Denton's Notebook: January 11, 2012

By John Denton
January 11, 2012

PORTLAND, Ore. – Because of the lockout, the NBA schedule will have a frantic and frenetic feel to it most of this season. But due to a quirk in the schedule, the Magic caught a break this week with two days off in cloudy, cold Portland.

After playing a day game in Sacramento on Sunday, the Magic spent the better part of three consecutive nights in Portland. The team was in town so long that one radio host joked that Magic superstar center Dwight Howard was spotted house-hunting in the Pearl District of Portland. Again, he was joking.

The quirk in the schedule also afforded the Magic to hold somewhat of an advantage over the hometown Blazers. Portland defeated the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night, while many of the Magic players watched the game from their hotel rooms.

Howard, who is close friends with Clippers center DeAndre Jordan and was hosted on a college recruiting trip by Portland point guard Raymond Felton, said he considered attending the game, but was afraid it would cause too much of a stir. Howard said that having so much time off also might knock the Magic out of rhythm.

``I wanted to come and watch the game, but it’s kind of weird to come here and watch and then have to play here the next night. That’s something you do in AAU, but I’ve never done it in the NBA,’’ Howard said with a laugh. ``It’s tough because we haven’t played in a couple of days. And for me I really haven’t played since the (Chicago) game before Sacramento (last Friday) because I was in foul trouble. So we’ll see how having some time off affects us.’’

ALL-STAR PLANS: Howard used his extra time in Portland to visit the Adidas headquarters on Tuesday afternoon where he spoke to the employees and did some long-range planning.

With the NBA All-Star Game in Orlando Feb. 24-26, Howard will serve as the unofficial grand marshal of the events and the game. He spent much of his time at Adidas trying to brainstorm ideas for fan-friendly events for the All-Star Game in Orlando. Howard said he couldn’t talk much about the details yet, but he’s hoping to host several events in Orlando that will engage the fans during the midseason all-star game.

``I’m trying to come up with something cool to do for the fans leading up to all-star weekend,’’ said Howard, a five-time all-star and the prohibitive favorite to start at center again for the Eastern Conference. ``I want all the fans that we come across from each state and each team to have some kind of big celebration in Orlando. We’re looking forward to it and we already have some really good ideas for all-star weekend. I told the people at Adidas I want to show all of my fans on Orlando and all around the NBA how much I appreciate them. So we’re looking forward to having something crazy and fun planned for that weekend.’’

BAY AREA HOMECOMING: The Magic’s game in Golden State against the Warriors will serve as somewhat of a homecoming for Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy, who grew up in Martinez, Calif.

Growing up from 27 miles from the franchise’s home in Oakland, Van Gundy was a huge Warriors fan as a child and said he attended five to seven games a season along with his brother, Jeff, and mother and father. Van Gundy said all of his family has since moved away, but he will have roughly a half-dozen friends at the game.

And upon every return to Golden State, Van Gundy usually makes it a point to pick up a piece of nostalgia to remind him of his childhood days rooting for the Warriors.

``I was a huge Warriors fan and that ’75 team that won the championship is still my favorite all-time,’’ Van Gundy said. ``The (Warriors) ball boys out there can tell you I went crazy twice out there because we were there on Nate Thurmond bobble-head night and I had to have one. And then I had to have one of the Al Attles bobble-heads, also.’’

ETC: Quentin Richardson did not dress for a third consecutive game Wednesday night because of the lingering effects from a ``chemical burn’’ that he suffered on his ankle last week. After spraining his ankle in practice, Richardson tried self-medicating himself with a liniment and some ice. The result was a ``chemical burn’’ that left a gash in his ankle. Richardson has been held out because of fear of infection, but Van Gundy said he could return by the Monday afternoon game in New York. … Magic reserve shooting guard J.J. Redick, an aspiring chef in his downtime, considers Portland to be the ``best food city’’ in the NBA. Redick said he actually ate two dinners Sunday night after the Magic arrived in town. He prefers sushi when he comes to Portland, and hits several of the establishments on this trip. … Van Gundy said he plans to keep reserve guard Von Wafer in the rotation for the foreseeable future because of the scoring punch he brings the team off the bench. Wafter struggles at times defensively, but Van Gundy lauded him for ``really trying’’ to improve. ``Plus, he’s the best player on the team at creating his own shot,’’ Van Gundy said. … Veteran Magic TV analyst Matt Goukas did not make the trip to the West Coast after undergoing surgery for a hernia. He is expected to return alongside play-by-play host David Steele later in the month. Richie Adubato filled in for Goukas on television, while Magic director of player development, Adonal Foyle, filled in for Adubato on the radio with Dennis Neuman.

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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