Redick steps in for Carter, leads Magic

J.J. Redick was hanging at his house playing video games with Ryan
Anderson about a month ago when the topic of playing time arose.

Trying to teach his teammate not to get frustrated, Redick
pulled up his game logs on the Internet from his first two NBA
seasons to show all the games he didn’t play.

“We had quite a chuckle,” Redick said. “You see like 17
… in a row.”

Redick again showed how far he’s come, and Anderson might not
be far behind.

Redick had 23 points and career highs of eight assists and
seven rebounds in place of an injured Vince Carter, helping the
Orlando Magic beat the Denver Nuggets, 103-97, on Sunday night.

He was 8-for-15 shooting and played a career-high 46 minutes
after Carter sprained his right big toe. The Magic also got a big
boost with 19 points from Anderson for their 13th win in the past
15 games.

Redick got another lift at halftime, too, when he saw his
former Duke team about to clinch a spot in the Final Four. But he
pointed to his minutes — and what he did with them — as his
proudest moment of the night.

“I think sometimes as a player when you know you’re not
going to come out, you don’t force things and you move the ball and
you make the extra pass,” Redick said.

Denver simply crumbled.

Carmelo Anthony had 26 points but was held without a field
goal in the fourth, and Chauncey Billups finished with 18 points
for the struggling Nuggets, losers of four of their past five
games.

“I don’t think that it’s cause for concern,” Anthony said.
“It’s just that it’s happening right now, the last nine or 10
games of the season. But I don’t think anybody on our team should
be concerned about anything.”

The Nuggets have started 1-3 on their five-game road trip —
all without coach George Karl, who missed his 11th game since
announcing he had been diagnosed with throat and neck cancer.
Denver is 6-5 during without Karl.

“We’ve just got to stick together,” interim coach Adrian
Dantley said. “We haven’t been playing well. You’re going to go
through stretches like that during the year, and we’ve just got to
come back.”

The Magic broke away from a tight game with an 18-7 run late
in the fourth quarter. The spurt included a jumper by Redick that
rolled around the rim four times until sinking, with Redick
laughing it up all the way back down court.

It was that kind of night — after it began with a twist.

Carter left 95 seconds into the game with the injury, two
days after he sprained his right ankle in a win over Minnesota.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy doesn’t expect Carter to miss much time.

With backup small forward Mickael Pietrus also nursing a
sprained right ankle, Van Gundy called it “one of our best wins of
the year.”

“I’m really happy and proud of our guys,” he said. “I
thought that our fight and competitiveness was tremendous.”

Carter’s replacement faired just fine.

Redick filled up the stat sheet with an all-around game that
he has rarely shown in the four years since he left Duke. Not only
was his shooting sharp in this one, but he also was directing the
Magic’s offense.

Redick zipped one overhead pass from the arc to a cutting
Matt Barnes underneath the hoop. He reached around a defender to
bounce pass to Marcin Gortat for a dunk and had several other hard
drives he kicked back out for shots.

Even Van Gundy couldn’t help but relish Redick’s success.

“I thought the key to J.J.’s performance was that rest I
gave him at the beginning of the game, that 1:35, so he could be
fresh,” Van Gundy joked.

Redick helped the Magic go ahead 52-51 after the second
quarter in what was a topsy-turvy half for both teams. The Nuggets
went ahead by 10 after scoring eight straight points to start the
third quarter, but the Magic came back quickly behind Redick and
Anderson’s three-point shooting.

The pair combined to go 7-for-12 from beyond the arc.

“I think we showed that we can win with a bunch of different
lineups,” Anderson said. “There’s not a lot of teams, maybe none,
who can do that.”

NOTES: Redick’s previous career highs were seven
assists, six rebounds and 45 minutes. … Anthony and Billups were
called for technical fouls in the second and fourth quarters,
respectively. Rashard Lewis and Redick missed each free throw for
the Magic. … Nuggets F Kenyon Martin (knee) sat out his 13th
consecutive game.