Denton: Magic Prepared to Not Let Holidays Interfere With Performance

By John Denton
November 21, 2012

ORLANDO -- The Orlando Magic are hoping that home is where the wins are over much of the next weeks.

Starting tonight at the Amway Center against the Detroit Pistons, the Magic (3-7) will be home for 10 straight days and play five consecutive games in Orlando. But head coach Jacque Vaughn has warned his team that just being home won’t guarantee it success, and also the team has to guard against the distractions that come from being home for the holidays.

``It’s a challenge because you can easily fall culprit to holidays and family and not basketball,’’ Vaughn said. ``So it’s a challenge for us to be focused on what we do for a living. I’m excited that the guys will be ready for those challenges.’’

The Magic topped the Pistons 110-106 on Friday night for their only win in the past eight games. The game is the first of a five-game homestand against the Pistons (Wednesday), Cavaliers (Friday), Celtics (Sunday), Spurs (Nov. 28) and Nets (Nov. 30).

Magic guards Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick expect to be back to near full strength after battling illnesses and struggling on the most recent roadtrip. Redick didn’t play in the loss to Toronto because of a stomach virus and returned on Monday in Atlanta only to miss six of seven shots.

``I feel good and my appetite returned. I wasn’t able to eat pregame meal on Monday and I didn’t eat after the game either, so when I woke up (Tuesday) morning I ate two breakfasts,’’ said Redick, who lost 5 pounds following his bout with a virus. ``I had a full four meals and I feel ready to go. Hopefully I can regain some of my weight (over Thanksgiving). That will be nice.’’

Nelson continues to battle a nasty chest cold, but plans to keep playing. He missed his first eight shots on Sunday in Toronto and hit only three of eight tries Monday in Atlanta while struggling with his breathing.

``I could always be better and could always be worse. It’s just one of those things where I’m sick but I still have a job to do, so I’m going out there and give it my all,’’ Nelson said. ``It was tough (on Monday) because I was wheezing pretty bad. I just tried to fight through it and do what I could for the team. But I just ran out of gas.’’ A big point of emphasis for the Magic is keeping the Pistons out of the paint tonight.

Detroit battered the Magic on the inside five days ago, scoring 64 points in the paint. Detroit big men Greg Monroe and Jason Maxiell are physical low-post players, while wing players Tayshaun Prince and Brandon Knight attack the rim. Vaughn could go to a bigger lineup to combat the length advantage that the 6-foot-9 Prince has at the small forward position.

Shooting guard Arron Afflalo said it’s imperative that the team starts the home stand on a good note and utilizes the longest stretch of home games this season to rack up a host of wins.

``Hopefully we can get some momentum going and start taking care of home,’’ Afflalo said. ``This is the best place to start bouncing back through tough moments on the court. So we’ll try to take advantage of our home crowd and play well tonight.’’

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