Orlando Magic Have Gritty Rookie In Maurice Harkless

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Give Maurice Harkless credit. He’s playing for the Orlando Magic, probably the worst team in the NBA, and yet he held nothing back.

His performance Monday night against the Houston Rockets displayed again what a tremendous amount of talent this rookie has and how he deserves so much credit for putting so much effort and intensity into everything he’s doing.

Harkless scored a career-best 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting to pace the Magic (19-56) in a 111-103 loss.

The Magic are 19-56, and have lost eight consecutive road games and 43 of 50 overall. It can’t be easy for anyone in a 50-game stretch knowing his team has only won 14 percent of its games.

That said, Harkless still had the intensity to play well along with four of his teammates, who also scored in double figures. Five other players scored in double-figures for Orlando, which used a furious fourth-quarter rally to make the final score appear respectable.

It’s tough to step on the court knowing that there’s an 86 percent chance, based on the last 50 games, that your team is going to lose. Harkless still appreciates playing in the league as a rookie and simply wants to get better. He definitely has a solid future in the NBA. This season, he’s averaging 7.9 points and 4.5 rebounds a game.

But, with Arron Afflalo out with an injury and the Magic suffering from other player losses, Harkless is getting his chance and doing an impressive job. His team continues to lose but Harkless is giving it a chance to finally win a game. If they win, Harkless undoubtedly will be one of the reasons.