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News » Deep bench helps swing game Orlando's way

Deep bench helps swing game Orlando's way

Deep bench helps swing game Orlando's way It's not as if the Raptors suddenly turned into the perfect hosts, kind and accommodating and looking as if they could perhaps replace Oprah.

For the second time this month, the Orlando Magic arrived and soundly beat the Raptors and if the first was simply about having the hotter hand in a firefight, this 104-96 decision was more about hard work and defence when it mattered - the very traits the Raptors need to acquire if they're ever going to elevate to the level Orlando occupies.

A mostly full house invested all kind of energy in booing Vince Carter - something Magic coach Stan Van Gundy called both "a tradition" and "irrelevant" - and ultimately it was Carter shooting often enough to lead all scorers with 24 points, but the roots for the win went much deeper.

Dwight (Superman) Howard was merely Okay-Man, in foul trouble enough to have an effect, although not restricted enough so that Chris Bosh, who came in averaging more than 12 rebounds a game, could grab more than five. Rashard Lewis likewise had foul trouble and scored only 11 points. Carter also struggled early in the day, shooting 2-for-12.

So how did the Magic, NBA finalists last season, pull this one off, some 40 hours after going into Boston and beating the Celtics? The bench more than made a difference and, with starting point guard Jameer Nelson out after knee surgery, these weren't the household names getting it done. Early in the third quarter, the three all-stars, Howard, Carter and Lewis, were out and that's when the Magic went from two points down to 11 points up.

It was the critical moment, Van Gundy said.

"I thought the way we played with Jason Williams, J.J. (Redick), (Mickael) Pietrus, Ryan Anderson and Marcin Gortat - that's not exactly the lineup everybody writes about when they're writing about the Orlando Magic and that's on the road against a good team - they took the lead to double figures," he said. "You can't ask for more than that. It's a great job by our bench, to have Rashard, Vince and Dwight all on the bench at the same time, and Jameer out, that says a lot about our depth and our character."

The addition of Carter should be obvious as it applies to any team's depth. Its character, though? Can Carter, remembered here for too many nights off, be a defence-first team guy? Van Gundy says yes, that he'll figure it out.

"You get a guy like Vince, who's been around a long time, he's got the best talent he's ever had around him and the best opportunity he's ever had to win. It's very motivating to want to step up another notch."

"I've been on some pretty good teams, but this is by far the best," Carter said. "Coach told me not to fit in. He told me to play my game. I tried the whole, 'I'm-going-to-fit-in' thing and that didn't really go over too well with the coach. He told me to be who I am and play my game. I got comfortable with that. But a team like this, one that's established, I just want to continue to help make the engine run."

It runs just fine. Especially here, it seems.

ON THE CORNER: Some cash for the Jim Proudfoot Corner arrived at the ACC. Analyst supreme Jack Armstrong passed back $50 and Glenn Stants, one of the good guys on the ACC floor, added $20 for the kids. Sandra Hood mailed $100 from Etobicoke, always in memory of her dad, lacrosse hall of famer Chuck Rowan. Doreen McIlmoyle of Scarborough adds another $100.

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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 23, 2009


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