Denton's Notebook: Monday, Jan. 14


By John Denton
January 14, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – When he happened to edge fellow recovering teammate Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis in a half-speed, half-hearted game of one-one-one on Sunday, Orlando Magic forward Al Harrington was eager to tell anyone who would listen about the accomplishment.

For Harrington, just the chance to compete on the floor again is a major accomplishment – even if it was just a pickup game. Harrington had arthroscopic knee surgery last summer and ultimately needed three procedures to clean out a staph infection in the knee.

The 14-year veteran, who has career averages of 13.8 points and 5.8 rebounds, has yet to play this season, but he’s making significant progress. He and Davis – out with a sprained left shoulder – joined the team in Washington D.C. and ran through some drills. He is hoping that within two weeks he will be close enough to go through a full practice and ultimately play for the Magic for the first time.

``It’s coming back slowly. I haven’t really tested it yet the way that I want to,’’ Harrington said of the explosiveness returning to his knee. ``I’m probably a couple of weeks away from trying to explode off one leg. But that will be the last part of the process before I can start playing.’’

Harrington averaged 14.2 points and 6.1 rebounds a game last season in Denver. He was acquired by Orlando as part of the four-team, 12-player blockbuster trade executed in August.

Harrington said once he’s healthy, it won’t take him long to mesh with Magic teammates he’s never played with before. That’s part of the reason he’s travelling with the team now.

``Obviously I’m going to have to get in (game) shape and learn the plays and defensive schemes. That’s a process that will take some time, but being that I’m a veteran I know some of the tricks of the trade and speed up the process,’’ he said.

``I’m just going to take it one day at a time and listen to what the doctors and trainers say. Every week I will do a little more until I’m out there playing.’’

ISH’S DUNK: Magic reserve point guard Ish Smith wasn’t able to fully enjoy one of the best highlights of his career – a spectacular driving dunk on Saturday in Orlando’s defeat of the Los Angeles Clippers – because of a hard fall he took and a free throw blunder.

When the 6-foot, 175-pound Smith saw the lane open up in Saturday’s game he drove hard to the rim and decided to go up for a dunk because two defenders were tailing him. As it turns out, just after Smith dunked with authority, he was hit in midair by Eric Bledsoe. Smith fell hard on his left wrist and forearm and just missed getting his ankle pinned up his body.

``I think that (dunk) is the only shot that I could have shot because Bledsoe is such a big, athletic guy. And Lamar Odom was trailing me too,’’ Smith remembered. ``So if I would have laid it up, I think (Magic) Coach (Jacque) Vaughn would have been catching it.’’

Smith said the hard fall left him with numbness and pain in his left arm. His ensuing free throw was well short and was air-balled, prompting teammate Jameer Nelson to tell Smith that he ``made the (ESPN’s) Top 10 and the Not Top 10 on the same play.’’

``I’ve tried to not watch (the dunk) because that fall was so hard,’’ Smith said. ``I couldn’t really enjoy it because I was like, `Oh, that really hurt.’ I lost the feeling (in the wrist and forearm). I didn’t even go through my (free throw) routine; I just dribbled twice and shot it. I told coach (my arm was hurting).’’

TURK OUT OF ACTION: Magic veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu was once again held out of action on Monday night in Washington as he continued to rehabilitate his surgically repaired left hand.

Turkoglu broke a bone in his left hand in the season opener and was forced to miss the next eight weeks and 28 games while he recovered. He returned to play five games, but was mostly ineffective because of recurring pain in his hand and missing timing with the team.

Vaughn, who played in the NBA for 12 seasons before turning to coaching, understands the difficulty in returning from an injury and made the decision to shelve Turkoglu until he’s completely healthy. Turkoglu didn’t play in Denver, Los Angeles or Washington, but could return sometime later this week.

``I’m working on my conditioning, my game and waiting for my hand to heal. Hopefully they will all work together and I’ll start to feel much better,’’ Turkoglu said.

``I don’t want to just be out there to be out there because that hurts me and hurts the team too. I want to get myself 100 percent physical-wise and produce.’’

ETC: Washington center Emeka Okafor said he felt like he didn’t owe Davis any type of apology for the hard foul that he put on the Magic power forward on Dec. 19. Okafor’s whack across the arms caused Davis to dislocate his left shoulder, an injury that Okafor himself said he’s had. ``It was a bad angle. He was coming up (with his arms) and I was coming down to swipe the ball,’’ Okafor said. ``I’ve actually gotten hurt that way. It catches your shoulder. … It’s just part of basketball. I know Glen and he knows it was a basketball play. It was nothing malicious at all. The contact wasn’t even that hard; it was just the angle.’’ … Magic shooting guard Arron Afflalo bought 15 tickets for students in the U.S. Dream Academy and addressed the group for approximately 30 minutes prior to Monday’s game. Afflalo worked with the U.S. Dream Academy prior to the season, speaking to a group of school-aged children in Orlando in October. … Monday’s game was the last one of a four-game, nine day road trip that took the Magic to the West and East coasts. The Magic next have a three-game home stand against Indiana (Wednesday), Charlotte (Friday) and Dallas (Sunday).

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