Denton: Harris Out, Davis Starts

By John Denton
Nov. 26, 2013

ATLANTA – The grand plan early on Tuesday night called for the Orlando Magic to put their most explosive offensive lineup on the floor, surrounding usual starters Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo and Nikola Vucevic with Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis and Tobias Harris.

However, a reoccurring ankle injury dampened what could have been a very telling and promising night for the Magic.

Tobias Harris, who missed five weeks earlier this season with a high ankle sprain, was a late scratch from the starting lineup when swelling and pain returned to his left ankle. Harris played on Sunday night for the first time since Oct. 20, but felt pain during the game and more irritation on Monday and Tuesday. And when he had to cut a pregame workout short on Tuesday, he was removed from the lineup and deactivated from the roster.

``If I’m not able to go out there and play to the best of my ability, I can’t go out there like that,’’ said Harris, who was visibly upset. ``It’s sore right now and we’ll see how it feels. I’ll go day-to-day with it and hopefully I’ll be back to play (on Wednesday) versus Philadelphia.’’

Harris averaged 17.3 points and 9.5 rebounds over the final 27 games of last season after being acquired in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks. Big things were expected from him this season from a hopeful Magic fanbase, but his season has been put on hold because of an ankle injury that he called ``the most severe I’ve ever had.’’

Harris was used in a reserve role and played 16 minutes on Sunday against the Phoenix Suns. He made three of eight shots and scored six points before reporting that he was still feeling pain in the ligaments above the ankle that connect to the fibula and tibia.

``A couple of times down the court (there was pain) and with certain movements (there was more pain),’’ Harris said. ``I hope that it’s nothing to the extreme and just a precaution to sit out tonight. I want to play, but let’s see how it feels (on Wednesday). From (Monday) to (Tuesday), it felt better, so hopefully (on Wednesday) I’ll be able to play.’’

Harris spent most of the offseason in Orlando, preparing himself for what he hoped would be a breakout season. He bulked up to almost 240 pounds to better equip himself to battle power forwards. Also, he returned as a much better shooter from beyond the 3-point arc when he played at the small forward position.

Now, Harris’ season is on hold once again. He isn’t likely to play on Wednesday when the Magic host Philadelphia. After hosting San Antonio on Friday, Orlando leaves on Sunday for a six-game, 12-day trip. The frustration of not being able to play did quite the number on his emotions on Tuesday night, Harris said.

``It’s real frustrating for me, but it’s part of the process,’’ Harris said. ``But I just have to be patient with it and see how it feels. Then, hopefully I can go full steam from then on.’’

While Harris was unable to play on Tuesday, Davis was able to return to the starting lineup. It was quite a sense of accomplishment for Davis, who broke his foot last January and needed two procedures to stabilize the bone in the outside of his left foot.

Davis returned to the active roster on Saturday in Miami and scored 20 points in 27 minutes. He had six points, four rebounds and four assists on Sunday against Phoenix. His solid play earned him a start on Tuesday so that he could battle Atlanta’s Al Horford and Paul Millsap in the post.

``It is a blessing and the only thing that I can do is thank God,’’ Davis said of his ascension back to the starting lineup. ``Going from not playing for 11 months, working my way back, getting my body in shape and keeping my weight down, it’s been tough. I’ve been waiting for this moment.’’

Davis was very complimentary of Magic management and the training staff for making the decision to hold him out of training camp, preseason games and the first three weeks of the regular season so that his foot could fully heal. He needed a second surgery in July to set the bone in his foot, and knew that he had to be patient this time around with the foot. He said the Magic’s support of him while out was very important.

``The foot was great (after Sunday’s game) and I know that this is a process,’’ he said. ``I had to do this the right way. All I can do is thank the Magic for this process going better than last time. The PTs did a great job, and Dr. (Robert B.) Anderson in Charlotte who did a good job my surgery putting the right stuff in so that I wouldn’t have a problem again. (Waiting) was one of the best decisions ever.’’





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