Orlando Magic News & Notes (& Quotes): Back to Work

The Magic have had a rough schedule, playing two sets of back to backs and having a game nearly every other day. They haven’t really had a chance to practice.

Even though the Magic only have two days off before Monday’s game against the Bobcats, Head Coach Stan Van Gundy is going to have them practice this weekend. And that is a good thing for the Magic.

After Friday night’s victory over New Jersey, I asked Jameer Nelson about Orlando’s rough schedule and the team’s lack of practice.

“We honestly haven’t practiced a lot. And when we did practice, we barely had enough guys. You know, eight, nine guys, you can’t go five-on-five. You just have to improvise and do things that will help you honestly help your team – whatever we can do.”

Jameer then discussed how the weekend practices with the potential returns of Ryan Anderson, Brandon Bass , and Rashard Lewis.

“These guys – I’m looking forward to getting a sub or two in practice. Of course, of course (it’s going to make a big difference). Guys can’t make excuses about being tired (laughs).”

I also got the chance to speak to Vince Carter about Orlando’s lack of practice.

“We don’t really get that many (practices). We’re back out here Monday, right?”

I asked Vince about what having a full unit at practice would mean for the team.

“I mean, it’s going to help. We have our full team back just about. We’ll probably get Brandon back. We’ll probably get Ryan back – he’s a couple days away. It’s all uphill from here – there are no excuses.”

I asked him if he thought the lack of practice was one of Orlando’s main problems so far.

“Everybody gets that – that’s the way it is. We have to focus. We have to know that teams want to beat us. We just can’t come out on the floor and expect to win – we have to go out there and take it.”

Speaking of practice, the Magic got back to work on Saturday afternoon and Tania Ganguli had some bad news to report.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

In this morning’s practice the Magic prepared to get Rashard Lewis back on Monday from suspension and Ryan Anderson back from his sprained ankle. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy had hoped he would have as full a roster as possible in practice today, but that didn’t happen.

Point guard Jameer Nelson went home sick from RDV Sportsplex today and shooting guard J.J. Redick tweaked his ankle and missed the rest of practice.

Redick’s ankle isn’t at all serious. He walked out of the practice facility without a limp and said if practice had gone on longer, he would have returned.

Van Gundy said Marcin Gortat didn’t feel well either, but practiced because they needed the players.

Ganguli goes on to chronicle Orlando’s injury woes here.

It sounds like J.J.’s injury is nothing to worry about. I’m hopefull that Jameer will be healthy by Monday night’s game but if he can go, the Magic should be okay. Jason Williams has done an excellent job of backing up Nelson and third-teamer Anthony Johnson was the team’s primary backup a year ago.

The Magic defeated the Nets 88-72 on Friday night. Click here to see my recap, complete with stats, analysis, and quotes from Friday night’s game.

Dwight Howard was challenged by Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy before Friday night’s game. He answered the challenge.

Stan Van Gundy challenged Dwight Howard to block at least one shot. Howard crossed that off his to-do list during Friday night’s first quarter.

Van Gundy called on Howard to grab at least 10 rebounds. Howard did that by the end of the third quarter.

Finally, Van Gundy urged Howard to play better defense. Mission accomplished.

And then some.

Howard took his coach’s public criticism after Wednesday’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers and turned it into a positive on Friday by leading the Orlando Magic to an 88-72 victory over the New Jersey Nets. Before tip-off, Van Gundy gave Howard a handwritten note in which the coach praised his all-star center and encouraged him to play with great energy.

That’s exactly what Howard did.

“That was the word that I told myself all day today: to come out with a lot of energy, just get myself going and get my teammates going,” Howard said. “Now the thing is doing it on a consistent basis.”

Read the full story here.

Brandon Ribak has handed out report cards after the season’s first 10 games. He is writing off Orlando’s early-season troubles because of injuries and Rashard Lewis’ suspension.

Orlando Magic- 6-3 record, 5th in East

Orlando’s guard Vince Carter and forward Ryan Anderson have both been caught by the injury bug this season. To add more fuel to the fire, the Magic are still without their star forward Rashard Lewis, who was suspended for the first 10 games of the season.

Once Orlando is completely healthy they will make a strong push for the most powerful and deepest team in the NBA today.

Grade: A

Check out the full story here.

Joshua Robbins discusses how Dwight Howard has received help in building his “media empire.”

Nate Jones serves as Howard’s right-hand man on all matters related to social media. A third-year student at UCLA School of Law, Jones also works for Goodwin Sports Management, the Seattle-based agency that represents Howard.

“There’s days where I might need help with putting a big video on Twitter or on the Internet,” Howard said. “He’s always available to do that kind of stuff. We just talk back and forth about different ideas. Usually, I tell him the idea, and we just run with it and see what we can do. So, it’s just like we’re a team.”

Rashard Lewis is finally going to return to the starting lineup on Monday night against the Charlotte Bobcats after serving a 10-game suspension. When asked about Lewis’ mood on Friday, Vince Carter said he was “smiling all day.”

Finally, the Magic will get to see the team that we talked about all summer. I for one, can’t wait to see them.

Bucks Rookie Guard Brandon Jennings dropped 55 points on Saturday night. Check that out here.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)

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