Denton: Turkoglu May Play Thursday

By John Denton
April 25, 2012

ORLANDO – Out since April 5 following surgery to repair three facial fractures, Hedo Turkoglu is hoping to return to Thursday’s regular-season finale in hopes of reestablishing his timing with his Orlando Magic teammates prior to the playoffs.

Initially, Turkoglu had hoped to play in the home finale Wednesday against Charlotte, but issues with the protective mask he is forced to wear arose. Instead, Turkoglu spent Wednesday afternoon getting adjustments done to the mask so that he can play Thursday night in Memphis.

Turkoglu’s mission is simple: Be as ready as possible when the playoffs start on either Saturday or Sunday for the Magic. Orlando will face either Indiana (if it is the sixth seed) or Miami (if it is the seventh seed), and they will need Turkoglu firing on all cylinders if they are going to spring a first-round upset.

``I want to be able to play with those guys before we start in the playoffs at least one game,’’ Turkoglu said. ``I was going to try it (Wednesday night), but with the mask, I don’t know if it’ll be done in time or not. I would love to play (Wednesday) in at least two games, but tomorrow for sure. I want to get some playing time and get some feeling playing with those guys.’’

Magic point guard Jameer Nelson said he expected to play Wednesday against Charlotte after missing most of Sunday’s game in Denver with a bruised calf muscle. Nelson didn’t practice on Tuesday, but said he felt much improvement in the injury on Wednesday. Said Nelson: ``I’m pretty sure that I’ll be good to go tonight when the adrenaline starts flowing.’’

Turkoglu was injured when he was hit in the face by an elbow from New York forward Carmelo Anthony. Because he suffered no dizzy or headaches, Turkoglu initially had the cut under his eye patched up with three stitches. But when he awoke the next morning with a bloody nose, X-rays were performed and it was revealed that Turkoglu had three fractures below his right eye.

Surgery was performed on April 7 and Turkoglu was told he’d have to miss a minimum of three weeks. He resumed conditioning drills last week, and has had his eye on returning for the final two games in order to restore his timing. But he called the injury ``the worst one of my career’’ because of the lingering effects it had on his inability to sleep, swelling, numbness and pain.

``I couldn’t do much about it. It was numb after the surgery after the nerve damage. It’s been uncomfortable and itching. I’ve tried to scratch it, but I didn’t feel it,’’ Turkoglu said. ``The swelling finally came down. I tried icing it, but it didn’t help by much. It was just day by day waiting for the swelling to come down.’’

But Turkoglu was feeling well enough on Wednesday to joke about the length of time it took for technicians to fit him for his protective mask. Joked the small forward: ``It took awhile to mold to this face.’’

Added Nelson, a close friend of Turkoglu’s: ``Turk is a very handsome guy, in several different languages.’’

Before the injury, Turkoglu was averaging 10.7 points, 4.5 assists and 3.8 rebounds a game. He is vitally important to the offense because he can assist point guard Jameer Nelson with the ball-handling and he is arguably the Magic’s best player in pick-and-roll plays.

Turkoglu is uncertain how he’ll play or how long he can play after missing almost three weeks of game actions, but he said he wanted Magic fans to know that he’s doing everything in his power to get back on the court as soon as possible.

``Whenever I get my opportunity I’ll try to do my best. I can promise everybody that,’’ Turkoglu said. ``I don’t know how much I’ll play or how long I’ll play, but as much as I do I’ll do my best to help the team win some games. I can’t promise anything to anybody, but promising that I’ll play as hard as I can.’’

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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