Hedo Turkoglu wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t play in his first game back from suspension, but Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn might have to give the veteran forward some minutes with the injuries piling up.
The Magic will try to avoid an eighth straight defeat on Wednesday night when the league-worst Charlotte Bobcats go for their first-ever three-game winning streak in this Southeast Division series.
Suspended for 20 games by the league after testing positive for methenolone, an anabolic steroid, Turkoglu is eligible to take the court again on Wednesday. However, with the Magic (18-53) wrapping up one of the worst seasons in franchise history, Turkoglu, averaging 2.9 points and 2.4 rebounds, knows he may not get many minutes.
“I’m happy (the suspension is) over, but on the other hand if you look at it, it’s just like the last 10 games of the season,” Turkoglu said after Tuesday’s practice. “… It’s frustrating just being in this situation.
“I don’t expect a whole lot (of playing time) because of the situation. We’ve got a lot of young guys playing good, so that wouldn’t surprise me at all if I didn’t play.”
Vaughn would like to give Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic and rookie big men Andrew Nicholson, Maurice Harkless and Kyle O’Quinn the bulk of the minutes with Glen Davis (foot) and Al Harrington (knee) out, but the Magic will be without Vucevic (concussion) for a fourth straight game and Nicholson, who suffered a sprained left ankle in Monday’s 108-94 loss to Miami.
The Magic, also without Arron Afflalo (strained right hamstring) for the rest of the season, are trying to end their longest skid since a season-high 12-game slide that started with a 106-100 home loss to Charlotte (16-54) on Jan. 18.
Starting with that matchup, Orlando has dropped 29 of 33, including a 105-92 home loss to the Bobcats on Feb. 19.
Charlotte, though, has dropped 10 of 11 at home in this series – including the postseason – following a 107-98 loss in Orlando’s only other visit to Time Warner Cable Arena this season on Dec. 15.
The Bobcats, winners of three of four at home, are also looking to rebound from a loss to the league-best Heat, Sunday’s 109-77 road defeat. Charlotte missed a season-high 20 3-pointers, hitting just five from beyond the arc.
“We ran into some dry spells and we settled for way too many 3s,” coach Mike Dunlap said. “… That’s not who we are.”
Kemba Walker has seven of the team’s 17 3s against the Magic this season, leading the Bobcats in those games with an average of 27.0 points and 6.3 assists. Walker finished with a then-career-high 32 points and seven assists on Dec. 15.
Bobcats backup point guard Jannero Pargo, who signed a second 10-day contract on Monday, will face the Magic for the first time this season. He’s averaging 12.2 points and 3.0 assists in the last five games.
Charlotte will be happy to not have to deal with Afflalo, who averaged 20.3 points in the first three meetings. Harris, however, has impressed at times since moving into the starting lineup earlier this month, averaging 14.4 points and 8.8 rebounds in his last eight games.
The Bobcats have won the season series against the Magic just once, their inaugural 2004-05 campaign.