Magic at a loss without Big Baby

Davis proves to be team's MVP

The Magic's MVP at this point of the season is a guy who isn't playing and hasn't scored a point the past five games. A 290-pound ghost.

Glen "Big Baby" Davis' worth keeps growing game by game, loss by loss.

By the time he returns, Davis might have his jersey retired by the franchise.

Big Baby's value never has been greater — and he can't even put his arm over his head without wincing. His trade stock has increased while he has been wrapped in ice bags.

The Magic were 12-13 when Big Baby was knocked out with a sprained shoulder. They haven't won since his absence, their losing streak stretching to five with a lopsided home loss to Toronto on Saturday night.

Davis can't possibly live up to the expectations once he comes back next month. He'll have to average 25 and 12, hit 3-pointers and sell popcorn.

Who knew the Magic would miss him this much?

Even his teammates weren't truly aware.

"Baby covers up so much out there," point guard Ish Smith said after the Magic were pummeled by 35. "We didn't know. I'm sure nobody really knew. We have to make up for it."

Take any other guy out of the lineup, and the Magic don't lose five in a row. Without Davis, the Magic have been a mess offensively and, especially, defensively. He brings thunder and passion.

Davis proved that the numbers he put up with Dwight Howard sidelined late last season were no fluke. It's all he has ever wanted since he's been in the NBA — to be loved, needed and getting 15 shots per game.

The Magic wouldn't be falling to all these bottom-feeders, which they now resemble, if he were playing.

With injuries mounting and the schedule growing teeth — Miami, New York and the L.A. Clippers are up ahead — Orlando's feel-good start might be a distant memory.

Brace yourself for a losing streak that might get SportsCenter's attention.

If losing Davis weren't enough, the injury bug has bit again and left a mark.

Jameer Nelson and E'Twaun Moore joined Davis in sideline suits, resulting in the club starting a virtual expansion team. They started Smith, their third-team point guard; rookie forwards Andrew Nicholson and Maurice Harkless; second-year center Nik Vucevic, and Arron Afflalo, the lone veteran.

They lost like it was 1989 when Scott Skiles had hair. Should have been Retro Night.

The Magic fielded the kind of lineup that might be left after the trade deadline.

Afflalo had that same hollow-eyed look after another loss. J.J. Redick wasn't around to discuss his 2-of-12 shooting night. You wonder if the idea has finally hit the veterans that the Good Ship Lollypop won't be dodging the iceberg.

Hedo Turkoglu was back after breaking his hand in the opener. He was rustier than the Tin Man. He'll help eventually, but it's going to be rocky without Davis until perhaps late January.

"Losing Davis was a big blow to them," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "It hurts their interior toughness, interior experience; you've got two young guys in there …but they don't have the championship or big-time playoff experience that Glen Davis does.

"You lose a guy like that, it really puts a hole in it."

And nobody to plug it.

bschmitz@tribune.com.

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