Rashard. He's our Mr. Big Shot.

I could also make a case for Rashard being one of the most difficult matchups in the NBA. Last season, the Cavaliers and Celtics,as well as countless other teams, had no answers for Rashard at the power forward spot. While Coach Van Gundy says Rashard will play some small forward this season, Lew is simply too quick and much too versatile for the more burly power forwards to handle defensively. He's the type of player who will cause the opposing lose alotta sleep the night before a game.

Sweet Lew is also the guy who stretches out defenses and balances the floor. He is the perfect compliment to Dwight Howard down low. This is a guy who shot .397 from three point range last season on a league leading 220 three's made. For his career, he's a .391 shooter from long range. He is the perfect compliment to Dwight Howard down low.

Defensively, Rashard, often times, is outmatched physically by opposing power forwards. But, one of the reasons why this Magic team has been mediocre on the defensive end to start the season is because of the fact that Rashard has sitting at home riding his bike. He understands what Coach SVG wants on the defensive end. He rotates. He boxes out. He is more physical than ya think. He gets it. He understands and executes our team defensive concepts.

With Rashard Lewis back, the Orlando Magic are on the road to becoming the Orlando 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, Thursday, November 12, 2009, 12:34 PM

Superman…Where are you?

Mama is a very wise woman.

She once said to me, "Scott, don't allow anyone or anything to steal your joy in life."

Well, now I am passing along mom's wisdom to our Dwight Howard.

Go get your joy back on, Dwight!

Through the first couple of weeks of the 2009-2010 NBA season, Dwight's joy has been stripped from him. It just looks to me as if he is not having any fun on the basketball court right now.

The kid famous for his wide-eyed grin and his playful personality both on and off the court has been mysteriously replaced by a scowling, menacing, ornery version of Clark Kent.

It's become painfully obvious that Dwight has allowed the hard fouls and the bad early season officiating into his head.

Teams are coming at him with both barrels loaded. Guys are not merely fouling him. They are hacking, clawing and hitting him below the belt. At times, the jolts have been downright dirty. And make no mistake about it…The officiating has been extremely poor and uneven here in the early season. Dwight has spent way too much time telling them how bad they have been.

But, there's something else going on here.

Last season, right before training camp, Coach SVG told Dwight that if he led the NBA in rebounding and blocked shots, his team would end up in the NBA Finals. In other words, if he became the best defensive player in the league, the Magic would go where they wanted to go. Dwight bought what Stan was selling and look where he ended up?

This season, it doesn't appear to me that Dwight has not bought in…Not yet, anyway.

He is just not playing with that same razor's edge defensive mindset that he had just a few months ago, and if that continues, I guarantee you we'll be watching the Cavs and Celtics play in the Eastern Conference Finals this summer.

Numbers never lie.

The NBA's reigning Defensive Player of the Year has one blocked shot in the last three games….This, from a guy who led the league last season in blocks with 2.92 swats per game. Right now, Dwight's averaging 1.44 blocks.

Dwight is scuffling to try to reach double digit rebounds this season. Heck, last year the "Daily Double" churned out 63 double-double games. Howard had an NBA-best 69 double-doubles in 2007-08. Granted, Dwight has five double-doubles in nine games thus far, but there's no reason why the best rebounder in the world should be ninth in the NBA in that category. I don't care how early it is.

Defensively, Dwight has been much too foul-prone. Poor officiating aside, he leads the NBA right now in personal fouls (37) and is tied for the league lead in technical fouls with Boston's Rasheed Wallace (3).

This Magic team takes its cue from Dwight Howard. That's not to say that the uneven play in this early season is all Dwight's fault. This team, with all the injuries and with all the new players, will be much better in a couple of month's time.

But, for now, it's up to Dwight to get us there by becoming Superman again.

Forget about the offense…Focus on dominating defensively again…And don't forget…SMILE!

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 9, 2009, 1:27 PM

Defense Is Offensive

It was only a matter of time before Stan went off.

Sunday night in Oklahoma City, Coach Van Gundy's Magic were chewed up and spit out by the young Thunder 102-74.

Stan had been warning us for a while now that his team's porous defense was gonna catch up to it. Sunday night, he became an NBA Nostradamus.

"We are more predicated on shooting. We have no defensive toughness and right now we aren't a very good team", Stan said. "It doesn't seem to bother anyone in the locker room."

To know Stan is to know that his coaching philosophy begins and ends with defense…and right now, his "white collar" team is merely going through the motions on the defensive end.

Numbers never lie:

…The Magic have allowed five of their seven opponents to top the 100 point mark.
…Orlando is allowing teams to shoot 47.49%. That mark is dubious enough for 24th in the NBA.
…We are giving up 99.6 points per game right now. As a reference point, note what the Celtics and Cavs are doing defensively (84.4p and 89.9p respectively).
…The Magic's 5.9 steals per game rank last in the NBA.
…Our 4.6 blocks per game put us in the bottom third of the league right now.

Looking at the early season as a whole so far, I could certainly make excuses for some inconsistent, uneven play. After all, Rashard Lewis has been out due to suspension. Vince Carter's missed four of the last five with the sprained ankle. Ryan Anderson has been wearing a boot on the ankle he sprained last Friday night vs. Detroit.

While the Magic's depth has been put to the test, there's no reason why this team should be beaten by energy and effort. Those are two things, as Stan says, you can control. Case in point…The young and aggressive Thunder out-rebounded the Magic 25-10 in the second half Sunday night. They just wanted it more.

Last year, this Magic team lived off energy and effort. Heck, we got to the NBA Finals because of Stan's two E's. Holding teams to 43.27% FG (third in the NBA) and 94.4 points per game (currently 99.6), the Magic were one of the best defensive teams in the NBA in '08-09.

Why the downslide defensively this early season?

Well, for one, we should know that we are gonna get the opponent's best every single night. The Magic are the defending Eastern Conference champs. There's a giant bulls eye on our backs. We ain't sneaking up on anyone this year. Teams want to measure themselves against us.

Could it be that we've gotten too fat and happy? Jury's still out on that one, but I certainly hope that this team is not living off of what it did last year. As good as this league is, that's a surefire recipe for disaster.

Let's cut this team a little bit of slack. We have five new players on a roster that has been decimated by early season bumps and bruises. We've got five guys trying to learn a new system while playing roles that they may not be completely ready to fill.

And lest we forget, this Magic team, for all its defensive deficiencies, is 5-2 right now.

But, we all know that, in the end, defense wins championships.

Right now, the Magic's defense is offensive.

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 4, 2009, 3:31 PM

Magic Fans … Who's Your Daddy?

You are bound to have a handful of duds during an NBA season.

On Tuesday night, after winning every outing since game five of the 2009 NBA Finals, the Orlando Magic had one of those nights.

Magic lose to the Pistons 85-80. The Pistons have now beaten our Magic in 20 of the last 25 matchups.

There's no other way to put it. It doesn't matter who's wearing that red, white and blue uni. You could field a team of Dave Bing, Vinny Johnson, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, Bob Lanier and sixth man Chuck Nevitt, at their current ages, and still, that team would have its way with us.

It's OK. I'm alright. I got professional help over the summer and I have come to accept the fact that the Pistons have a hex on us that will never be broken. Serenity now…Serenity now.

What I won't accept is the way our Magic played offensively in their first loss of the season.

Outside Orlando, the knock on Stan Van Gundy's teams over the last two plus seasons is that his team lives by the three, but it can also die by the three.

But if you have watched Stan's teams closely you realize that nothing could be further from the truth…until Tuesday night, that is.

The Magic chucked up 35 long-range-bombs (10-35); the most three's ever attempted against a Detroit team.

There have been times when this team would hoist 30-plus three's in a game before and, by the end, when glaring at the box score, ya say to yourself, "Man, I didn't realize we shot all those three pointers."

Tuesday night, I noticed every single one of them. Heck, it felt as if the Magic shot twice times as many bombs as we did.

Why? We got lazy and we settled.

When the ball is moving and the Magic are flowing offensively, those three's come in the flow of the game. Tuesday night, the ball was stagnant and those shots that we usually get in the flow of Stan's offense were simply not there. So, we began forcing the three. Not a good idea.

We all knew that, with five new players on this roster this season, there would eventually be some growing pains and chemistry issues to overcome. Those issues finally reared their ugly heads Tuesday night.

If Dwight and Marcin stayed outta foul trouble…and if Vince Carter could have actually moved laterally, then, a different story may have been written Tuesday night.

Then again, probably not, because I have come to accept this undeniable fact of NBA life...

Detroit's our Daddy!

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 2, 2009, 9:49 AM

A Magical Week One

Here's what I have learned about our new look Orlando Magic over the first three games of this season:

...Wow, this is gonna be a fun season! We're really good. We'll have the ability to be great by the end of the season.

...It's become painfully obvious that teams are taking no mercy upon Dwight Howard this year. Superman's getting pummeled! There's a difference between fouling hard and fouling dirty. The red flag is up because we've seen that line crossed a few times too many already.

...The only way to combat the Hack-A-Dwight game plan is for Superman to hit his free throws. He did just that in Toronto Sunday (14-for-16). Keep it goin' big fella.

...By the way, anybody else's heart skip a couple of beats when D-12 grabbed his right shoulder Sunday in Toronto? The next time Sup is mauled in the lane, I'd love for one of our guys to get his back and send a message to the rest of the league. I'm not advocating violence, mind you, but, we gotta protect the Franchise any way we can. The next time Dwight's manhandled, someone take one for the team!

...The Magic's defense must get better. The good thing is that we're working on it. We've got guys who want to get better and I believe they will get better. But, it goes without saying that if we're giving up 47% shooting and over 102 points per game at mid-season as we are right now, what's left of Stan's hair will be gray, his shirt will be even more crumpled and his post game news conference will be that much more titillating.

...In year four, J.J. Redick is realizing his NBA potential (career-high 27 points vs. Toronto). Coach VG recently made an interesting comment when he stated that Mickael Pietrus and J.J. were his two best perimeter defenders. How about that? J.J. is finally playing with a confidence that we have not seen since his senior season at Duke. He's quicker laterally than in years past. He's also using a Kobe-like ball fake to get himself to the line. I love J.J.'s look right now.

...We've hit 39 three-pointers in the first three games...If you're scoring at home, that translates into 1066 three's made by the end of the season.

...How much of a luxury is it to have The Closer back? That guy who we saw wearing Magic #14 in the NBA Finals last season was an impostor. This year, we're seeing the real Jameer Nelson stand up. Jameer had a team-high 30 points in the win at Toronto Sunday.

...Magic fans, I don't hear any of you lamenting the loss of Courtney Lee anymore? Ryan Anderson's early season play may have something to do with that. Rhino (17.3ppg) has shown a deft-touch from the outside, a surprising penchant for offensive rebounding and an out of this world basketball IQ. Rashard who?

...I jest about Rashard. But, isn't it amazing how, when we were down three starters (Vince, MP and Sweet Lew) in Toronto, I wasn't the least bit concerned? That's how deep and talented this Magic team is.

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 23, 2009, 10:46 AM

The Answer is ... J-Will

I recently got an email from one of you asking this question...

"Of all the new players on the Magic roster, who has impressed the most?"

Wow. I actually had to think about that a while. Heck, it's really difficult to single out one player in particular because all of them have been impressive.

Vince Carter is a true go-to-guy. He's not the Vinsanity 'Human Highlight Reel' of yesteryear, but the guy attacks the basket and gets to the free throw line. That's exactly what we need come the fourth quarter.

Brandon Bass has shown a freakish athleticism to go along with a high motor and an incredibly deft mid-range touch.

Ryan Anderson has displayed a game that is perfect for Coach Van Gundy's system. The kid is deadly from three-point range and has a high basketball IQ.

Matt Barnes is a guy who just as steady as they come. Nothing flashy. But, the kid does everything well.

But, if you're forcing me to single out one particular new player as being the most impressive this preseason, I may have to side with Jason Williams.

Why? Because I just wasn't sure what we were gonna get from the guy formerly known as 'White Chocolate'.

Keep in mind, Jason stunned the LA Clippers last summer when he announced his sudden retirement after being acquired by the Clips as a free agent. Although he had on and off trouble with tendonitis in his knees over the past few years, the news came as a complete surprise to the Clips and to the rest of the league because, at 33, it appeared that J-Will had plenty of NBA shelf life left.

He spent the next several months bouncing his kids on his lap, bouncing the ball in his backyard and playing golf in Windemere until the call came to play for his hometown Orlando Magic. He jumped at the chance.

Magic fans, be glad he did.

In the preseason, Jason has shown that he's still got it. Keep in mind, he's not the 'White Chocolate' of seasons past. You see glimpses of that guy every now and then, but the flash and the pizazz that we saw early in his pro career and at the University of Florida has been toned down and refined considerably.

The thing that jumps out at you about the Orlando Magic when Jason's on the court is that the ball moves crisply around the horn. He sees everybody and everything. You'd better be ready to run as well. He does a great job of pushing the tempo offensively. Even though he's playing only 23 minutes per game, Jason leads the team in assists in the preseason.

When ya think about it, J-Will is the only true point guard on this roster. Make no mistake about it...Jameer Nelson is the starter. Jameer is our leader and our floor general. He is an All Star. As much I love Jameer and what he does for this team, it's comforting to know that we have that true playmaker as our second stringer.

Don't forget about this little nugget as well...J-Will is the only current Magic player with a championship ring. You cannot put a price tag on a guy who's been there before.

So, as difficult as it is to single out any one player, there's the answer to your question. There are Magic players with better numbers. There are guys who have gotten more playing time.

But, I am going with Jason Williams as the most impressive new guy on this Magic 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, Wednesday, October 21, 2009, 4:12 PM

NBA Refs Are the Best We've Got

Word is that the locked-out NBA referees are on the verge of a return to work soon.

There was an unexpected meeting Tuesday in New York between Commissioner David Stern and the refs' union chief. They apparently hammered out a tentative labor agreement.

Never thought I'd say this, but here goes...We need the regular refs back ASAP! There…I said it.

Let's call it like it is. These replacement guys are overmatched. Can't blame 'em for that. They just don't have the experience the regular refs have. These guys don't have the feel for the NBA game the regular refs have.

We've seen foul upon foul called here in the preseason. Preseason games are customarily clunky, but we seen some very ugly, herky-jerky exhibitions so far. Thus, we've seen coaches like our Stan Van Gundy fined for comments supposedly critical of the replacements. Heck, we even saw the head coach for the Maccabi Tel Aviv team get tossed by a replacement in a charity game with the NY Knicks last weekend. An ejection in a charity game?

The NBA, more than any other sport, relies upon its officials to keep the game flowing. The game has become so physical and athletic. The good refs are familiar with the ebbs and flows of NBA games. They are familiar with time and situation. The good refs know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em.

I contend that no NBA team will be affected more by the replacement refs than the Orlando Magic. Why? Superman. Dwight Howard is so big, strong, agile and physical. Over the first six preseason games, Dwight's numbers raise a big ole red flag. Superman is only playing a half a game, 24 minutes per, and yet, he is averaging 4.8 personal fouls per game.

The replacement officials have no earthly idea how to officiate Dwight. That's not a knock on them. Heck, the regular refs have issues in officiating Dwight.

The Orlando Magic need the regular refs back, arguably, more than any other team in the league.

The referees' union is scheduled to vote on the tentative agreement on Friday. I have my doubts, but there's an outside chance that they could be ready by next week.

It's time. It's time for this impasse to end. The NBA owes it to the players, coaches and fans to get this done. It owes it to all of us who love this game.

NBA refs ain't perfect. But, as we've seen in this preseason, they're the best we've got.

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 15, 2009, 10:17 AM

Thank you, Mr. DeVos

The ownership of the Orlando Magic senses what we all sense. Our window of opportunity to win championships is now officially wide open. Therefore, Magic owner Rich DeVos is going for it!

Mr. D is going for it amidst a tumultuous financial landscape.

The NBA has not been immune to what's going in a very uneasy economy these days.

If you believe what you read, more than half of the NBA teams are losing money. There was a story a few weeks about the Miami Heat cutting the salaries of its staff 20 percent across the board.

The Sacramento Kings have issued edicts about no overtime for staff and Kings ownership has decided that trades cannot result in any additions to payroll. The Kings are reportedly seeping about $25 million per season.

Indiana is hurting. Memphis, New Orleans, Charlotte, Milwaukee and others are leaking.

The Orlando Magic? Well, I can tell you with a great deal of certainty that this franchise ain't a gold mine for Mr. DeVos. But, the numbers are eye-popping.

The player payroll looks to be around $80 million this season, the fifth highest payroll in the league. Keep in mind, the NBA salary cap is $57.3 million. So, as the Magic sit about $23 million above the cap, they also sit roughly $10 million over the $70 million luxury tax threshold.

These numbers are unprecedented. Small market teams just do not spend like the Orlando Magic are spending.

You're talking about a team that is, at its base, seeping $10-15 mil a year. You add to that the punitive dollar-for-dollar luxury tax, not to mention the increase in salaries this year, this franchise (as this amateur accountant sees it) could lose $30 million this season, give or take a few mil here and there.

Now, the financial landscape will be altered somewhat next season when we move into the beautiful new Amway Center. But, here's the translation...The Orlando Magic are delving deep into red ink to win us an NBA trophy this year. This franchise is going for it!

I love it. It's a great time to be a Magic fan.

Thank you, Mr. DeVos.

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 9, 2009, 6:20 PM

Magic Cliff Notes

I know many of you folks have not been able to see our new look Orlando Magic yet.

Therefore, I give you today's Magic Cliff Notes:

Dwight Howard...A monster! Superman could start the real deal tomorrow and record 30-20. The early 54.5% free throw shooting is a bit of a concern but we also realize that it's gonna be a process.

Vince Carter...31% FG shooting and 19% three-point shooting early doesn't worry me because he's still getting accustomed to his new surroundings. The thing you notice right away about Vince is that, even if he shoots a low percentage, he can still get to the hole and to the free throw line. We're gonna need that in crunch time.

Rashard Lewis...Looks to be in mid-season form. I think he's enjoying having Brandon Bass on his flank bodying up with the big boys.

Jameer Nelson...Imagine running a fast break and you have Lewis to the left, Carter to the right and Howard down the middle? Jameer is playing in a point guard's paradise!

J.J. Redick...Seems much more comfortable in his own skin and much more comfortable on the court. J.J. was the first guy off the bench vs. Miami.

Brandon Bass...Athletically gifted, physically imposing, professionally raw. The brawny Bass will be a difference maker this season.

Matt Barnes...Solid. Matt's gonna get alotta playing time this season because the guy does everything well.

Mickael Pietrus...Looks much more at-home this preseason than he did last. Stay healthy, M-P!

Ryan Anderson...You're gonna like this kid. He shoots the three and has a high basketball IQ. If ya don't know who he is yet, Ryan is the Will Perdue look-alike who plays like a young Pat Garrity!

Jason Williams...Six assists in game one. Not bad for a guy sitting on his couch in Windemere last year at this time.

Anthony Johnson...Let's face it, AJ got a raw deal last season in the Finals. He was mentioned in trade talks over the summer. I don't know if AJ is ticked off, but I do know that AJ is a true pro.

Marcin Gortat...The self-proclaimed 'Ticking Time Bomb' just doesn't make any mistakes. I think he's come to realize that being Dwight Howard's personal punching bag ain't such a bad thing.

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 1, 2009, 9:52 AM

Let's play 10 Questions

Going into the 2009-10 NBA season, I believe the Orlando Magic are one of a handful of teams (Lakers, Spurs, Celtics and Cavs) that has the inside track to the championship.

Meantime, I have 10 questions for our Magic as they head toward the regular season opener...


...Three of the five Magicians who started in the NBA Finals (Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee and Hedo Turkoglu) are no longer wearing blue and black. In are Vince Carter, Brandon Bass, Matt Barnes, Ryan Anderson and Jason Williams. Stan Van Gundy's most pressing task will be to quickly forge a chemistry between the old and the new.


...There's a target on our backs after reaching the NBA Finals in 2009. We are gonna get the opponent's best every night!


...Last season, this team was consistently one of the best in the biz. The Magic held opponents to 43.3 percent shooting (3rd) and 94.4 ppg (T-6th). We all know that defense wins championships. Will Dwight win his second straight Defensive Player of the Year Award? Also, can Mickael Pietrus continue to develop as a Kobe-LeBron-Wade-Pierce-stopper?


...We made 817 three-pointers while shooting 38.1 percent last season. The year before, Coach Van Gundy's first in Orlando, his Magic connected on 801 three-bombs on 38.6 percent. Despite the new personnel, the plan is to continue spacing the floor and shooting the three.


...I refuse to pile on Hedo. I hated to see the guy go. He's not only a good guy but he's also one of the most dynamic players in the game. We're gonna miss his versatility. With that said, Turk's numbers from last season (41 percent FG and 35.6 percent 3FG) were less than overwhelming. The Magic obviously thought his best days were behind Turk. Vince, you're up!


...At 32, Vince has transformed from "Half Man-Half Amazing" to an estimated "Three-quarters Man-A Quarter Amazing". But Vince is in great shape and he provides this team with our most pressing need -- he's a guy who can break down a defense late. We don't need you to play a role, V-C. We need you to take over this team in the fourth quarter!


...I keep hearing Magic fans chat about Dwight developing a consistent, reliable 10-12 foot shot to keep defenses honest. Sure, that would be nice. But, honestly, at this point, I don't care about that. Dwight's already the best big in the world. What Dwight needs to do first and foremost to become a complete player at his position is to start hitting his free throws. He's shot about 59 percent over the last three years. I'd love to see that number jump to the mid-to-upper 60 percentile this season.


...Who's gonna be that fifth starter? We know four of the five for sure: Jameer, Vince, Rashard and Dwight. Will Stan go big with Brandon Bass and move Rashard back to the small forward spot? Or, will the coach stick with Rashard at power forward and start either Matt Barnes, Ryan Anderson or Mickael Pietrus on the wing? Coach Sez says this -- Bring Bass off the bench for a different look, start Barnes at the three and leave Rashard at the four. Lew is such a nightmarish matchup at that spot. Another question--What happens the first ten games of the season sans Rashard? We'll save that one for another day.


...I hope so. Jameer had an All Star first 42 games of last season before the shoulder gave out vs. Dallas. The season before he played in 69 games. That's an average of 55.5 games the last two years. Jameer is the on-court leader of this team. We need desperately him on the court for a full season.


...Marcin Gortat was as shocked as all of us when Otis Smith matched Dallas's lucrative offer for him over the summer. I am now convinced that Marcin is genuinely happy to be here. He says he hopes to be in Orlando for a long time, but, the Hammer also says, "I may be a ticking time bomb." Can the Magic afford to keep a backup center making nearly $7 million a year? That's a very expensive insurance policy.

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 29, 2009, 10:49 AM

'Vet' J.J. a Piece of Championship Puzzle

As I sauntered around the RDV Sportsplex practice court on Monday, it hit me like a Taylor Wyndham helmet-to-chin Tim Tebow smackdown--the 2009-2010 Orlando Magic are gonna be really, really good!

I know. I am not telling you anything you didn't know.

But, for the first time, we took these players off paper and put them into uniforms.

Here's what I saw: Talent...Versatility...Depth.

No matter how good you appear in this league, there are always gonna be questions going into an NBA season. The big question about this Magic club is this: how long will it take for chemistry to develop for a team that has seven new players on its current roster?

It's hard to believe that one of the "ole vets" of this Orlando Magic team is sharpshooting guard J.J. Redick.

Believe it or not, as J.J. begins his fourth season in Orlando, he is currently the third longest-tenured player on the Magic roster!

Here's part of the conversation I had with J.J. on Media Day:

Scott: Well, J.J., here we go. Another year in Orlando and another training camp for this old grizzled veteran...

J.J.: I don't want to say I'm getting the hang of this because the NBA is very unpredictable. But, I am ready to get things going. I think everyone here is ready to get things going. We're excited about what we did this summer, but it's on paper. We still have to build the same habits and chemistry that we had last year in order to be successful.

Scott: Looking around the gym, there are plenty of new faces. Aside from that, what in your opinion is the major difference in this basketball team compared to the other three?

J.J.: I thought about that this morning. I am always a guy who's in the gym, and last year on Media Day, I remember I was maybe one of two guys who worked out before Media Day. I got here at 9 a.m. this morning to work out and there were already five guys here. By the time I finished up at 10:45, I think everyone had done some sort of workout. I think everybody's ready to go. I think the amount of work that we put in at the end of last year is gonna carry over and I think everyone understands how hard you have to work, how much you have to put in to get to that level and then really do even more work to win, which is the ultimate goal, to win a championship.

Scott: I know you are a gym rat, but I also know you took some time off this past summer...

J.J.: I started training for last season on June 1st of '08 and our season ended June 15 of '09, so I went a full year without any break. I actually took four weeks off, which was the longest break I've taken. I still ran and I still lifted but literally did not touch a basketball for four weeks. As soon as I got back, (Assistant Coach) Bob Beyer and I met. We talked about what we wanted to work on this summer and we got to work.

Scott: With Courtney Lee now in New Jersey, there's some opportunity there at the backup shooting guard spot. How much playing time is there for you this season?

J.J.: I said this at the beginning of last season, and I'll say it again. Those things are kinda outta my control. I can control how I play with the time I'm given but obviously Vince plays my position. Vince is gonna play a lot. I understand that. Hopefully Vince and I can be on the court together some, but then we have M.P. (Mickael Pietrus) and Matt Barnes. We're loaded at the wings. Those three guys are great NBA players. Whatever my role is I'll do it to the best of my ability. It's tough because Courtney and I were very close and it was hard because Courtney and I couldn't play at the same time because we were both undersized two guards. One of us left. I am happy I am here and hopefully that means as many if not more opportunities as I had last year.

Scott: J.J., what did you learn from your first NBA Finals experience?

J.J.: I learned just the importance of possession, of how much each possession matters. The Lakers were up 3-1 going into game five and if two possessions had been switched around in games two and four, we would have been up 3-1 going into game five. Now, that's a big, big 'what if'. Don't mistake me. The Lakers deserved to win. They were the better team in that series, without a doubt. But, in the playoffs, and really every game in the NBA, each possession matters. That's what I learned.

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 4, 2009, 5:55 PM

Timberwolves, We Feel Your Pain

Earlier this week, Ricky Rubio, the fifth pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, shunned the Minnesota Timberwolves by signing a six year deal with the Euroleague's FC Barcelona and subsequently telling Minnesota to sit and spin. Rubio is staying in Spain for at least the next two years.

Sound familiar, Magic fans?


Our ole buddy Fran Vazquez pulled the same stunt here in Orlando four short years ago. Ironically, Vazquez and Rubio will be teammates this year in their native land.

What is it with these spineless Spaniards?

Back in 2005, the Orlando Magic used their 11th pick in the first round to take Vazquez, who, like Rubio, had given every indication that he would be coming to the NBA. Sure, there were whispers about him staying put in Europe but, at the time, Vazquez's agents and Fran himself all stated that he was ready to take his game to the next level in the NBA.

Turns out, the joke was on us as the Orlando Magic became the first team in the history of the Draft Lottery to be shunned by a player who preferred Europe to the bright lights of the NBA.

Earlier this summer, there were also rumblings about Rubio staying in Spain, but, despite the rumors and a hefty buy out in Rubio's contract, the Wolves took the plunge. Unlike us, though, the Wolves had the luxury of jumping in with a life jacket. Perhaps weary of what happened to the Magic four years earlier, Minnesota, with the sixth overall selection, took point guard Jonny Flynn from Syracuse.

Here is a Vazquez quote from back in the late summer of 2005, after he decided to reject us: "It was a tough decision, the toughest in my life. I said no because I feared I would not adjust well."

Juxtapose that quote with this recent quip from Rubio after deciding to remain in Spain: "Going to Minnesota would have just complicated my life a lot. It was a risk and I didn't see it so clearly."

These guys must be brothers from another mother.

Which one hurts the most? Fact is, any time a lottery pick doesn't even show up to camp, it stings now and into the future.

Even though Vazquez is not the type of player who's ever gonna put up gaudy numbers on either side of the pond, he could have helped the Magic with some much needed size and energy in the paint over the last four years. I am not saying that Franny puts us over the top vs. the Lakers last year, but I would have loved to have seen him guarding his countryman, Pau Gasol, on the low post in the Finals.

Rubio's diss of Minnesota has a bit more sex appeal because of the 18 year old's boyish good looks, his unique ball handling and play-making skills and the flare with which he plays the game. Rubio would have been a cornerstone for a Wolves' rebuilding process.

They say that misery loves company. Believe me, Wolve Nation, we don't revel in your misery. We Magic fans, instead, commiserate.

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 31, 2009, 2:12 PM

One-on-One with Otis

It's been quite an eventful summer for the Orlando Magic and General Manager Otis Smith. Recently, Sez caught up with Otis to get his take about the state of his Orlando Magic...

SCOTT... You've rounded out your roster. How do you feel about the players you've compiled for the coming season?

OTIS... I think we have a pretty good team coming back. Our core stayed intact with Rashard, Jameer and Dwight and we added a Vince Carter to our roster, which helps. Those were our keys going into it. You know, it's not necessarily standing pat because we didn't achieve our ultimate goal. The question at the beginning of the summer was...How do we get better? I think we did get better.

S... It would seem that you addressed your two biggest needs over the summer. Those needs being rebounding and going out and getting a true go-to-guy in Vince. Did you consider rebounding and the lack of a true go-to-guy your off-season priorities?

O... Rebounding, for sure, was a priority in dealing with some of the teams we have to play in the Playoffs. Backside rebounding was a major need, which is what Brandon Bass is good at. We needed size. We have alotta guys who are tall but we didn't have a whole lotta girth. So Brandon will give us that. He will give us size, energy and he's very active. As for Vince, I told him this...Two years ago when we were entertaining the thought about bringing him on as a free agent, I didn't think it was the right time. But I think right now is the perfect time for him to be with us. He's 32 years old, a young 32, and he's hungry to win. He sees it as, I've got some guys here capable of winning a championship, and I think he's ready to go. He's probably in the best condition I've seen him in in years.

S... What about Vince? Do you expect him to be invigorated now that he's playing at home?

O... Yes, I do. 32 years old and playing at home, you can handle it. Now, if you're 29, 28, 26 and you're playing at home, I think it gets to be a little tough to deal with all the pressures of that. I think he's prepared now. That's one of the things that, as an organization, you have to be aware of. But, as I told him and as I tell the other guys, we're not asking him to carry the load. We're asking him get a handle and I think he's capable of doing that.

S... How good is Brandon Bass...and how good can he be?

O... I think he can be very good. I think that he brings is a lot of energy. He's got a big wide body. He can knock down a 17 foot jump shot consistently. He's very good for our team. Backside rebounding, when Dwight goes to block shots, ya know, we had to get someone to grab the rebound on the opposite side and that's where Brandon comes in. I'm not necessarily sure that he'll change how our team plays. I think we'll play a similar style, inside out through Dwight. We're still gonna get open looks that are created by double teams. No doubt, Brandon will be a big asset to our team.

S... With Hedo in Toronto now and with Bass here in Orlando, do you think that your team transforms from more of a three-point shooting team to more of a conventional club?

O... I think we'll be similar. I think when you look at our roster now, you see quite a bit of versatility. We can play multiple ways. I don't think that changes anything. I think if ya wanna play big, we can play big. If ya wanna play small, we can play small. I think we have probably one of the most versatile rosters out there as far as playing multiple styles. The three-point ball has been good to us because we make teams pay for doubling Dwight and it also keeps the floor spread and allows him to work, so, I am not sure that's gonna change a ton.

S... Rashard's out for the first ten games. Could the silver lining be the fact that it may allow other guys, the new guys, to step up?

O... There silver lining, no doubt. You wanna see how many minutes they can play and how deep you go to your bench. If you've got Rashard, you're not gonna do that. You're gonna rely on what's been consistent for us for the last two years. By not having Rashard in the lineup, it will give you an opportunity to see Bass, Anderson and Barnes for extended minutes. So, it's good and bad. You never want one of your players out. We're gonna miss him, but the rest of the guys have to carry the load.

S... How about Dwight? Rumor has it, via Twitter, that he's working on his free throws and his outside shot. He's already pretty darn good, but give us a progress report on Dwight and what he's been working on?

O... He's working on his game and his body. His biggest thing is his body. Everyone thinks that because he's got a great physique, that he doesn't need to get stronger. I think he still needs to work on his base and get stronger in his legs. Yes, he needs to continue to work on his free throws and I think he's done all those things. I do know that he's chompin' at the bit to get back, as all these guys are. Jameer had his camp up on Philly recently and the guys were really excited about it. I think they're all excited about the chances of us getting back to the Finals and winning it this time.

S... We saw Boston and Cleveland make moves specifically due to Dwight's dominance. Cleveland signs Shaq. The Cetlics go get Rasheed Wallace. Your thoughts about what those teams did this summer?

O... We all have to get better. That goes without question. Those two teams and ourselves are aggressively in pursuit of championships, not just wins. In order to do that, you have to tweak your roster as you see fit. I thought Danny Ferry did a good job in adding Shaquille O'Neal at pretty much a low cost to him and I think Danny Ainge did the same thing in Boston, pretty much tweaking at little to no cost. It's about positioning yourself to win a title. You can't win if you're not racing and I think the three of us all have positioned themselves to do that. But, as quiet and low key as it's been, I think the Washington Wizards have done a good job of putting a pretty good team on the floor as well.

S... I guess the big question this year will be...How will your team react to being the hunted instead of being the hunter?

O... Our guys are still pretty much the team that no one expects to do very much. So, I don't necessarily think that has changed very much. But our guys know what they're up against every day and they know they have to battle every day and I think they're equally enthused about the task. We have a much different looking ball team than we've ever had. We have a lot of experience at some positions that we didn't have so I think they're really excited about the season ahead.

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