Denton's Notebook: Dec. 17
By John Denton
December 17, 2012
ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic’s good-natured ribbing of rookies Maurice Harkless, Andrew Nicholson, DeQuan Jones and Kyle O’Quinn had veteran shooting guard J.J. Redick thinking back seven years ago to when he was NBA rookie.
And while Redick never had to go through a photo session while wearing matching and cheesy holiday sweaters – as the Magic rookies did on Sunday at Jameer Nelson’s suburban Orlando home – he did go through a couple of forms of light-hearted initiation.
``I didn’t have it that bad,’’ Redick said of his rookie year in 2006. ``The worst thing they ever did was duct-tape me to a chair fully clothed, put me in the shower and spray shampoo and body wash all over me and then leave me out on the court. That was it.
``I had to get donuts and I didn’t do a very good job of that,’’ Redick continued. ``I’m not a guy who hazes rookies. Even if I hadn’t been hazed at all, I wouldn’t do it. Occasionally I’ll get Mo (Harkless) to bring me a water bottle, but that’s about it.’’
As for the pictures of the rookies that Nelson snapped and plans to make into Christmas cards and tree ornaments, Redick said they were so bad that they were funny. In one of the pictures released, three of the rookies are holding Jones in their arms while wearing matching red sweaters.
``I saw some of the photos; it’s not something we should be proud of,’’ Redick said with a head shake. ``But the guys looked good and played along.’’
EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS: With the Magic reaching the 10-win plateau in the first six weeks of the regular season some are already wondering if the team is surprised that it has had so much success so far. After all, ESPN.com predicted before the season that Orlando would only win 16 games, and at their current rate, the Magic would have that win total by late January.
Head coach Jacque Vaughn said rather than setting win expectations on his team prior to the season, he focused more on setting an expectation of effort and focus. The rookie coach is especially big on accountability, praising players when they do well and instructing them when they fail.
``The goal for us is, `Are we getting better every day?’’’ Vaughn said. ``It’s really that simple. From the first day that we started I didn’t put expectations on our team (for wins), but I did put expectations on the process and us getting better every day.’’ Added Nelson: ``The only expectation I had was for us to play hard every night. When you play hard you give yourself a chance to win the game. I’m not going to say I expected us to win this amount or that amount of games. You can be the best team in the league on paper every night, but when you don’t play hard it doesn’t matter. But we’re a group that is playing hard.’’
ETC: The Magic have a stretch of games ahead against Washington, Toronto, Utah, New Orleans, Washington and Toronto – all of which have losing records except the Jazz. The seemingly soft spot in the schedule could allow the Magic to string together a host of wins prior to facing the defending champion Miami Heat for the first time all season. But Vaughn said he will do his best over the next two weeks to keep the team from looking ahead. Said Vaughn: ``It’s my job as a coach to not allow us to succumb to a little bit of human nature. We have play (that night’s) game. That has to be our approach. We’ll keep stressing that.’’ … When Redick drilled his third 3-pointer of the night on Saturday to seal the Magic’s victory in Charlotte, he added a few different histrionics to his celebration. Redick has been known in the past to hold three fingers aloft as he ran back down the floor after hitting a three. Now, he’s added a body contortion and said a scream a la former professional wrestler Ric Flair is in the works. ``It’s a combination. It’s kind of evolved, and it’s going to continue to evolve,’’ Redick said of his 3-point celebration. ``I’ve already decided I’m going to add one element to it that has been unused thus far. Last year when (former Magic players) Chris (Duhon) and Quentin (Richardson) would do their air guitar after a made 3, I would do like a thrusting motion. But then when I made a shot, I would just stick the three (fingers) up. So now, I’m combining the three (fingers) with the thrusting motion. And, after the game Saturday night, I’m also going to add in the Ric Flair ‘wooo!’ It’s a three-part combo of just jubilation.’’ … Harkless rebounded from a rough stretch with four blocked shots against both the Warriors and the Bobcats. The Magic coaching staff has worked to get Harkless more involved on both ends of the floor even though the team rarely runs plays for him offensively. Said Vaughn: ``He’s shown improvement and we believe in Mo. He’s done a better job of playing at the pace that we want from him. He’s doing the intangible things like blocking shots, rebounding the ball and running the floor. Other than that, we don’t want to put a lot of stress on him.’
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