Denton: Turk's Return Inching Closer

By John Denton
December 13, 2012

ORLANDO – Finally free of the black cast that has protected his surgically repaired left hand for the past six weeks, Hedo Turkoglu is looking forward to stepping up his workouts and returning to the court as soon as possible for the Orlando Magic.

The veteran small forward broke a bone in the outside of his left hand in the Magic’s season-opener on Nov. 2 and hasn’t played since. Turkoglu had surgery on Nov. 3 and a metal plate and screws were inserted into the bone to stabilize the hand.

Turkoglu was originally projected to miss four-to-six weeks, but that timetable was moved back a bit when there was movement of the bone in the hand and a cast had to be reapplied. But that cast came off last week and Turkoglu has steadily increased workouts for conditioning and ball-handling skills. Still, he’s unsure when he’ll be back on the floor with the Magic.

``I hate to give timetables, but I’m just happy that my cast came off,’’ Turkoglu said on Thursday as the Magic (8-13) prepared for Friday’s home game against the Golden State Warriors (15-7) at the Amway Center.

``I have started to do more stuff (in practice) with both hands. The timeline right now is to do more stuff with both hands and see how I feel and go from there,’’ Turkoglu continued. ``I’d hate to say tomorrow, a week or two weeks because I really don’t know the answer. We’ll just go by treatments and work on it and see how I feel.’’

With Turkoglu out, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn has been forced to juggle the starting lineup while using Maurice Harkless, DeQuan Jones and Josh McRoberts. The Magic have been in a rut lately of starting games slowly, including falling into a 16-2 hole in Wednesday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks, but Vaughn said he will stick with a starting group that includes Harkless.

``Everyone has an opinion, but for us it’s about the totality of our team. The totality of our team is Mo Harkless being a part of it now and in the future,’’ Vaughn said. ``For me, he’s improving as a basketball player and that’s what matters.

``There are a lot of reasons why we have gotten off to slow starts, turnovers being one,’’ Vaughn added. ``We had good looks (Wednesday) night that didn’t materialize. We’ve played to the crowd many games this year and gotten to slow starts. So I don’t think you can pinpoint on one individual or one symptom.’’

Turkoglu said he and the Athletic Trainers have gradually stepped up the intensity of the workouts, but he’s yet to have any contact on the hand and isn’t sure yet about the pain level he could be about to face. He’ll likely have to pass a myriad of tests before he’s allowed to return to practicing with the team. Then, after a few practices, he should be ready to play again.

``We’re not really doing intense stuff yet. It’s just step by step and every day we’re going to increase it. The last couple of days have been really good and we’ll see how it goes when we increase the intensity.’’

The hardest parts, Turkoglu said, is being forced to watch from afar and not being able to help the team. Turkoglu remained in Orlando all of last week while the Magic were away on a five-game, nine-day road trip. He said he’s learned to deal with the frustration of not being able to play and just hopes to return as soon as possible.

``It’s frustrating (if injured) the first game or the end of the season. I was trying to be healthy as much as I can this season,’’ he said. ``You prepare yourself throughout the training camp, I was focused and in good shape and trying to have a good start.

But this is just part of our job and we can’t control certain things. I’m trying to get myself into the best shape that I can this time and hopefully I don’t have to deal with this situation ever again and I’ll be back soon.’’

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