Denton: Nelson Hopeful to Play Tonight

By John Denton
February 6, 2013

ORLANDO – Back at the Amway Center for the first time in 11 nights and facing the team they notched their biggest victory of the season against, the Orlando Magic are hoping to get healthy and back on track tonight.

When the Magic face the Los Angeles Clippers tonight at 7, Orlando hopes to have point guard Jameer Nelson back in the starting lineup. Nelson (bruised forearm) is hopeful that he can play after missing the past two games. He went through the team’s morning workout and he plans to go through his usual pregame routine before deciding whether or not he’ll be able to play.

``I’m making a lot of progress. It’s still sore, but we’ll see how it goes tonight,’’ Nelson said. ``The thing is that I want to play, but I have to make sure that I’m right when I’m playing. Or as right as I can be because you’re always playing through something. I just have to be smart about it. I don’t think it would have been too smart to go out there (the past two games) without being able to dribble with one of my arms.’’

Orlando (14-34) will once again be without J.J. Redick (sore shoulder) and Arron Afflalo (calf strain), but they are hopeful that rookie guard DeQuan Jones can come back after missing Monday’s game with a sore foot. Meanwhile, the Clippers (34-16) will be without all-stars Chris Paul (sore knee) and Blake Griffin (hamstring), neither of whom went through L.A.’s morning shootaround.

Despite Redick being unable to play tonight, the team did get some good news concerning the shooting guard on Tuesday. A MRI revealed no structural damage in the shoulder that Redick injured when Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders fell hard on him late in Saturday’s loss in Milwaukee. He will return when the soreness resides.

Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said that Afflalo – Orlando’s leading scorer – will rejoin the team for the road trip to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Friday. Tonight’s game will be the sixth in a row that Afflalo will miss because of a calf muscle that he strained in practice two weeks ago.

The Magic shocked the Clippers on Jan. 12 in Los Angeles when Redick drilled a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute. He then preserved the lead by taking a charge on defense and later passing out of a double-team for the game-sealing points. It is undoubtedly the Magic’s biggest win of the season and one of only two victories over the past six weeks.

``Defensively, we really got stops in the fourth quarter and we made shots,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said of the Jan. 12 victory in Los Angeles. ``At the end of the day, we got stops which provided us the opportunity to make buckets on the other end. I think pick-and-roll we did a good job of getting Chris Paul under control and we changed the matchups a little bit.’’

If Nelson can play, he’ll start at the point and E’Twaun Moore will remain as the starter at shooting guard. Moore played point guard Saturday in Milwaukee and shooting guard in Philadelphia on Monday. Moore scored 18 points on Monday and he knows that he will have to remain in attack mode if the Magic are going to generate enough scoring to win.

``Of course, playing point guard, you got to get the team set up and do more communicating,’’ Moore said. ``But I just like being on the court and playing whether it’s point guard or shooting guard.’’

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