Denton's Notebook: Saturday, Jan. 5

By John Denton
January 5, 2013


ORLANDO – Long after his teammates leave the practice facility, Hedo Turkoglu is usually still working on strengthening his hand, working on his conditioning and working on improving his game.

Such is the life for Turkoglu, who knows he has to make up for lost time while he was out two months with a broken bone in his left hand.

Turkoglu reported to training camp slim and in great shape, hoping he could have a great season in a Jacque Vaughn freedom-of-movement offense that seemed to fit him perfectly. But Turkoglu broke the bone in his hand in the third quarter of the season-opener against the Denver Nuggets, knocking him out of action for the next eight weeks. He had a surgery to implant screws and a metal plate and the hand had to briefly be re-casted when the hardware in his hand shifted.

Turkoglu finally returned to action last Saturday night, and the results so far have been spotty as he tried to play his way back into shape. He had eight points, five rebounds and three assists in his first game back, and somewhat incredibly played 38 minutes against Miami and scored nine points while handing out eight assists. Against Chicago on Wednesday, he was on the floor just 18 minutes and failed to score. Turkoglu said it is still a process trying to get his complete game back in tune with where it was before he injured his hand.

``I’m trying, but I’m still not there. I’m trying to work extra on my conditioning to get my shape better,’’ Turkoglu said prior to Saturday’s game against the New York Knicks. ``Hopefully I’ll get better and be able to play my game the best way.

Everything comes together. My hand is still weak, my conditioning is not there and I haven’t played with those guys for two months. Put all of this together and everything is new for me and I’m trying to figure things out for me.’’

ON THE CUSP OF HISTORY: Magic point guard Jameer Nelson entered Saturday’s game needing just nine assists to equal Scot Skiles’ franchise record for assists with 2,776. Nelson, in his ninth season with the team and the Magic’s longest-tenured player, has averaged 5.0 assists a game over his career.

Nelson doesn’t care much for talking about himself or his personal accomplishments, but others around him raved about the career that the barely 6-foot Nelson has been able to carve out in the NBA.

``First of all, he believes in himself and he has great belief to be a great player. He can score the basketball and he’s a playmaker, too,’’ Magic shooting guard J.J. Redick said of Nelson. ``I feel fortunate to have played with him so many years and blessed to hopefully be a part of history in the masking. I’m blessed to have developed a friendship with him.’’

Magic coach Jacque Vaughn, a point guard himself during his 12-year NBA career as a player, raves at all that Nelson has accomplished at his size.

``In this day and age where guys are so athletic and so big, (Nelson) still gets it done,’’ Vaughn said. ``He has a feistiness about him that allows him to do it. His ability to make plays, it’s pretty unique for him to do it with the size and athleticism that other guys have at that position today.’’

ETC: Magic rookie Kyle O’Quinn said the infamous ``Rookie Wall’’ is a reality he’s facing as the team has already played the equivalent of a college season and still has 49 games to go. Said O’Quinn: ``I’m playing three years of college in one NBA season. You can feel it already and in college I should be done already. The advice I’ve gotten is to maintain my body, eat right, stay in shape and get as much rest as I can. That’s how you go through these long seasons.’’ … In a strange twist, the Magic’s scoring production has risen during their seven-game losing streak heading into Saturday’s game against New York. In the first 25 games of the season, Orlando averaged 92.4 points per game. But in the seven games without Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis – all losses – the Magic have averaged 96.5 points per game. Said Vaughn: ``The interesting part is everybody talked about Glen’s absence and how we’d produce the 16 (points) and eight (rebounds). We’re shooting the three at a much higher rate and we’ve shown the ability to create for one another. Once Glen is back, hopefully it’s something we can continue.’’ … The Magic will depart on Sunday for a four-game, eight-day trip that begins on the West Coast and ends on the East Coast. The Magic play Portland (Monday), Denver (Wednesday), the Los Angeles Clippers (Saturday) and Washington (Monday).

ORLANDOMAGIC.COM FEATURES: Turk Was Nervous in Return | Davis Out 4-6 Weeks | Vaughn Attentive to Young Player's Needs | Nicholson Growing

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