Denton's Notebook: April 18, 2012

By John Denton
April 18, 2012

BOSTON – With the recent successes of young Orlando Magic players Daniel Orton, Earl Clark and Ish Smith, no one has been happier about their surprising play than President of Basketball Operations/GM Otis Smith.

After all, it was Smith who stayed in those players’ ears, repeatedly telling them that eventually there would come a time when they would be needed during the NBA’s marathon of a season.

The Magic have needed production of late from their younger players following injuries to superstar center Dwight Howard, small forward Hedo Turkoglu, power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis and point guard Chris Duhon. Orton had 11 points, five steals and three blocks in a win against Cleveland, while Clark registered the first double-double of his career versus Philadelphia on Monday.

Smith, the architect of the Magic roster, took great pride in the fact that those players were not only ready to play, but thrived when called upon.

``There’s a reason that you have a 15-man roster. You don’t hope to go through injuries, but you know in a long season that at some point you will go through them,’’ Smith said prior to Wednesday’s game in Boston. ``For those young guys to step in and play the way they have over the last couple of games, it’s been good for everyone, but especially for them and their confidence. It proves to young Daniel that he can play in this league when there might have been some doubt about that. He played well, he played smart and knew what to do and I was happy for the guy.’’

INJURY UPDATES: Smith said that Howard remained in Orlando on Tuesday and Wednesday rather than flying to Boston with the team so that he can continue to get rehabilitation on his back at Jewitt Orthopaedic Center in Maitland.

Howard was diagnosed last Friday with a herniated disc in his lower back and he received an epidural shot of cortisone to relieve the discomfort and spasms. The plan is for Howard to rest and rehabilitate his back for 10 days and then be reevaluated as to whether he can return for the playoffs, which start either on April 28 or 29.

``No updates at this point,’’ Smith said. ``It’s still rest and rehab. … He was moving pretty good (Tuesday) and Wednesday, so we’ll see how he is after he gets his rehab. We’ll get a report from that.’’

As for Turkoglu, he is making progress after having surgery 10 days ago to repair three fractures in his right cheekbone. Turkoglu has been cleared to begin doing cardio work and will likely travel with the Magic to Salt Lake City and Denver this weekend so that he can work with the team’s athletic trainers. The hope is that Turkoglu will be cleared to play in the final two regular-season games so that he can gain some rhythm before the playoffs.

``Turk could have traveled with us (to Boston). He’s doing well and we’ll reevaluate whether he’s going to go with us on the West Coast trip,’’ Smith said. ``He can start doing some cardio things, so we’ll start doing that soon.’’

ETC: Orton, who played the first meaningful minutes of his career in the past week, doesn’t have a contract after this season and said he’s fully aware that he’s likely playing for his NBA future. Said Orton: ``The past two years were full of frustration, full of setbacks and full of disappointment, but I feel like it all worked out so far. That thought (that he’s playing for his future) does go through my mind, but at the end of the day I’m just playing to try to help us get Ws. That’s all I can focus on doing now.’’ … Davis was back in the starting lineup after missing a game with a sprained right knee. He said there was no way he was missing a chance to play against Boston, the team he spent the first four years of his NBA career playing with. Said Davis: ``If I had one leg I’d go (and play) today.’’ … Some of the Magic’s veteran players warned Orton about facing legendary trash-talker Kevin Garnett, who often attempts to rattle young players with his verbal assaults. Not a worry, Orton said. ``I’ve been trash-talked my whole life and my whole family is competitive with the trash talk,’’ he said. ``I just kind of smile at it and keep going.’’ … The Magic returned to Orlando after Wednesday’s game, but their roadtrip will resume Saturday in Utah and Sunday in Denver. After that just two games remain: Wednesday at home against Charlotte and next Thursday in Memphis.

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com

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