Tobias Harris suited up for the Orlando Magic on Friday night for the 18th time since Orlando acquired him from the Milwaukee Bucks at the NBA trading deadline. And for the sixth time in that span, Harris tied or set a new career-high in scoring: the second-year combo forward put up 30 points, in addition to 11 boards, three steals, and three blocks, as Orlando fended off the Washington Wizards, 97-92, to end its eight-game losing streak.
Veteran point guard Beno Udrih also joined the Magic in the Harris deal, and he said that Harris' stellar performance didn't surprise him.
"When I was in Milwaukee with him, I always knew he had the potential and talent to be a great player. And in Milwaukee, I think they were just holding him back," Udrih said. "They didn't give him a real chance to show what he can do.
"Here, he got a chance and he's definitely proving himself and taking advantage of the chance."
When told about Udrih's comments, Harris said that not playing is sometimes part of the process. "You just have to wait your turn a little bit in this league and be patient," Harris said. "I'm just glad to be in an Orlando Magic uniform."
Whether Udrih has a point about the way Milwaukee develops its youngsters is an issue to discuss another time, but it's a fact that Harris is making the most of a good situation for him.
For instance, the former Volunteer scored in double-figures 13 times in his 70-game Bucks career, and he never exceeded 19 points. In contrast, Friday's game was his 15th double-digit scoring effort in his 18 Magic appearances, and the sixth in which he matched or set a new career-high. That he's developed so much in such a short span demonstrates the strength of his work ethic, as well as the extent to which his teammates trust him.
"We look at Tobias as an eight-year veteran," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said, specifically addressing Harris' approach to the game. "For him to take the opportunity to step up and be savvy enough to push his teammates, and will his teammates, that's impressive."
Orlando is certainly happy to have Harris, and the 20-year-old is happy to be here.
"I definitely am blessed to be in this situation and I thank people in the organization, pretty much on a daily basis, for having me here," he said. "It might get it old, but they don't know how grateful I am for this position."