Denton: Davis Recognizes How Important His Role is to Magic

By John Denton
January 23, 2013

ORLANDO – A team captain and a go-to player for the first time in his six-year NBA career, Orlando Magic power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis said the one shocking aspect of his new responsibilities is that there are no days off as a leader.

Every day, Davis said, he is looked to for greatness on the court and leadership off of it. Adjusting to the burdens of being a captain has been an ongoing process for the highly emotional Davis.

So when he faltered Tuesday night in a 105-90 loss in Detroit, missing 12 of his 16 shot attempts and receiving a third-quarter technical foul for complaining to an official, Davis took the poor performance hard. After the game, he sat at his locker stall while looking at the floor for almost 20 minutes. Then, he was highly critical of his own play and pined for the chance to play through his frustration in the future.

As a player the Magic (14-27) are looking to to lead them out of their roughest stretch of the season, Davis is well aware that his effort and performance must be more consistent. He still thinks that Orlando can get back into the playoff race, and he still thinks he can show the basketball world that he has what it takes to lead a team on a nightly basis.

``Every night, I have to do it every night,’’ Davis said. ``This is a new thing for me. But this is a role that I wanted, I accepted it and I’m going to deal with the ups and the downs. I’m going to let it motivate me to become the player that I need to be. I know I can do that because I’ve shown spurts of great play. I’m going to get there and it’s a process. I have to take it one day at a time. You have to get punched to feel the bruise. Then, the bruise heals and that’s what I’m feeling right now.’’

The Magic are somewhat bruised as well after losing their third straight game on Tuesday in Detroit. They will be looking to turn that streak around on Thursday when they host Toronto at the Amway Center. The Raptors, who play in Miami on Wednesday, have beaten the Magic three times this season – two of them in games that Davis missed because of a severely sprained shoulder he hurt on Dec. 19.

When Davis went out of the lineup last month, the Magic had won four games in a row and were a victory shy of getting to .500. Two days later, the team lost in Toronto and has since lost 13 of 15 games. Davis, for one, is eager to do something about it immediately to get the season turned around for the better. He led a session on Wednesday in which the Magic’s core veterans of Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Arron Afflalo, Hedo Turkoglu and Davis met to talk about what the team can do to rectify the problems that have been dogging the team of late.

````Yeah, we all talked. We know what we need to do. We won games, multiple games in a row, and we’re going to do it (again),’’ Davis said. ``We have to get that rhythm back. When I left (with the injury), we were rolling and everything was moving the right way. It takes time, man. But at the same time we have to have a sense of urgency because time waits for no man. The season is going to end soon and the second half of the season is going to blow right by. We have a legitimate chance to be the five, six, seven or eight (seed) in the playoff race. So why not do everything possible that you can.’’

The Magic had issues on both ends of the floor on Tuesday. Defensively, they yielded more than 50 points in each half and gave up 100 points for the eighth time in the past nine games. And offensively, Davis missed six of his first seven shots and struggled throughout, while Arron Afflalo – Orlando’s leading scorer – didn’t attempt a shot in the first 34 minutes of the game. He ended up missing all four of his tries in the game and didn’t score.

Magic coach Jacque Vaughn started J.J. Redick at shooting guard and he responded with 26 points and five 3-pointers. But Afflalo – who averaged 14.5 shots a game before Tuesday – wasn’t looking for his own shot.

``I thought he had good passes into the post and he kicked the ball ahead. I drew a play up for him in the timeout and he made a good pass to Glen and it was just in the flow of the game,’’ Vaughn said on Wednesday of Afflalo’s lack of shot-taking. ``What would have the production level have been from the wings if J.J. wasn’t in the starting lineup? How many points did J.J. produce in the first quarter? Was that equivalent to what our lineup was doing before that? I think with that starting group on the floor it presents an opportunity for the floor to be spaced even more and four of five guys can have an opportunity for big nights.’’

In his five games since returning from the shoulder injury, Davis’s performances have been a mixed bag. He made six of his eight shots and scored 13 points in his first game back after missing three-plus weeks. He didn’t shoot it well in the win against Indiana (five of 14), and he was a nonfactor in the loss to Charlotte (one of five, four points) because of foul trouble and back pain. He responded on Sunday against Dallas by making 10 of 16 shots and scoring 24 points, but then came the disappointment from Tuesday night in Detroit.

Davis compounded his troubles by picking up a technical foul in the third quarter when he complained to veteran referee Danny Crawford for a no-call. Vaughn removed Davis from the game for the rest of the third quarter and some of the fourth following the emotional outburst. The coach and player talked about the benching on Wednesday.

``He spoke to me. He’s the coach. You might not like every decision that your coach does, but at the end of the day I’m going to roll with him no matter what,’’ Davis said. ``No matter if he makes a hundred mistakes or if he makes a thousand, he’s my coach.

``I put it upon myself to say, `Hey, you ultimately left it up to him and don’t give him a choice.’ If I’m playing the way I need to play on both sides of the ball, he knows the best option for the team,’’ Davis continued. ``I need to do my job first. He’s the coach and he’s trying to make things happen.’’

Davis said his shoulder is far from being completely sound and the pain in his back is becoming an issue, but he refused to blame those injuries on his inconsistent play of late. He said that it is his job as a team captain to play through pain and serve as a strong example to his teammates. Davis said he cares deeply about his role as a team leader and he will do his best in the future to will the Magic back on track.

``If I’m out here, I’m out here. I’ve got nicks and bruises everywhere and my back is killing me right now, but it’s no excuse,’’ he said. ``The city and the organization, they want to see `Ws.’ I’m a key cog in getting those `Ws’ and I won’t let them down. I’m going to do whatever I have to do to make sure we get wins.’’

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