Denton's Notebook: April 9, 2012

By John Denton
April 9, 2012

ORLANDO – Orlando Magic superstar center Dwight Howard said he wasn’t too concerned about the back injury that knocked him out of Monday’s game and he hopes to be back in a matter of days.

After playing 40 minutes on Thursday and another 44 minutes on Saturday in Philadelphia, the back spasms that bothered Howard returned on Sunday and Monday. Howard didn’t play against the Detroit Pistons and likely won’t play Tuesday in Washington, but is targeting a Friday return against the Atlanta Hawks.

``I’m not that worried about it,’’ Howard said. ``Right now, it’s about getting a lot of rest and a lot of massages for the spasms. I’ll get it right and be back soon.’’

Howard has now missed more games to injury this season (three) than he did in the first seven years of his NBA career (two). Howard’s head coach, Stan Van Gundy, and fellow captain, Jameer Nelson, marveled at Howard’s ability to play through the pain in his back in Saturday’s 88-82 win in Philadelphia.

``What he did the other night was phenomenal. He couldn’t even sit on the bench comfortably. At timeouts they were treating it all of the time,’’ Van Gundy marveled. ``For him to fight through it and do what he did was incredible, but the price to him was that the spasms have gotten worse. He did it at a personal price.’’

Added Nelson: ``He was in a lot of pain and I’ve never seen him like that during a game, practice or anything,’’ Nelson said. ``It was inspiring to see somebody playing with that much pain on their face. It makes you want to run through a wall for him.’’

TURK RECOVERING: Hedo Turkoglu visited the Magic at their morning shootaround on Monday just two days after having surgery to repair three fractures in his cheekbone. Turkoglu, who was injured on Thursday when he was hit by an elbow under the right eye, is expected to miss approximately three weeks.

Turkoglu can return to conditioning drills in 10 days and will likely wear a mask once he returns after having a metal plate inserted over the broken bones in his face. The Magic hope is that Turkoglu can return in the final games of the regular season so that he can be ready for the playoffs.

``He’s bruised and puffy and doesn’t think he looks that good, but I never thought he looked that good in the first place,’’ Van Gundy said. ``He’s supposed to have three weeks of no contact, which puts him back the day the playoffs are supposed to start. There’s a possibility we can get him back for those last couple of (regular-season) games or he won’t be ready for the playoffs.’’

ETC: Reserve point guard Chris Duhon was suspended from Monday’s game for a violation of team rules. Duhon was not at the team’s morning shootaround, but is expected to rejoin the team for Tuesday’s game in Washington. Ish Smith, signed off a Development League roster earlier in the season, filled in nicely for Duhon on Monday night. … Van Gundy said the Magic heard back from the NBA league office regarding the alleged punch to Howard’s lower back from Dallas’ Brendan Haywood. Van Gundy said the league office said the Haywood blows should have been called fouls, but they didn’t think they were flagrant fouls. Said Van Gundy: ``They said it was a closed fist, but they saw it as a normal basketball play. That’s not the way I saw it or the way Dwight saw it. But they’re not out there absorbing (the hit) either.’’ … The Magic will be playing their 16th set of back-to-back games Tuesday night in Washington. Orlando is 15-15 in those games so far – 8-2 on the first night and 7-8 on the second night.

John Denton writes for John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at

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