By John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com – All through high school and college, Tobias Harris was playfully nicknamed “All Business’’ because of his serious-minded approach to the game of basketball. And even as a member of the Orlando Magic, teammates and coaches have referred to Harris as “an old 21 years old’’ because of his no-nonsense approach.
Now, with his Magic in the throes of an unsightly losing streak, Harris means business when he says that enough is enough and he and his teammates need to do everything in their power to get a win. If that means sacrificing personal goals for the good of the team, so be it, Harris said.
“All I want to do is win,’’ Harris said. “I’m tired of losing and it’s a bad losing streak for us, but whatever I can do help our team win _ that’s what I’m gonna do. And going into next game, that’s my approach. That’s going to be my goal to get all of the guys on this team to do whatever we can to get a win. That has to be our attitude.’’
Harris and the Magic (10-30) will hit the midpoint of their schedule Sunday night when they host the Boston Celtics (14-27). Orlando has lost 10 straight games, two of which have come in heartbreaking fashion in overtime periods. The Celtics aren’t in much better shape, having lost 10 of their last 11 games. That puts the Magic in a position where they feel like Sunday’s game is an almost must-win.
“I can’t really describe how bad we need to win,’’ Magic forward Glen “Big Baby’’ Davis said. “It’s crazy. But we’ve just got to stay positive. We have winnable games coming up and a team that we can beat, so we have to go out there and play as hard as we can.’’
Orlando just narrowly missed getting a win on Wednesday when it lost a three-overtime thriller to the Chicago Bulls. The Magic led by 15 points in the third quarter and by three points late in the first overtime, but couldn’t put away the Bulls.
On Friday, Orlando rebounded from a sluggish start and stormed to a five-point lead early in the third quarter. Facing a Charlotte Bobcats team that it had already beaten once, Orlando seemed poised to capture the win. But the Magic fell victim to a big Charlotte run in the third quarter and they never recovered in the fourth. Afterward, Harris admitted that the team had bad body language in the fourth quarter and seemed to cave under the frustration caused by Charlotte’s rally. On Saturday, Harris demanded that the Magic get tougher in those situations.
“The other team makes a run and we get discouraged, that’s in their favor. For us, it’s just about going right back at them. Take their punch and then deliver our own punch. That’s the way I look at it,’’ Harris said. “You see it all of the time where teams make runs and they settle down and get back on their feet. We have to get to that point.’’
Boston got all-star point guard Rajon Rondo back from a torn ACL on Friday night and he should see extended minutes against the Magic. He played 19 minutes in Friday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, scoring eight points, handing out four assists and swiping two steals.
Magic rookie Victor Oladipo, who had a career-best 35 points on Wednesday and another 11 points on Friday, said Rondo is one of the players he has admired for years and he’s looking forward to facing the do-everything point guard.
“Even when people go under (screens), he has the ability to score. That’s one thing that I still have to work on, but he’s perfected it,’’ Oladipo raved. “He has the ability to get everybody involved and he’s still aggressive too. And I love the way that he plays defense and the way he leads his team. I’ve been watching him for a while, since he was at Kentucky, and it’s going to be pretty cool to play against him.’’
Harris said on Saturday that he still has hopes that this Magic team can get back on the winning track and make some noise in the Eastern Conference. He said if the Magic simply play through the down moments and fight off the confidence issues that they can end their losing streak and even possibly string together a winning streak. Most of all, Harris hopes it begins Sunday night against the Celtics.
“We have to keep competing and keep playing hard,’’ Harris said. “We can’t get discouraged just because we lost a few games – 10 games in a row. It’s about progressing and playing together has been a big thing for us. And defending together is also important. If we do those things, we’ll gradually progress through this halfway mark in the season and we’ll get a lot better as we go along.’’