Denton's Notebook: April 13, 2012

By John Denton
April 13, 2012

ORLANDO – If anyone on the Orlando Magic knows the pain that Dwight Howard is feeling now that the superstar center was diagnosed with a herniated disc on Friday, it’s veteran small forward Quentin Richardson, who has twice had surgeries on his back.

Richardson missed most of the 2006-07 season after herniating the L-5 and S-1 vertebrae in his lower back. Richardson, a 12-year NBA veteran, needed another surgery on his back last June that kept him inactive for several months during the offseason.

The Magic are hoping that rest and rehabilitation will allow Howard to avoid surgery and possibly return by the start of the playoffs. The team said that Howard’s return would depend on how his back responds to treatment.

Howard’s evaluation came Friday after he saw a back specialist in Los Angeles. He chose to see his own physician instead of the Magic’s team doctors, something that is often a common practice in NBA circles.

Like many of the Magic players, Richardson was stunned to hear that Howard has a herniated disc in his back and will likely miss the rest of the season.

``That’s a tough injury to deal with and you just have to listen to your doctor and do what you are told,’’ Richardson said. ``I had to rehab my back and take it day by day.’’

Richardson said the herniated disc that affected him in 2006-07 when he was a member of the New York Knicks bothered him for months before he eventually had season-ending surgery.

``It pretty much bothered me the whole season, but I had to end up getting surgery in March and it ended my season,’’ Richardson remembered. ``It (was sore) for a couple of months into the summer and I was ready for training camp. I had the same surgery again (last) June 9. You just have to listen to your doctors on this because the doctors know best. You just have to follow their orders and do what you can to try and get back as soon as possible.’’

COLLEGE MEMORIES: With Ish Smith’s promotion to backup point guard, it gave him a chance Friday night to go against Atlanta’s Jeff Teague, a former college teammate at Wake Forest.

Smith and Teague shared the point guard and shooting guard duties for three seasons for a Wake Forest team that rose as high as No. 1 in the country. Smith said he a lot about Magic starting point guard Jameer Nelson long before being signed by Orlando earlier this season.

``(Teague) came in as a freshman when I was a sophomore and he came off the bench until he started killing it,’’ Smith said. ``Then my junior year I broke my foot and my coach asked if I wanted to start or come off the bench. Jeff and I were playing about 25-to-30 minutes each, sharing the two guard spots. Our coach used to show us video of Jameer and Delonte West (when they were playing for St. Joe’s) to show us how they played. So I’ve watched Jameer for a long time.’’

ETC: Hedo Turkoglu attended his first game since having surgery to repair three fractures in his right cheekbone last Saturday. Turkoglu suffered the injury last week when he was hit by an accidental elbow by Carmelo Anthony. The right side of Turkoglu’s face is still badly swollen and he said he’s still having trouble sleeping because of the numbness and pain. ``This is the worst injury I’ve ever had since I’ve been in the NBA,’’ Turkoglu said. The Magic are hoping that Turkoglu can resume conditioning drills next week and possibly return before the end of the regular season in hopes of getting some rhythm before the playoffs. … Van Gundy said the loss of Howard and Turkoglu basically wrecks just about all of the Magic’s post-up plays. Not only are the Magic having to do without Howard’s muscle down low, but with Turkoglu out Jason Richardson has to slide over from shooting guard to small forward. That takes away his size advantage over opposing shooting guards and reduces the number of post-up chances for him. … Magic power forward Ryan Anderson said it’s more important for Orlando to focus on getting its rhythm down the stretch than focusing so much on trying to rise in the seedings. Said Anderson: ``If we put too much pressure on ourselves about the seed I don’t think it will be good for us. We need to focus on things like playing with more energy and eliminating turnovers. For us it’s just about getting better as a team. We’ve been hit with all kinds of injuries and sickness, but we just need to continue to work with the group we have to get better.’’ … The Magic are off Saturday before playing another back-to-back on Sunday (in Cleveland) and Monday (at home against Philadelphia).

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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