Magic Hope to Feature Powerful and Potent Frontline Friday
By John Denton
Dec. 13, 2013
ORLANDO – A powerful and potent frontline of Nikola Vucevic, Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis and Tobias Harris could finally become a reality tonight when the Orlando Magic host the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Amway Center.
It could become a reality at long last because Harris is back from a troublesome high ankle sprain and should be available to play tonight. He suffered the injury on Oct. 20, missed the next five weeks, returned for one game before feeling more pain and then sat out almost three more weeks.
Harris practiced with the team on Thursday and went through Friday morning’s shoot around with no soreness or pain and pronounced himself ready for tonight’s 7 p.m. tipoff.
``(Thursday) was a good day of practice and there were no setbacks for me, so I’ll be available to play tonight,’’ Harris said. ``That’s a good feeling for me. I’m excited and anxious to get out there and play with my teammates and help us win games.’’
The home game will be Orlando’s first since Nov. 29. The team wrapped up a six-game, 12-day road trip – the longest in the 25-year history of the franchise in terms of days – with a win in Charlotte on Wednesday night.
Following Friday’s game, Orlando will be back on the road on Saturday where it will play the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. After a Monday night game in Chicago against the Bulls, the Magic will close 2013 with a six-game homestand. Harris came to Orlando in a trade with Milwaukee last February and averaged 17.3 points and 9.5 rebounds over the final 27 games of the season. To put that in perspective, only three NBA players – Al Horford, David Lee and Al Jefferson – put up those kinds of numbers over a full season.
The Magic’s hope going into this season was to feature a frontline of Harris, Vucevic and Davis, but the plan was put on hold because of injury issues to Davis and Harris. Davis missed the training camp, all eight exhibition games and the first 11 regular-season games as he recovered from two foot surgeries. And Harris has his issues with the ankle that he injured in a preseason game against the Detroit Pistons.
Now, they’re all three back and the potential seems bright for the Magic frontline. Harris isn’t expected to start, but he will likely play with Davis and Vucevic at some point in the game.
``I’m very excited because Glen and Nik have been playing tremendous lately,’’ Harris said. ``What I can do is go out there and play with a lot of energy and feed off those guys and what they do. It will be good for us going forward. I’m just focused on winning games and helping us go on a winning streak now. I’m focused on us being the best team that we can be.’’
Harris said after suffering two ankle injuries and playing just once the past eight weeks that there is a mental hurdle to get over. But he said that his explosiveness has returned and there is no more lingering pain in his lower leg.
``There’s definitely a mental hurdle once you get hurt and re-tweak it again. I just have confidence in myself and confidence that my ankle is healed and that I can go out there and play to the best of my abilities,’’ he said. ``Now, I just approach the game like any other game and know what I can do to help our team.
``(The explosiveness), it’s back. The biggest thing for me is my timing and conditioning, and all of that felt good for me (on Thursday),’’ he added. ``As we play games I’ll continue to progress and get back to where I was.’’