Denton's Notebook: Monday, Dec. 31
By John Denton
December 28, 2012
ORLANDO – Veteran point guard Jameer Nelson missed his second straight game Monday afternoon with a sore hip, but he reported improvement in the injury and hopes to be back by Wednesday when Orlando Magic host the Chicago Bulls.
Nelson suffered the injury in Friday’s loss in Washington and has been unable to play since. In the minutes after the Washington game, Nelson said he was fine, but the soreness proceeded to get worse.
But Nelson gave head coach Jacque Vaughn some encouraging news on Monday before the Magic faced the Miami Heat.
``The first thing he did today was come up to me and tell me that he was feeling better than he did (on Sunday),’’ Vaughn said of a conversation with Nelson. ``So for me that’s a great sign. He’ll continue to get his treatment with (Head Athletic Trainer) Keon (Weise) and we’ll talk about it every time that I see him.’’
The Magic desperately want to get Nelson back in the lineup because of the impact that he has on organizing the team both offensively and defensively. Nelson has led the team in assists in 17 of the 22 games that he’s played in and he’s scored in double digits 14 times. Heading into Monday’s game, the Magic were 1-7 without Nelson, winning the first game and losing the next seven. With a healthy Nelson, the Magic are 11-11.
Further complicating Nelson’s injury that second point guard, E’Twaun Moore, is also out with a sprained left elbow. Moore was hurt in Friday’s game when his arm was pinned on the floor.
Ish Smith started in place of Nelson. In his first-ever start in a Magic uniform on Saturday, Smith compiled 13 points, six assists, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
EXPERIENCE VERSUS THE KING: Orlando small forward DeQuan Jones might be a NBA rookie, but Monday’s game against LeBron James wasn’t his meeting with the Miami Heat superstar. Jones got the fourth start of his NBA career Monday in place of Maurice Harkless and guarded James.
Jones, a former standout at the University of Miami, used to regularly play pickup games against James, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem and Clippers’ point guard Chris Paul during the NBA offseason. Several of the Heat players would venture over to the University of Miami looking for pick-up games, and Jones did his best to hold his own against the player many consider to be the best in the NBA.
``I always guarded LeBron and I did about how any college player would have done against him,’’ Jones said. ``But a lesson that I learned in those games was that even though those guys were out there for fun, you could see the seriousness that they played with. That was a good lesson for me to learn.’’
ETC: Vaughn said that small forward Hedo Turkoglu came out of Saturday’s game OK after playing for the first time in eight weeks. Turkoglu returned Saturday night and played for the first time since breaking his hand on Nov. 2. Turkoglu got to the rim for a couple of times and responded well when whacked across the hand by Toronto’s Kyle Lowry. Said Vaughn: ``It was great to see him get hit on that hand and fall on it and get up and keep going.’’ … Just months ago, Jones was in his college dorm watching the likes of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and James on TV and now he’s on the same court with those superstar players on a nightly basis. But he said that the awe factor is gone now that he is a fellow NBA player. Said Jones: ``Now that I’m on this stage, my mindset has shifted. Now, I’m looking at this as an opportunity to make a name for myself.’’ … The Magic are off on Tuesday and will host the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. The Bulls handed the Magic their first loss of the season on Nov. 6 in a 99-93 decision.
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