Denton's Notebook: April 28, 2011

By John Denton
April 28, 2011

ATLANTA – Orlando Magic reserve guard Gilbert Arenas said his stirring playoff production in Games 4 and 5 isn’t because of some sort of adjustment or how the Atlanta Hawks are defending his pick-and-roll plays. It’s simply a matter of opportunity, Arenas said.

After playing just 18 minutes combined in Games 1 and 2 and getting benched all together in Game 3, Arenas played 22 minutes in both Games 4 and 5. He was exceptional in Game 4, repeatedly getting to the rim and scoring 20 points. And Magic coach Stan Van Gundy contends that Arenas was even better in Game 5 when he scored nine points, grabbed four rebounds and handed out four assists.

``If you look around the league at any backup who plays 15-to-17 minutes, you’re not going to see 30 points from them. Everyone looks at my stats and thinks that I didn’t do very well. But eight points in 17 minutes is pretty good with the time that I’m playing,’’ Arenas said. ``All of the times that I’ve played more than 30 minutes I’ve produced. But it’s just hard to produce in short periods of time. It’s easy if you are like (Atlanta guard) Jamal Crawford, who is used to (coming off the bench) and the offense is straight through him. With me, it’s about me adjusting and by the time that I adjust I’m back out of the game.’’

Arenas said that two big reasons for his struggles this season with the Magic following the Dec. 18 trade from Washington were his sporadic playing time and him not meshing with the Orlando offense. In 49 games with the Magic, he averaged 8.0 points and 3.2 assists, but he shot just 34.4 percent from the floor and 27.5 percent from the 3-point line in 21.8 minutes off the bench.

``In Game 4 (Van Gundy) realized that I was useful, so he used me again (in Game 5),’’ Arenas said. ``Before the playoffs I was just sitting in corners and not a part of the offense. The offense is built for Dwight (Howard) and shooters, but I’m more of a creator and it hurts me sometimes. It was harder for me coming in the middle of the season because (Van Gundy) is already set in what he wants to do and what he wants his players to do. I’m more of a creator and a basketball player. I was getting frustrated because I was just sitting over in the corner and waiting for the ball.’’

OUCH: Jason Richardson is one of the most highly skilled athletes in the NBA – good enough to win two Slam Dunk contests early in his career and also deft enough to lead the NBA in 3-pointers made this past season. But he said a bit of awkwardness is to blame for him being somewhat limited of late.

On Tuesday afternoon prior to Game 5 in Orlando, Richardson stepped on a piece of glass that required him to get seven stitches in the bottom of his foot. Richardson said a glass of juice was knocked off a table onto the floor and he failed in his attempt to dodge the glass.

``I tried to go over it and I slipped on the juice and landed right on the glass,’’ Richardson said. ``I guess being a klutz or having dumb luck, whatever you want to call it, led to it, but it’s just something that I have to fight through to help my team.’’

Richardson scored 17 points Tuesday night by getting to the rim for three layups while also mixing in three 3-pointers. He said the combination of anesthetic and a numbing shot before the game allowed him to withstand the soreness in his foot.

``Oh, I feel it and it’s sore, but I’m a pretty tough guy and I can battle through this,’’ Richardson said with a smile.

UNDER PRESSURE: There was a good spirited debate heading into Thursday’s Game 6 as to whether there was more pressure on the Magic of the Hawks to win? The Magic, of course, were in must-win move by virtue of falling into a 3-1 hole and needing to win three straight games. But the Hawks were almost similarly under the gun, needing to win Thursday night at home to avoid having to make a return trip to Orlando for a Game 7.

``In a way, this is a huge game for Atlanta because they are trying to close us out,’’ Magic forward Ryan Anderson said. ``But they know that it will be an even bigger game if we can bring this series back to Orlando. But at the same time, we’re just fighting equally as hard to keep our season going.’’

Atlanta superstar guard Joe Johnson said the Hawks were planning to pour everything they had into Thursday’s game because they have no desire to try and beat the Magic back in Orlando.

``This is our Game 7,’’ Johnson said. ``Regardless of who the pressure is on, we’ve put ourselves in a position to close out the series on our home court. Now, we have to go out and take advantage of it.’’

ETC: Hoping to repeat his karma from Game 5 when he addressed the Magic players before the game, team owner Rich DeVos spoke to the Magic again Thursday about perseverance when things look bleak. DeVos’ pregame message worked well on Tuesday as Orlando won 101-76. DeVos and wife, Helen, sat courtside near the Magic’s bench. … Van Gundy chuckled at notion that his job as the Magic’s head coach was safe win or lose in the series against the Hawks. Said Van Gundy: ``Laughingly, coaches always say that votes of confidence are usually the kiss of death. But knowing (Magic CEO) Bob (Vander Weide) and having worked for him, you like it when your bosses are happy with the job that you are doing. But that’s just not where my head is right now. I just want to win. If we lose, Bob or (GM) Otis (Smith) being happy with me doesn’t make it feel any better.’’ … Magic rookie Daniel Orton, an Oklahoma City native, admitted that he was little wary flying into Atlanta with the team Wednesday night with deadly tornadoes in the area. Approximately 230 people in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee died in the Wednesday night storms. Orton said that while growing up in OKC, he had witnessed two tornadoes firsthand and has vivid memories of scurrying to shelter in a cellar. … Anderson has followed the Magic’s vow to not shave or trim his beard since the Magic made a team-wide vow last month to grow out their facial hair until their playoff run is complete. But Anderson is happy about the stray hairs that have appears on his upper cheeks. Said Anderson: ``I’ve got some newbies and I’m wondering how high up they are going to go? To my eyes?’’

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