Denton: Vaughn Helping New Guys Adjust

By John Denton
March 1, 2013

ORLANDO – One of the advantages of playing in the NBA for 12 seasons for Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn is that he deeply understands the thought processes and the ordeals that players go through on a daily basis.

Compassionate to the worries that Magic newcomers Tobias Harris, Beno Udrih and Doron Lamb might have had while making the transition to a new team following last week’s trade deadline, Vaughn has made sure to play at least two – and sometimes all three of the players – together at the same time. That way they at least have some familiarity next to them on the floor while they make the transition to the Magic’s system.

``That part of it has been really good because the three of us had played together for about a year in Milwaukee, so it’s helped us here in Orlando,’’ Harris said. Orlando acquired Harris, Udrih and Lamb last week at the NBA trade deadline from Milwaukee in exchange for J.J. Redick, Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith. Even though they’ve only had three walk-through sessions and one practice, the trio has adapted quite well to a new system in Orlando.

The trio will see action in their four game with the Magic tonight when Orlando (16-42) hosts the high-scoring Houston Rockets (31-28) at 7 p.m. at the Amway Center. The Magic will once again be without point guard Jameer Nelson, who will miss his fourth consecutive game because of a bruised patellar tendon in his left knee. Nelson injured the knee last Wednesday in Dallas and hasn’t played since.

It will be the first meeting of the regular season for the Magic. Orlando and Houston played once in the preseason, but that was before the Rockets pulled off the trade to acquire James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Houston leads the Los Angeles Lakers (29-30) by two games in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Rockets are the top-scoring team in the NBA at 106.3 points per game. Harden ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring at 24.4 points per game.

Buried on the bench during much of their time in Milwaukee, Harris and Udrih have been energized by the trade to Orlando. Both have taken quite well to playing extended minutes and getting more looks on the offensive end.

Harris has scored in double figures in three straight games and is averaging 17.7 points per game so far with the Magic. Most impressively, he’s shooting 67.7 percent while playing both the power forward and small forward positions.

Harris said in some ways the past week with the Magic has the feel of a training camp because he is still trying to pick up the plays, while also meshing with a host of young players. Orlando now has five rookies and three second-year players.

``It does kind of feel like (a training camp), but our whole goal right now is to improve every day, finish out these games the right way and get better as a team,’’ Harris said. ``We’re still getting to know each other because there are a lot of new guys, but we’re working to get to know one another more and communicate better.’’ Udrih, no stranger to making the transition to a new team in his ninth NBA season, has blended well with his new teammates. His addition has helped to fill the void without Nelson and it’s allowed guard E’Twaun Moore to play off the ball at shooting guard. Udrih has 23 assists in his first three games with the Magic.

``He’s (played point guard) his whole life and he’s done it at a high level and in big games,’’ Vaughn said of Udrih, who he once played with in San Antonio at the end of his playing career. ``He’s seen a lot and I think he’s enjoying the ability to play. He’s learning his teammates rather quickly. He’s been very good for us.’’

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