Denton's Notebook: Wednesday, Feb. 20

By John Denton
February 20, 2013

DALLAS – While the status of Orlando Magic shooting guard J.J. Redick could go right up to the 3 p.m. trade deadline on Thursday, veteran forward Al Harrington is confident he will remain with the team while he continues to rehabilitate his surgically repaired right knee.

Speculation has been rampant most of the season that Harrington would be dealt as soon as he proved that his right knee was sound enough to play on again. Harrington, a 15-year NBA veteran, had arthroscopic surgery last summer and then needed three more procedures on the knee to clean out a staph infection.

Harrington has yet to play this season as he’s worked to strengthen his leg. He said on Wednesday night that he was close to getting back onto the court for game action, but there are still some hurdles for him to clear physically. And Harrington is convinced that when he does play this season that it will ultimately be for the Magic.

``I’m going to be here for the rest of the year. I can’t see myself being traded when people aren’t sure if I’m healthy or not. I think the trade window has passed me by, so I’m going to be with the Magic these last 29 games,’’ Harrington said Wednesday prior to the Magic facing the Dallas Mavericks. ``I’m just hoping that I can get on the court soon to show that I’ve still got it. People will write you off quick in this league, but I feel like I still have a lot of good game left in my body. My biggest concern is still showing that I can play.’’

Harrington said that he has gotten clearance from doctors to do more and more on the knee. He said his style of being a player who thrived on using his footwork and basketball smarts will help him adapt to playing on a knee that will never be fully sound again.

And Harrington said at some point soon he’s convinced that he will suit up for a game with the Magic before the end of this season.

``I better play. If I don’t play before the end of the season, something has to give,’’ Harrington said with a playful laugh. ``So I’m going to play (this season) for sure.’’

CARRYOVER EFFECT: Magic coach Jacque Vaughn was eager to see the response from his squad after Tuesday night’s fiery pep talk from veterans Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo at halftime.

Orlando yielded 62 points and 59 percent shooting in the first half of Tuesday’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats. That prompted some harsh words for the team from Afflalo and Nelson, and the Magic responded by holding Charlotte to just 17 points in the third quarter.

Orlando’s defense was so improved in the second half that it cut a 22-point deficit to two points late in the game. Vaughn liked seeing his players take charge of the situation and hold the entire team accountable for its actions on the court.

``I’ve been a part of a lot of locker rooms and the most successful ones are when your leaders have a voice and it’s a consistent voice,’’ Vaughn said. ``They hold themselves to a standard and their teammates to a standard as well.

``The greatest thing about this game is the players play and the coaches coach. And when there’s an accountability amongst the players that’s as good as it gets because they are the ones going through the action,’’ Vaughn added. ``Hopefully that halftime was a growth for us as a team. I’m extremely anxious and excited about how we come out (Wednesday) and see if we have great carryover from that halftime.’’

ETC: Magic GM Rob Hennigan and Assistant GM Scott Perry did not travel with the team to Dallas, choosing instead to remain in Orlando through Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. Hennigan and/or Perry, who have balanced their NBA work with their collegiate scouting this season, could rejoin the team in Memphis on Friday. … When the Magic and Mavericks played in January, Vaughn withheld rookie power forward Andrew Nicholson rather than match him up against all-star Dirk Nowitzki. Nicholson got the start on Wednesday because Vaughn wanted to see how his rookie would respond to the matchup. Said Vaughn: ``That that stage in the year, he was not ready. But we’ve seen some growth from him and we’ll get a chance to see that growth (Wednesday night).’’ … Harrington on how he will adjust his game following his eight-month battle to recover from four knee surgeries: ``The thing about me is that I was never that explosive. I’ve been a groundhog for awhile, so I can still play like that. The biggest thing will be the boxing out and rebounding. But it’s not like I’m going to make a move and fly to the basket. But I’m confident in everything I’ve done with practicing and it’s just a matter of time.’’ … The Magic will be off on Thursday before playing in Memphis on Friday and back at the Amway Center on Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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