Denton: Afflalo Out For Rest of Season
By John Denton
March 23, 2013
ORLANDO – Arron Afflalo’s first season with the Orlando Magic, one in which he blossomed into the team’s leading scorer and its most outspoken mentor for several of the younger players, is over.
Afflalo strained his right hamstring in the second quarter of the Magic’s 97-89 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night and will miss the final 12 games of the regular season. Afflalo will be treated with rest and physical therapy over the next three weeks.
As he was chasing down a loose ball, Afflalo landed awkwardly while avoiding a diving Nick Collison and strained the back of his right leg. He immediately reached for his leg with one hand while signaling for timeout with the other. Afflalo needed the help of teammates Al Harrington and Doron Lamb to get to the locker room and he didn’t reappear during the game.
The Magic were off on Saturday and will return to the practice court on Sunday to prepare for Monday night’s nationally televised game against the streaking Miami Heat. The Heat will take their 25-game winning streak into Sunday afternoon’s game against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats and they could come to Orlando with 26 straight wins. The all-time record is 33 wins in a row by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
ESPN will televise the game nationally, but locally the game will continue to be shown exclusively on Fox Sports Florida.
The Magic could once again be without standout center Nikola Vucevic, who suffered a concussion last Tuesday in Indiana and has missed the past two games. Vucevic must pass a battery of tests via the NBA’s concussion protocol before he will be cleared to return to action.
Already without starters Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis (shoulder and foot injuries) and Hedo Turkoglu (hand injury and suspension), the Magic will now have to adjust to life without Afflalo. The shooting guard averaged 16.5 points per game in 64 games. He led or tied the team in scoring 24 times and scored 20 or more points 19 times.
Afflalo also served as a mentor to rookies Maurice Harkless and DeQuan Jones, helping them develop this season. Now, the Magic will be forced to fill the scoring and leadership void left by Afflalo’s absence.
``Arron always brought a lot of energy and intensity. We’ve played without him before and we’ll have to do it again and really stick together,’’ said Magic rookie Harkless, who scored a career-best 25 points on Friday night. ``We all we got, so we just have to stay together.’’
The Magic played point guards Jameer Nelson and Beno Udrih together in the second half against the Thunder, and the combination helped the Magic’s ball movement and offensively flow. Nelson had 16 points and 10 assists, while Udrih added 13 points and five assists. Udrih or E’Twaun Moore could be the starters the rest of the way in place of the injured Afflalo.
``We’ve had the luxury of putting (Nelson and Udrih) on the floor at the same time, we did it (on Friday) and it was productive for us,’’ Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``I played both of those guys together for two long stints and they were really good just making the right play for one another and their teammates. Their ability to make shots and create for one another was good.
``We talked about when (Udrih) first came here (in a trade from Milwaukee), he’s played in big games before and he’s (produced) before,’’ Vaughn continued. ``He’s a guy that makes his teammates better.’’
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