Denton: Vucevic Sits Out vs. Cavs

By John Denton
Jan. 2, 2014

CLEVELAND – Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic felt well enough when he woke up Wednesday morning to walk on his sprained ankle and later join his teammates for the trip to Cleveland.

After rolling his ankle in Tuesday’s loss to Golden State and being unable to return to the game because of the persistent pain, Vucevic initially feared for the worst. But when the ankle seemed to respond well to treatment Tuesday night and Wednesday, Vucevic held out hope he could play Thursday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

However, those plans were dashed when Vucevic worked out prior to Thursday’s game and felt more pain in his foot. Vucevic was placed on the inactive list – the fifth game he’s missed this season because of trouble with his left ankle.

Without Vucevic, Orlando started veteran Jason Maxiell at center on Thursday and activated veteran power forward Solomon Jones. The hope was that Maxiell’s hit-first mantra would help the Magic close up a rebounding gap that has existed when Vucevic has been out of the lineup.

``A lot of times (players like Maxiell) can dictate what’s going to happen,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said of Maxiell’s physical style of play. ``You will see in the course of a game where when a guy gives you eye contact that they are going to box you out, that might deter you from even going to (the glass to rebound). I’m giving you resistance. It’s a habit of doing that over and over again.’’

Cleveland was also without star point guard Kyrie Irving, who has a knee contusion. Irving had a MRI on his ailing knee on Wednesday and it showed no structural damage. He was held out of Thursday’s game as a precaution.

Vucevic, who finished second in the NBA in rebounding last season, leads the Magic with 11.1 boards a game this season. He missed four games in early December and Orlando was outrebounded 213-143. He is hoping that this ankle injury isn’t a serious one and he can soon return.

``At first I thought it might be a pretty bad one with the way that it was hurting, but I guess with all of the icing that we did – I spent New Year’s icing – it was worth it,’’ Vucevic said. ``I woke up (Wednesday) morning and I was kind of hesitant to step on it and see how it feels. It was painful, but not as bad as I thought it would be.’’

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