7:00 PM ET, October 7, 2009
Amway Arena, Orlando, FL
"Certain things just take a little getting used to," he said.
Learning his way around his new home may take some time. Getting adjusted to his new team might, too, but that's what this preseason is all about for the Magic and their newest star.
Carter had eight points in limited play in his first home game since being acquired from New Jersey, and the new-look Magic mixed and matched lineups in a 90-86 preseason win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.
Carter got the loudest ovations of the night, the crowd in his adopted hometown chanting "Vince! Vince!" and roaring louder on his every touch.
"It's fun to play on a team like this," Carter said. "There's so many weapons when I'm driving down the lane and step in the paint."
It was a big change from the last time the Magic walked off their home floor in June, when an amped-up arena was left silent watching the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate the championship. Orlando hopes its biggest offseason acquisition will provide a different ending this time.
The Heat, unlike the Magic, are merely trying to improve a roster that is largely unchanged from a year ago. If early returns show anything, it could be another season of Dwyane Wade carrying the load.
"The offense will come," Wade said. "That's something that always comes. Every year we always work on defense, trying to get our rotations down because we have a system. In our system, everybody has to be on the same page."
This preseason has a little more meaning for the Magic.
Making the move for Carter and parting ways with forward Hedo Turkoglu, who led the team in scoring in the finals, has produced a lot of change for a team fresh off a finals appearance -- and a difficult task for coach Stan Van Gundy.
Orlando also has to test lineups during these exhibitions because All-Star forward Rashard Lewis will be suspended for the first 10 games of the regular season for testing positive for an elevated level of testosterone. Lewis sat out against Miami to give others playing time, with Brandon Bass getting the start at power forward.
So Van Gundy is using this preseason as a trial for when it really counts. That project still looks to be in the early stages.
The Magic had 16 blocks, but those 22 turnovers were the only thing on the coach's mind.
"We were bad with the ball a lot," Van Gundy said. "You're not going to win too many regular-season games like that."
Carter seemed a little cautious in his Magic home debut, mostly differing to Howard and the rest of the team's returning stars. He was 2 for 11 and also had three assists in about 22 minutes of play, perhaps trying too hard to please the home crowd. Carter is from Daytona Beach, about an hour drive away.
While the Magic feel Carter's addition gives them a better go-to scorer at the end of games, some still question whether this revamped lineup will mesh. They'll certainly need Carter to contend with Cleveland's LeBron James-Shaquille O'Neal duo and Boston's slew of All-Stars in the Eastern Conference.
"They've added some veteran guys to the mix. They've got a real good chance to be back where they were last year," Wade said. "They're stacked."
Only time will tell if it works.