Denton: Turk Unlikely to Play Tonight, May Play Saturday

By John Denton
December 28, 2012


WASHINGTON, D.C. – No one affiliated with the Orlando Magic is more looking forward to the New Year than small forward Hedo Turkoglu, who has gone through a rocky 2012 because of a string of bizarre injuries.

Turkoglu, who broke a bone on the outside of his left hand and hasn’t played since the season-opener, almost certainly won’t play tonight when the Magic (12-16) face the Washington Wizards (3-23) at the Verizon Center. But he is hopeful that he can play Saturday when the Magic are back in Orlando to face the Toronto Raptors at the Amway Center.

The injury issue has been somewhat of a continuation of how Turkoglu’s 2011-12 season ended. He missed 10 straight games last April when he fractured an orbital bone around his eye. He played in the regular-season finale and struggled in the playoffs while wearing a protective mask over his face.

Turkoglu reported to training camp trim and in great shape, but broke the bone in his left hand in the third quarter of the season-opening win against the Denver Nuggets. Tonight will be the 28th straight regular-season game that he’s missed, meaning over the past two regular seasons he’s been out of 38 of 40 games because of eye and hand injuries.

``(The eye injury) happened this year, back in April. It’s been a bad 2012 for me and I’m hoping to put it all behind me and have a good year in 2013,’’ said Turkoglu, whose hand injury occurred eight weeks ago today. ``I’m really excited about (the future). I’ve never been out this much in my career. I was really frustrated and upset about it, but it’s just part of the game that you have to deal with on a daily basis.
``But I’m feeling much better,’’ Turkoglu continued. ``I had a good workout (Friday morning) and I’m going to have another (Friday night) and hopefully I’ll feel much better tomorrow morning and I’ll have a shot (Saturday) night.’’

The Magic will attempt to break their three-game losing streak against a Wizards team that has the NBA’s worst record. When the two teams last played, Orlando defeated Washington 90-83 on Dec. 19 to extend their winning streak to a season-best four games.

But Magic power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis dislocated his left shoulder late in that game and hasn’t played since. He was fouled hard late in the game by Washington’s Emeka Okafor, causing his shoulder to pop out of place. Davis, who is not on the trip with the Magic, is expected to be out for a month because of the injury.

With players in different roles because of the Davis injury, the Magic struggled with turnovers in losses to the Toronto Raptors (18 turnovers) and Utah Jazz (20 turnovers).

And uncharacteristically a defense that ranks in the top 10 in the NBA in most categories was shredded on Wednesday in a loss to the New Orleans Hornets.

``During the winning streak our defense was really good, and it was a big reason why we lost the New Orleans game,’’ Magic shooting guard J.J. Redick said. ``We have to get back to playing gritty defense.’’

The Magic expect to once again start converted center Gustavo Ayon at power forward to matchup against Nene. Ayon has played well over the past three games, averaging 8.3 points and 9.3 rebounds. But the Magic need him to be more aggressive offensively and to finish better around the rim.

As for Turkoglu, head coach Jacque Vaughn is eager to get the versatile small forward back on the floor because of the many things he can do to help the team. Defensively, he can guard small forwards and power forwards. And offensively, he gives the Magic another play-maker and ball-handler and he is a solid spot-up shooter.

Turkoglu is just glad that he is back around the team and close to returning to an active role.

``I’m starting to do more and more with the team and I’m feeling better. So hopefully my time will comes soon and I’ll join the team,’’ Turkoglu said. ``I miss this a lot. This is the part that I miss the most, being around the team. Good or bad times – when they were winning I was missing it and when they are losing I was missing that, too. I just want to be a part of the good and bad days. I’m feeling better and hopefully I’ll get to join them soon.’’

ORLANDOMAGIC.COM FEATURES: Magic Must Adjust Without Davis | Davis Out 4-6 Weeks | Vaughn Attentive to Young Player's Needs | Nicholson Growing

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