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Hedo Turkoglu sees opportunity for a title

Versatile big man makes L.A. debut against Knicks. DeAndre Jordan wants to make the All-Star game.

January 18, 2014|By Broderick Turner

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NEW YORK — When the Clippers called Hedo Turkoglu and expressed interest in him, the free-agent forward said he knew it was the place he wanted to be.

Turkoglu had spent 12 years in the NBA and had reached the NBA Finals with the Orlando Magic in 2009, losing to the Lakers.

So by signing with the Clippers on Thursday, Turkoglu felt he might get an opportunity to win a title.

"Well, if you look at it, they are a great team," Turkoglu said. "They have a lot of great players. The way they approach the game, or their mind-set, especially after they bring in Doc [Rivers], they really wanted to win. I've always been playing good with great coaches and I know somehow I would get an opportunity with Doc and do what I can do in the best way."

Turkoglu got some playing time right away Friday, entering the game against the Knicks at the start of the second quarter in place of Blake Griffin.

Turkoglu played six minutes and had two points and one rebound.

"In the beginning, I was nervous a little bit," he said. "But it was normal, I guess. I haven't practiced with an NBA team since March. Like I said, I'm just going to bust my [butt] off and try to put myself in better shape and a better situation so that I can contribute to this team."

The 6-10 Turkoglu averaged 11.9 points and 3.1 assists over a 12-plus NBA career, and he has the ballhandling skills the Clippers like.

The Magic had told Turkoglu to stay away from the team this season, finally waving him Jan. 3. Turkoglu played in 11 games last season with the Magic because of injuries and a 20-game suspension for performance-enhancing drug use.

But he's back in the NBA now playing for the Clippers.

"I felt this was the best fit for me to reach what I want to reach," Turkoglu said. "I could have picked somebody else if I just wanted to be in the NBA. I just felt this would be a great opportunity for me to win."

Jordan's All-Star update

DeAndre Jordan wants to be in the All-Star game as a participant, not just as a dunker.

So when NBA officials approached the Clippers' center before Friday's game about being in the dunk contest, Jordan told them what his true wish was.

"I just told them I wanted to see what happens," Jordan said. "I'm not trying to disrespect them. But I want to be in the All-Star game as a player and not just as a dunker."

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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