Isaac side­lined but not re­ally sad­dened

Orlando Sentinel - - NFL - [email protected]­lan­dosen­tinel.com

frus­trated that he can’t be on the floor help­ing his team­mates.

“I want to play,” he said. “I was ex­cited about the sea­son I was hav­ing. Just as a team, I felt we were right there to turn­ing the cor­ner, push­ing for­ward in the sea­son.

“That doesn’t change. I think we’re still right there, and we’re go­ing to find a way to con­tinue to win games and make some­thing of the sea­son.

“As for me, I’m con­tent. I just got to trust and know that [God] has me.”

Isaac was hav­ing a break­out de­fen­sive sea­son and many ex­perts felt he was mak­ing a push for a spot on the NBA All-De­fen­sive team. As of Fri­day, Isaac ranks fourth in the league in blocked shots, is tied for 11th in steals and tied for 47th in re­bound­ing.

Isaac is one of two play­ers in the NBA to rank in the top 11 in blocked shots and steals. Detroit

Pis­tons cen­ter An­dre Drum­mond is the other.

Magic coach Steve Clif­ford said the in­jury is an un­for­tu­nate blow to Isaac’s in­di­vid­ual sea­son, but the long-term prog­no­sis is what re­ally mat­ters.

“It stinks,” Clif­ford said. “The good part is there’s no struc­tural dam­age. That’s for his ca­reer. That’s the big­gest part.”

Isaac said he’s un­sure at this time whether surgery might be nec­es­sary and no timetable for his re­cov­ery has been de­ter­mined. For now, he’ll keep weight off the knee.

As the team has done in the past with its ap­proach to deal­ing with in­juries, Welt­man said the Magic won’t rush Isaac back.

“We’ll gather the best course of ac­tion through var­i­ous med­i­cal opin­ions,” Welt­man said. “We’ll pro­ceed very cau­tiously and de­lib­er­ately, and we’ll get Jonathan back to where he was and bet­ter when he comes back.”

Clif­ford said Isaac’s ab­sence, while a blow to the team, won’t al­ter how the Magic play.

“You don’t change the way you play,” Clif­ford said. “Ev­ery­body has to play to their strengths and help their team­mates play to their strengths. To me it’s how you play. You’ve got to play smart, you’ve got to play hard and you’ve got to play to­gether.”

With Isaac out, Clif­ford said he and his staff will con­tinue to for­mu­late play­ing com­bi­na­tions. The ro­ta­tions will de­pend in part on the op­po­nent, he said.

As far as who will pick up Isaac’s min­utes, Clif­ford said he ex­pects Aaron Gor­don to get the ma­jor­ity of them, but he won’t play ex­clu­sively at the power for­ward spot. Gor­don re­turned to the lineup Fri­day against the Heat af­ter miss­ing two games with a lower leg in­jury.

Amile Jef­fer­son and Khem

Birch, mean­while, soaked up the min­utes af­ter Isaac went out against the Wizards. Birch got the start in Fri­day’s game against the Heat, but theres no guar­an­tee he will con­tinue to start.

For ex­am­ple, Clif­ford said slid­ing Birch into Isaac’s power for­ward spot won’t work against a team such as the Utah Jazz be­cause of the perime­ter abil­ity of 6-foot-8 for­ward Bo­jan Bog­danovic. Bog­danovic scored 30 points when the teams met Dec. 17 in Salt Lake City.

The Magic host Satur­day.

“That’s one of the things, ob­vi­ously, we’ll fig­ure out in a week or so,” Clif­ford said. “That’s where the [for­ward Al-Farouq Aminu] part comes in. That’s where the Aaron Gor­don part comes in.

“We’ve got to fig­ure it out as we go.” the

Jazz on

NICK WASS/AP

Magic for­ward Jonathan Isaac is ready to tackle the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion process as he re­cov­ers from a knee in­jury that could side­line him two months.

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