Denton: Reaction to Davis Injury
By John Denton
December 21, 2012
TORONTO – The Orlando Magic, winners of four straight games, begin life without power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis tonight when they face the surprisingly surging Toronto Raptors.
Davis sprained his left shoulder late in Monday’s defeat of the Washington Wizards and could be out of action for a month or more. Davis, the Magic’s best post player, was averaging career highs in minutes (33), points (16), rebounds (7.9) and assists (1.8).
Filling in that void will be a major task for the Magic, but head coach Jacque Vaughn said the loss of Davis won’t alter his message or his game plan for the team. Davis said it’s up to others to step up to fill the gaps, while continuing to share the ball and defend the rim.
``There is no easy answer because there are no two Glen Davises,’’ Vaughn said. ``You don’t concern yourself (with replacing him). You concern yourself with the guys that we have suited up and putting them in the best position to be successful. It won’t change what we do. That was the message to our guys today – we won’t change what we do.’’
Vaughn would not reveal his replacement for Davis as a starter at power forward, citing competitive advantages against the Raptors, 8-19 and winners of their last four games despite being without starters Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry.
The most likely options at power forward for the Magic are veteran Josh McRoberts or rookie Andrew Nicholson. McRoberts, nicknamed slash by his teammates, has bounced between small forward and power forward all season. Nicholson, a native of suburban Toronto, has shown promise of late as the Magic’s top low-post threat and should see a major increase in playing time even if he doesn’t start.
Vaughn said he would have no qualms about possibly starting two rookies – Nicholson along with small forward Maurice Harkless. He also pointed out that others such as Gustavo Ayon and Kyle O’Quinn are options are power forward along with McRoberts and Nicholson.
Said Vaughn: ``Why limit yourself? I think we have more options than two.’’ Magic shooting guard J.J. Redick said there was much relief when the team found out that Davis did not need season-ending surgery and would be able to return once his shoulder improves. Redick saw the worry in Davis’ eyes in the team training room after Monday’s game and feared that the Magic’s emotional post player might be lost for the rest of the season with a major injury.
``There was definitely some relief,’’ Redick admitted. ``I found out at lunch (on Thursday) that he wasn’t going to require anything drastic, so that was a relief for sure.’’
Redick added that the Magic will need more post production from center Nikola Vucevic and the reserves will have to play a more active role in the protection of the rim defensively. He said the Magic will also miss Davis’ energy, but he’s eager to see what others can do with a new opportunity for playing time.
``Of course, it’s a loss for us because Glen has been a great scorer and rebounder for us. He’s been a very productive player and we’ll miss that. I know that guys will have to step up,’’ he said. ``Andrew will have to step up and score the ball like he has all year. We’ll need some defensive help from (Ayon) and Josh will get to play a little bit of (power forward), which will be nice for him.’’
Toronto coach Dwane Casey said not having Davis will change the way the Magic attack teams offensively, but he still expects the Magic to be a tough team. The Raptors defeated the Magic 97-86 on Nov. 18 with Davis leading Orlando in scoring with 16 points.
``It will hurt their post-up game somewhat, but Vuvevic is a good post-up player and (Arron) Afflalo gets down in the post and gets dirty and nasty,’’ Casey said. ``And I still see (Jameer) Nelson, Afflalo and Redick trying to make up for the lost points from the perimeter.
``From my experience in the NBA, when you lose a star player like (Davis) somebody always takes up the slack,’’ Casey added. ``We’re going through that now with two guys out and our guys have stepped up and taken up the slack. Somebody, somewhere will take up the slack. Our problem is that we have to find out who that is really quickly (for the Magic).’’
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