It has been a nice three days for Maurice Harkless and Kyle O'Quinn. The Queens natives had the good fortune of getting a game in nearby Brooklyn, a day off in New York City and then the game against the Nets in Madison Square Garden.
For two New York kids, this will be their biggest welcome to the NBA moment. Their first game at Madison Square Garden.
Both O'Quinn and Harkless told Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel that playing an NBA game at the Garden will be something like their Welcome to the NBA moment:
Madison Square Garden is big time in New York for everything," O'Quinn said. "It's like the centerpiece for everything. So to go there and actually be on that court, it's going to mean a lot.
It certainly will.
Harkless has had plenty of "NBA moments." Even one against the Knicks when he defended Carmelo Anthony well and blocked four shots in the game. After inconsistent playing time, Harkless had a big game against the Nets in scoring a career-high 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting. The game saw an aggressive and active Harkless, perhaps a sign of his growing confidence and comfort.
O'Quinn has not quite had that moment yet. He has played the fewest minutes of any player on the Magic (yes, even fewer than Hedo Turkoglu now). O'Quinn has had his flashes on the floor. He is plenty active and plays hard when he gets his opportunity.
Jacque Vaughn said he wants to play the rookies in situations where they can succeed. That probably does not tell us whether O'Quinn will play tonight against New York — or even if Harkless will play, pending Arron Afflalo's stats. But hopefully, these two rookies get their chance to play on their home city's big stage.