Denton: Magic Avoiding Some Tiring Travel

By John Denton
January 30, 2013

NEW YORK – Almost to a man, NBA players will admit that their least favorite part of playing professional basketball is the amount of travel, the numerous 4 a.m. arrivals and the seemingly endless stream of nights in different hotel rooms.

Because of a quirk in their NBA schedule, the Orlando Magic have been able to hunker down in New York for the past three nights and eliminate some of the usual travel between road games.

The Magic are the first team in the league this season to play the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks in consecutive games in the greater New York City area. And because the Magic (14-30) played in Orlando on Sunday night and in Brooklyn on Monday, the team enjoyed a day off in New York on Tuesday leading up to tonight’s showdown against the Knicks (27-15).

Magic shooting guard J.J. Redick, who has repeatedly been vocal about his disdain for all of the traveling in the NBA, said he’s especially enjoyed remaining in one city for longer than 30 hours. Redick and wife, Chelsea, spent much of last summer living in New York, and this week’s return visit allowed him to catch up with some friends between games.

``It’s been nice, really nice. My hotel room is a mess right now – that’s the only (bad) thing,’’ Redick said. ``But it’s been nice to be in New York. We’re five blocks from where we lived this summer, so we got to see our friends and it’s been nice.’’

Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said that he had no concerns that the nightlight and potential distractions would affect his team during the stay in New York City. Vaughn has raved about his team’s professionalism and readiness to play games this season, so there was no worry from him.

``This is what you do for a living,’’ Vaughn said. ``If a doctor went on a trip, would he not still be a doctor? I just hope he wouldn’t operate on the golf course. So when you come out and play and you are a professional athlete, this is what you do. You take care of your body and mind and you get yourself ready to play.’’

The Magic, who likely will be without Arron Afflalo again because of a left calf strain, are 0-2 this season against the Knicks. The Magic led in the fourth quarter against the Knicks on Nov. 13, but lost 99-89 because of a 22-13 fourth period. And on Jan. 5, Orlando led 89-81 going into the fourth period only to get outscored 33-17 down the stretch for a 114-108 defeat.

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony torched Orlando for 40 points on 14 of 29 shooting in the game in January. He scored 25 in Orlando in November, but he had three of his shots swatted by Magic rookie forward Maurice Harkless.

``Defending for four quarters is the biggest thing because they present a lot of problems with their amount of shooters and a dynamic player in Carmelo Anthony,’’ Redick said. ``We have to make things as tough as we can for Carmelo and close out on their shooters.’’

The extended stay in New York also allowed for a homecoming for Harkless and fellow Magic rookie Kyle O’Quinn, both natives of Queens. Harkless went back to St. John’s on Tuesday to visit with his former college teammates, while O’Quinn spent time with his family. Both Harkless and O’Quinn went to Knicks games as kids growing up in the New York City area, but Wednesday’s game will be their first as NBA players.

``Growing up in New York you see a lot of games on the MSG Network and you always want to play a game in here, but sometimes you don’t get that opportunity. And I never got the opportunity in high school or college,’’ O’Quinn said. ``Man, I just looked up (around Madison Square Garden). There are just a lot of thoughts going through my head. I’m just happy to walk on the court here.’’

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