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Orlando Magic News & Notes: Matt Barnes Will Start the First Game of 2010

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The Orlando Magic start a road trip Friday night in Minnesota against the Timberwolves. Read about that game here.

Jameer Nelson hasn’t been shooting the ball well and the Magic will soon find out if that’s because of his injured knee.

"The Magic play the first of four consecutive back-to-backs tonight, an ordeal that might test starting PG Jameer Nelson’s left knee.Nelson’s practice time has been limited since he returned four games ago after missing 16 games following Nov. 18 knee surgery.He said he began experiencing swelling in the knee after the Boston game on Christmas Day. Nelson played 32 minutes in the loss to the Celtics after playing 14 and 29 the two previous games. He participated in about half the practice on Monday and Tuesday, much to coach Stan Van Gundy’s frustration."

Brandon Bass was very pleased that he played 16 minutes Wednesday night.

"Bass was called upon by Van Gundy against the Bucks, playing 16 minutes — the most for him in five games — and scored four points. He has played in only 20 games, missing one with the flu.“Basketball is my life; that’s what makes it so hard,” Bass said. “But I’m giving it my all every time I get out there. It’s been tough, I won’t lie. Toughest thing I’ve ever had to go through, but the veteran guys have really helped me, encouraging me.”"

See the full story here.

Brian Schmitz reports that the Magic will start Matt Barnes Friday night in Minnesota. Barnes says he will play the same way no matter what his role is.

"Barnes replaced Mickael Pietrus in the lineup against the Bucks. Coach Stan Van Gundy said he will give the switch from one veteran to another some time.“Starting or coming off the bench, it doesn’t matter to me as long as I’m contributing,” Barnes said."

I personally like the move. I love what Pietrus brings off of the bench. Plus, he can help carry the scoring load for the second unit.

"Barnes said the change gives Pietrus “a little more freedom” offensively playing with the second unit.Instead of being the last option playing with Howard, Nelson, Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis, Pietrus could get more opportunities with Williams and shooting guard J.J. Redick — two willing passers — and center Marcin Gortat and power forward Ryan Anderson.Van Gundy said that because Carter’s early foul trouble affected rotations, it was “a little bit hard to tell” whether the change from Pietrus to Barnes will have far-reaching success.“I don’t think it will do a lot to their minutes necessarily,” Van Gundy said. “I’m just trying to change who they play with a little bit.”"

Read that story here.

When asked about Darko Millicic’s allegation that all coaches lie, Stan Van Gundy doesn’t think that coaches lie to players.

"Van Gundy said he didn’t know much about Milicic’s situation, but he did know that often coaches do tell players their time will come, and mean it.The part players don’t hear “or don’t want to hear” Van Gundy said, was that their time would come if they were willing to put in the work.“To me there are guys whose time’s never going to come,” Van Gundy said. “They aren’t good enough or they don’t want to work hard enough.”Van Gundy went on to say if a coach isn’t playing someone, it’s not about a hidden agenda, or a guy being in a coach’s “doghouse.” They act in their own self interest and play the guys who will win the most games, he said."

See that story here.

Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus takes an interesting look at the decade. Pelton calls Vince Carter the best dunker of the decade and gives him props for his nickname – Half Man/Half Amazing. Pelton also shows that Dwight Howard is the decade’s best rebounder after he averaged 12.6 rebounds per game.

Read that here.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)