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News » Carter basks in Magic supporting role

Carter basks in Magic supporting role

Carter basks in Magic supporting roleThe latest incarnation of Vince Carter sees him arrive in Toronto more supporting actor than leading man, a role player - a tremendously skilled role player, but a role player nonetheless - who is now the other guy on his team.

"I'm okay with that," he said.

As well he should be.

The former Raptor and ex-New Jersey Net has been recast not exactly as an afterthought with the Orlando Magic, but not the guy many first think of when they start contemplating the reigning NBA Eastern Conference champions.

That place in the spotlight belongs to Dwight Howard and Carter's just along for a ride that includes his debut with his new team against the Raptors on Sunday afternoon.

"He's played with other all-stars, but not a guy who's probably going to take a lot more of the attention away from him, where he can be - I wouldn't say a role player - but another co-star," Toronto coach Jay Triano said of Carter.

"A lot of times when we were playing him before, he was the focus of our defence. It's pretty tough to make him the focus of your defence now and when you don't do that, that's when he can explode on you."

It would seem to be a perfect fit for the 32-year-old Carter, who was traded along with Ryan Anderson from New Jersey to Orlando for Courtney Lee and Rafer Alston in what was little more than a summer salary dump by the Nets.

While still uniquely talented - Carter hasn't lost much of the skill that's made him an eight-time NBA all-star - he is able now to operate on his own rather than against multiple defenders.

Teams will always begin their game planning for Orlando by deciding how to handle Howard; Carter is secondary. And thriving, so far.

"The attention that Dwight draws just makes things easier on everyone," said Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy after the Magic worked out at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday. "The first play of the game (in Orlando's win at New Jersey on Friday), he came off a pick-and-roll and Brook Lopez (New Jersey's centre) was so worried about getting back to Dwight, Vince goes in and dunks the ball.

"That doesn't happen to Vince a lot. It's usually both guys coming to him."

Carter seems more at ease now in this role than he did in either starring stints in Toronto or New Jersey. He's willing to cede responsibility to Howard and thrive on the lack of attention he gets and he's quite happy playing in his hometown.

Some players loathe playing where they live because of incessant demands on their time, but Carter's the opposite.

"I don't have that problem," he said. "I've never had a problem with people tugging and wanting this or that. In Year 1, I kind of nipped it in the bud. Sometimes I'd have 12 people at the most (at games in Orlando as a visitor), I was never big into that.

"Everybody was excited (about the trade home) and kind of got that way but, hey, it's the same as usual and that helped me focus."

Carter mildly sprained his left ankle Friday night and his appearance in Sunday's game will be determined by how he feels after the warmup.

The Raptors expect him to be in uniform and they worry about how to keep him in check.

"He's playing," Triano said matter-of-factly. "If he doesn't, we're ready; if we contemplate him not playing and then he plays, we're not ready.

"He gives them another guy who can spread the floor and who is very good when the floor is spread.

"If he doesn't have (the ball), you better pay attention or he'll catch and shoot.

"If he does have it, the floor is spread ... and he's a guy who can make plays with Dwight.

"It's pretty hard to guard him."

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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 2, 2009


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