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By John DentonNov. 8, 2014
NEW YORK – An Orlando Magic roadtrip that will bring the team to New York City twice in a five–day span – and more specifically to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center – brought back great memories of last June’s NBA Draft for rookies Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton.
For both, it was the first time that either had visited New York or gotten to see first-hand the massive expanse of Manhattan. And going back to the Barclays Center – site of last June’s NBA Draft – it reminded them of the night when their dreams were realized to become a NBA player.
Gordon was the No. 4 overall selection of the draft by the Magic, and he didn’t learn his fate until just a couple of minutes before Orlando’s selection was announced.
``It’s surreal going back. There’s a little theme song for the NBA Draft and it still plays in my head every time that I think back to that night,’’ said Gordon, the hero of Orlando’s overtime defeat of Minnesota on Friday with a career-best 17 points. ``It was a pretty nerve-wracking night now that I think back to it. There was a lot of anxiety and you didn’t know what was going to happen. I could have gone to a couple of different teams. I’m just excited that I end up in Orlando.’���
Payton, who saw his stock dramatically shoot up the draft boards prior to last June 26, experienced a wide array of emotions on draft night. He was picked at No. 10 by the Philadelphia 76ers. Then, as he was doing interviews with the Philadelphia media – while wearing a blue and red Sixers hat, nonetheless – Payton was informed that he had been traded to the Magic. Payton said that he will most remember draft night for the relief of finally knowing where his new home would be and where his NBA journey would begin.
``In the two to three hours before the draft I was actually calm,’’ Payton admitted. ``It wasn’t until I sat down and the names started being called that I was nervous. Then, once I figured out where I was going, I was excited to have a home in Orlando.’’
OLADIPO’S ENERGY: Cleared to fly now that the swelling in his face has subsided, Victor Oladipo has rejoined the Magic on roadtrips and he’s itching to get back onto the floor. Oladipo, who has yet to play this season because of a knee sprain and a facial fracture beneath his right eye, go in a hard workout prior to Sunday’s game in Brooklyn.
``The knee feels really good and I feel good,’’ Oladipo said seconds after signing dozens of autographs for fans in Brooklyn. ``Now, it’s just about me getting myself in shape.’’
There is no firm timetable on Oladipo’s return, but he has shown so much progress with his sprained knee that he’s been able to shed the brace he wore for a week before his facial injury. Now, he’s just adjusting to wearing a protective mask on his face and building his stamina back up.
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said he’s delighted to have Oladipo back around the team because of his infectious personality and the positive support that he offers to teammates.
``You can watch the game from (Friday night) and see him in the huddle and on the bench and being around the guys and he’s travelling with the team, it’s nice. It means he’s heading in the right direction,’’ Vaughn said. ``The good thing is the next time you see him he won’t have that knee brace on, so that’s a comfort level for him when he’s back on the floor. The rust comes from just not playing for a month. He was in great shape coming into camp, so he’ll take the time to play some one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three and we’ll incorporate him into practice. I think he’ll be OK.’’
ROOKIE ROLE: As a second-round draft pick and a rookie, Devyn Marble knows that he has to try and find ways to make an impact on the Magic wherever possible.
The long-armed Marble was called on at an unexpected time on Friday night – with 28 seconds remaining in a game that Orlando trailed by two points – and he came through in a big way.
The 6-foot-6, 200-pound Marble was inserted into Friday’s game so that he could use his defensive skills and hopefully force a turnover. And that’s just what happened as Marble and Maurice Harkless set a hard trap on Kevin Martin and Harkless was able to knock the ball free.
``I was ready. (Vaughn) told me to go in and make a play and we just so happened to turn it into offense,’’ Marble said. ``I did what I was supposed to do.’’
The problem, however, was that Marble’s shot on the other end of the floor was swatted by Minnesota guard Mo Williams. As Williams followed through on the block he hit Marble’s right arm and bent it back. Marble ended up with a strained rotator cuff that knocked him out of practice on Saturday and out of Sunday’s game in Brooklyn.
``I didn’t see him coming. I tried to go up quick and get it off the backboard and he came up and was able to get it,’’ said Marble, who has received twice-a-day ice and stimulation treatment on his arm the past two days. ``It’s just unfortunate that he pulled my arm back.’’
Despite getting his shot blocked and his arm injured, Marble said it was gratifying that the coaching staff believed in him enough to insert him into a close game in the final minute.
``It was a situation that we work on in practice and (Vaughn) calls on me in practice and I just try to make plays then,’’ Marble said. ``The fact that coach has seen me make plays in practice and he feels comfortable putting me in in those situations, I’m thankful for the opportunity.’’
ETC: Magic forward Tobias Harris, who was born in Islip and went to high school in Dix Hills, N.Y., had more than 100 family and friends at the game, including his father (Torrel) and mother (Lisa). Harris’ mother, Lisa, and forward Channing Frye’s mother, Karen, are sisters and grew up in Brooklyn just a few miles away from the Barclays Center. Said Tobias Harris: ``It’s always fun to be back in New York so that my dad, mom, brothers and sister can come and watch the game. It’s a good time for me playing here, but more importantly it’s another game that we need to win.’’ … Kyle O’Quinn, a native of Jamaica, Queens, did not make the trip with the Magic so that he could get extra treatment on his sprained ankle back in Orlando. O’Quinn was injured in the opener and missed his sixth straight game on Sunday. He could join the Magic in Toronto for Monday’s practice and Tuesday’s game against the Raptors. … Harkless, also a Queens native, said he needed just four tickets for family members for Sunday’s game. Harkless said he’s worked to trim his ticket requests when back in New York so that he can keep his focus on the games.