Vucevic Diagnosed With Bone Bruise in Knee, Out Friday
By John Denton
Nov. 5, 2015
ORLANDO – The good news for the Orlando Magic is that center Nikola Vucevic’s knee injury isn’t deemed serious.
The bad news, however, is that the multi-talented 7-footer won’t be available on Friday night when the Magic (1-4) do battle with yet another playoff power in the Toronto Raptors (5-0). Tipoff at the Amway Center is just after 7 p.m., and the Magic will be sans their most consistent player over the past three-plus seasons.
On Thursday, a MRI and a subsequent evaluation determined that Vucevic suffered a bone bruise in his right knee when he went down in the third quarter of Orlando’s 119-114 overtime loss to the Rockets in Houston. Vucevic has already been ruled out of Friday’s home game and his return to practice and game action will depend on how he responds to treatment in the coming days.
``It could have been much worse,’’ a relieved Vucevic said after sitting in the locker room and watching the Magic go two of nine from the floor in overtime to lose in heartbreaking fashion again.
Magic head coach Scott Skiles has a couple of options to try in attempting to replace Vucevic and his 15.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a game. Dewayne Dedmon, Vucevic’s primary backup the past two seasons, could get the starting nod after giving the Magic four points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots before fouling out on Wednesday. Jason Smith (6.0 ppg. And 1.5 rpg.) and Channing Frye (1.0 ppg. and 2.0 rpg. in one game) are also options at center if the Magic need shooting and more scoring punch.
Further complicating matters is the fact that the Magic are in one of the busiest stretches of their schedule for the season. After hosting the Raptors on Friday, the Magic play in Philadelphia on Saturday night. It will be their fourth game in five nights – the only such stretch of the season because of the NBA’s change in its scheduling process. And on Monday comes another road game – this time against the Indiana Pacers – to wrap up a stretch of five games in seven nights.
Vucevic sent a scare through the Magic organization on Wednesday night when he made a move in the lane only to have his right knee buckle backward in a hyper-extended motion. The Magic center fumbled the ball away and went to the floor grabbing at his knee.
He was eventually able to get up and walk to the bench and later the Magic locker room on his own power. Initial tests in the Magic locker room by doctors were that the knee was sprained and those seemed to put the fears of Vucevic and the Magic to rest. On Thursday, news came of the bone bruise.
``When I was laying on the floor it was pretty painful, and I don’t know how long I was down there (on the floor), but the knee strengthened and I felt much better,’’ Vucevic recalled. ``The doctor felt there was good strength in the knee and it was pretty stable (on Wednesday night), but we’ll see (on Thursday). So far, I’ve gotten pretty positive feedback (by putting weight on the leg).’’
Orlando could very well be 5-0 right now, but it has dropped four games all by five or fewer points. They came unglued in the final three minutes of losses to Washington and Chicago and they lost in extra time against Oklahoma City (139-136 in double OT) and Houston (one OT).
The Magic have dropped 11 straight versus Toronto, one of just two undefeated teams in the NBA along with the defending champion Golden State Warriors. The Raptors have been energized by the scoring and athleticism of guards DeMar DeRozan (22.2 ppg.) and Kyle Lowry (19.2 ppg.) and the improvement of center Jonas Valanciunas (15.8 ppg. and 10.4 rpg.).
Orlando lost to the Raptors four times last season, three of them coming in heartbreaking fashion. The last time the Magic beat the Raptors was March 26, 2012.