Tobias Harris Sits Out Sunday's Game With Sprained Ankle

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By John Denton

Feb. 7, 2016

ORLANDO – Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris was knocked out of Friday night’s game with a cut that caused blood to stream from his head and it needed seven stitches to close.

However, it was another injury – also suffered because of friendly fire – that kept the standout forward out of Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks.

Harris sprained his left ankle when his left foot clipped the heel of teammate Nikola Vucevic, causing his ankle to grotesquely twist. Harris went down to the floor in pain, but stayed in Friday night’s game.

Later in game, Harris was accidentally whacked across the face by teammate Victor Oladipo and the hit opened a nasty gash on his forehead.

Harris was inactive for Sunday’s game because of lingering soreness in the ankle. He is officially listed as ``day-to-day’’ meaning that he could possibly play on Monday night in Atlanta when the Magic play the Hawks a second time in as many days. Sunday’s game was the first this season that Harris has missed.

With Harris out, the Magic started shooting guard Evan Fournier at small forward. Fournier started the first 41 games of the season at the two wing positions, but he’s been used off the bench in the eight games before Sunday.

Fournier’s scoring production has been nearly the same whether he was starting (13.6 ppg.) or coming off the bench (13.3 ppg.). However, he’s been a much more efficient shooter off the bench (49.3 percent overall and 44.7 percent from 3-point range) than as a starter (43.1 percent overall and 37.9 percent from 3-point range).

TRADE DEADLINE MEMORIES: With the NBA’s trade deadline quickly approaching on Feb. 18, Magic coach Scott Skiles was asked how he handled the uncertainty of the possibly being shipped out to another city when he was a NBA player for 10 seasons.

Skiles said that while he usually didn’t give much thought to the possibility that he might be traded from his current team to another team, he did recall one particular incident that showed the volatility of deadline day.

Skiles was traded from the Magic to the Washington Bullets on July 29, 1994. But halfway into that first season with the Bullets, Skiles was informally traded to the New York Knicks for Greg Anthony and Anthony Bonner. However, before that traded was fully consummated, it fell apart when one of the players involved in the deal failed a physical.

Skiles has a funny memento tucked away in his old basketball stuff that reminds him of that near deal.

``I actually apparently got traded, but then it got pulled back,’’ Skiles said with a chuckle. ``I actually had a Knicks jersey with my name on it because we played the Knicks the next game and they already had the jersey made up. So they gave it to me. I’ve got it somewhere, but I don’t know where it is.’’

As for giving advice to his Magic players on handling the uncertainty of the trade deadline, Skiles said he will tell the team to try and keep their focus on the task at hand. Skiles constantly preaches to the players about professionalism and he expects them to handle the rumors and chatter like pro athletes.

``As far as the deadline, every player is different,’’ he said. ``Some people, I know, get stressed. To me, it’s like boarding an airplane. Once you’re on the plane, there’s nothing you can do. It’s out of your control. What are you stressing about? You’re already on board.

``It’s in the team’s control,’’ Skiles continued. ``I know guys that don’t particularly care one way or another about the deadline. It didn’t them; they just played. Then, there’s other guys that it can bother. Especially nowadays with rumors all over the place.’’

FOOTBALL FAN FROM MONTENEGRO: With much of his locker room buzzing about the Super Bowl for the past two weeks, Nikola Vucevic has been able to keep up the football talk even though he didn’t get a traditional introduction to football.

Born in Switzerland and raised in Belgium and Montenegro, Vucevic had little idea what professional football was until he received a Madden video game as a present. He picked out the Philadelphia Eagles as his favorite team because he liked the look of the menacing Eagle logo for the team.

And when he came to America and attended USC, Vucevic fell in love with football. He got to meet and talk with then-USC coach Pete Carroll several times and he pulled hard for Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks in last year’s Super Bowl.

``That’s how I got into football at USC because football is so big there,’’ Vucevic said. ``Pete Carroll had huge success and everybody loved him. He’s a really great guy and a positive guy. I had a chance to talk to him a few times and he’d come to our games and give me positive tips. When you listen to a guy who is that positive, it rubs off on you. He’s a great guy and obviously the team at USC has missed him since he left (for the Seahawks).’’

Vucevic joked that Fournier – a native of France – isn’t much of a football fan even though he touts himself as a Broncos fans after spending his first two years in the U.S. living in Denver. Joked Vucevic: ``When he asked me if Gronk (Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski) was a running back, I knew he didn’t know anything about football.’’