Rashard Lewis got off to a slow start this season, but has shown signs of life the last six games.
Peruse the Magic's stat sheet and Rashard Lewis and JJ Redick's shooting numbers are sure to stand out. The 3-point marksmen are hitting on 38.4 percent (Lewis) and 25.6 percent (Redick) of their 3-point attempts. Hardly the rate Orlando wants two of their better 3-point shooters converting on.
It has been a source of frustration early in the season as Stan Van Gundy has worked extremely hard to get Lewis more involved in the offense, including using him at the three and trying to post him up. With fears of Miami dancing in Orlando fans head, what these guys were producing was plainly not good enough. Certainly not come April, May and June when each shot matters.
But those two guys did what shooters do: keep shooting.
"You got to keep shooting," said Quentin Richardson, who is hitting on 34.8 percent of his 3-pointers and 39 percent of his field goals overall this year. "That's what shooters do. That's what I tell myself all the time. If you don't shoot the ball you can't make a shot. So you got to keep shooting."
And that is the beauty of Orlando's offensive system. There are a lot of shots available and Stan Van Gundy does not hide the fact he wants his players taking shots when they have them. Everyone except for Dwight Howard, Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat have the green light to fire away from long distance.
Do not worry, they will keep firing in or out of a slump.
After Wednesday's game against Miami someone asked Rashard Lewis about coming out of his "slump." To which he jokingly responded, "What slump?" He then clarified that he knew he was struggling from beyond the arc but that all he could do as a shooter was keep shooting. That is exactly what Orlando's most important player wants from his teammates.
"You know guys are shooting ball well," Dwight Howard said after Friday's win over Cleveland. "All the guys we play are shooters. We've just got to continue to shoot the ball well. Early in the season when we were missing those shots, the biggest thing they can do is continue to shoot and not worry about missing their shots. I'm just happy to see the guys continue to shoot the ball.
"I think the last couple games we have have had a rhythm on the offensive end," Dwight Howard said. "We just have to move the ball, play with energy and get easy shots."
The last three games have seen Lewis and Redick especially come out of their "slumps." Redick has especially benefited from the playing time he has been given since Vince Carter's injury. It will be interesting to see how Redick plays coming off the bench when Carter returns tonight.
But in the last six games, the two have stepped up their game.
Lewis is averaging 14.2 points per game in the last five games while shooting 59.7 percent from the floor, 54.5 percent from beyond the 3-point line. That is very encouraging to see (although I am sure there are some people who will be disappointed with his scoring numbers). Lewis has taken more than 10 shots in five of his past six games, and he had nine against Phoenix. Lewis is starting to get more involved in the offense and that is a good thing. Especially now that he is making his shots.
Redick too has seen an increase in his production now that his shot has gotten back on track. Redick is averaging 13.5 points per game over the last four games and shooting 44.4 percent from beyond the arc. Once again, three of those games he started. And before his injury Vince Carter was shooting extremely well.
These are two guys that specifically needed to get better.
Stan Van Gundy said a while back that their numbers would return to the mean at some point after a rough start to the year. That appears to be happening now. And at a very good time for the team.
"JJ got his stroke back I think (Wednesday)," Richardson said after Friday's game. "Rashard made some tonight. I made some. Obviously Jameer has been playing well and then big fella. That is good and it's important for us to get out and get into a flow and start making our shots."
Just keep shooting.