Denton's Pregame Report: Dec. 2


By John Denton
December 2, 2012

LOS ANGELES – Lengthy roadtrips sometimes have a way of galvanizing teams, and that’s the hope for the Orlando Magic as they begin a nine-day, five-game jaunt along the West Coast.

And who better to open the trip against than former Magic center Dwight Howard? For the first time since last August’s blockbuster four-team, 12-player trade, the Magic will face Howard, their center for the previous eight seasons. Howard said on Sunday morning that while he still has special feelings for some of his former teammates on the Magic he will try to approach the game as any other.

``My job is to go get the game and win, so there will be no emotions and I’ll just go play,’’ Howard said. ``I’m going to be me. I’m going to go out there and have fun. We need a win, so the only thing that I’m concerned with is out team and what we need to do to get on a winning track.’’

Howard is coming off one of his best games of the season after pounding the Denver Nuggets for 28 points, 20 rebounds, three blocked shots and the second 3-pointer of his career. For the season, Howard is averaging 18.6 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.81 blocks a game while shooting 60.9 percent from the floor and 47 percent from the free throw line.

The Magic are on the road for five games over the next nine days. Orlando will play the Lakers (Sunday), Warriors (Monday), Jazz (Wednesday), Kings (Friday) and Suns (Sunday) during one of their longest road jaunts of the season.

``Sometimes a roadtrip will bring a team together,’’ Magic guard J.J. Redick said. ``I can remember there were a few times early on my career where we had a West Coast trip and it was a momentum shifter for us. My second year I think we went on our first trip and played well and went 4-1 and that kind of gave us some momentum. My third year, we played really well and came back from the West Coast 33-8 at the halfway point. Certainly, a trip like this can help a team come together and get some confidence. Hopefully, we’ll get some Ws on this trip.’’

The Magic, 5-10 and losers of three straight after winning consecutive games last week, are uncertain whether or not they will have point guard Jammer Nelson for tonight’s game. Nelson missed Friday’s loss to Brooklyn because of a sore left Achilles’ tendon. He went through the team’s morning practice with his Achilles’ tendon heavily taped and said he was making progress.

``I’m feeling better, a little bit, I’m GTD,’’ Nelson said of being a game-time decision. ``I’ll just listen to the training staff and see how I feel game time. I’m not sure how I did it because I was sore after (Wednesday’s) game just from regularly playing. I didn’t realize it until (Thursday) in practice when it was swollen, so there was concern why it was swollen. The doctor told me to not even chance it (on Friday) with the swelling that was there.’’

Nelson spent the first eight years of his career playing alongside of Howard, who ultimately became Orlando’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder before forcing a trade out of Orlando. Nelson said he harbors no ill will toward Howard, but added that he didn’t contact his former teammate because he’s instead focused on what the Magic are doing.

``I’ve seen a lot of players come and go and I just wish him the best in everything he’s doing. I want him and his family to be successful,’’ Nelson said. ``Just like any other player that I’ve been on a team with, we did a lot together and I wish him the best. Hopefully he can be successful in whatever he does.’’

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