Denton's Notebook: January 30, 2011

By John Denton
January 30, 2011

ORLANDO – The Cleveland Cavaliers could be on the verge of making NBA history this season, becoming the first team ever to go from having the league’s best record one season to the worst the following season.

And the lows don’t stop there for a Cleveland franchise still devastated by the free-agent defection of LeBron James. The Cavs left Orlando Sunday night losers of 20 consecutive games and having dropped 30 of the past 31 games.

``My friends are smart and they don’t ask me about basketball. They ask about everything but basketball and just tell me to hang in there,’’ said first-year Cleveland coach Byron Scott. ``My friends know not to ask me about basketball. They don’t know a (darn) thing about basketball anyway.’’

Several Magic players marveled at the depths that their former rivals have plummeted. Just two seasons ago, Orlando and Cleveland played in the Eastern Conference Finals and last season they had the top two records in the East.

And Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson shuddered to think what things would be like if there was such a horrid losing streak in Orlando.

``I just know that I don’t want to be the team that loses to the team that has lost 19 straight games,’’ Howard said before Sunday’s game. ``I think our whole team would be on suicide watch. I know it’s pretty tough, but I wouldn’t ever want to be in a situation like that. (Head coach) Stan (Van Gundy) would probably be in the hospital. He wouldn’t be too happy.’’

Added Redick: ``I would mentally be in a very difficult situation and would want to harm things … hopefully not myself.’’

ARENAS OUT: Gilbert Arenas’ troublesome left knee is giving him more troubles, causing him to miss Sunday night’s game against Cleveland. Arenas banged knees with Bulls center Kurt Thomas on Friday night in Chicago, resulting in a deep bruise in a knee that has already needed three surgeries in years past. Arenas was so frustrated about a hit from Thomas that he thinks was intentional that he threw an elbow that just missed the Chicago center’s head.

``I’ve never had a knee bruise, but Kurt Thomas just kneed me right in the (knee) cap and that’s why I threw that wild elbow because I was so upset,’’ Arenas said. ``I was so upset with him. I was wondering, `You couldn’t (hit) the right one? The left one was starting to feel great and I was like, `Come on, man.’ I put the ice on it to try to keep it calm so the blood could flow through it.

``After I got off the plane it was just throbbing and it was hard to bend because the bruise is right on the bone.’’

TRAVEL WOES: Redick has made it clear when he’s done playing in the NBA someday he’s going to find a pursuit that involves no airline travel or more stays in hotels.

Redick says the only thing he despises about being a professional athlete is all of the travel and time away from home that the job requires. January has been an especially difficult month for the newly married Redick with the Magic playing eight road games so far this month.

A ninth road game comes Monday night when the Magic travel to Memphis to face the Grizzlies. The road game comes even though the Magic just back early Saturday morning from a two-game trip to Indiana and Chicago.

``We really weren’t even home for two days. I went to bed at 4:30 Saturday morning,’’ Redick said. ``Then, I couldn’t sleep (Saturday night) because I’m still on Central Time. Then, we had an early shootaround (Sunday morning) and we go to Memphis (after the game). Thanks, NBA. It’s been a great month for life outside of basketball and sleep. I just love being on the road, so let’s go back out again.’’

ETC: Jameer Nelson was back in the starting lineup Sunday night for the Magic despite having to miss most of Friday’s game in Chicago with tendinitis in his right knee. Nelson went through the Sunday morning practice with no more pain in the knee and was cleared to play. … If the playoffs started today, the Magic would enter the postseason as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference behind Boston, Chicago and Miami. That’s not the desired spot the Magic would want, but it’s not the end of the world either, Howard said. ``Where was (fourth-seeded) Boston last year? Well, there you go,’’ Howard said. ``It doesn’t matter if you are the No. 1 team or the last team to get in, as long as you get hot at the right time and have the momentum going anything is possible. You look at the Packers, they were the sixth seed and now they are in the Super Bowl. For us, we just have to stick with it and not get frustrated. We want to be playing our best brand of basketball come playoff time.’’ … Speaking of the Super Bowl, Howard has an opinion on how that’s going to turn out as well. Not that he’ll be able to watch much of it because the Magic will be playing the Celtics in Boston on Super Bowl Sunday for a second consecutive year. Said Howard: ``It’s going to be a good game because the Packers are hot right now, but they are going against a good, solid, veteran team. So I’m going to go with the Steelers. We’re playing on the Super Bowl day again, so if we win, the Steelers are going to win, too.’’

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