Awakened Vince Carter Taking His New Role in Stride
After averaging a little more than eight points while shooting a dismal 10 of 40 from the field over the team's last four games, Carter bounced back with 22 points and six rebounds in this one, on eight of 17 from the field, including five of eight from three-point land.
Still, the team lost for the third straight game. So while it was obviously nice for him to get back on track personally, Carter was more focused on the bigger picture, and the fact that personal success doesn't necessarily translate into team victories.
In an interview with FanHouse afterward, Carter talked about how the mental approach to his game has changed, and how he still believes the Suns have time to get things right and make a run at the playoffs.
"Confidence," Carter said, when asked what the difference was against Charlotte, after he couldn't seem to do much of anything offensively in his last four games. "This was one of those nights where it was hey, shoot it -- if it doesn't go in, shoot the next one. Shoot the next one like you've made three in a row instead of like you missed three in a row. I was just happy to see them go in."
Carter made his first shot before missing his next three, but he said seeing that first one go in was all he needed to keep him on track the rest of the game. He also said that the reason for his low outputs in recent games might have been due to the fact that he just didn't feel like he had it going those nights, so he had no problem deferring and trying to involve his teammates.
"I'm a believer that, if I'm not rollin' -- with a team like this and with the scorers we have -- you have to go to somebody else," Carter said. "I don't take that personally; I take it more personally for myself not making shots. I'm just that way, a sore loser -- and I deal with that when I get home."
It's been an adjustment for Carter, and a bit of an internal struggle in terms of whether or not he feels he should press to try to score when he's having an off night. But he seems to be figuring it out.
"I'm in the mode that I want to do things for this team, but they brought me here to make plays for the team and to make shots," Carter said. "And I think that's the battle that I fight with myself -- when I'm not shooting when I'm open and I'm not playing well, I want to go out there and perform well. So instead, I just need to do the intangibles. Just make plays -- whatever that means. I'm finding that, (especially) on a night like tonight, you know what? It's not about numbers."
Assuming Carter's performance and his new outlook are able to get him back on track on a somewhat consistent basis, the next step is to take what he's learned by playing on a contender in Orlando, and bring that level of focus to a team like Phoenix, who finds itself struggling at this stage of the season.
"It doesn't really matter what the team or the record may be," Carter said, when asked about adjusting to his new situation with the Suns. "The goal we had in Orlando, we were trying to win a championship. Plain and simple. The goal here is to try to get to the playoffs. We feel like we're a playoff team, and anything can happen once you get to the playoffs; we've seen that year after year. And I think once we get there, with the experience that we have with guys who have been there, we can find a way. Right now, we have to get through the dog days, and just get there somehow. I still believe it's possible."
Carter's personal impact isn't by itself going to determine wins and losses for his Suns, and that's something that was proven to be true on this night. The difference now is, at this stage of his career, he actually seems to realize it.