A few bullets to read before tipoff between the Hornets and the Spurs on ESPN. You are going to watch that game, right?
The most important part of the Orlando Magic organization is Dwight Howard's left knee. And although it isn't at 100%, it's not in awful shape, either. Brian Schmitz has the goods:
Dwight Howard is being fitted for a knee brace that he will wear during practices, and the Magic will closely monitor the star's activity after an MRI on Tuesday showed he has inflammation in his knee.
He might also practice less, with the club opting to sit him at times.
The Magic said an MRI revealed no serious damage, only an inflammation or arthritis in the area.
While Howard is expected to play Thursday against San Antonio and it doesn't sound serious, he has missed several practices this season because of the knee.
Usually, when I use the term "nagging injury," I mean that they'll nag throughout the year. Arthritic or inflamed knees, however, seem like they would nag for an entire career. Dwight's only 23. Should we worry?
Dwight doesn't seem to think so. From a separate Schmitz missive:
"It's not bothering me right now," Howard said. "I don't think it's going to be a problem that will stop me from doing the things I do best."
Howard doesn't think having to manage the injury and sit out practices will affect him the rest of the season.
"No, I don't think so," he said. "We just run the whole practice. We do all our work before and after practice individually. I don't think that will be a problem."
So Dwight's taking the news in stride and doesn't appear bothered by it. I imagine Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith will protect their investment by resting Dwight in practices and for certain games, when possible. Given how much Dwight means to this team, we couldn't blame them for doing that.
Schmitz also notes that Mickael Pietrus, who has not played since November 27th due to a torn ligament in his right thumb, returned to practice today. He will not play tomorrow night against San Antonio, but it appears as though Air France is getting ready to return. Fantastic. Now Van Gundy has the unenviable task of redistributing the minutes at shooting guard. Pietrus is the unquestioned starter, while Courtney Lee and Keith Bogans have both played well enough to earn a permanent part in the rotation. Hmmm.
How well is Lee doing? David Thorpe of ESPN.com rates him this season's 13th-best rookie so far in his latest Rookie Watch post:
This month, Lee is averaging 9.5 ppg on 58 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from 3. And his coach says he's the best on-ball defender on the team.
On top of that, I like the fact that Lee finished two left-handed drives with his left hand in the Utah win, a move he couldn't make earlier in the season. Pros might fail, but they have to keep working until they get something right.
Lee has proven to be Smith's best draft pick since Dwight Howard in 2004, and perhaps the best non-first-overall Magic draft pick in recent history. Given his competition--Ryan Humphrey, Jeryl Sasser, Steven Hunter, and Reece Gaines come immediately to mind--it doesn't sound like much of a compliment, but we truly mean it as such. The kid can play, and I'm excited that he's part of the Magic.