Denton: Afflalo In, Ish Questionable, Ayon Hurt

By John Denton
October 24, 2012

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Just as the Orlando Magic are about to get two of their injured players back, another player has gone down with an injury that will briefly delay his start to the season.

Center Gustavo Ayon, who has impressed coaches with his willingness to do dirty work in the post, has a sprained thumb on his left hand and will miss the next two weeks. That likely makes Nikola Vucevic the starter at center although the Magic could open with Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis at center.

The Magic are expected to see the return of standout shooting guard Arron Afflalo tonight, while reserve point guard Ish Smith is a possibility to make his 2012 Magic debut as well. Afflalo, acquired from Denver in August, has yet to play this preseason because of a strained left hamstring. He is expected to start tonight when the Magic (2-4) face the Memphis Grizzlies (3-3) at 8 p.m.

``He said he made it through (Tuesday’s practice) OK, and if nothing goes wrong between (Wednesday morning) and game time, we should see him on the court tonight,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said.

Smith, who joined the Magic in midseason last year, suffered a full separation of his shoulder and a labrum tear last July and has yet to play for the Magic. Smith has been rehabilitating the shoulder at the Magic headquarters the past two months and returned to practice on Monday. Smith said he likely needs another practice before playing and could be a stronger possibility to play on Friday at the Amway Center against the Houston Rockets.

``It’s been a long process, but it’s been good. No one every talks about the journey and you always talk about the end result, but I’m thankful for the journey,’’ Smith said. ``I thank God I’m in a position to get better. I’m not 100 percent, but I’m very close. I don’t know about (playing) tonight because I need a little more practice time, but it’s close. I’m just thankful I’m that close.’’

As for Ayon, he is believed to have injured his thumb in the Magic’s 104-100 defeat of the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. Ayon did not go through the Magic’s walkthrough in Memphis on Wednesday morning and is wearing a protective cast on his thumb. Vaughn said tests on the thumb showed no breaks or tears and only a sprain of the ligament in his thumb. If Ayon misses two weeks from Sunday origin of the injury he would not be available for the regular-season opener against the Denver Nuggets and the Nov. 4 home game against the Phoenix Suns.

``He’ll be out tonight and for a minimum of two weeks. The good thing is that it happened now and early and he can continue his conditioning and get right back into the fold after those two weeks,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``I’m not sure if it happened in (Sunday’s) game or not, but the good thing is we have a good amount of bigs and we’ll be able to supplement and be ready when he gets back.’’

John Denton writes for John has covered the Magic since 1997. E-mail John at or follow him on Twitter at @JohnDenton555.

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John Denton writes for John has covered the Magic since 1997. E-mail John at or follow him on Twitter at @JohnDenton555.

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