MCW Hopes to Return to Action Soon

Magic guard injured shoulder during Friday's game in Portland
by John Denton

ORLANDO – When Orlando Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams suffered an injury to his left hip earlier this season, he initially feared for the worst because a few years earlier he needed surgery on that hip and the pain felt eerily similar.

Back in the 2017-18 season, Carter-Williams missed the final six weeks of action when he needed surgery to repair a posterior labral tear in his left shoulder. He re-injured that shoulder in Friday’s loss in Portland, but this time around Carter-Williams took solace in the fact that the pain in his shoulder felt nothing like before. That realization buoyed Carter-Williams’ hopes that he could make a speedy recovery and get back out on the floor as soon as possible for the Magic.

On Monday, Carter-Williams was at the Amway Center and out of the sling that he wore following Friday’s game in Portland – one in which he suffered a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder following a collision with Trail Blazers center Skal Labissiere. Encouraged by the progress he’s already made, Carter-Williams is still hopeful that his time away from the on-court action will be short.

``I’ve never had a sprained AC joint before but spraining the AC joint is actually a lot different pain than tearing something,’’ he said while comparing this injury to his previous shoulder injury. ``But, like I said, I’m taking rehab day by day and trying to get back out there soon.’’

Carter-Williams said injuries come with the territory of being a gritty defender who is willing to battle through screens and dive on the floor for loose balls. He said that’s the only way that he knows how to play and that he can’t change his style just because of a few dings of his shoulder and hip.

``When I go out there, I try to give it my all for my teammates and my coaches,’’ said Carter-Williams, who has averaged 5.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.1 steals in 19 games thus far for the Magic. ``I just want to make those hustle plays and try, I guess, to do the little things.’’

BIRTHDAY BOY: One of the downsides of travelling so much during the NBA season, Magic center Nikola Vucevic is learning, is having to miss some of the major milestone moments for his infant son.

Such was the case last week when Vucevic’s son, Filip, celebrated his first birthday while the center and the Magic were in Salt Lake City readying to face the Utah Jazz. That stop was a part of a four-game, seven-day trip for Vucevic and the Magic.

``I missed (his son’s birthday) because we were in Salt Lake and I couldn’t be there,’’ Vucevic said. ``But it was good because my parents and my sister were in town with (Filip) and my wife and (Nikolete) did a whole crazy decoration thing for his birthday and he got a bunch of gifts from my parents, from us and friends and stuff. I was disappointed that I missed it, but it was fun to see all the pictures and seeing him all happy with his new gifts. He got to eat a little cake and it seems like he had a lot of fun.’’

Vucevic, the Magic’s longest-tenured player, marveled at how much his life has changed over the past year since Filip was born. For example, when the 7-footer arrived home at 8 a.m. on Saturday from the Magic’s long road trip and red-eye flight, he stayed awake as long as possible to spend time with his son rather than going straight to bed.

``It’s changed the way you look at everything differently, and obviously, everything revolves around him and his well-being,’’ Vucevic said. ``When you’re playing (during the season), it revolves around what we can do and what we can’t. But it’s been an amazing experience watching him grow. Now, that’s he’s a year old, he’s more aware and you can play with him and do stuff with him.

``Going on the road, that’s the hardest part because you are missing him,’’ he added. ``But, to me, the most amazing part is how smart they are at such a young age and how they learn and pick things up quickly. So, it’s all been great – especially since he got his sleep (patterns) down pretty quickly.’’

MO PRESENTS: Magic center Mo Bamba gave himself an early Christmas present this past weekend when he purchased a male, 9-week-old Golden Doodle puppy. He said he plans to use the upcoming three-night break from NBA games to get to know the dog that he’s wanted for a couple of years now.

``For sure, I’ll be playing around with him,’’ Bamba said of the puppy. ``I wanted one last year, but I wanted to get adjusted to life in Orlando and playing in the NBA. I felt the time was right for it and I just went for it.’’

Bamba said he has friends and family living with him, so they will be able to take care of the puppy when he’s away at games. One remaining issue, however, is that the second-year center has yet to come up with a name for his new pet.

``I’ve known him for, like, 16 hours,’’ Bamba said. ``When I went to the little place (for the purchase), there was a girl (puppy) who was really cute, but she wasn’t high energy. She was just kind of chilling and he was running around everywhere. But then I got him home and he was chilling, so I think it’s going to be all right.

``I might steal a (dog) name from (Aaron Gordon) or Wes (Iwundu),’’ Bamba added. ``One of Wes’ dog’s name is `Nova,’ which is pretty cool. A.G. has `Magik,’ which is pretty cool, but I might just put a `C’ on the end of (Magic).’’

UP NEXT: The Magic will not only be home for the holidays, but they will be off from game action for three nights to rest up for a potential late-December charge.

Orlando is scheduled to hold a light practice on Tuesday, be off for Christmas Day and then practice again on Thursday. The Magic host the star-studded Philadelphia 76ers on Friday at the Amway Center.

The Magic’s one victory this season against teams with winning records came against the 76ers on Nov. 13 at the Amway Center. In that game, Philadelphia was playing on the second night of a back-to-back and it was without all-star center Joel Embiid. Undoubtedly, those factors figured into the Magic holding a 34-15 fourth-quarter advantage in the 112-97 victory.

The game against Philadelphia will be the start of a tremendously challenging back-to-back set of game for the Magic. A night after hosting the 76ers, Orlando will be in Milwaukee to face superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. Milwaukee is 2-0 this season against the Magic, winning once in Orlando and once at home.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors.

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