Denton's Notebook: February 19, 2012

By John Denton
February 19, 2012

MIAMI – Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said something on Sunday that is becoming more obvious to other NBA teams around the league: Orlando Magic power forward Ryan Anderson is a dangerous weapon that foes are having to gameplan against.

Anderson got the Heat’s attention two weeks ago after burning them for 27 points and five 3-pointers. Anderson entered Sunday’s game leading the NBA in 3-pointers made (91) and attempted (207) by wide margins.

Anderson has made at least five 3-pointers in eight games this season, routinely burning teams who focus too much on Dwight Howard’s post-up game or the pick-and-roll plays with Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson. Spoelstra said that Anderson’s improvement has been so dramatic that he is now ``right up there at the top of the scouting report.’’

``You started to see it last year and last year he was one of the most underrated players in the league,’’ Spoelstra said. ``He should not be underrated this year because I think that every team he plays against he’s right up there on top of the scouting report. He’s having a very good, very efficient season.’’

Spoelstra said that what makes Anderson unique is that because he’s a 6-foot-10 shooter he can still get shots off even if teams are game-planning to try and stop him. Spoelstra also pointed out that Anderson ranks eighth in the NBA in offensive rebounds and his low post game is steadily evolving.

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said that Anderson’s game will have to continue to evolve now that opposing teams will begin to take away the things he does well and attack his weaknesses. How he reacts, Van Gundy said, could determine whether or not Anderson’s game ultimately grows into that of being all-star caliber.

``Ryan has a long way to go and there are a lot of things he needs to do better,’’ Van Gundy said. ``He’s gotten off to a good start, but the challenge for him as the season goes on will be that teams will adjust. Eventually people will adjust and he’ll hit a lull. Then, how you adjust to everyone’s adjustment and develop will (predict) how well you do. Ryan will have that at some point and he’ll have to adjust, but he’s off to a good start this season.’’

J-RICH OUT: The Magic had to play shorthanded Sunday when shooting guard Jason Richardson began experiencing chest pains just minutes prior to the game. Richardson was going through his usual pregame stretching routine when he felt pains in his chest. Richardson saw Magic athletic trainer Keon Wise and a doctor on staff at the American Airlines Arena.

The injury wasn’t deemed serious and Richardson sat on the bench with his teammates during the Magic-Heat game. Richardson will be re-evaluated on Monday, making his availability for the Magic-Bucks game unknown.

Losing Richardson was a big blow to the Magic because of the way the veteran shooting guard has played of late. In the five games prior to Sunday, Richardson had averaged 16.4 points while making 20 of 34 3-pointers. That included a scintillating performance last week in which Richardson made nine 3-pointers – including a record-tying eight in the second half – in a 31-point performance against Milwaukee.

With Richardson out, Dwyane Wade went right at replacement J.J. Redick and scored 12 first-quarter points. But Redick more than held his own, scoring 11 points and hitting three 3-pointers in the first half alone.

BABY BACK: Magic power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis rejoined the team on Sunday morning after going back to his native Louisiana for the funeral of his biological father.

Davis had hoped to be back in time for Friday’s home game against the Milwaukee Bucks, but needed extra time with his family to mourn the loss of his father.

``I’m OK – one day at a time,’’ Davis said before the game.

Davis made it to Miami Sunday morning and joined his teammates at the hotel just minutes before the team’s walkthrough was to begin at the hotel. Van Gundy said Davis was ready to play and he was the Magic’s first frontline player off the bench Sunday in the first quarter.

Davis, who signed a four-year, $26 million contract with the magic just prior to the start of the season, has struggled with his new team, averaging just 6.7 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 35.4 percent from the field.

ETC: For a second time in three weeks, Davis went flying into the crowd in pursuit of a loose ball. The 290-pounder’s momentum carried him into press row where he jumped over the scorer’s table and into the crowd. … Van Gundy attended a University of Miami baseball game Saturday night along with his daughter, who is now a student at UM. Van Gundy has long been a fan of the Hurricanes’ baseball team from his days as a coach in Miami and said he wore a UM sweatshirt and cap to the game. … Magic President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith said he’s hoping to avoid much of the hoopla and limelight that is sure to come this weekend when the NBA’s All-Star Game hits Orlando. ``It’s going to be like `Where’s Waldo?’ with me,’’ Smith said. The Magic GM said he has no interest in discussing Howard’s future in Orlando on a daily basis. As he does every year at the All-Star Game, Smith will attend the Competition Committee meetings and then make himself scarce. … The Magic will face the Bucks Monday night for a third time in 10 days. Orlando rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter in Milwaukee on Feb. 11 to win 99-94. The Magic then beat the Bucks 94-85 on Friday behind a strong fourth-quarter performance.

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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