Gordon Can Get Injury Advice From Harris

Aaron Gordon

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By John Denton
Nov. 17, 2014

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – For much of the season, Orlando Magic rookie Aaron Gordon has shadowed Tobias Harris whether it was subbing in for him at either the small forward or power forward positions or playing alongside of him.

Now, the two versatile forwards have something else in common: Both have had to deal with the effects of a fractured foot early in their basketball careers.

Gordon, the No. 4 pick in last June’s NBA Draft, is out for the foreseeable future after an X-ray revealed a fractured bone in the outside of his left foot on Saturday. Gordon, the youngest player in the NBA at 19 years old, is in a walking boot and will see a foot specialist this week to determine the best course of action for treatment.

Gordon’s injury is very similar to the one that Harris suffered as an 18-year-old high school senior. Harris needed surgery – and still has the stabilizing screw in his foot – and had to miss out on a chance to play for Team USA in international play. However, after some time away from basketball, Harris made a full recovery and has had no problems with the foot over the past four years.

``My advice would be to take his time with it and not to rush it. It’s easier said than done, but it’s a different ballpark in the NBA because I was going into college (when he suffered the injury),’’ Harris said. ``I’ve just told him to keep his spirits up. I’m praying for him and other guys on the team are praying for him, so he’ll be fine.’’

Harris raved about Gordon’s attitude and willingness to learn in the time that the two have worked together over the summer, exhibition season and the first 11 games of this season. Gordon has been especially good of late for the Magic, giving the team an energy boost and some hard-nosed defense off the bench. Harris said that while losing the rookie for an extended period of time is a blow to the Magic, he said he’s tried to keep the injury in perspective when talking to the fellow small forward.

``With an injury like that, you don’t see it coming. It happens all of the time (in basketball) and it’s a stress fracture,’’ Harris said. ``But you can survive it and it’s a waiting game and you just have to let it heal. He just has to be prepared to come back and be as mentally focused and prepares as he was before the injury.’’

SHAKING OFF THE RUST: The Magic and Victor Oladipo knew that it would take some time for him to get totally back up to speed following his six-week absences for a knee injury and a facial fracture. And while there were plenty of questions about Oladipo’s conditioning, ball-handling and jump shot when he returned, there wasn’t as much focus on his decision-making.

Oladipo played well in his first game back on Friday, giving the Magic a huge spark off the bench with his energy and ability to get in the lane and produce free throws. But on Saturday, Oladipo made just seven of 18 and turned the ball over three times. Oladipo chided himself after the game for taking some questionable shots and added that it could take some time for his feel of the game to return. The second-year guard had seven assists, but Orlando finished with just 14 – tying a season low.

Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said on Monday that Oladipo might have gotten caught up in the emotion of playing in Washington, D.C. in front of more than a dozen family and friends. One Oladipo shot in particular – a contested 3-point heave with 15 on the shot clock – seemed to irk the head coach and Oladipo was removed from the game right after.

``Hopefully we’re not in Washington where his family and friends are (anytime soon) and hopefully a different setting will lend to him continuing to make the right play for us,’’ Vaughn said.

VERSUS VAN GUNDY: Monday’s game in Detroit was the Magic’s first in the regular season against former Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy since he took over as the Pistons’ President of Basketball Operations and coach.

Van Gundy is the most successful coach in franchise history, going 259-135 with the Magic from 2007-12. He guided Orlando to five playoff appearances, including the 2009 NBA Finals and the ’10 Eastern Conference Finals.

Van Gundy said his memories of Central Florida will always be fond because of the treatment that he received from Magic fans.

``The people, that’s what you always remember,’’ Van Gundy said. ``I worked with great people, which I really enjoyed. We lived in a great community and I really appreciate the people in the Central Florida community. It was great for my family. My kids and my family were well taken care of there, so I have great appreciation.’’

ETC: Gordon’s work tireless ethic has become legend around his teammates and he wonders what he will do while out injured to occupy his time. He worked hard over the offseason to improve his jump shot and he said he might continue some of that work even while wearing a cast on his left foot. Said Gordon: ``I just have to figure out how to stay around the game. Maybe I sit in the chair and work on jump hooks. I guess it’s a good time to rest and be healthy for the rest of the season. … Veteran point guard Luke Ridnour, who missed Saturday’s game in Washington because of a family matter, returned to the team for Monday’s game in suburban Detroit. Ridnour has been a big asset off the bench this season, averaging 5.8 points and 3.1 assists a game while also shooting 46.3 percent from the floor. … Magic reserves Willie Green and Devyn Marble hail from the Detroit area and both were scrambling to get extra tickets for friends and family Monday night. Marble, who is out because of a sprained rotator cuff, said he had 10 family members and friends coming to the game. … The Magic’s game in Detroit on Monday was their eighth road game of the season – the most in the NBA so far this season. Orlando is back at the Amway Center on Wednesday to face the Los Angeles Clippers. However, the Magic have road games looming against Charlotte (Friday) and Cleveland (Monday) and a six-game, 10-day trip ahead from Nov. 27-Dec. 6.

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