Denton: Change in Position Tiring Task for Davis

By John Denton
Jan. 26, 2014

NEW ORLEANS – Forced to play out of position because of the concussion suffered by Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic, Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis has seen his offensive production fall off a bit as he’s expended so much energy guarding opposing big men.

But Davis said his only goals are doing what the team needs and winning and he doesn’t even mind having to play center instead of his usual power forward position. Listed at 6-foo-9, but probably closer to 6-foot-7, Davis is usually giving away several inches in height, but he uses his strength, savvy and high motor to make up for it.

``I just want to do whatever it takes to win,’’ Davis said. ``My role has changed on this team from last year to this year. Whatever is best for the team and whatever the team needs me to do, I’ll do it.

``I’m not trying to prove anything and I’m a player who is well-known in the league,’’ added Davis, a seven-year veteran. ``People know what I can do when the opportunities are given and it’s all about winning for me.’’

Vucevic missed his 11th straight game on Sunday night because of the concussion he suffered on Jan. 6 when he landed head-first on the floor against the Los Angeles Clippers. Vucevic is traveling with the team on this roadtrip, but he is still in the rehab process and there is no timetable on his return.

Magic coach Jacque Vaughn has been very complimentary of Davis’ willingness to play out of position and sacrifice for the team. Vaughn made sure to point that out to the team recently so that Davis knew that he willingness to help the team was appreciated.

``He’s going into another game when another guy (New Orleans center Alexis Ajinca) has a lot of inches (in height) on him, but he’s giving us everything that he has,’’ Vaughn said. ``That ability to have toughness and sacrifice himself for the good of the group, we want to make sure that the guys appreciate what he’s doing.’’

`HEART AND HUSTLE’ MEMORIES: As he was watching game footage of the Magic against the Los Angeles Lakers to prepare for Sunday night’s game against Orlando, New Orleans coach Monty Williams saw Bo Outlaw being honored. Later, Williams turned up the volume and listened fondly to the broadcast that talked a lot about the Magic’s 1999-2000 team.

That squad, which Williams was a part of, was dubbed ``Heart and Hustle’’ and it defied lowly expectations by playing with incredible grit. That Magic team stayed in the playoff race until the 81st game, and ultimately finished a surprising 41-41. Williams, then a small forward for the Magic, said that many of his best memories in the NBA come from that season while playing for head coach Doc Rivers and alongside Darrell Armstrong, Ben Wallace, Pat Garrity and Outlaw.

``We had a lot of good stuff going on that year. Our practices were probably the best that I’ve ever been a part of. We practiced 2.5-3 hours a day and we went after each other,’’ remembered Williams, who played for the Magic from 1999-2002. ``The games were cool, but the practices were the best I’ve been a part of during a season. A lot of it was due to the kind of guys that we had. And Doc coached a lot harder than he does now. I laugh when I talk to him about how many days he gives off now because we never got days off back then. And guys would get kicked out of the gym if they didn’t play hard. It was fun to be a part of.’’

YOUNG GUNS: Orlando’s second unit of Kyle O’Quinn, Maurice Harkless, Doron Lamb, E’Twaun Moore and Andrew Nicholson have dubbed themselves, ``The Young Guns.’’

The aim of ``The Young Guns’’ has been on point of late as they have played especially well in the Orlando’s last three games. That group made 13 of 17 shots and scored 38 points in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s game in Brooklyn. On Wednesday, they led Orlando all of the way back from a 19-point deficit to the Hawks. And on Friday, that group played most of the fourth quarter and finished off the Lakers in a Magic victory.

Oddly, a group that Vaughn was trying to get to play with confidence is now sparking a flow of confidence throughout the team with its play.

``There’s a feeling when they get into the game on both ends of the floor,’’ Vaughn said of his reserves. ``Defensively they’re really trying to cover each other’s back and they are playing for each other. And offensively they are sharing the basketball. Basketball is a simple game and when they keep it simple good things happen.’’