Denton's Notebook: January 29, 2012

By John Denton
January 29, 2012

ORLANDO – Orlando Magic veteran point guard Jameer Nelson didn't play Sunday and won't travel with the team to Philadelphia on Monday because of post-concussion symptoms and nausea.

Nelson was hit twice on Friday -- once in the head and again in the jaw -- and began suffering concussion symptoms in the hours after the game. Nelson, an eight-year NBA veteran, has suffered at least four concussions.

Nelson said by text message on Sunday that he was in good spirits and would be back by the middle of the week. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy lauded the NBA's safeguards put in place to protect players who suffer concussions and said that Nelson won't play again until he's fully cleared by Magic team physicians.

``The league and all of pro sports are starting to get on the right track with (head injuries). You can not mess with these things,'' Van Gundy said. ``We owe our players better than (taking a chance).''

Nelson, who turns 30 years old next week, has struggled much of this season and is averaging just 8.1 points and 5.1 rebounds. He's shooting only 38.7 percent from the floor and 28.9 percent from 3-point range.

Nelson claimed to have felt fine after the game on Friday, but his condition got progressively worse on Saturday.

``One, he's a very tough guy. And number two, there are times when you are going to feel OK,'' Van Gundy said. ``But even if you look at some of these pro football guys, they are tough and competitive who want to be on the court and if you let them they will go out there. But we owe them better than that. This isn't an ankle or knee injury and maybe you can push through it. You're talking about somebody's head and brain. You have to take care of the players. The league has great safeguards in place and he'll be back when he checks out and not a minute sooner.''

NOT SO SUPER TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS: The Magic have already experienced somewhat of a travel nightmare for next Saturday's trip to Indianapolis to play the Pacers.

Because Indianapolis is hosting the Feb. 5 Super Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium, there is no hotel space for the Magic to lodge in Indy before Saturday's game. Their original plan was to remain in Orlando and then fly to Indianapolis on Saturday morning -- something usually against NBA rules, but the Magic were granted a waiver because of the lodging issues.

Now, the NBA is requiring the Magic to fly from Orlando to Cincinnati on Friday night after hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Magic were originally told they would have to bus the 115 miles from Cincinnati to Indianapolis on Saturday morning. However, NBA spokesman Tim Frank said Sunday night that the Magic would now be allowed to fly from Cincinnati to Indianapolis on Saturday morning.

Van Gundy was less than thrilled about the travel arrangements and attempted to bite his tongue when discussing the matter. he said part of the blame lies with the NBA for not blocking out several hotel rooms for the visiting team. Originally, the Los Angeles Clippers were slated to play in Indianapolis the day before the Super Bowl, but the schedule was adjusted following the NBA lockout and the Magic were sent to Indy instead.

PICKING UP PIECES, ENERGY: Now in his fifth season with the Magic, Van Gundy called Orlando's defeats last week ``three of the worst losses since I've been here.'' He was referring, of course, to the Monday loss in Boston in which the Magic scored a franchise-low 56 points, the Thursday loss to the Celtics in which they blew a 27-point lead and Friday's 26-point defeat in New Orleans.

Van Gundy debunked the notion that the daily drama surrounding superstar center Dwight Howard was distracting the team. Howard requested a trade prior to the season and has discussed the matter several times in recent weeks when visiting other NBA cities. Van Gundy doesn't think that's a reason behind the recent struggles, pointing out that the Magic were 11-4 and rolling along just last week.

``That's a convenient excuse and I've said that to people both inside and outside of the organization,'' Van Gundy said. ``We were playing well last week and the situation was the same. So now that we're having a rough week it's a distraction? I don't buy it. That's just an excuse.''

Van Gundy pointed to the Magic being in their toughest stretch of the season schedule-wise. Monday's game will be the Magic's sixth in eight nights. In the weeks before the Feb. 26 NBA All-Star Game in Orlando, the Magic will play 20 games in 32 nights. After the break, the Magic will play 31 games in 60 nights, a schedule more closely resembling a normal NBA season.

``Fatigue is a part of (the recent struggles), and we've given into it and now we're looking for excuses,'' Van Gundy said. ``When we've played with great energy we've played great. When our energy has been low we've played poorly. ... When we're walking around we're not a hard team to guard. We're not a 1-on-1 team or a team that has a LeBron (James), Paul Pierce or Kobe (Bryant) who will create shots for other guys. We need to move and play with energy. We played slow (in the three losses). Watching the way we played in the Indiana game (a Magic win) you'd think something was wrong witht he computer and it was on a different speed.''

ETC: Chris Duhon started his second game of the season at point guard and will be in the starting lineup again Monday in Philadelphia. Nelson missed a win in Charlotte earlier int he season with neck spasms. ... Magic forward Ryan Anderson started and played extensively Sunday night despite the lingering effects of a bruised calf muscle suffered Thursday against the Celtics. Anderson, who was held out of Friday's loss in New Orleans, played on Sunday despite being less than 100 percent healthy. ... The Magic turned the ball over 14 times in the first 17 minutes of Sunday's game, but finally got their ball-handling issues under control. They didn't turn the ball over in the final 7:25 and the result was an 18-2 Magic run. ... Sunday's game was the Magic's 108th consecutive regular-season sellout. Including the 22 playoff games over the previous three seasons, the Magic have had 130 straight sellouts.

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com

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