Denton's Notebook: January 21, 2011

By John Denton
January 21, 2011


ORLANDO – With the Toronto Raptors in Orlando Friday night it was only natural to ponder why it was that Hedo Turkoglu didn’t fare well in Canada upon signing a $52 million free-agent contract with the Raptors in July of 2009.

The only problem was that Turkolgu had little interest in discussing his rocky one-year past with the Raptors.

Turkoglu led the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals, but left that July for the Raptors and the $52 million contract they were offering. But the marriage there was never a good one as Toronto played Turkoglu mostly out of position. He averaged 11.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists a game, but he caught criticism from the fans and media in Canada because he failed to play at a superstar level.

But Turkoglu, a playmaker first and a scorer second, steamed over the fact that the Raptors mostly took the ball out of his hands and reduced him to being a spot-up shooter. He eventually forced a trade last summer and was dealt to the Phoenix Suns. A six-player trade on Dec. 18 reunited Turkoglu with the Magic, where he has once again thrived.

``I really don’t want to talk about it. I’m over it now and I have moved on. I’m trying to do the best that I can for the Magic,’’ Turkoglu said. ``I don’t want to talk all about what happened and why. You should ask (the Raptors) why I wasn’t able to do the stuff there that I doing here. I’m a guy who if you give me an opportunity and let me do things that I’m good at, I’ll do my best. Other things, I can’t really promise anything. I just don’t want to talk about the past.’’

In his first return to Canada back in the preseason, Turkoglu was booed by fans in Vancouver when the Raptors played the Suns. He’ll go back to Toronto for the first time with the Magic on April 3. He said again on Friday that he’s just happier in Orlando because he’s being used the right way.

``They know how to use me here. They know what I can do and can’t do,’’ Turkoglu said. ``I just play my game, facilitate and create good shots for myself and my teammates too. It works well here because I have good players around me. All I have to do is play my game and use my opportunities.’’

ARENAS-VAN GUNDY SUMMIT: Magic reserve point guard Gilbert Arenas said he and Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy met on Thursday to discuss his struggles in the offense.

He and Van Gundy spent much of the session going over the Magic’s plays, making sure that Arenas knows the cuts and designs of every set. Having to think too much rather than playing on instinct, Arenas said, has played a major role in limiting his effectiveness.

``When I first got here there wasn’t much we could go over, so it was just go out and play. So now that I do understand the plays, he gets nervous when I go out there and don’t make calls,’’ Arenas said. ``Now, I’m thinking about getting yanked, so I play tentative and don’t do much and he yanks me even quicker. It’s like a whole circle right now. I just have to go make sure I run the team the team the right way and play defense and see what happens from there.’’

No one on the Magic works harder on his shot than Arenas, who regularly puts up a couple hundred jump shots a day. However, he entered Friday’s game against Toronto shooting 35.6 percent from the floor in 16 games with the Magic. Again, Arenas said much of his shooting issues can be traced to mental issues.

``I think it’s just nerves right now. When I was the Hibachi (back in Washington) I had the free reign to do anything,’’ Arenas said. ``When you have that kind of rope, you can shoot anything and have that confidence. But here I don’t have that rope or confidence to go out there and let it fly. Every shot that I take I’m hoping that it goes in instead of just relaxing. The only time I felt free was in Cleveland when we were up 20 and I knew I wasn’t coming out, so I let it go.’’

FLOP FURY: Van Gundy said he’s delighted with the adjustments that superstar center Dwight Howard has made of late to stay out of foul trouble. He did foul out of Wednesday night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers after he was baited into a couple of fouls with opposing players flopping to the floor.

Just the mention of flopping upsets Van Gundy, who would like to see players hit with technical fouls for faking foul calls.

``Some of those players flop and some just aren’t ready for (Howard’s) strength,’’ Van Gundy said. ``What do you tell him? `Don’t post up, go down there real soft and don’t hurt anybody?’ It sounds like when you are a kid and you tell the big one not to hurt any of the little kids. He has to be smart and he has been smart.’’

Van Gundy has pined for years for the league to do something to clean up all of the rampant flopping to no avail.

``I talk about it all of the time, but it doesn’t do any good,’’ Van Gundy said. ``I don’t know if it’s bad for the game, but I hate it personally. I don’t think your ability to act and fool the referee should determine your success. That’s just a personal opinion. I want to see people stand up and play people like men and see who the better player is, but some guys don’t want to play like that.’’

ETC: THE Magic play the Rockets in Houston on Saturday night. The Magic beat the Rockets 110-95 on Jan. 7 in Orlando. The Magic went into Friday 13-9 in back-to-back sets of games this season. They are 7-4 on the first night of those games and 6-5 on the second night. … Howard’s technical foul from Wednesday night was rescinded by the NBA, dropping his total back down to 12 for the season. Howard has had four technical fouls rescinded this season. Players are suspended one game by the NBA when they pick up 16 technical fouls. … Arenas said the Magic’s ``Bench Mob’’ has suspended its pregame routine of doing mock introductions for the reserve players. Arenas said the team made the decision to cut it out when it lost three of four games on a recent roadtrip. Said Arenas: ``We stopped it last game. We’re going to try the serious thing. When you lose a couple of games people start to point fingers at the wrong things. We’ll wait until we get back to winning games.’’ … Van Gundy said the Magic’s insistence that Ryan Anderson be added to the trade for Vince Carter back in June of 2009 is looking better and better these days. Said Van Gundy: ``When the deal went down the tough part was giving up Courtney Lee because he had a great rookie year. But a sticking point in that trade was making sure New Jersey included Ryan. (President of Basketball Operations) Otis (Smith) wouldn’t have made that trade without getting a good young player like Ryan in return.’’

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com. Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at AskJD@orlandomagic.com.