Denton: Moore Proving to be Valuable Addition

By John Denton
February 5, 2013

ORLANDO – Because of a spate of injuries, E’Twaun Moore has become the Swiss Army Knife of the Orlando Magic, starting one night at point guard and a game later at shooting guard.

The changes in position actually encapsulate the thinking that Magic coach Jacque Vaughn wants Moore to have this season. In a variety of ways, Vaughn has told Moore to not worry about whether he’s a point guard or a shooting guard, and instead just be a play-making, shot-taking guard for the Magic.

``Coach has told me to just go and play and not worry about if I get this many or that many assists and just play with a good feel to the game,’’ Moore said. ``I’m just letting things naturally come for me and not putting too much pressure on myself.’’

Moore has been under some pressure of late what with point guard Jameer Nelson missing the past two games and shooting guards J.J. Redick and DeQuan Jones sitting out of Monday’s 78-61 loss in Philadelphia. When Nelson suffered a bruised forearm, Moore had to play point guard on Saturday in Milwaukee and he responded with seven points, seven rebounds and six assists. And when Redick (sore shoulder) and Jones (sprained foot) were unable to play Monday in Philly, Moore made the switch to shooting guard where he poured in a team-high 18 points.

``His versatility to do that is nice,’’ Vaughn said. ``We ask him to guard a (small forward) and we ask him to guard a point guard. We need everybody – all hands (onboard) – and we’re going to ask guys to play different roles in different positions. That’s what we’re going to have to do going forward.’’

Going forward, the Magic (14-34) will face the Los Angeles Clippers (34-16) on Wednesday night at the Amway Center. The Clippers are one of the teams that Orlando has had success against lately. Redick hit a go-ahead 3-pointer and took a charge on a Jamal Crawford drive on Jan. 12, securing a 104-101 victory in Los Angeles.

Vaughn is eager for the Magic to get back on their homecourt and hopefully get back a host of healthy bodies after playing Monday night without six players and four starters.

``The more (players) we can get back and the healthier that we can get, the better it obviously it is for us,’’ Vaughn said. ``We just have to be careful of putting too much pressure on guys coming back and also not wearing out guys who are playing. … It’s up to us to be smart about how we do things.’’

Moore, a second-year pro who spent his rookie season in Boston, has proven himself to be a reliable player for the Magic this season. And Vaughn, a former guard himself during his 12-year NBA playing career, loves the versatility that Moore provides.

Because he is 6-foot-4 with a long wingspan, he has been used at both guard positions and a couple of times at small forward when the Magic have flexed to a small-ball lineup to try and turn up the pace.

Moore said being forced to play multiple spots or switch positions from night to night is no worry for him.

``I don’t believe it’s tough at all. I just look at it as a chance to play and that’s all I want,’’ Moore said. ``Whether it’s going point guard or shooting guard, whatever the team needs me to do I’ll do it. I just have to make sure I come ready to play every night.’’

He’s done that for the most part, scoring in double-digits 19 times on the season. He’s twice scored a career-best 18 points – most recently on Monday in Philadelphia when he carried the offense for long stretches – to boost his scoring average to 9.0 a game. Additionally, he’s made 44 3-pointers – third-most on the team behind Redick (113) and Nelson (78).

And when he’s in point guard mode, he’s led the team in assists seven times and he dished out a career-best eight assists in a game against New York earlier in the season.

``We’ve told him to not worry about being a point guard or a shooting guard; just be a guard and play the game the way he knows how to play it,’’ Vaughn added.

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