The arrival of Vince Carter(notes) in Orlando this summer essentially paved Hedo Turkoglu’s(notes) path out of town, but the two high-scoring swingmen may not get a chance to square off as Turkoglu faces the Magic for the first time since his departure.
Carter’s status for Sunday’s matinee against the host Toronto Raptors is in doubt after he sprained his ankle in Orlando’s previous game, but the shorthanded Magic hope to stay perfect.
Turkoglu’s five-season stint in central Florida ended with a trip to the NBA Finals last season, but after the Magic traded for Carter in June, Turkoglu opted out of the final year of his contract and was soon sent to Toronto in a sign-and-trade.
While the Turkish veteran is off to a mediocre start with his new club, Carter has already impressed his new team.
In his initial return to New Jersey after the Nets traded him away this summer, Carter had 16 points, four assists and three rebounds in just 15 minutes before injuring his ankle with three minutes left in the second quarter.
He missed the second half, but said he’ll try to return in time for another reunion with a former team. Carter spent his first six-plus seasons with Toronto before a midseason trade in December 2004.
“I heal like a young guy so I’ll be good (Saturday),” Carter said after the Magic’s 95-85 victory. “Hopefully, I’ll be back Sunday. We’re going to be smart about it. It’s a long season. I’m feeling better now that I am walking on it.”
Orlando (2-0) still managed to hold off the Nets thanks in large part to 20 points, 22 rebounds and four blocked shots from Dwight Howard(notes). The superstar center had a double-double by the end of the first quarter, and he has averaged 20.5 points and 18.5 rebounds during the Magic’s strong start.
“We had to grind it out,” Howard said. “Vince started out the game real good, hitting a lot of shots. It was unfortunate he hurt his ankle, but we were able to get a good win.”
Turkoglu was Toronto’s main addition as the Raptors try to get back to the playoffs after a disappointing 33-49 campaign last season.
After the Raptors (1-1) opened with an impressive 101-91 win over Cleveland on Wednesday, they suffered a major letdown at Memphis on Friday night. Despite 37 points and 12 rebounds from Chris Bosh(notes), they lost 115-107 and allowed the Grizzlies to shoot 51.2 percent from the field.
Turkoglu’s defense was criticized in Orlando, and he hasn’t been at his best offensively with Toronto, averaging 13.0 points and shooting 41.2 percent. He said Sunday’s game won’t have any special significance.
“It’s just another game,” Turkoglu said. “I’m wearing a Raptors jersey right now, and I just have to do my best for this team to get a win and to be in a better situation. I know before the game I will say ‘hi’ to my friends, but that will be it.”
Whether or not Carter is healthy enough to play, Toronto will have to try to slow down Howard, who averaged 32.7 points and shot 64.8 percent in his last three games against the Raptors. The teams split last season’s four games.