"Big Baby" appears to be growing up.
Glen Davis did something Monday night that his basketball coaches and teammates have wanted him to do for years. Instead of allowing his own frustration to spin him out of control, he channeled his negative emotions in a positive direction.
After a first half in which he was outplayed by All-Star Kevin Love and he committed a technical foul, Davis played almost flawlessly and helped lead the Orlando Magic to a comeback win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"I can't be up-and-down," Davis said Tuesday.
"I have to be one way the whole time because people are watching me. It's easy to not do as much when nobody's really paying attention to you. But when everybody's paying attention to everything you do and everything you say, and you want to be a part of the team and you're in that position, you do whatever it takes."
Everyone is paying attention to Davis these days because coach Jacque Vaughn named him a co-captain before the regular season. It seemed like a risky move given Davis' emotional nature, but Vaughn's decision has compelled Davis to be accountable for his actions.
"He's been more steady, and that's a great sign for him," Vaughn said. "For the most part, his demeanor, his approach has been consistent. That's the way a captain should be."
There were a few moments Monday night when Davis resembled the old Davis.
Davis entered the game feeling like he had something to prove. Love is widely regarded as one of the sport's best power forwards, and Davis longs to receive similar acclaim.
But as halftime approached, Love already had scored 12 points and had collected seven rebounds.
Davis, on the other hand, hadn't done much except receive two fouls.
Worse, the Magic were trailing by six points.
With 1:18 to go in the half, Davis drove to the hoop, but Love stepped in front of him.
Davis bowled over Love, and a referee whistled Davis for charging.
Davis didn't like the call, and in a moment of exasperation, untucked his jersey from his shorts, revealing his bare belly. When Davis argued a bit more — nothing too vociferous or demonstrative — he received his first technical foul of the season.
At halftime, Vaughn challenged all Magic players to turn their aggravation into something positive.
Davis remembers making a conscious effort to think logically. He told himself that if he kept playing poorly or received more fouls, the Magic would have less of a chance to win.
It wasn't easy.
"It's a challenge," Davis said. "It's something that I have to work on every day, just growing and maturing."
But he did it.
In the second half, Davis made 10 of his 11 shot attempts, scored 20 points and grabbed four rebounds.
He finished with 28 points and the Magic won 102-93.
Then, during his televised postgame interview, he let loose with some emotion.
"They tried to take it away from us, and our team fought!" he said as he stood on the Amway Center court. "That's what it's about, man! We will compete! If we don't do nothing else, we're going to compete!"
What about his running the court on fastbreaks and his five dunks?
"I'm just doing what I've got to do: blue-collar [play]!" Davis said.
"I ain't first-class. I ain't no upper-class. I'm not executive-class. I'm blue-collar. I'm middle-class and go get thejobdone no matter what."
There was a time when Davis would've allowed a rotten first half and perceived bad calls derail him.
He didn't on Monday.
Davis might be growing up, and he and his team are enjoying the benefits.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun