Jonathan Isaac Focused on Making Full Recovery

By John Denton
Dec. 30, 2017

ORLANDO – In hopes of getting their prized rookie fully healthy and completely back to action, the Orlando Magic are placing forward Jonathan Isaac in an injury rehabilitation and conditioning program and he will be out of action indefinitely.

Isaac, the No. 6 pick in last June’s NBA Draft, has been hampered by lingering pain and stiffness in his right ankle since severely spraining it on Nov. 11. The injury occurred when the 6-foot-10, 215-pound Isaac swatted the shot of Emmanuel Mudiay but landed on the Denver guard’s foot, causing his own ankle to buckle.

Isaac missed 17 consecutive games from Nov. 13 through Dec. 16, and returned to play two games on limited minutes before re-injuring his ankle again. Following another two-game absence, Isaac played 16 minutes on Tuesday night in Miami only to experience more problems with his ankle. He missed his 20th game of the season on Thursday when Orlando defeated Detroit, 102-89.

Isaac, 20, will now focus on the health of his ankle and his conditioning. His return will be fully dependent on how his ankle and conditioning respond to treatment.

``It’s really just about getting him where he’s at his best and not yo-yoing him in and out of the games and having him re-tweak it,’’ Magic coach Frank Vogel said. ``He’s got to get his strength in the ankle and strength in his legs with conditioning so that it’s not an issue anymore.’’

Isaac has played in 15 games this season for Orlando, averaging 5.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.00 blocks in 19.0 minutes per game. He scored a career-high 11 points on Nov. 10 at Phoenix.

Isaac said on Friday that he is having to fix his focus on complete recovery instead of trying to speed up the process so that he can get back for certain games.

``What have they told me? Just to be patient and wait for this to heal completely,’’ Isaac said. ``Just take my time, day-by-day. It’s tough (being out). It takes time and trying to come back when it’s not completely there (physically) is tough, so I just have to be patient and take it day-by-day.’’

LIKE FATHER, UNLIKE SON: When Elfrid Payton isn’t playing basketball or watching basketball, his focus is usually affixed on the NFL and his hometown team, the New Orleans Saints. The love of football is something that he gets from his father, Elfrid Payton Sr.

Even when the Saints started 0-2 this season, the younger Payton said the squad would turn things around and reach the playoffs. Sure enough, the Saints are now 11-4 and locked into a postseason berth with a game to play. To this day, Payton calls the Saints’ Super Bowl victory in 2010 his happiest sports moment – with an asterisk.

``As a sports fan, seeing the Saints win the Super Bowl, that was the best. Nothing even close. Well, maybe my dad winning a Grey Cup, that was kind of cool,’’ the Magic point guard said.

Elfrid Sr. was an undersized defensive end at 5-foot-11 and 245 pounds, but he still reached the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame, where he was inducted in 2010. Payton Sr., who had 154 career sacks, played for seven teams from 1991 to 2004, winning Grey Cup titles in 1995 (Baltimore Stallions) and 2003 (Edmonton Eskimos).

The Magic’s Payton said his playing style is nothing at all like his father’s during his football heyday.

``He was crazy and I’m nothing like that – no smiles, not saying anything and he was talking entire games mad trash,’’ Payton said. ``He was crazy. Everything you’ve pretty much heard about him was true. He was a wild man. I’m so laid back and he’s totally extra the entire time.

Asked if his dad ever prodded him to be more emotional and boisterous on the court, the younger Payton said: ``You’ve got to be yourself. I can’t try to be him; I’ve got to be myself.’’

DESPERATE FOE: In the NBA, there’s long been a running debate over which foe is more difficult to play – the one that is red-hot and riding a lengthy winning streak or the one embarrassed and desperate following a humbling loss?

The Magic got to once again test that theory on Saturday when they hosted a Miami Heat team coming off a lopsided loss.

Orlando faced a Miami team likely looking to prove itself after a disastrous 111-87 home loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. The Heat trailed by as much as 38 points and lost at home by at least 15 points for the fifth time this season.

Heading into the game, Magic coach Frank Vogel promised his team that it would be facing a desperate Heat.

``I don’t know which is tougher, but the team coming off a loss you know they are going to bring great effort and energy,’’ Vogel said. ``They’re probably embarrassed and want to respond from a tough performance.’’

Orlando has recently been through the drill of facing a desperate team coming off a lopsided loss. Just last week, the Washington Wizards lost 119-84 in Brooklyn only to turn around a night later and drop 130 points on the Magic in D.C. Similarly, Utah lost 118-107 in Brooklyn on Nov. 17 only to come to Orlando a night later and win 125-85.

Added Vogel: ``This happened to us a few games ago with the Washington Wizards. We’d like to thank Brooklyn for doing this prior to our games. Washington came out charged up and played a terrific basketball game and I expect the same from Miami.’’

UP NEXT: Orlando will hit the road on New Year’s Eve and fly to New York City for Monday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. It will be yet another holiday that the Magic have spent on the road after being in Memphis on Halloween, in Boston on Thanksgiving and in Miami on the night of Christmas.

The Magic and Nets have split the first two meetings thus far with Brooklyn winning at home on Oct. 20 and Orlando winning at the Amway Center on Oct. 24. Nikola Vucevic, who is out with a broken left hand, had 41 points in that first game, while Aaron Gordon poured in 41 points in the Magic victory.

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.