Denton: Magic Hope to Take Advantage of Long Homestand


Afflalo, a seven-year NBA veteran, had another 23 points on Monday and is in the midst of a career season. He’s boosted his scoring average to a career-best 21.6 points per game while trying to will the Magic back into the hunt in the Eastern Conference. He has refused to accept that the Magic are loaded with young players as an excuse, and he said the team has enough firepower to put together a serious run.

``It’d be good for us, in general, to get a run going. It’s getting to that point in the season where you don’t want any separation (between the top teams and bottom teams),’’ Afflalo said. ``This is a good opportunity for us to play against some teams that we should be able to compete with. It’s a good opportunity for us to get our record back respectable and see where it takes us from there.’’

Vaughn marvels at the unbreakable will of Afflalo and how he has been the engine that has driven the Magic on a nightly basis. Afflalo has admitted that he didn’t always accept the losing from last season well, and he’s worked to channel his frustration into ways that can help the team grow this season.

``We’ve talked about some of the transformation that he made in the offseason and sometimes that was dealing with life sometimes always not being fair,’’ Vaughn said. ``The choice you have when you lose is how are you going to face the next day and how you are going to face your teammates. Your resolve and temperament the next day (matters). He’s been really good at coming to work the next day excited about his teammates and going to work.’’

Nelson, only the second Magic player in the franchise’s 25-year history to play 10 seasons in an Orlando uniform, is excited about being at home for the holidays. Nelson admitted recently that the 12-day road trip was especially difficult on him because he thought about his family ``every day, all day.’’

Nelson is well aware that he and his teammates will have to balance being home two-plus weeks with family and friends to celebrate Christmas and staying focused on basketball. He said that when he’s home he’ll enjoy watching his children open presents and devour big meals. But when it’s time to go to work on the basketball court, Nelson knows now is the time for the Magic to put together a string of victories.

``You still have to take care of your job and do the things that you need to do to prepare,’’ Nelson said. ``But the most important thing for me is my family. I’m just glad to have the opportunity to get home and be with them for all of the time that we’re going to be there.’’


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