Denton's Notebook: Friday, Feb. 1

By John Denton
February 1, 2013

BOSTON – While the Orlando Magic are mostly bereft of low-post scoring with Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis likely sidelined for the rest of the season and Arron Afflalo still out with a calf strain, opportunities would seem to abound for 7-foot center Nikola Vucevic in the near future.

But because Vucevic is still more comfortable facing the basket than backing up to it and prefers to shoot jumpers to hook shots, the Magic will continue to tread lightly with force-feeding Vucevic in the low post.

``We’ll continue to develop his low-post game, but if you were to list the criteria that denote his game coming out of college, in Philadelphia (for his rookie NBA season), I’m not sure low-post scoring would be at the top of that category,’’ said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn, clearly picking his words carefully. ``So it’s on us now to put us in a position over time where he’s comfortable playing there (in the post).

``I don’t think it’s not smart for us to throw it to him just because he’s a 7-footer and say, `Go do something, Nik,’’’ Vaughn continued. ``That won’t be smart. It’s not productive going forward. Can he be a better low-post presence for us over time? Yes, but you develop that over time. By trying to force the offense through him I don’t think that’s smart for our team right now.’’

Vucevic, who was selected to play in the BBVA Rising Stars All-Star Game in Houston later this month, is the NBA’s only second-year player averaging a double-double at 11.9 points and 11.2 rebounds a game. He entered Friday shooting 52.6 percent from the floor, but most of those baskets have come off tip-ins and open jump shots. He said improving his low-post moves and strength is a priority in the coming months.

``I want to better every aspect of my game, but (an improved post game) can only help me,’’ Vucevic said. ``I want them to be able to throw the ball to me and let me make plays. Not only scoring, but if I can pass it out of there it will make it easier for the guards. It’s something that I work on every day and I’ve gotten better as this season has gone on. I just have to keep getting better at it.’’

BABY TALK: Davis, who fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot on Wednesday in New York, underwent successful surgery on Friday back in Orlando.

Doctors inserted a screw into the bone to stabilize the fractured bone. Davis, who was in the midst of a career year, is expected to be out eight-to-10 weeks. Magic GM Rob Hennigan saw footage of the injury and called it ``a freak play,’’ because Davis was injured while stubbing his foot on another player’s foot.

Boston coach Doc Rivers, who coached Davis for four season prior to the power forward signing with the Magic last fall, said he hated to see the injury just as Davis was coming into his own as a leader.

``I felt bad for him because he wants to do well so badly,’’ said Rivers, who had to cope with the loss of power forward Jared Sullinger (back surgery) on Friday. ``(Davis) wants the stage and wants to perform on top of the stage. Early in the year he was doing that and then he had the first injury and now another injury, that’s tough.’’

BATTLING SORENESS: Magic forward Al Harrington, who has yet to play this season following four procedures on his right knee because of needed surgery and a subsequent staph infection, had steadily began increasing the intensity of his workouts in practice.

In years past, Harrington has had surgeries on his knee and his back, but he’s never missed as much time as he has this season following the infection. He said mentally he’s known for months that he’s normally playing basketball this time of year, but physically it’s taken a little longer for his body to come around.

The 15-year NBA veteran has gone from one-on-one to three-on-three to participating fully in practice with the Magic. He said the first couple of days back tested him after not playing basketball since July.

``Two weeks ago was the first time that I did the three-on-three and I couldn’t move that night. But now I feel much better now,’’ said Harrington, who is hoping to return to game action within the next week. ``Now, my wind is getting better and I’m getting close now. I’m glad that the hard work is starting to pay off.’’

ETC: Friday’s game was somewhat of a homecoming for Hennigan, who grew up 50 miles away in Nantuck, Mass. The Magic’s first-year GM had parents Bob and Lynn, wife, Marissa, and sisters, Kate, Anne and Elizabeth, at the game Friday night. Hennigan attended several Celtics games as a child, but Friday’s game was his first trip back to the TD Garden since he attended Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002 when he was still a student and basketball star at Emerson College. … Magic shooting guard E’Twaun Moore also returned to Boston after spending his rookie season with the Celtics. Said Moore: ``It will be fun for me. Any time you are playing against friends or guys that you know, it’s always fun. It was definitely interesting while playing here. And while I wasn’t playing I was like a fan with some of the plays I saw. It was a fun ride.’’ … Vaughn said the loss of Davis will afford more opportunities at power forward for Josh McRoberts, Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn. And he added that it will be a team effort filling the loss of Orlando’s best one-on-one defender. ``Bodies-wise, we’ll have to use everybody, but that’s just been the makeup of our team all year. Everybody has been ready to play and a part of it,’’ Vaughn said. ``We’ll have to figure some things out defensively. Glen gave us the ability to guard individually in the post by himself. So we’ll have to look at some different schemes going forward.’’ … The Magic’s five-game, nine-day road trip continues Saturday night in Milwaukee against the Bucks. The Magic will be off on Sunday and will play the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.

ORLANDOMAGIC.COM FEATURES: Vucevic Earns Spot in Rising Stars Challenge

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