Denton: Vaughn Decides on Sunday's Starting Lineup

By John Denton
October 6, 2012

MEXICO CITY – Unsettled much of the past week of training camp about a rotation as he mixed and matched players, Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn has decided on a starting five for Sunday’s exhibition opener. Vaughn, who is in his first season as the Magic’s head coach, decided upon a starting five after consulting with his coaching staff during the team’s 3 ½ hour flight from Orlando to Mexico City.

Vaughn will send out a starting five of Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick at the guard spots, Hedo Turkoglu and Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis at the forwards and center Gustavo Ayon. Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Hornets will be televised nationally by NBA TV.

Ayon, a second-year NBA player who rose up through the Mexican League, hails Nayarit, Mexico and approximately 60 family members and friends made the 460-mile trek to Mexico City to watch him play. Ayon conducted a news conference for 75 reporters on Friday, took part in a Special Olympics clinic on Saturday and did dozens more interviews before the Magic’s first practice in Mexico City.

``This game means a lot for him because he’s a flag-bearer for Mexico,’’ Vaughn said of the 6-foot-10, 250-pound Ayon. ``He’s done a good job of carrying himself and fitting in with our team. I’m happy for him. I like his ability to be unselfish and he plays with a grit and a passion that we enjoy. I’m glad he’s a part of our team.’’

Another of the Magic’s likely starters, Arron Afflalo, most likely won’t play after re-aggravating a left hamstring injury. It isn’t considered serious and Afflalo should be ready to return to practice by next week. The Magic will face the Philadelphia 76ers in the preseason home opener on Thursday.

Vaughn said he is still finalizing a flow chart of how he will rotate players in Sunday afternoon’s game against the New Orleans Hornets. Sixteen of the 19 players on the Magic’s rosters could play. Al Harrington (knee surgery), Ish Smith (shoulder surgery) and Quentin Richardson (illness) did not make the trip.

``I haven’t finalized it, but (the starters) shouldn’t play more than 20 minutes,’’ Vaughn said. ``I can tell you that for sure.’’

The game will serve as a first for Vaughn, 37, who worked previously as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs. Vaughn chuckled when a Mexican-based reporter pointed out to him on Saturday that he is the youngest head coach in the league.

``Am I really the youngest? Well, that really doesn’t matter to me,’’ Vaughn said. ``I was hired to do the job, I can do the job and that’s my approach.’’

E’Twaun Moore, who played last season in Boston, will backup Nelson at the point. Nikola Vucevic, a second-year pro who played previously in Philadelphia, will split the minutes at center with Ayon. Josh McRoberts and Justin Harper should play at the forward spots, while rookie draft picks Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn are slated to make their NBA debuts.

John Denton writes for John has covered the Magic since 1997. E-mail John at or follow him on Twitter at @JohnDenton555.

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