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Van Gundy Addresses Lewis’ Shooting Slump

November 15, 2010

Orlando’s shooting sniper Rashard Lewis is shooting a terrible 37% from the field and 31% from long distance this year. Van Gundy has one solution for him. Keep stroking it.

From Orlando Sentinel:

Stan Van Gundy already has had a heart-to-heart with Rashard Lewis, so he got to him before the rest of us.

Remember that scene in the movie, “Airplane,” where all the passengers line up to smack another who loses it because the flight is apparently doomed? I got a feeling a lot of fans might want to, uh, help Rashard snap out of it.

Something’s amiss. Van Gundy says that it’s simply Rashard’s shot.

“My only concern with Rashard, as I told him, is he lets something as minor as a shooting slump affect his energy and enthusiasm for playing,” Van Gundy said.

“That’s my only concern. The shooting will come around if he just goes out and plays hard, enjoys the game and the whole thing.”

At times, Lewis looks out of place, out of sorts and out there just getting exercise.

He’s shooting 37.1 percent from the field. More alarming, the career 39.2 percent shooter from 3-point land is at a frosty 31.8 percent.

Lewis is averaging just 10.4 points after nine games, way below his career average of 16.7

The head-scratcher came Friday night in the loss to Toronto. Lewis didn’t even attempt a 3-pointer for the first time in a Magic uniform. Whaaaaaat?

This is a guy who led the NBA two seasons ago in 3s attempted and made. Lewis takes 3s when he steps out of his car.

Hey, Rashard: Maybe you need to take another trip to GNC for some human-growth goodies.

I’m kidding.

If you’re wondering whether Van Gundy would bench Lewis, the answer is no.

Not now, anyway. If Stan didn’t sit Vince Carter through a horrid January last season, I don’t think he’ll turn Lewis into a sixth man.

Every time media and fans plead for a benching, I always ask: OK, who takes his place?

The options at power forward without Lewis are Brandon Bass, Ryan Anderson and Marcin Gortat.

Anderson is embedded in Van Gundy’s doghouse. The Magic need Gortat to be on red alert, given Howard’s relationship with the refs.

That leaves Bass, undersized at 6-feet-8. Bass’ pet mid-range jumper is finding the net (49.1 percent.) He’s still better suited roaring off the bench.

The decline of Lewis’ numbers has been steady, for a couple reasons.

Vince Carter arrived last season to rob some shots, making Lewis the third option behind Carter and Howard.

This season, Van Gundy has experimented with big lineups and more post-ups, shuttling Lewis from power forward to small forward. Even Stan agrees this may have affected his routine.

I talked to Lewis after he scored a season-high 22 points against the Bobcats, nailing 5-of-7 3-pointers. It was progress, but no slump-buster.

Lewis said “the ins and outs” weren’t falling. “That’s the nature of basketball,” he said. “It happens to everybody. Nobody’s perfect. Shooters keep shooting.”

Lewis is averaging about 10 shots per game. He has taken more 3-pointers than anyone (44) on the team. Maybe he’s felt pressure to make ’em all.

“On this team, I look at myself as the third option. That’s no excuse,” Lewis said. “I’ve had my share of shots. I have to knock them down. I can’t miss very many on this team. You’re not going to get 18-20 shots (per game).”

I know you’ve been waiting for me to dredge up Rashard’s other stats: His six-year, $118 million contract — $20.5 million this season. There it is. It’s not news.

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