The Orlando Magic fell to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night, 96-94, for their seventh straight loss. For the second time in as many games, rookie forward Maurice Harkless logged a Did Not Play-Coach's Decision. Given that Harkless had started each of Orlando's last 20 games prior to Monday's sudden benching, the St. John's product is conspicuous in his absence.
When asked directly about the reason for Harkless' fall out of the rotation, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn offered no specifics.
"Coaching decision," Vaughn said. "It's a long year. Maurice has played a lot of games so far this year. I'm not sure how many compared to his freshman year at St. John's, but it's a long year and as a coach I have to decide mentally and physically where my guys are and take an approach that's beneficial for their careers. So it's a coach's decision."
Fellow rookie DeQuan Jones has replaced Harkless in the starting lineup, contributing four points and two rebounds in 10:31 of playing time. Harkless was the only healthy Magic player not to appear in Wednesday's loss.
In his 20 starts, Harkless averaged 3.9 points and 3.4 rebounds in 18.2 minutes. It's unclear when or if he will return to Vaughn's starting group.