Denton's Notebook: January 3, 2011

By John Denton
January 3, 2011

ORLANDO – Despite nursing a sore left knee that might or might not have meniscus damage, Brandon Bass was back in the starting lineup Monday night for the Orlando Magic. How long he remains there is yet to be seen.

Bass felt a ``pop’’ in his knee in Orlando’s defeat of the New York Knicks last Thursday, and didn’t practice Friday or Sunday with the team. Magic team physician Dr. Craig Mintzer analyzed the MRIs performed on Bass’ knee and the hope now is to treat the pain with rest and medication instead of an arthroscopic procedure that might put Bass out of action for three weeks.

``There’s another course we could go with cortisone to calm down the pain and allow him to play. We’re trying to get that calmed down without the surgery,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``If not, they’ll take another look at the knee and if it’s the meniscus, then they’ll probably go in and clean it up. But if that wasn’t causing the pain, then we’ll be in the same situation. Right now, hopefully we can calm it down without the scope.’’

Bass, who came into Monday’s game averaging 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in 23.8 minutes per game, hopes the knee will allow him to stay on the floor for a starting position that he’s worked so hard to attain.

``I don’t think it’s going to prevent me from playing,’’ Bass said. ``Well, I hope not. I’m going to go out (Monday) and see how I feel and see if I can give it a try.’’

Bass’ availability is of great importance because of the dearth of big men on the Magic roster. In addition to being the starting power forward, Bass is also the Magic’s backup center behind Dwight Howard. Veteran power forward Malik Allen hasn’t played in almost two weeks after spraining his left ankle.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Even with Howard receiving word on Monday from the NBA league office that his technical foul from Thursday’s game had been rescinded, the superstar center vowed that he’s been studying up on sign language techniques to curb his emotional outbursts.

Even with the technical foul rescinded by the league, Howard leads the NBA with 11 Ts. Players are suspended for a game by the league after they pick up their 16th technical foul and docked another game at 18 and 20 technical fouls. Each of those technical fouls cost an additional $5,000 in fine money as well.

``I’ve been going online working on sign language. I’ve got a couple of things down that should be pretty cool,’’ Howard said with a chuckle. ``If I use sign language like, `I love you,’ they might not take offense to that. Me and my teammates are going to come up with different sayings to keep me from doing anything that might get me a technical foul. I’ve learned, `I love you,’ `Jesus loves you, I know this for the Bible tells me so’ so far.’’

Thus far, Howard has been docked $29,000 because of the technical fouls. Technical fouls 1-5 cost $2,000 each, while Ts 6-10 cost $3,000 apiece. Technical fouls 11-15 cost $4,000 each and a warning letter from the league office is sent out following the 12th technical foul. Howard joked that he wouldn’t be helping Van Gundy pay his $35,000 fine because of the money he’s already had to shell out to the league coffers.

``No, he’s on his own. He’s a great guy and a great coach. He did (stand up for me), but I’ve been standing up for myself and that’s why I’ve gotten all of these technical fouls,’’ Howard said. ``All of my money is going to NBA Cares. But that was last year, 2010, and it’s onto 2011. It’s the same Dwight, but no more techs hopefully.’’

NOT FINE WITH FINE: Van Gundy was none too happy with getting fined for basically suggesting that Howard will have to make some drastic changes in his approach if he wants to reverse his trend of picking up technical fouls at a record rate.

Van Gundy, who also leads all NBA coaches in technical fouls with six, said the Coaches Association has the right to appeal fines and suspensions, but that he wouldn’t be ``grovel or apologize or go begging for my money back.’’ Van Gundy said, unlike Howard, he’s never had a technical foul of fine rescinded by the league office.

``We talk to (the media) every day and on game days often three-to-four times and we’re supposed to open up and talk and they want us to be media friendly, but if we say something that they don’t like then they hit us for money,’’ Van Gundy said. ``For me, the easiest way to not get any fines would be to not talk to the media at all, which I’d be fine with. But then they’d fine me for that. We’re supposed to talk (to the media), but I guess we’re not supposed to have any opinions on anything.’’

ETC: One of the hidden perks of the Magic’s trading for Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark has been the improved passing that it has provided. Turkoglu and Arenas have given the Magic huge lifts with their playmaking abilities in pick-and-roll plays and have usually found the open man for layups. In the 26 games before the trades, the Magic averaged just 18.3 assists a game. In the seven games since the trade (before Monday night), the Magic have averaged 22.7 assists a game. Arenas has averaged 5.4 assists in Orlando, while Turkoglu has averaged 5.0 assists. … It’s been a crazy season for Ryan Anderson what with him starting the season in the rotation and getting benched for a stretch. Then, Anderson badly sprained his mid-foot and contracted a nasty stomach virus that caused him to lose 8 pounds. But after trading away Rashard Lewis and Marcin Gortat, the 6-foot-10 Anderson is back in the rotation at power forward. Said Anderson: ``It’s a great opportunity for me and I just need to go play and focus on defense. And my rebounding is something that I can really give us, so that’s what I’m trying to do.’’ … Upon the conclusion of the Magic’s practice on Sunday, Arenas worked on his gadget shots. He took 20 shots from the Magic logo just inside the halfcourt stripe – approximately 42 feet away – and made 11 of them. … The Magic host the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday at Amway Center. Orlando lost 96-85 in Milwaukee on Dec. 4 in a game where the Magic had just eight players available because of a flu bug that swept through the team.

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