Denton's Notebook: March 25, 2011

By John Denton
March 25, 2011

ORLANDO – Orlando Magic shooting guard J.J. Redick suffered a setback in his rehabilitation from a strained abdominal muscle on Thursday, putting his return in doubt once again.

Redick, who is averaging 10.1 points a game, missed his eighth consecutive game Friday night against the New Jersey Nets. He originally suffered the injury during a morning practice in Oakland on March 11 and hasn’t played since.

Redick got in a pregame workout Wednesday in New York and hoped to play on Friday following another workout session on Thursday. But the shooting guard experienced more pain on Thursday, causing him to shelve the plans of a Friday return.

``(Thursday) was a frustrating day because I talked to him Wednesday in New York and he really thought he was getting better and he’d have a good workout (Thursday) and hopefully be ready to go tonight, but (Thursday) was frustrating because he had a lot more pain that he’d had on Wednesday,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``So it was a little of a step back because he wasn’t able to do anything with us today.’’

Van Gundy said a MRI has ruled out the injury being a sports hernia and the belief is that it isn’t bad enough to require surgery. Van Gundy said a best-case scenario now might be to hope to get Redick back by April 1 in hopes of him having a two weeks of play before the start of the playoffs.

``You always worry, but we’ve still got a long time. I’m not overly concerned. I’d be overly surprised if he’s not ready to go by the playoffs,’’ Van Gundy said.

``Obviously we’d like to get him back by the first of April and let him play some games and get some conditioning work and rhythm in his game. My concern is if he doesn’t get some games under his belt it will tough for him to be effective.’’

FEAR THE BEARD: Orlando’s players made a pledge to grow their facial hair out and not shave until the playoffs are over, but there seems to be cracks in the pledge already. Franchise center Dwight Howard and power forward Brandon Bass showed up Friday looking clean shaven and wondering if the team will be able to stick to the vow.

The pledge came about as a way to build unity heading into the playoffs. And the team-wide vow has already taken off like wildfire, gaining national attention on television shows and radio programs locally and nationally. T-shirts have already been printed up and local disc jockeys are vowing to not shave in support of the Magic.

``We were discussing what we wanted to do for the playoffs and we were talking about going bald, but some of our heads aren’t shaped right for that and it wouldn’t have worked out too well,’’ Howard said. ``And Stan with a bald head – woo, he’s not rolling with that.

``We decided to go with the facial hair and I’m trying to grow out the hair that I’ve got,’’ Howard continued. ``I’m concerned about Brandon because it will be funny to see him with a beard. The best beards will probably go to the Philly guys – Jameer (Nelson) and Malik (Allen). We want all of the fans to get involved too. If you can’t grow a mustache, go buy a fake one. And the ladies should paint their finger nails blue and white Magic colors. We just need all of the support going into the playoffs.’’

Bass said he feels there needs to be further discussion on ``the beard thing.’’

``I think we need to talk more about it because our two leaders on the team – Dwight can’t grow a beard and Jameer wears one as his normal look,’’ Bass said. ``I can grow one out in three or four days, but I’m going to grow mine out to show them how terrible it looks.’’

ETC: ESPN’s cameras caught Howard telling teammates to get him the ball near the end of Wednesday’s win in New York. Howard was briefly upset that the Magic had gotten into heaving too many 3-pointers and wanted his teammates to feed him the ball as he was in the process of battering the Knicks for 33 points. Said Howard: ``Guys know how we have to play. Instead of keeping the ball on the perimeter and doing what we do sometimes by shooting a bunch of threes in the fourth quarter, we had to get back to playing inside-out. I just tried to tell the guys that’s how we have to play and it worked.’’ … Magic reserve Quentin Richardson was also unavailable to play Friday night because of back spasms. That left the Magic without two shooting guards, forcing Gilbert Arenas and Nelson to spend some time at shooting guard. … Bass said he’s gotten particular satisfaction out of this season by finally proving that he can be a starter in the NBA. He was used almost exclusively as a reserve the past five seasons while playing for the Hornets, Mavericks and Magic. Bass started his 42nd game Friday night, but he said the key for him is to not relax. Said Bass: ``When I was backing up guys like Dirk Nowitzki I was able to learn a lot from them. But I look at every day as a new day and a new game. I don’t really even want to say now that I’m a starter and relax. I can’t afford to think like that.’’ … Just five days after beating the Knicks 111-99, the Magic will be back in New York on Monday to face the Knicks again. It is a makeup game after the Nov. 2 game in New York was cancelled after asbestos material fell from the roof of the renovated Madison Square Garden. The Magic’s two-game roadtrip concludes Wednesday in Atlanta and Orlando is back at the Amway Center next Friday to host Charlotte.

John Denton writes for E-mail John at Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at