Denton's Notebook: Friday, March 8

By John Denton
March 8, 2013

ORLANDO – ORLANDO – Time away from basketball – time that Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis didn’t necessarily want – has allowed him to interact with Orlando Magic fans after games and the power forward likes what he’s seeing and hearing about the team’s core of promising young players.

Davis hasn’t played since Jan. 30 when he fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot in the first quarter of a game against the New York Knicks. He had surgery on Feb. 1 and is still wearing a walking boot over his foot. He was projected to miss eight-to-12 weeks, and he’s only recently started working out again with non-impact swimming exercises.

Davis, who is attempting a vegan diet in an attempt to lose weight and lighten the load on his healing foot, said he’s been inspired by the growth of Magic youngsters Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson.

``What’s crazy is I’m really looking forward to the upcoming years,’’ said Davis, who has attended more and more Magic practices of late. ``I’m out in the community and a guys walks up to you and says, I enjoy watching the Magic play. An old man in the mall told me that. It’s an unbelievable feeling that these young guys are creating around here. They really love this team the way we hustle and play together and how it’s a team and not one guy. These young guys that we have, in order to prosper you have to go through those bumps and bruises and that’s what we’re doing right now.’’

Davis said he’s replayed aspects of the season over and over in his downtime. Orlando was an impressive 12-13 when Davis suffered a dislocated left shoulder, and injury that caused him to miss 11 games and 10 losses. The Magic have struggled for periods since Davis has been out with the foot ailment, allowing him to further lament what could have been this season.

Out of basketball for the longest stretch of his career, Davis said right now he’s simply trying to find positive ways to fill his days.

``I’m just kind of trying to find my way in the world right now. Without basketball it’s kind of like, `What are you going to do today?’ I’ve been reading, spending time with my daughter and I’m just trying to be a noble citizen right now.’’

LINEUP CHANGE: Looking to reward the stellar play of Tobias Harris since he joined the team on Feb. 23, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn elevated the second-year forward into the starting lineup Friday night against the Indiana Pacers.

Harris, whom the Magic acquired from Milwaukee in a six player deal, scored in double figures in six of his first seven games since the trade. He’s twice set career highs in scoring with 23 and 27-point games and he came into Friday night averaging 16.7 points per game on 67 percent shooting.

Vaughn has been somewhat amazed at how quickly the Magic newcomers have meshed with their new teammates.

``It really boils down to the guys in our locker room and their ability to embrace new guys coming in, embrace change and adapt to it,’’ Vaughn said. ``It speaks to the character of the guys in our locker room, what they are about and what they want to represent.’’

MEMORIES OF MIAMI: It will likely be a long time before Orlando’s players and Magic fans forget about the frustrating finish to Wednesday’s 97-96 loss to the Heat in Miami. Many with the Magic feel they didn’t get the benefit of the whistle late in the game, allowing LeBron James to win the game with a layup with 3.2 seconds remaining.

Orlando was whistled for 10 fouls in the fourth period, compared to just two for Miami. Because of that inequity, the Magic shot just five free throws (with three makes) in the final period, while Miami got to the line 14 times (with 12 makes).

``Me personally, I still haven’t gotten over that game,’’ Magic guard Arron Afflalo said. ``For me, it honestly depends on what my impact was and what I personally had to learn. Some things I can get over sooner than later, but that was a tough game for us. The impact on our season, people wouldn’t say it wouldn’t have much impact whether we won or lost. But in terms of our personal growth, I thought it was a big game. I learned a lot from it and we’ll go from there.’’

Magic rookie DeQuan Jones was right in the middle of the madness as he was guarding James on the final play. He turned James to the left, hoping that help would arrive and he just missed getting the game-saving block on the play. He admitted that it was pretty daunting to be facing James in a do-or-die situation like that.

``It was an experience for me, and one of those situations where you can draw it up and talk about it, but until you are in that situation, it’s something different,’’ Jones said. ``I didn’t want him to have a predetermined move and know that I was pressuring him or backing off him. I was trying to mix him up so he couldn’t make his mind up (early). I figured if I forced him left where my help was he wouldn’t get a clean layup and I’d alter the shot some, but he’s just a great player.’’

ETC: Vaughn said he’s replayed James’ game-winning layup over and over since Wednesday night, wondering if it would have been better to double-team the Heat star or possibly foul him to make him have to hit two free throws. Said Vaughn: ``I thought, for the most part, our guys did a good job. DJ (DeQuan) had a chance to almost block the shot and it was a great left-handed finish by one of the best players in the game.’’ … The start on Friday night was the 24th of Harris’ NBA career. He started nine games as a rookie for the Bucks and started the first 14 games of the season. For whatever reason, he fell out of favor with former Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles. … The Magic are at home on Sunday to face the Philadelphia 76ers at 6 p.m. Orlando whipped the Sixers 98-84 on Feb. 26 in Philly. The Magic will then turn their attention to Tuesday’s showdown against Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers.

MORE STORIES: Afflalo Embracing Renovation | Harris Finds Inspiration From Father; Thriving in Orlando | Udrih Relieved to be Out of Milwaukee

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