Denton's Notebook: March 28, 2011

By John Denton
March 28, 2011

NEW YORK – If the decision was up to Jameer Nelson, the Orlando Magic point guard would have played Monday night against the New York Knicks. But Magic President of Operations/GM Otis Smith made it clear to Nelson that it wasn’t his decision to make, so he instead rested his sprained left knee.

Nelson injured himself last Friday night when New Jersey’s Jordan Farmar fell back into his leg, hyper-extending his knee. The hit scared Nelson and he was initially fearful of damage, but he said he fortunately was able to pull his knee out before it was badly bent inward.

``I’m all right. I haven’t done anything yet on the court, haven’t tested it,’’ said Nelson, who very well could play Wednesday in Atlanta against the Hawks. ``I got hit on the side of the knee. I got my foot out just in time. It wasn’t quite planted. If it was really planted and it got hit, I don't know what might have happened. Everything (with the MRI) came out negative.’’

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy made the decision to start Gilbert Arenas even though he contemplated Chris Duhon to keep Arenas in his usual role of coming off the bench. But as fate would have it, Arenas picked up his second foul 3 minutes, 11 seconds into the game and Duhon entered early in the first period.

Arenas suffered through a miserable 1 of 12 shooting night on Friday and got in early foul trouble on Monday, but Van Gundy was very complimentary of Arenas’ focus of late, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

``Actually I’ve been really, really happy with his effort and focus and trying to do what we want,’’ Van Gundy said. ``The leg against some of the quicker point guards will give him problems against the quicker point guards, but the last two weeks I have been happy with the effort he’s made to try harder on the defensive end and a real conscious effort to do things the way we want them done.’’

REDICK RE-EVALUATED: J.J. Redick missed his ninth consecutive game Monday night with a lower abdominal strain and isn’t with the team as he getting rehabilitation work done in Vancouver, Canada.

Redick thought he was close to returning last week, but suffered a setback when he felt intense pain in his abdomen during an individual workout in Orlando. Van Gundy said he’s understandably concerned about getting his most consistent bench player back, but the decision hasn’t been made about whether or not to shut Redick down for the rest of the regular season. For now the Magic just hope he’s on the floor a few games to prepare for the playoffs.

``He’s already missed eight, we’ve got nine more to go and it would be very hard to miss 17 game and go into the playoffs and having not played for the last 20 percent of the season and expect him to be real productive,’’ Van Gundy said of Redick before the game. ``It’s not coming around the way that we had hoped. He’s doing some work with (Magic Strength and Conditioning coach) Joe (Rogowski) now and we’ll see if we can get him back. It’s not great where it is now. It’s not as hopeful with him as it is with Jameer and (Quentin Richardson).’’

The decision was to hold Richardson out Monday after a nasty bout with back spasms last week in New York. Richardson said he didn’t suffer a specific injury, but needed a MRI because of the intense pain.

``It didn’t even happen during the game; it was after when it was so bad,’’ Richardson said. ``This time the spasms were worse and I was pretty nervous. The MRI was just kind of reassuring to my brain, you know.’’

NO NEW YORK STATE OF MIND: There is obviously much angst in New York about the skidding Knicks with them heading into Monday’s game having lost six in a row and nine of 10. Things apparently have gotten so bad in New York that Carmelo Anthony called the game against the Magic ``a must win.’’

Van Gundy was peppered with questions Monday about the state of the Knicks and he didn’t exactly play along with the New York media. Van Gundy pointed out he’s far more concerned about his own team than problems in New York or Miami.

``I don’t say this comically, but with Miami at the beginning of the year and New York since the trade, it’s like because so many people are interested what happens to LeBron, Wade and Bosh and Carmelo, Amare and Chauncey, you guys things that it’s everybody else’s overwhelming function to think, `What’s happening with Miami and New York?’ Quite honestly, we don’t give a damn,’’ Van Gundy said. ``I don’t care. I care about our team. It’s not all Miami and New York. I know to ESPN it is, but to the rest of us we think some of the other teams matter.’’

ETC: Magic star center Dwight Howard strengthened his case to win the Most Valuable Player award by capturing the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award for a sixth time this season. Miami’s LeBron James has won the award five times and Dwyane Wade has won it four times. Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook has won the Western Conference Player of the Week award four times. But no one can equal the six awards for Howard, who averaged 27.3 points, 14.3 rebounds, 3.3 blocks and 2.3 steals per game in three wins last week. … Richardson was watching tape of last week’s Magic-Knicks game Monday night and he was still puzzled by the phantom foul call against New York’s Anthony. Said Richardson: ``I proud of me for not getting a (technical foul) on that. The old me definitely would have gotten a technical foul. I’ve reformed now.’’ Richardson said the ref apologized to him at halftime for blowing the call. … Smith, the Magic’s GM, showed some growth on his beard and said he has no plans of shaving anytime soon after Orlando’s team-wide pledge to not shave until after the postseason. Said Smith: ``It’s killing me not to shave, but I’m rolling with my guys. I’ve got them to at least let me shave my neck, which is big for me. If they decide to change, I’ll shave, but for now I’m rolling with them.’’

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