Denton: Harris & Davis Close to Returning to Action
By John Denton
Nov. 19, 2013
ORLANDO – Out injured together the past month, Orlando Magic forwards Tobias Harris and Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis had plenty of time to talk about a variety of subjects.
One such topic was Davis’ current ailment – a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot. It’s an injury that Harris is quite familiar with after he broke the same bone in his foot as a high school senior and had to miss five months of action on the court. His advice to Davis: Take the injury seriously, listen to the doctors and make sure you are fully healthy before returning to action.
``It was the same injury,’’ Harris said of Davis’ injury. ``Anytime you take that much time off it takes a while to get back into the flow of the game. Glen is doing a great job with the rehab. Having to have a second surgery this summer was tough for him, but he’s come through it. It’s an injury that takes time to heal, but he’s taking steps in the right direction.’’
Harris and Davis took major steps toward returning for the Magic this week when they were back on the practice floor on Monday and Tuesday. Neither is expected to play Wednesday when Orlando (4-6) hosts the Miami Heat and there is no firm timetable on their returns, but both appear to be getting closer to being available for the Magic in the near future.
Harris has missed four-plus weeks after severely spraining his ankle on Oct. 20 in a preseason game against the Detroit Pistons. Davis broke his foot last January in a game in New York and soon after had season-ending surgery. He needed another procedure in July to stabilize the bone in the foot, delaying his start to this season.
Davis said he was encouraged by being back out on the floor for practice this week and he reported no pain in the foot during full-court drill work.
``It felt good, but it’s been a long time,’’ Davis said of his protracted layoff. ``I’m just trying to get everything back skill-wise and the feel of the game because this is a different team now and I’ll have to adjust.’’
Davis was in the midst of a career year last season before he went down, first with a shoulder injury, and secondly with the foot fracture. He averaged 15.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 31.3 minutes – all career highs. His ability to defend the rim, set bone-jarring screens and be a leader helped the Magic spring to a surprising 12-13 start last season.
But after breaking his foot, Davis has been forced to deal with being away from basketball for much of the past 11 months. In an attempt to shed weight to lighten the load on his foot, Davis tried Veganism and he’s regularly attended hot yoga classes to drop his weight below 315 pounds.
``I feel like Derrick Rose a little bit,’’ joked Davis, referring to the Chicago superstar guard who missed a full season following knee surgery. ``But I had no choice and I had to sit out. That’s just the way it is and every day I just have to keep working to get better.’’
Harris, 21, came to Orlando last February in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks and showed off his vast promise by averaging 17.3 points and 9.5 rebounds over the final 27 games of the season. He spent much of the offseason bulking up his 6-foot-9 frame to almost 240 pounds so that he could better hold his position in the post against opposing power forwards. But he was used predominantly at small forward in the preseason and was also used off the bench instead of being a starter.
Jason Maxiell has been Orlando’s starter at power forward in the first 10 games, but that is subject to change when Davis and Harris return. Harris could challenge Maxiell or Maurice Harkless for starter’s minutes at the two forward slots, while Davis can play power forward or center. Solomon Jones, who returned on Saturday after missing seven games because of torn lateral meniscus in his knee, can also play two spots along the front line.
``Tobias is a great player who is young, talented and has a big upside,’’ Davis said. ``I’m a guy who can adapt. Every team that I’ve been on I’ve had to adapt to the other players around me and make due. That’s what I’ll continue to do. I’ll adjust to the way that Tobias needs me to do. I can get him open and he can do the same for me by forcing double teams. His IQ is really high and he knows how to play the game, so I think it will be a pretty easy adjustment.’’
As for the advice given to him by Harris on foot injuries, Davis has tried to remain patient in his return to the basketball court. He’s been medically cleared to play, but he said the feeling in his foot will ultimately determine when he’s back on the court.
``(Harris) told me (about his foot injury) and we’ve talked about it. Some days he would be like, `You better sit down because that injury is not one to play with,’’’ Davis said with a laugh. ``So we’ve talked a lot about it.’’
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