Denton: Nicholson's Game Rapidly Growing


By John Denton
December 11, 2012

ORLANDO – Andrew Nicholson is, at times, painfully shy and downright evasive when talking about himself, speaking predominantly in clipped sentences and hushed tones that offer little-to-no insight into his thinking on the basketball court.

But of late, the Orlando Magic rookie power forward has taken to letting his play speak for him. And considering the way his game is growing right before the eyes of his Magic coaches and teammates, it speaks volumes about the potential of the mild-mannered 23-year-old from Canada.

With the Magic’s starters basically running on fumes at the end of their nine-day, five-game road trip, head coach Jacque Vaughn turned to Nicholson to provide some scoring punch Sunday night in Phoenix. All the 6-foot-9, 250-pound rookie did was make his first six shots, demolish Luis Scola in the post and register career highs in points (19) and rebounds (nine).

Nicholson was so effective that Vaughn even turned to him late in the game after Phoenix had pulled within five of the lead and the Magic had only five seconds remaining on the shot clock. Vaughn drew up a play where Nicholson rubbed off a J.J. Redick screen, took a pass from Glen Davis and drilled a 15-footer from the baseline that basically sealed the game.

In most cases, such a scene would serve as a seminal moment considering that head coaches usually design plays for rookies about as often as NBA teams blare country music in the locker room after wins. While admitting that it was nice to be trusted by his coach, Nicholson’s memory of the moment was basically greeted with a yawn and a shrug of the shoulders.

``I just went out and executed. He just wanted to get me the open shot,’’ Nicholson said matter-of-factly. ``I guess (it showed confidence), but I was just out there executing even if the play was for me or someone else. I was just following the game plan.’’

While Nicholson simply doesn’t have much to say about his steadily expanding game, his teammates and coaches have gushed about his scoring abilities and their confidence that he will make the right play. Teammates consider him a delight to play with because he knows what he does well – scoring – and he comes into games with the mindset of being in attack mode.

``He’s a scoring machine,’’ Davis gushed. ``He just scores the ball really well. (Sunday) was one of those games where we needed that guy off the bench to step up and make sure that we as a team get over the hump and (Nicholson) did that for us. It shows a lot about his future.’’

Added J.J. Redick: ``Drew is a great offensive player. He’s still learning the game and learning how to go from one play to the next, but he’s got a bright future. And offensively he can get it done right now.’’

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