Denton's Notebook: February 10, 2012

By John Denton
February 10, 2012

ORLANDO – Ryan Anderson entered Friday night with 15 more 3-pointers than any other player – and 21 more than Ray Allen, the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-point shooting – but the Orlando Magic power forward said there was no bitterness over being left off the Eastern Conference all-star squad.

But Anderson said prior to Friday night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks that he’s been invited to participate in the 3-point Shootout, which will be held Feb. 25 in Orlando’s Amway Center.

Anderson said of the players picked as reserves for the All-Star Game, Chris Bosh (seventh selection), Joe Johnson (sixth selection) and Deron Williams (third selection) have proven they belong over the long haul. Luol Deng, Roy Hibbert and Andre Iguodala are first-time picks and are on teams that are at the top or near the top of their divisions.

``There’s no surprise because there are a lot of really talented players in this league,’’ Anderson said of being left off the all-star team. ``(An all-star selection) is something that is obviously the height of what you can accomplish in this league, but I’ve had 26 games this year. So it’s just good to for me to have my teammates and coaches be confident in me. That’s what really matters the most to me. But in no way am I disappointed or anything.’’

Anderson entered Friday leading the NBA in 3-pointers made (74) and attempted (172). His 43 percent beyond the arc his 21st in the league and he’s had seven games this season in which he’s made at least five 3-pointers in a game. He’s scored at least 20 points nine times and ranks second on the Magic in scoring at 16.5 points per game.

Anderson, who torched Miami and Bosh for 27 points and five 3-pointers on Wednesday, said the opportunity to be in the 3-Point Shootout will be his first-ever appearance in an organized shooting contest of any kind.

``I was never in anything like that. I was never really invited to any of those camps going through high school. But it would be a great honor (to be in the 3-point Shootout),’’ he said. ``It’s not something that I’m looking towards. It’s not something that I’m not too focused on.’’

ALL-STAR CHANGE: Stan Van Gundy has twice been the head coach of the Eastern Conference All-Star team – 2005 as head coach of the Miami Heat and 2009 with the Magic. And while he cherishes some of the memories from those experiences – he got to introduce his son to his all-time favorite player, Oscar Robertson – Van Gundy would prefer never to have to coach in an all-star game again.

``I’d rather go home and sleep. There are fun parts about it and my family got to go with me both times that I did it and it allows you to get more relaxed time with your assistant coaches and you get to be around some of the other players, but it’s not coaching,’’ Van Gundy said.

Van Gundy said he strongly feels the NBA should make a change in the coaching format for the All-Star Game. Rather than making the coach with the best record before the break the All-Star coach, Van Gundy feels the NBA should use former great players as coaches for the game. That’s what is done for the Rising Stars game between the first and second-year players. Van Gundy said doing that for the premier All-Star Game would both honor the league’s past and give all 30 coaches in the league a break.

``I really think should get some of the ex-players to coach it and I think that would be great for the league and would be a way of connecting the past to the present,’’ Van Gundy said. ``There’s not a whole lot of coaching going on anyway. But why not have Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell or Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) coaching a team? I think they’d enjoy it and it would connect the present players with the guys in the past. And it would give all of us coaches the weekend off. I think that would be a good idea all the way around.’’

BIG MAN WITH STAMINA: Van Gundy said that while superstar center Dwight Howard is universally revered as the NBA’s best defensive player and its best rebounder and shot-blocker there are still some facets of his game that get overlooked.

Howard’s incredible stamina and durability are incomparable even when it comes to players at other positions. Van Gundy pointed to two plays from Wednesday’s win against Miami when Howard raced the length of the floor and either prevented a layup or got a dunk himself.

Howard has played all 82 games in five of his first seven seasons and he’s appeared in all 27 games this season. He’s missed seven games in his career – but only two were because of minor injuries.

This season, Howard has played at least 40 minutes 10 times. He ranks third in the NBA in minutes a game (38.2), while also ranking first in rebounding (15.4), second in double-doubles (20) and fifth in blocked shots (2.19).

``His endurance and stamina are two things that set him apart from everybody else,’’ Van Gundy said. ``Even when you start comparing some of the other big men who are playing well – whether it’s an (Andrew) Bynum or (Pau) Gasol or any of those guys – the difference is Dwight’s durability, the fact that he plays big minutes every single night and he plays those minutes well. That’s the biggest thing that sets him apart from everybody else.’’

ETC: Van Gundy wonders how the Western Conference all-stars will match up with the East when the NBA All-Star Game is played in Orlando on Feb. 26. The West roster is made up of four point guards: Starter Chris Paul and reserves Steve Nash, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook. Said Van Gundy: ``The West has a weird team because they have four point guards and none of them are extremely big. They only have two wing players in (Kobe) Bryant and (Kevin) Durant and two centers. So it’ll be very interesting to see the lineups that go on the floor because (Dirk) Nowitzki and LaMarcus (Aldridge) are going to have to play some (small forward) and two point guards on the floor a lot.’’ … Despite leading the league in 3-pointers, Anderson continues to get several open looks in every game. He gives much of the credit to Howard, who draws the attention of the defense. Said Anderson: ``It’s ball movement and having Dwight on the court helps. Everybody has done a great job of finding me and I’ve been looking for my shots. It helps coming in with more energy and I’m getting open looks by the way that I screen.’’ … The Magic play in Milwaukee on Saturday at 9 p.m. It will be the Magic’s ninth set of back-to-back games this season. Entering Friday the Magic were 9-7 in the first eight back-to-backs.

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com

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