Nikola Vucevic Fractures Bone in Left Hand
By John Denton
Dec. 23, 2017
WASHINGTON D.C. – The hits just keep on coming for a battered and beaten-up Orlando Magic team that has to be feeling quite punch drunk now.
Already without four key players because of injuries, the Magic suffered another major loss on Saturday night when veteran center Nikola Vucevic fractured the second metacarpal (index finger) in his left hand. The injury happened with 6:57 remaining in the first quarter and the 7-footer is uncertain how it happened – either on a collision with Washington center Ian Mahinmi or when Wizards forward Otto Porter swiped and hit the back of Vucevic’s left hand.
``It hasn’t really hit me that I will be out for a while, but it was disappointing because as soon as (the finger) I knew something was wrong with it,’’ said Vucevic, who had his hand heavily bandaged after the game. ``It’s disappointing because your work so hard to be out there every day and compete. Now I’m going to have to be out for a long time and I can’t be out there with my teammates fighting. It’s very unfortunate, but I have to accept it and do my best to come back as quick as I can.’’
Vucevic was in immediate pain and immediately signaled for a timeout even though the Magic had taken a timeout just seconds earlier. He will have surgery to repair the finger in the coming days and will mostly likely miss six-to-eight weeks even though there is no specific timetable on his return.
Orlando lost 130-103 to Washington on Saturday to see its losing streak stretch to eight games – a skid that has come largely because of the debilitating injuries the team has suffered. Evan Fournier (ankle sprain), Aaron Gordon (calf strain), Terrence Ross (knee sprain) and Jonathan Isaac (ankle sprain) were out once again on Saturday in Washington.
Asked about the possible returns of Fournier, Gordon and/or Isaac on Tuesday when the Magic play in Miami, coach Frank Vogel said ``there’s a chance all three could play and there’s a chance that none of them play.’’ For now, the head coach will be looking to veteran big men Bismack Biyombo and Marreese Speights to fill the void left by Vucevic.
Losing Vucevic means the Magic are without four of their five starters from Opening Night on Oct. 18. Point guard Elfrid Payton is the lone starter still in the lineup.
``I’m disappointed for Vooch because he wants to be out there and he’s going to have to miss some time obviously. That’s the first thought when a guy goes down and I feel bad for him,’’ Vogel said. ``I don’t feel bad for our team and for what we’re trying to get accomplished. We can’t hang our heads and look at all of the guys that we have out.’’
Vucevic, Orlando’s longest-tenured player over the past five-plus seasons, came into Saturday night averaging 17.8 points, a team-best 9.6 rebounds and a career-high 3.4 assists. He’s led the team in scoring 11 times, including the career-best 41-point effort against Brooklyn on Oct. 20.
Vucevic, who has led the Magic in rebounding each of the past five seasons, recorded the first triple-double of his NBA career on Dec. 9 with 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists against the Atlanta Hawks.
``It’s a next-man-up mentality and that’s all we can do now,’’ Vucevic said. ``When one man goes down it’s an opportunity for the next guy to step up. It’s not an easy situation, especially when you have so many guys who are your core players go down. It’s not easy having different guys step up into different roles and doing things they aren’t used to doing. But we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us, so it’s next man up and try to do what we can.’’
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