Yesterday morning, the Orlando Magic learned that shooting guard Keith Bogans, their most reliable bench contributor, would miss up to 6 weeks with a fracture in his left thumb. The news did not improve later that evening, when Jameer Nelson left the game with a strained groin and Rashard Lewis left the game (but returned) with a sprained ankle. Last week, Mickael Pietrus missed one game with bruised ribs and Hedo Turkoglu missed one game with the flu. Yup, the injury bug, to which the team was mostly immune last season, has bitten:
Nelson's groin had bothered him for a week or so. It's bad enough to lose a player to injury. It's even worse when it's one that can pop up at any time. And it's even worse when said player only has one backup. Such is the situation in Orlando. As such, the Magic are now looking at adding a third point guard with more urgency than they may have in the past. From Brian Schmitz:
"We've been in the market for a third guy and now we might not be able to wait as long or be as choosy," [coach Stan] Van Gundy said. "We'll have to see what the situation is with Jameer."
- Anthony Johnson, the team's only healthy point guard, is ready to take on an increased role. From John Denton:
"I'm a veteran in this league and there have been plenty of times that I've had to step up with a guy out," said Johnson, who had six points and four assists in 27 minutes of relief duty. "I'm fine playing anywhere from 30 to 35 minutes. I take care of myself and I can handle whatever this team needs me to play."
Bogans' prolonged absence will give third-year player J.J. Redick and rookie Courtney Lee a prolonged audition for backup minutes at shooting guard. Like Johnson, Redick is ready to take on an increased role, as he writes in his blog:
[Bogans'] absence gives me an opportunity for some playing time and I have to take advantage. Having said that, I wish Keith a speedy recovery. No one likes to see a teammate go down and Bogs and I have become good friends over the last two years so I feel for the guy.
Lee may earn more minutes, but he's still a rookie, and as such will probably still be subject to rookie hazing. He details some of those experiences to Schmitz: (brackets his)
Every day they get on me about what I look like, what I got on, what I do. They always stay on me every day. But for the most part, it's funny. Sometimes you get tired of it. But it's funny.
They hid my car once after practice. I went out there [the RDV Sportsplex parking lot] and couldn't find it.
Rashard [Lewis] brought his big dog in [after a practice] because I guess they knew I was afraid of dogs. And I am. He brought it right into the locker room on me. Man, that thing was big.
Perhaps more interesting than what he says is what he omits:
It's been fun. It's been everything I expected. [Well, almost.]
Anyone else wondering what exactly got redacted there?
These injuries are nothing the Magic can't withstand. Still, it will be a test of their mettle, another obstacle to overcome on the way to proving they belong among the league's elite teams.