Denton: Q-Rich Will Start In Game 4

By John Denton
April 24, 2011

ATLANTA – Quentin Richardson was signed by the Orlando Magic last summer to guard the elite perimeter players in the NBA this season, such as Atlanta’s Joe Johnson. Tonight in Game 4, Richardson will get that opportunity as a starter.

Richardson will start in place of Jason Richardson, who was suspended for Game 4 along with Atlanta reserve center Zaza Pachulia for the fourth-quarter fracas on Friday night.

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy made the decision to start Richardson because he likes his 6-foot-6, 228-pound size and strength in the matchup against the 6-foot-7 Johnson, who has averaged 20 points and 5.7 rebounds in the three games of the series so far. Starting Richardson also allows the Magic to keep J.J. Redick in a reserve role and Van Gundy likes the scoring punch that he brings to the second unit.

Richardson said he will be ready to battle Johnson and make him take tough shots. He’s guarded elite wing players Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Paul Pierce this season with the Magic and said he’ll approach Johnson the same way.

``My mindset the last few years is that I’ve always had to guard the toughest guys, so it’s not like I’m going into this situation without confidence,’’ Richardson said. ``You have to go in there thinking that you are going to make it tough on guys. But this is the NBA and guys are good. Sometimes you are going to play great defense and they will still score. I’m pretty confident in my ability to make it tough on them.’’

The Magic trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. Tonight’s Game 4 tips off at 7 p.m., while the series shifts back to Orlando on Tuesday for Game 5. Only eight teams in history have come back from 3-1 deficits and the Magic certainly want to avoid that fate.

``We’re going to bring our intensity and play 48 minutes of Magic basketball,’’ Richardson said. ``As far as all of that stuff goes with the extra comments from over there (from the Hawks), we can’t control that. But like (Jason Richardson) said, `We’re going to protect ourselves, we’re not going to be bullied and we’re not going to back down from anything.’’

Richardson was a starter early in the season after being signed as a free agent to replace the departed Matt Barnes. But Richardson fell out of favor because of a shooting slump and was used only sparingly down the stretch of the regular season.

But with the Magic have trouble checking Jamal Crawford and Johnson, Richardson was called upon in Games 2 and 3. In Game 2 he played 12 minutes and helped hold Johnson to just 14 points. And Richardson played well in Game 3, scoring nine points on three 3-pointers while also holding Johnson to one of 10 shooting in the second half.

Richardson, an 11-year NBA player, said experience in the league has taught him how to keep himself ready.

``It’s just from being a pro and learning from guys that you played with and watching how they prepared themselves,’’ he said. ``I think it’s a maturing process where I have come a long way. I know how to keep myself ready and I stay with my routine and when my number is called I’ll be ready.’’

John Denton writes for E-mail John at Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at