Denton's Notebook: April 5, 2011

By John Denton
April 5, 2011


ORLANDO – After playing shorthanded for weeks because of injuries, the Orlando Magic are taking measures to battle off fatigue before the playoffs start in a little bit more than a week.

The Magic didn’t practice on Monday following Sunday’s game in Toronto and then passed up having a shootaround session Tuesday morning in hopes of getting more rest. Orlando plays in Charlotte on Wednesday night, will be off Thursday and will go through light practices Friday and Saturday before hosting the Bulls on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Even with the extra time off, Magic superstar center Dwight Howard said that he has no plans to take a game off down the stretch of the regular season. Howard said that having days off between games and shorter shootarounds do wonders for his body, but he’s fundamentally opposed to sitting out games when he’s healthy enough to play.

``I can’t ask for a game off,’’ Howard said. ``What if some fan is coming to see their first Magic game and their favorite player is No. 12? I just can’t sit out like that. Well, unless I get suspended. As long as that doesn’t happen, I won’t be asking for a game off.’’

Howard’s suspension joke is a possibility because he has 17 technical fouls. An 18th technical foul would mean a second one-game suspension. He had to miss the March 7 home loss to Portland after picking up his 16th technical foul of the season. The technical foul count is wiped clean for the playoffs.

COLLEGE TRY: Magic coach Stan Van Gundy suffered through Monday’s night’s NCAA National Championship Game between Connecticut-Butler in a local sports bar following his son’s youth league baseball game. Butler set all-time tournament records for shooting percentage and points scored and once went 13 minutes in the second half with just one made basket.

``The first half was just mind-boggling,’’ Van Gundy said of the offensive struggles of the two teams. ``It was 19-19 for the longest time. I think I had about 20 wings between scores at one point.’’

Van Gundy also said that while the one-and-done drama of the NCAA Tournament is appealing, the quality of the basketball isn’t. Van Gundy said the one-and-done format doesn’t produce the best team, but instead just the hottest team or the one on the best roll. Connecticut, for example, finished ninth in the Big East, but won the National Championship. Van Gundy wondered how such a format would play out in the NBA playoffs.

``You’d still have to favor the best teams, but if you went with a one-and-done format on a neutral court you’d still see upsets,’’ Van Gundy said. ``The question is could teams like the Cavaliers, Timberwolves and Wizards win it. You’d still have a hard time seeing them win, I guess, five times. But we see upsets all of the time – the Cavs beat the Lakers. But I’m just not sure (the one-and-done format) gives a clear idea of who the best team is.’’

START/FINISH: While the Magic often start games with Brandon Bass at power forward, it’s Ryan Anderson who is usually on the floor at the end of games when the outcome is still in the balance.

For the season, Bass is playing 25.6 minutes a night and averaging 11.2 points, while Anderson is playing 22.1 minutes on average and scoring 10.3 points. The rebounding numbers are basically the same (5.5 for Bass and 5.3 for Anderson), but the difference is Anderson’s ability to stretch the floor.

Anderson went into Tuesday night’s game first on the team in 3-pointers made (122), which also ranks 20th in the NBA. He’s taken 315 3-pointers this season, the 26th most in the NBA. His 3-point percentage (38.7) is 44th in the NBA.

Anderson’s 3-point shooting is a major reason why Van Gundy wants him on the floor at the end of games. Because teams often use power forwards to double-team Howard inside, Van Gundy likes to have Anderson on the floor to free up space inside. And even if Anderson doesn’t have a hot hand, just the threat of his 3-point shot creates space for the offense.

``He creates more room for both Dwight and for our team on pick-and-rolls,’’ Van Gundy said. ``We’re just better offensively as a team when Ryan is on the floor. Even when he’s not shooting well, he spreads the floor because you have to respect his shot.’’

ETC: The Magic are hoping to get an update on the condition of injured shooting guard J.J. Redick on Thursday. Redick missed his 13th consecutive game Tuesday because of a lower abdominal strain. Redick has worked out with Strength and Conditioning coach Joe Rogowski and with a core specialist in Vancouver, British Columbia of late, but has still been experiencing pain in his abdomen. The hope is that Redick can get some work in late in the regular season and be sharp going into the playoffs. … Point guards Gilbert Arenas and Chris Duhon were both healthy enough to play Tuesday night. Arenas missed the past two games with the flu, while Duhon had missed the previous three games because of a sprained right thumb. … The Magic play the Bobcats in Charlotte tonight at 7 p.m. Orlando is 3-0 against the Bobcats this season, winning 89-77 last Friday night at the Amway Center.

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.