HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Whatever happens with Carmelo Anthony in the coming days and weeks, know this — it won’t change anything about the way he’s playing.
Did you catch his show last night? The Orlando Magic did. They got 35-points worth of drama free ‘Melo. While moves were being made thousands of miles away — moves perhaps done to acquire him — Anthony was busy putting together arguably his best night of the season.
He worked the Magic (more on their continued slump in a minute) consistently, using and abusing a parade of defenders that had no chance of slowing him down.
Even more impressive than his performance, though, was his (and his team’s ability) ability to compartmentalize, as Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post explains:
Anthony was solid all night, scoring his 35 points on 14-of-21 shooting, including nine points in the fourth quarter. Six Nuggets scored in double figures, with Ty Lawson and [JR] Smith adding 16 points apiece.
The Nuggets play San Antonio on Thursday night at the Pepsi Center. Anthony was asked if he’ll be in a Nuggets uniform for that one.
“I have a game here on Thursday night against San Antonio, and that’s what I’m focused on,” Anthony said. “All of that other stuff, I don’t even pay attention to right now.”
Nuggets coach George Karl also said he expects to have Anthony in uniform Thursday.
“I’ve been told nothing,” Karl said. “Masai [Ujiri]and I have a good relationship. I don’t think the pulse of anything has sped up by the stuff that came out in New York or what happened today (with the Nets), from what I know. And I kind of like it that way. I don’t want daily innuendo. All it does is get you stressed out and pressurized.”
Speaking of stressed out and pressurized, has anyone seen our good friend Stan Van Gundy lately?
The Magic coach has been surprisingly calm during this sticky stretch his team is working through.
They are playing .500 basketball these days and in danger of falling behind the Knicks and Hawks in the Eastern Conference standings in the next few days, if they can’t get things straightened out.
Granted, they might not have to worry about the Hawks if Larry Drew‘s crew takes many more beatings like the one the Pistons put on them last night, which you can see here along with all of Tuesday night’s action in the Daily Zap:
And everyone keeps barking about the Heat needing to show us the goods against other elite teams, but the Magic boast wins over Miami and Chicago this season and that’s it for RPI-boosting wins.
Once a defensive power, anchored by two-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard, the Magic are suddenly average at best on that end of the floor. And Howard is clearly not happy about it, per Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:
“We’ve got to play defense, that’s it,” Howard said at his locker. “It’s got to be everybody. Our wings got to do a better job not allowing their man just to get to the rim every play. It puts a lot of pressure on the bigs. It’s hard for the big guys to really help like we want when a guy takes one dribble and he’s at the rim. It’s very tough. I like blocking shots, but if a guy is one dribble in and the ball’s up, and I’m over on the other side, I can’t fly over there. I don’t have a cape in real life.”
It’s good to see Howard stepping up and providing leadership in this situation. But we have to wonder if this Magic team has something more going on. This is their longest bout of uneven play in some time.
It’s almost like they haven’t recovered from their playoff flame out from last season … very strange.