Denton: Nelson a Game-Time Decision Tonight

By John Denton
November 4, 2012

ORLANDO – Injuries are already becoming an issue for the Orlando Magic.

In addition to losing Hedo Turkoglu for at least four weeks with a broken bone in his left hand, veteran point guard Jameer Nelson is a game-time decision tonight when the Magic host the Phoenix Suns at 6 p.m. Nelson strained his hamstring and groin and also sprained an ankle in Orlando’s 102-89 defeat of Denver on Friday night.

Nelson will be re-evaluated before tonight’s game to determine whether or not he plays. If he can’t play, E’Twuan Moore will start at point guard and Ish Smith will serve as the backup.

Nelson did not practice on Saturday and rested during the Magic’s shootaround on Sunday morning in hopes that the leg would improve by game time. Nelson, himself, had no idea whether he’d be able to play on Sunday night against the Suns.

``I have to be smart about this. I’ve been through a lot of injuries small and big, so I have to be smart about it,’’ Nelson said. ``I was smart about it with the training staff (Sunday morning) and (Saturday) (by sitting out of the workouts).’’

The Magic’s starting lineup and rotation are already in flux following the injury to Turkoglu. He broke the fifth metacarpal in his left hand and underwent surgery Saturday morning. He is expected to miss four weeks which would put him out of at least 14 games.

In Turkoglu’s absence, the Magic are likely to slide shooting guard Arron Afflalo over to small forward and start rookie DeQuan Jones at shooting guard. Jones has also dealt with injuries of late, missing the opener with a strained abductor muscle on the inside of his right leg.

Magic coach Jacque Vaughn wouldn’t disclose the plan for his starting lineup, saying it gave the Magic ``no competitive advantage’’ by announcing his starter in place of Turkoglu. Vaughn has said that he prefers to keep J.J. Redick, who had 21 points and six assists in the opener, in a reserve role to keep good scoring balance on the first and second-string units.

``For us J.J.’s role that makes both of our unit’s efficient,’’ Vaughn said. ``So that’s the whole (thought) process behind that.’’

On a positive note, the Magic expect reserve center Gustavo Ayon to be available to play tonight against the Suns. Ayon sprained the thumb on his left hand two weeks ago and missed the regular-season opener against Denver. He will provide support behind starting center Nikola Vucevic against Phoenix center Marcin Gortat, a former Magic standout.

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John Denton writes for John has covered the Magic since 1997. E-mail John at or follow him on Twitter at @JohnDenton555.

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