Denton's Notebook: April 13, 2011

By John Denton
April 13, 2011


ORLANDO – Shooting guard J.J. Redick was back on the practice court with his Orlando Magic teammates Wednesday morning and the hope is that if all goes well in practice on Thursday and Friday that he will play Saturday in Game 1 of the playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks.

Redick missed Wednesday night’s regular-season finale against the Indiana Pacers – his 17th consecutive game out of action – because of a lower abdominal strain.

Redick has worked for weeks with Magic Strength and Conditioning Coach Joe Rogowski to rehabilitate and strengthen his core muscles. The pain has subsided to the point that Redick feels that he is ready to return to competition.

``I feel like I’m really close to being able to practice. I’m hoping that Friday will be a normal day. That’s what I’m shooting for right now,’’ Redick said. ``I’ve been building over the last three or four days to get to that point. (Wednesday) I was able to do some stuff in shootaround, but nothing live, but I was on the court with guys so that was a step for me.’’

Before the injury, Redick was Orlando’s best bench player, averaging 10.1 points per game while shooting 44.1 percent from the floor and 39.7 percent from 3-point range. But Redick hasn’t played since March 9, prompting fears about his effectiveness in playoff basketball after having so much time off.

``I think the stamina thing I don’t think it will take too long, but it will be an adjustment once I get into a game,’’ Redick said. ``I’ve been running and conditioning and I’m coming back (Wednesday) night to get some more shooting and running in, but there’s nothing that can simulate except playing in a game and hopefully I’ll get to that point and adjust quickly.’’

WEIRD BEARDS: It’s been almost a month since Magic players and executives vowed to grow their facial hair out and not shave until the playoffs are over. And with many of the beards coming in fully now, there is plenty talk among the players about who has the best and worst beards. Also, there have been allegations of players illegally trimming their beards, something that is strictly against the rules, team captain Dwight Howard said.

``You can’t shave your mustache and goatee and you have to let it grow out,’’ Howard said. ``I’ve tried everything with mine – putting Miracle Grow and that Chia Pet stuff on my cheeks, but it’s just not working. I’d say Gilbert (Arenas) is the worst because he already looks like Gonzo from the Muppets. And Brandon (Bass) is mad at me about having to grow his facial hair and mad at me for not being able to grow facial hair.’’

Ryan Anderson voted for himself as having the worst beard, saying he looked like ``The Amish Hammer.’’ And Jameer Nelson mocked Areas for having his beard connect to his chest hair. And Redick has apologized to his teammates for twice trimming the hair on his cheeks.

``My beard grows unevenly and grows in all different directions and I hope that I have the discipline to not give in and trim it again,’’ Redick said. ``I’ve received some backlash about trimming it. I’d say everybody looks terrible. The worst would be Brandon because he’s not trimming his neck hair or the random hairs up on his face.’’

INSIDE-OUTSIDE: Remarkably, Anderson has hit seven 3-pointers in the Magic’s two previous games before Wednesday while also snagging 14 offensive rebounds. Even while staying mostly on the perimeter on the offensive end, he still grabbed seven offensive boards against both the Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers.

Anderson was quick to credit the attention created by Howard as freeing him up to get a free run at several offensive rebounds.

``Dwight creates so much attention and when teams double team him it’s usually with a (power forward), and that’s allowed me to get some offensive rebounds over smaller guys,’’ Anderson said. ``It’s just about being aware and attacking.’’

Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau was highly complementary of Anderson’s rare combination of 3-point shooting and rebounding, calling him one of the Magic’s most important players. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy concurred, saying that most every statistic points to Orlando being a better team with Anderson on the floor.

``It’s a tough thing to do (to shoot threes and hit the offensive boards), but he has very good instincts of when to go to the basket and when to stay spotted up,’’ Van Gundy said. ``He’s playing very well and with a lot of confidence and that’s a good way to be heading into the playoffs.

``We have played very well with him on the floor,’’ Van Gundy continued. ``(His shooting) does give the other guys a lot more room, plus he’s our second-best rebounder. He’s our second-best per-minute scorer and our second-best rebounder, so it’s not much question that he’s very important to us.’’

ETC: Magic reserve point guard Gilbert Arenas underwent a MRI on his ailing left knee on Tuesday and it didn’t reveal any structural damage in the joint. Arenas didn’t play Monday in Philadelphia and was held out of Wednesday’s game, but is expected back for Saturday’s playoff opener. Said Arenas: ``I’m fine. I’m just resting it up. (The MRI) went good enough, I guess.’’ … Van Gundy said he would have no reservations with playing Redick in the playoffs even though he’s been out of action for a month. Said Van Gundy: ``I’d have to see him play, but if he’s healthy there would be no debate as to whether or not to play him. Again, our bench needs some help right now. It’s not as if we’re rolling with our bench play and we don’t want to disturb that group. That’s not the case.’’ … Orlando resident Ryan Totka has started a website, StayDwight.com, in an attempt to sway Howard into re-signing with the Magic when he becomes an unrestricted free agent following next season. The site claims to be promoting ``a place for our community to come together to show their support and love of our hometown hero, Five Time All-Star Dwight Howard...and why he belongs in Orlando.’’ Fans are asked to share their videos, pictures and opinions as it relates to Howard’s future in Orlando. … Howard’s No. 12 jersey ranks ninth in the NBA on the annual Most Popular Jerseys list, while the Magic are seventh overall in the NBA. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Rajon Rondo, Amare Stoudemire, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony rank ahead of Howard. The Lakers, Celtics, Heat, Knicks, Bulls and Thunder are ahead of the Magic. … Veteran referee Bob Delaney, who is retiring after 36 years of working with the NBA, officiated his final regular-season game Wednesday night.

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.