Denton: Injuries Piling Up; Magic to be Limited Tonight

By John Denton
February 4, 2013

PHILADELPHIA – An already injury-ravaged Orlando Magic squad has taken even more hits of late and will likely have only nine available players tonight when they face the Philadelphia 76ers.

J.J. Redick (sore shoulder) and DeQuan Jones (foot) likely won’t play tonight because of injuries they suffered in Saturday’s loss in Milwaukee. Neither will Jameer Nelson (bruised forearm) or Arron Afflalo (calf strain), who missed Saturday’s loss as well. And those injuries have come at a time when the Magic (14-33) have yet to have Al Harrington (knee) all season and have likely lost Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis (fractured foot) for the remainder of the season.

``I think we’ll have 10, right. We’ll come to play. That’s what you do,’’ said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn, who may or may not have been including Harrington who could return any day now. ``You play this game because you want to be on the floor and you want minutes. I haven’t come across one professional basketball player who hasn’t complained about their minutes. This is an opportunity to take advantage of the minutes that are available.’’

Vaughn could be forced to start Ish Smith at point guard and slide E’Twaun Moore – usually the backup at point guard – over to a starting slot at shooting guard. Or small forward Maurice Harkless could play shooting guard and Hedo Turkoglu could return to the starting lineup at small forward.

Other than the injuries, the night will be important for a couple of other Magic players because of their ties to the Sixers (20-26). Orlando center Nikola Vucevic spent his rookie season with Philadelphia and faces the Sixers for the first time since he was traded to the Magic in August. Meanwhile, Harkless was drafted No. 16 by the Sixers last June, but included in the August blockbuster trade.

Vucevic has blossomed into one of Orlando’s most consistently productive players and is the league’s only second-year player averaging a double-double in points (12.1 ppg.) and rebounds (11.3 rpg.). His playing time in Philadelphia was sporadic and he welcomed the opportunity to come to Orlando because of the team’s belief in him.

``I wasn’t really shocked (the the trade) and I just looked at it as this is how the business goes,’’ Vucevic said. ``They wanted to bring some new people in and I thought going to Orlando would be a good opportunity for me. I took a lot from my rookie year and overall it was a solid year for me. I had a lot of ups and downs and it was a learning experience for me dealing with the travel and the amount of games. Coming into this year, I was more prepared. No regrets.’’

Harkless, 19, is coming off a career night in Milwaukee on Saturday. He set career highs in points (19), rebounds (14), steals (four) and minutes (43) against the Bucks. Harkless also whacked across the nose during that game, but he didn’t allow it to slow him down on Saturday and he’s planning on playing tonight – especially with the Magic being short-handed and needing his services at possibly three different positions.

Harkless knows the area where he can make the biggest impact is his ability to rebound the basketball.

``We just have to go out there and compete with these guys,’’ Harkless said. ``We don’t have a lot of guys playing tonight, so we’ve just got to try to find a way to get stops and easy buckets.’’

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