Denton's Notebook: January 1, 2012

By John Denton
January 1, 2012

ORLANDO – Two days after missing a game with spasms in his neck, Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson returned to the starting lineup Sunday night.

Nelson took a shot to the head in Orlando’s defeat of New Jersey on Thursday. By Friday, Nelson not only had trouble turning his head but he was also experiencing spasms in his neck.

Nelson didn’t play in Friday’s defeat of Charlotte and rested the neck on Saturday, which was an off day for the Magic. Nelson was back in the starting lineup on Sunday, but as fate would have it he took an elbow to the jaw in the first quarter and was noticeably wincing and flexing his neck.

``He needed the muscle relaxants to get the spasms to stop, and anybody who’s taken them knows if you take them the day of the game, it’s going to be pretty hard to play,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said of Nelson. ``He would have been a little bit lethargic, to say the least.’’

RAVES FOR REDICK: Through the Magic’s first four games of the season, Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson have been Orlando’s best players with their defensive and scoring exploits.

But a close third would have to be reserve guard J.J. Redick, who has played mostly error-free basketball in the first two weeks of the season. Not only is Redick shooting 55 percent while averaging 13.5 points a game, he committed just two turnovers in his first 97 minutes on the court.

Van Gundy has said for years that Redick is more than just a shooter and is actually one of Orlando’s best playmakers. That’s why Redick, a reserve, often finishes games in the fourth quarter.

``He plays with such good energy and he’s hard to guard because he’s constantly moving and working to get open,’’ Van Gundy said. ``And when he’s making quick decisions – either getting shot up quickly or moving the ball – he’s an even better player for us. I really like the way he’s playing right now.’’

HOWARD’S HEIGHTS: When Howard snagged 24 rebounds against both the Nets and the Bobcats, he became the first player since Dennis Rodman to grab at least 24 rebounds on consecutive days in 1995.

Rodman was also the last player to have at least 24 rebounds in three consecutive games, doing so from November 9-12, 1993. The last time a player had 20 or more rebounds in three consecutive games was Minnesota’s Kevin Love last March. Howard last had 20 or more rebounds in three consecutive games in December of 2010.

ETC: Sunday’s lead official, Monty McCutcheon, raised more than a few eyebrows with his pregame attire that he wore into the Amway Center. McCutcheon wore a light blue and orange checked suit, with a matching vest that was accented with a blue bowtie. By comparison, TNT sideline analyst Craig Sager’s usually flashy attire would have been mild. … Toronto’s coaching staff under new head coach Dwane Casey features two coaches with Magic ties. Johnny Davis, Orlando’s head coach from 2003-04, and Tom Sterner are now working with the Raptors. … The Magic’s third of 19 back-to-back sets of games comes tonight with Orlando in suburban Detroit against the Pistons. The Magic are 2-0 so far when playing on the second night of back-to-back games. … The Magic host the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, ending a string of six consecutive games against teams that failed to make the playoffs last season. Chicago, which had the best record in the NBA last season, plays in Orlando on Friday.

John Denton writes for John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at

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