ORLANDO – A svelte Glen Davis has worked feverishly to recover from a fractured left foot, sustained Jan. 30 against the New York Knicks. Davis’s second season in Orlando has been injury-plagued yet he has established himself as a leader off the court.
Davis is one of the veteran voices on a painfully young Magic team, assigned the title of cocaptain before the season, and he has handled the responsibility admirably. After four successful seasons with the Celtics, and a solid first season with the Magic after being acquired for Brandon Bass, Davis will be home during the postseason for the first time in his career.
“You can see the potential here, now it’s about how we can be consistent,” he said before the Celtics routed the Magic, 120-88, Saturday night. “It’s me trying to be a leader, understand what we have to do, and how we’ve got to do it. Make sure that I put the effort and the mind-set to get it done.”
Davis was unquestionably the Celtics’ whipping boy during the team’s 2007-08 title season. A green rookie, Davis was ridden hard by teammates Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, and especially by coach Doc Rivers. The unrelenting treatment was effective as Davis turned into a capable reserve.
In Davis’s four seasons in Boston, his role expanded but never enough for him. The Celtics traded him to the Magic and he agreed to a four-year contract extension and immediately became one of Orlando’s more experienced players, carrying a championship ring.
“I look at it and I was just so thankful,” he said. “I got a chance to talk to the guys and I told Paul, I told KG, ‘Thank you. Really, thank you, Doc, for putting that discipline and that tough love. When I see these young guys [in Orlando] and I walk around, I see the same exact things [as I did in Boston] and me listening and humbling myself got me to this point now.”
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said he wanted to challenge Davis with more responsibility with the cocaptain assignment, joining point guard Jameer Nelson.
“You’re put in a role that you can’t say no to and if you’re a competitor, you want that role,” Davis said. “And you have to do what they say, no procrastination. I do have a desire to get in there and go through the journey with these guys. I got a chance to experience a championship, but here I’m a main part of the team, working to be successful.”
Rest for the weary
Rivers continues to give his veterans rest as the regular season winds down. He gave Jason Terry a break Saturday night against the Magic. Terry, 35, played in the Celtics’ first 79 games but looked fatigued in the past two games, shooting 4 for 16 and missing all six 3-point attempts.
Terry also said following Friday’s 109-101 loss to the Miami Heat that the Magic were “terrible.” Rivers joked that Terry’s absence was a penalty for those comments. Rivers said Terry, shooting 37.5 percent in six April games, will also sit out Tuesday against the Indiana Pacers.
Pierce and Garnett returned to the lineup, and while Rivers said he would like to see that duo play alongside Jeff Green more extensively before the playoffs, he will likely rest the two for one of the team’s remaining games against Indiana and Toronto.
Bryant injury hurts
The Celtics’ flight arrived in Orlando just in time for Rivers to watch the final minutes of the Warriors-Lakers game from his Winter Park home. And he watched as Kobe Bryant tore his left Achilles’ tendon, an injury that could cost the future Hall of Famer most of next season. The Lakers are one game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the final Western Conference playoff spot with two games to play, and Bryant will not be available for any potential postseason games.
On Saturday, he tweeted pictures from the hospital bed being wheeled into surgery. Rivers was saddened by the developments.
“That was hard, that was awful to watch, it really was,” he said. “Listen, my players are my favorite but if I had another one, it’d be Kobe, I think you guys know that. I just love his heart and his toughness. Heck, I love the fact that he got up and made two free throws with a torn Achilles’. I would have been laying on the floor crying like a baby. He is as tough of a competitor as we’ve seen, ever. He’ll be missed.”
Garnett, one of the few active players who has been in the league longer than Bryant, expressed sympathy.
“I texted Kobe today, I told him I put him in my prayers and I wished him well,” Garnett said. “No one in the world wants to see that happen to a great athlete, great players. I wish him well, man. He’s in my prayers.”
Green gives it a go
Green was in the starting lineup after leaving Friday’s loss to Miami with a bruised left elbow and scored 17 points in 37 minutes. He iced the elbow on the bench late in the fourth quarter. Avery Bradley (14 points in 27 minutes) sat next to Green, icing his right hand. . . Nelson missed his seventh consecutive game with a sprained right ankle. Former Celtic E’Twaun Moore played 24 minutes at the point, scoring 11 points . . . In his past four games, Jordan Crawford is averaging 12.2 points and shooting 57.5 percent from the field.