BOSTON — The Orlando Magic already had endured one frustrating defeat after another in the weeks leading up to the moment when Glen Davis and Iman Shumpert tangled their feet Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
As difficult as it is to believe, the weeks ahead might be much more painful.
Davis will undergo surgery Friday to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot, and team officials said he is expected to miss eight to 12 weeks.
Since only 10½ weeks remain in the season, and since it will require a near miracle for the Magic to earn a playoff spot, it seems unlikely that Davis will play again before the season's end.
"It does no good to feel sorry for yourselves," Magic guard J.J. Redick said after the team finished practice Thursday.
"That's not the attitude we should take. We have a tough situation right now with Glen being out, and he does a lot for us. With [wing] Arron [Afflalo] out day-to-day, we're a little short-handed right now. But we still have to count on each other to play hard."
Davis' absence could accelerate the team's efforts to develop its least experienced players. Rookies Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O'Quinn and second-year big man Gustavo Ayón will receive at least some of the minutes once allocated to Davis.
"Bodies-wise, we'll have to use everybody, which has been the makeup of our team the whole year: everybody being ready to play and being a part of this," coach Jacque Vaughn said.
At the same time, however, Vaughn said he'll be careful not to overuse 22-year-old center Nik Vucevic, who already is averaging a bit more than 32 minutes a game.
"Now that he's hurt," Vucevic said, "we've just got to have other people step up. We've played without him for a long period already, so we've just got to have other people step up. Younger guys will get opportunities, and they've just got to take advantage of it."
The Magic (14-31) likely will be worse on defense without Davis.
No Magic player defends in the low post as well as Davis does. Coaches relied on him to guard opponents one-on-one, and now that he's out of action, Vaughn said he and his assistants will devise new schemes.
From Jan. 14 through last Sunday, even with Davis on the court, the Magic allowed opponents to score 111.7 points per 100 possessions, the second-highest figure in the NBA during that stretch.
In the 11 games before that, with Davis injured, Orlando's defensive rating was slightly worse, reaching 113.4 points allowed per 100 possessions.
But the Magic's offense was more effective during Davis' absence. It scored 107.4 points per 100 possessions, the fourth-best rating in the league during that time.
Vucevic's strengths on offense are his ability to hit mid-range jumpers and to score on tip-ins and putbacks.
Only 22 years old and more comfortable facing the hoop, he's not as effective with his back to the basket — at least not yet.
Vaughn wants to see Vucevic develop that skill gradually.
"I don't think it's smart for us just to throw it to him because he's a 7-footer and say, 'Go do something, Nik,' " Vaughn said. "That won't be conducive to our offense. That just won't be smart, and it's not productive for him going forward. Can he be a better low-post presence for us over time? Yes. But you develop that over time."
The Magic have lost 18 of their last 20 games, and they entered Thursday just three games ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats for the league's worst record.
Without Davis, it's easy to envision the Magic falling behind the Bobcats, which, in turn, would enhance the Magic's chances of winning the NBA draft lottery.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times