Denton's Notebook: April 28, 2012

By John Denton
April 28, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS – Minutes before Saturday’s Game 1 of the Orlando Magic’s first-round playoff series against Indiana, Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis was still trying to figure out how to play on a badly sprained ankle and Hedo Turkoglu was wrestling with the protective mask he’s forced to wear.

To a man, several members of the Magic squad and coaching staff said they were drawing inspiration from Davis and Turkoglu’s desire to cast aside injuries and play through pain.

Davis sprained his right ankle on Wednesday, but was in the starting lineup on Saturday. So too was Turkoglu, who returned to action on Saturday exactly three weeks after having surgery to repair three fractures in his face. Under normal circumstances, Davis likely would have missed a week, while Turkoglu’s initial prognosis was for him to be out of action six weeks.

``I’ve been in the league long enough now to know what I can do and what I can’t,’’ Turkoglu said. ``I decided early on that I wanted to play and see what happens. The playoffs are an opportunity to add success to my career. In 12 years, I’ve been to the playoffs nine times and I just didn’t want to miss this.’’

Magic forward Ryan Anderson said it was refreshing to hear a veteran player of Turkoglu’s ilk talk about not wanting to miss the playoffs. Anderson said learning from older players has taught him about appreciating these opportunities to compete in the playoffs.

``It’s pretty cool to hear a veteran guy that I respect and look up to speak and perform like a true professional,’’ Anderson said. ``I can’t imagine being in my 12th year and having fractures in my face and saying, `I don’t want to miss this opportunity to play in the playoffs.’ It says something about him that he didn’t want to just throw away the season and wanted to play in these playoffs.’’

Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy echoed Anderson’s sentiments and lauded Davis and Turkoglu for playing through injuries in an attempt to help out a shorthanded Magic team that’s already without Dwight Howard. Howard had season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disc two weeks ago.

``I think (Turkoglu) and Glen (Davis) deserve a lot of credit here. Glen is still swollen and I don’t think he’s really ready to go at 100 percent. And Turk could have very easily taken the playoffs off and nobody would have had anything to say based on his injury. But they both want to give it a go because they know what we’re up against. They wanted to play, so I give them a lot of credit.’’

MAKING THE RIGHT CALL: Because of the rash of injuries that hit the team hard, no Magic player appeared in all 66 games during the regular season. But that factoid should come with an asterisk considering what happened in the season-finale in Memphis earlier in the week.

Magic shooting guard J.J. Redick played in the Magic’s first 65 games and had every intention of playing Thursday in Memphis. However, he, like five other primary players, were held out of action because of the fear of injury before the playoffs.

For Redick, missing the game was disappointing because he worked hard all offseason to rehabilitate from a torn ribcage muscle and hoped to play every game this season. Redick missed the final 18 games of last season and struggled through the playoffs because of his injury, but bounced back this year with a strong year as the Magic’s top reserve.

``Stan and I had a conversation about it and I wanted to play. I wanted that because when I was rehabbing last summer from my surgery all I could think about was not wanting to miss another game because of injury,’’ Redick said of Thursday’s regular-season finale. ``I got to this point and wanted to play. But in a way it was kind of selfish. For the good of the team and the good of me, it was good to get a night off and rest going into the playoffs because it’s such a quick turnaround.’’

Q’S DEFENSE: One player who could have a major impact on this series for the Magic is veteran small forward Quentin Richardson because of his ability to disrupt Indiana standout scorer Danny Granger.

Richardson has the kind of size, strength and nastiness to bother Granger, Indiana’s leading scorer this season at 18.7 points a game.

``He’s a high volume shooter and a guy who is going to score points, but my job is to make him have to work for everything,’’ said Richardson, a 12-year NBA veteran. ``He’s going to be a focal point for them. (Playing defense) is my way to help out my team.’’

Richardson and Granger have a fiery history, having gotten into it in February when the Magic and Pacers played in Indianapolis. After some contact on a play on the wing, Granger barked at Richardson. The Magic’s small forward went back at Granger physically, received two technical fouls and was ejected.

``Nobody goes into it wanting a play like that to happen, get techs and hurt your team, but that situation called for that to happen,’’ Richardson said. ``As a man, when certain things happen you have to respond accordingly. I don’t like to get Ts and give up (fine) money, but that couldn’t be avoided.’’

ETC: Magic assistant coach and Hall of Fame player Patrick Ewing worked Saturday’s game with a protective walking boot over his left foot. Ewing said that he has an infection in the foot. … Davis delivered the first hard hit of the series when he crushed 180-pound Pacers’ guard George Hill on a layup attempt. Hill went flying out of bounds after the hit. The Pacers bench wanted a flagrant foul called on the play, but that was not the call. … Earl Clark, who blocked more shots per minute this season than three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Hoeward, blocked four shots in his first five minutes on the floor. Clark could be extremely valuable to the Magic in this playoff series because of his ability to guard both small forwards on the wing and power forwards in the post. … Van Gundy joked before the game about how NBA analysts have given the Magic little chance of winning in the series against Indiana. Said Van Gundy: ``The best I’ve seen is guys giving us five games. That’s the most optimistic thing I’ve seen. But as a coach you learn to deal with that sort of stuff.’’ … Game 2 is Monday at 7:30 in Indianapolis and then the series shifts to Orlando’s Amway Center for Game 3 (Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.) and Game 4 (Saturday at 2 p.m.).

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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