Denton's Notebook: April 1, 2011

By John Denton
April 1, 2011


ORLANDO – Orlando Magic reserve point guard Gilbert Arenas has had his struggles with his wayward jump shot and his balky left knee since arriving in a Dec. 18 trade, but he still has the support of superstar center Dwight Howard.

Arenas missed Friday’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats with flu-like symptoms and admitted Wednesday night in Atlanta that he has little to no confidence in his knee when it comes to jumping or exploding off the dribble.

In 46 games with the Magic, Arenas has averaged just 7.7 points while shooting 33.5 percent from the floor and 25.9 percent from the 3-point stripe. His struggles have been particularly bad of late as he missed 11 of 12 shots last Friday against the New Jersey, his first nine shots in New York on Monday and both 3-pointers Wednesday in Atlanta.

Howard has talked with Arenas about not putting so much pressure on himself and just playing free. Howard has tried to stress to the point guard that he doesn’t have to have monster games in Orlando for the Magic to be successful.

``There’s a lot of pressure on him because people expected him to come over here and average 20 points and 10 assists, but we don’t need him to do that. He does have a lot of pressure to get healthy, but I know that his knee has bothered him for a long time now,’’ Howard said. ``But everybody is on him right now – the media, our own weightlifting guys and he’s feeling the pressure because he wants to do so well. He’s always wanted to be in a Magic uniform since he was little (growing up in Tampa). We’ve just got to support him any way that we can. When I talk to him I tell him to remember our goal, which is a championship. We don’t need him to try and be our savior. Hopefully he realizes that and has a great postseason.’’

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said the team was taking measures to lighten the workload on Arenas because of the troubles with a left knee that has been surgically repaired three times.

``Anybody who watches him can tell that physically he’s not where he needs to be,’’ Van Gundy said. ``We’re going to do some things. A day like (Friday) we’d normally go hard after a day off, but a guy like (Arenas) with that leg, he can’t go twice in one day. We’ll do some little things to help him physically.’’

DUHON BACK SOON: After getting encouraging news on Chris Duhon’s right thumb – he has a ligament strain instead of a broken bone – the Magic have abandoned the thought of signing another point guard to add depth at a position that used to be the deepest on the team.

Duhon’s thumb was bent back nearly to his forearm in the loss in New York on Monday and he was unable to finish the game even thought starter Jameer Nelson was out. Duhon kept his thumb in a splint the next two days and a MRI on Thursday showed ligament damage.

``The MRI came up a little better than we thought because we were a little worried,’’ Van Gundy said. ``We’re hoping to get him back before the end of the end of the regular season. He won’t play (Friday) and I doubt he’ll play on Sunday (in Toronto). But maybe late next week we’ll be able to get him back.’’

The Magic haven’t practiced much lately because of so many injuries to the team and the games coming at a furious pace. But the team is scheduled to work out on Saturday prior to playing in Toronto on Sunday. That is, if they have enough bodies to practice.

``We’re going to practice and we don’t have many guys so we’re taking volunteers. Maybe our marketing department could get something going and we could have tryouts,’’ Van Gundy joked. ``Maybe we should auction off a chance to practice with the Magic just to get us enough people. Maybe we could auction off three spots.’’

FEAR THE BEARD: It’s been a week-and-a-half since the Magic instituted a team-wide pledge to not shave their facial hair until after the playoffs. Some players have held firm to the vow, with full beards coming in. Others have skirted the rules, trimming the hair or shaving all together.

When Magic CEO Bob Vander Weide showed up at Friday night’s game clean-shaven he was given a disappointed look by reserve power forward Ryan Anderson, who is sporting a full beard. Several Magic players have beards grown in to varying levels.

``You can line it up and clean it up, but you have to keep the overall essence of the beard,’’ Anderson said. ``Dwight doesn’t really have anything on his cheeks except for a few patches of hair. And we’re still waiting on Daniel Orton to grow something. He has like three little hairs on his beard.’’

Howard isn’t too happy with his look, but he’s keeping his facial hair. Said Howard: ``I’ve got a lot of hair growing and I’ve never had hair growing on my face. I don’t mind it, but a lot of people disagree with me having hair on my face – not males. I still like my baby face – it’s hot.’’

ETC: Van Gundy said the Magic hope to have some word about the progress of injured shooting guard J.J. Redick by Monday. Redick missed his 11th straight game Friday night because of a lower abdominal strain suffered on March 11 at a morning practice. Redick isn’t with the team because he’s in Vancouver, British Columbia, working with Magic Strength and Conditioning Coach Joe Rogowski and an abdominal specialist. … Van Gundy said his usual routine of watching film of the opponent was interrupted Thursday night and Friday morning because of a power outage near his Lake Mary home following the thunderstorms in the Central Florida area. Van Gundy said he watched film on his laptop until his battery ran out and then he went to work out on the elliptical machine. … Arenas alerted Magic Head Athletic Trainer Keon Wise early Friday morning of his nausea and fever, and didn’t improve enough to attend the game. Said Van Gundy: ``He was so sick that he didn’t come in and we couldn’t see him. Keon sent him to the doctor. He didn’t even feel like he could drive himself to the doctor so he had to get somebody to drive him. He woke up with chills and stuff like that.’’ … The Magic play in Toronto on Sunday at 6 p.m. It will be Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu’s first trip back to Toronto since his ill-fated one season with the Raptors last year.

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.