Denton's Notebook: Friday, Dec. 21
By John Denton
December 21, 2012
TORONTO – While losing Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis for an extended period of time is a blow to the Orlando Magic, head coach Jacque Vaughn and several of the players said that they can’t allow the burly power forward’s absence to change their style of play.
Davis severely sprained his left shoulder late in Orlando’s defeat of Washington on Wednesday and could miss a month or more of action. It was the first blip in a spectacular season in which Davis has averaged career highs in minutes (33), points (16), rebounds (7.9) and assists (1.8).
Where Davis was also especially effective was on the defensive end where he anchored a unit that has been highly effective. Orlando entered Friday’s game in Toronto sixth in the NBA in points allowed per game (94.24) and tied for eighth in field goal percentage allowed (43.7 percent). Davis is an exceptional one-on-one defender whether it’s hedging on screens or pounding in the post.
Vaughn’s message to his team was that little-to-nothing will change regardless of who starts in place of Davis at power forward going forward. He will still have the same high expectations for sharing the ball offensively and playing with toughness on defense.
``Everyone does their job – it’s really that simple. It’s not any more complicated than that,’’ Vaughn said. ``I’m not asking anyone to be anything other than themselves. That’s what it boils down to.’’
J.J. Redick said that everyone on the team will have to step up their games in order to replace the void left by Davis’s absence. But Redick stressed that it’s important for players to not try to be someone that they’re not on the basketball court.
``We have to stay within ourselves and how we play. And how we play is sharing the basketball and playing really solid defense,’’ Redick said. ``Even when you lose a player of Glen’s caliber, you still stick with what you do. You don’t ask whoever his replacement is to give us 16 (points) and eight (rebounds). We’ll obviously have to do it by committee. We know that a guy like Andrew (Nicholson) can score the ball, so we’ll go to him.’’
NICHOLSON’S READINESS: With Davis down, it would seem only natural that the playing time of Nicholson would increase dramatically because he is the Magic’s second-best scorer in the post and can soften the blow somewhat of losing Davis. But Vaughn said he is still somewhat leery of overwhelming Nicholson with too many minutes and too much responsibility.
Nicholson set career highs in points (19) and rebounds (nine) recently in a stellar performance against Phoenix. And he followed that up with another 15-point, nine-rebound effort against Golden State last week.
``It’s different playing 18 to 25 minutes a game and 35 minutes a game. No rookie is ready play 35 minutes a game, it’s as simple as that,’’ Vaughn said. ``They haven’t played that many games and that many minutes. The minutes he has given us have been great and he continues to get better. I’ll keep stressing that we’ll put him in positions to do well and not put any added burden on him by playing him 35 minutes a game. Even if he could it wouldn’t be smart. It’s a long year.’’
Vaughn said there’s a method to his madness when Nicholson’s minutes vary wildly from game-to-game. He said he’s doing his best to preserve the rookie’s stamina and keep him sharp for the entire season.
``It’s a long year. Eight-two games are a lot for a guy from St. Bonaventure,’’ Vaughn joked. ``Some days as a coach I have to see how he’s feeling. We ask a lot of him and he’s getting to the gym early and staying after. Sometimes as a coach I have to sense how tired is Andrew and is he getting overwhelmed? It’s my job to look at those things.’’
ETC: Davis, who did not make the trip to Toronto, received a call from Vaughn on Thursday and Friday to keep him in the loop with the team. Vaughn said his mission was to keep Davis’ spirits high. ``The great thing is that we talked about the positives. The big part of our talk was that he doesn’t need to get operated on, we just want him to get better and we’ll be waiting on him to get back,’’ Vaughn said. ``I wouldn’t let him be down even if he thought he’d be down. He’s one of our emotional leaders and I’ll keep reminding him of the burden that he has as a captain. He’s not playing right now, but he still has some accountability ahead of him.’’ … Coming back to Toronto for a second time in a month sparked some not-so-pleasant memories for Redick. When the Magic were in Toronto on Nov. 17-18, Redick contracted what he believed to be food poisoning and didn’t play because of some violent sickness. To make matters worse, Redick got caught up in parade traffic en route to the arena and ultimately had to walk the final 12 blocks because of a massive traffic jam. Said Redick: ``I stayed away from the lamb burger. I didn’t have the lamb burger like last time. Just getting through the last 18 hours (in Toronto) is an accomplishment for me.’’ … The Magic host the Utah Jazz on Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Amway Center. The Jazz beat the Magic 87-81 on Dec. 5 in Salt Lake City. The Magic will be off on Dec. 24 and 25 before hosting the New Orleans Hornets and former Orland forward Ryan Anderson on Wednesday.
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