Are you ready to see Rashard Lewis play at small forward tomorrow night against the Houston Rockets in pre-season action? Because that's what's going to happen, something that many Orlando Magic fans have been wanting to see since Lewis was acquired from the Seattle Sonics in a sign-and-trade a few years ago.
That's the main news to take away from practice this afternoon, aside from Matt Barnes swishing a full-court shot but I'll get to that later. In any case, I was able to speak with Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard amongst the media and here's what they said:
Stan Van Gundy:
Are you going to have a different starting lineup for tomorrow's game?
Always, always, now right now I'm not real sure on exactly what I'm doing tomorrow only because we have a couple of guys banged up, nothing bad, but Pietrus and Matt Barnes ... Pietrus didn't practice at all today and Matt turned an ankle. I don't think anything major but I'll have to wait until in the morning to see who's healthy and see if we have to alter what we have planned so I'm not ... I'm not real sure but these first five games, I don't think it'll ever be the same from one night to the next. We're just trying to get looks at a lot of different people.
Are you planning on rotating just the forwards in the lineup?
No, we're going to do something different pretty much every night. Our point guards have been different. The two's and three's, we've played the same people but we're going to play Rashard more, he'll play a little bit of four maybe tomorrow but he's going to play more at the three tomorrow so he'll get some time there so we'll see. I don't know exactly who's going to go so we do have a plan but it may alter but Rashard is going to play more at the small forward spot tomorrow.
With two games under your belt, have you begun to take a look at film to address some corrections you'd like to see on the court?
Yeah, we watched some film today. Really, we didn't watch film after the Dallas game so we'll watch some today and I think we're able to see a few things. We're not going crazy on sitting down and watching a lot, we watched 31 clips today and we're just trying to correct some things. Mainly again, just seeing some of the mistakes we're making that are leading into turnovers. We watched some real good defensive clips where we made multiple efforts and all five guys really defended well. We're capable of doing that and so we'll also look at some defensive mistakes so we'll continue the process, I mean it's still very, very early.
Have you decided to add any new wrinkles, offensively?
Well, we added three new things today. I mean, we'll continue to just add as we think we need things and as we think they're ready to have some new things and then this weekend I want to get a couple of more things in for Dwight, to get him the ball inside so we'll work on that.
Vince Carter prides himself on being a very unselfish player. Do you think he needs to be more selfish?
Well, well, it's not selfish, it's just ... it has nothing to do with selfish. I mean, selfish is just forcing the play, Vince knows the right play, he needs to attack looking to score and when help comes and he doesn't have the shot, then move the ball rather than simply looking to make a pass. That's all. There's no selfishness involved in that, it's just are you looking shot-first and then when the defense takes it away, make a pass or are you looking pass-first and then when the defense takes it away, you're looking to [score]? That's backwards to me for anybody, you will not get the passing angles or create the shots for other people so he just needs to look shot-first on his play.
More after the jump.
Have you had any Twitter battles between you and Rashard Lewis? Trying to see who out-tweets who?
I think I'm winning by a lot so he has a long way to go but we don't do any battles, it's all for the fans, it's all to give back and try to show fans another side of us instead of the side they see on the court everyday.
Do you anticipate any of your other teammates to get Twitter?
I do but they always say, well, we can get your fans so they'll just get on my page and try to get people off my page.
What's the craziest question you've gotten on Twitter?
I don't think you want to know.
Is it bad?
I don't think you want to know.
Now, on the court, the new guys are trying to get adjusted to Stan Van Gundy's system, how do you think that experience has gone for them so far?
Well, I don't think it's Stan's system, I think all of us just getting used to playing with each other. It's a whole new team out there so we got to learn where everybody is going to be when we drive, the way people pass the ball, it's totally new for a lot of us so it's going to take a couple of games, a couple of practices to get everybody used to the way we play with each other and then from then on, I think we're going to be unstoppable.
For the returning players, is there anything new that he [Stan Van Gundy] has brought to the table compared to last year?
Oh, no, Coach is going to be the same. He expects us to go out here everyday and practice and in the game and give 110%. That's the only thing he wants. He wants us to play under control, to play aggressive and hard.
There's no question that you're the leader of the team. For the new players, has there been anything you've told them individually, in terms of helping them out?
No, we talk everyday and I think that's the best way to build chemistry. You know we do a good job, me and Jameer do a good job of getting the new guys to get there ... bring themselves out because a lot of new guys when they come on new teams, they're quiet, they don't really talk. Me and Jameer know how to reach their heart and bring out your inner-self, we do a good job.
So do you encourage them to be themselves?
Yeah, that's the biggest thing. When you're not afraid to be yourself or for anybody, you tend to perform better and that's what we got to have is for everybody to have fun but also be serious and we tend to play better but when we're uptight and thinking so much, thinking about making the right passes, and the right plays and making shots, we don't play as well but when everybody is just having fun, we win and we win big.
Do you think that chemistry is underrated at times because some people say that talent sometimes wins out? Is that something you think is an overlooked aspect?
I think chemistry, when you look at our team last year, we went through every situation imaginable as a team and it just brought us together and it kept us stronger and it wasn't about talent when we play those good teams, it's about chemistry. We were able to get into the locker room and when coach [Stan Van Gundy] was yelling at us and get in our face, instead of taking it personal and the wrong way, we took it as okay, coach is trying to do this so we can win and coach and the other players are trying to get on us because they want us to be better players. That's what it's about. You can get on a player, when the coach gets on you and instead of taking it the wrong way, you see it as constructive criticism.
What are some things that you guys do off the court just to get away from basketball?
Horseback riding. *laughs*
Well, we go to the movies, go to eat, go to football games. Whatever it may be just to get us together, that's the biggest thing. Bringing each over for dinner or lunch or whatever, you get to know people, you get to talk to them, and that's the best way to develop relationships because at the end of the day, if you don't like somebody off the court, there's no way you can have a good relationship on the court.
Odds and Ends:
Nothing to really report, other than the fact (I posted this on Twitter a few hours ago) that after practice was over, most of the Orlando Magic players huddled up on the baseline to try to see who could hit the backboard on the basket on the opposite side of the court. So Matt Barnes, given that he's a cool customer and what not, launched a full-court shot and proceeded to SWISH it - not only did he make it, he swished it. Once he did, all his teammates went nuts and all the media people, including myself, stood there in disbelief. It was truly a hilarious sight. Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel has the complete backstory, in case you want to learn a bit more about what exactly happened.