Denton: Afflalo and Vucevic Out Tonight vs. Bulls
By John Denton
Jan. 15, 2014
ORLANDO – Back at the Amway Center for the first time in 11 nights, the Orlando Magic are aiming now to get back into the win column.
Orlando (10-28) is riding an eight-game losing streak and will once again be without Arron Afflalo (foot strain) and Nikola Vucevic (concussion) when they face Chicago (17-19). But the Magic have already beaten the Bulls earlier this season, winning 83-82 in Chicago on Dec. 16.
The Magic won that night when Luol Deng missed a layup in the final seconds. Deng has since been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Bulls have surprisingly played well in his absence. Chicago won three straight games following the Deng trade before losing to Washington earlier in the week.
Bu the Magic are more focused on themselves and how they can end their longest losing streak of the season. Orlando lost all five games on a recent road trip that covered all or part of 10 days. The Magic last won on Dec. 27 and Dec. 29, and they are hoping that being home will help them get their eighth victory of the season at the Amway Center.
``It’s great for us being home. Going on that road trip, it was disappointing for us,’’ Magic forward Tobias Harris said. ``We’re excited and happy about being back home and we hope we can come out of here with a win.’’
The Magic were hoping to get back Afflalo, who scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Orlando’s defeat of Chicago last month. He sprained his ankle in the third quarter of Friday’s loss in Sacramento. Afflalo didn’t play Saturday in Denver or Monday in Dallas, but hoped to return by Wednesday’s game. He worked out on Tuesday at the Magic facility to test the ankle, but the decision was made to hold him out of another game.
``I’m not going to characterize (the ankle) as sore, but I’m just saying he’s not available tonight,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``He has improved, I’ll say that.’’
Orlando played well in the second half of Monday’s loss in Dallas. Passing and cutting especially well and getting a stellar shooting performance from Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis, Orlando trimmed an 18-point halftime deficit to six in Monday’s third quarter. And even after the Mavs pushed its lead back to double digits, the Magic stayed within striking distance by continuing to fight.
Vaughn said that while the losing has been hard on his team, he has seen signs of improvement. He’s also pleased with how his team has stuck together and brought plenty of fight to every game.
``Every guy on our team wants to win. They’ve been in positions to compete all of their lives and you want to win because that’s a little bit of validation in this league,’’ Vaughn said. ``But if you look at our team, a week from today or two weeks earlier, we’ve gotten better. We’re playing better. Sometimes the score doesn’t denote that, but we’re doing a lot of good things on the floor.’’