The struggling Orlando Magic expect one of the two starters injured in their first contest to return for the opener of a three-game trip.
It appears the other will be sidelined longer than originally believed.
Mired in a five-game losing streak, the Magic hope Jameer Nelson's return can provide a spark Friday night against a Detroit Pistons team looking to build on its first win.
The season got off to an inauspicious start for Orlando (2-5), as Nelson strained both his groin and hamstring and Hedo Turkoglu broke his left hand in the opener.
The offense has become a mess without the two, averaging 76.5 points and shooting 26.5 percent from 3-point range over the last four contests, but there is some relief in sight with Nelson slated to return. The 2009 All-Star averaged 11.9 points, a team-high 5.7 assists and 36.8 percent 3-point shooting last season.
The Magic were hoping Turkoglu, who averaged 10.9 points and 4.4 assists last season, would be back by early December, but doctors determined Wednesday that he is expected to be sidelined an additional four weeks. Playing without the 6-foot-10 forward for an extended time obviously isn't ideal for Orlando, but it does give first-year coach Jacque Vaughn a chance to get rookie Maurice Harkless more minutes.
Harkless, the 15th pick of the draft, is coming off his best game, finishing with 10 points, seven rebounds and four blocks off the bench in Tuesday's 99-89 loss to New York. Three of his blocks were on Carmelo Anthony.
"With Turk out that hurts us and we have to come together and hold it down until he comes back," Harkless said. "When he comes back, he'll play some minutes. But hopefully by that time the coaching staff will have more confidence in me. It's a good chance for me to gain their trust."
Vaughn has been shuffling his lineup due to the injuries, making J.J. Redick the starting shooting guard for the past two games and shifting Arron Afflalo to small forward. While Redick had a team-high 18 points and seven assists Tuesday, Afflalo scored 13 but was 4 of 14 from the field and committed seven of the team's 20 turnovers.
"We can't afford to make mistakes, but for me at the end of this game I was pretty proud of our guys and their effort," Vaughn said
Pistons coach Lawrence Frank also was pleased with his team's most recent effort, and for good reason because it came in a win - 94-76 over Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Detroit played nothing like a team that allowed an average of 101.5 points while being outrebounded by 7.5 per game during an 0-8 start. The Pistons limited the 76ers to 29.8 percent shooting while outrebounding them 57-38.
"We're disappointed in our start, but it wasn't like we had any doubt we were going to win a game," Frank said. "When we deserve to win, we'll win."
Greg Monroe had 19 points, a season-high 18 rebounds and six assists, and rookie Kyle Singler scored 16 in his first start for Detroit (1-8), which led by as much as 23.
"It shows what we're capable of doing," Frank said. "It's got to be a standard of how we play."
The Pistons have typically performed at a high level when facing the Magic. They've won three of the last four meetings overall and 12 of 15 in Detroit.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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