Denton's Notebook: Friday, Nov. 23

By John Denton
November 23, 2012

ORLANDO – Part of the battle of being a rookie in the NBA is not only learning the ropes of the professional game, but also earning the respect and trust of your head coach and teammates.

It’s only taken 11 games and Orlando Magic rookie Andrew Nicholson seems to have accomplished both feats.

The rookie power forward entered Friday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers averaging 6.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in 13 minutes a game. He was the Magic’s leading scorer in Wednesday’s win against Detroit with 15 points.

Nicholson’s playing time has steadily increased because he has consistently performed well when given an opportunity to play. He scored against veteran Rasheed Wallace seconds after entering the game last week, and he steadied the Magic offense in the first half of the Detroit game with 10 first-half points.

``He’s continuing to get better every day and it really is that simple,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``He’s putting in extra work, he’s paying attention in video and he’s doing the things that we’re asking him to do.

``As much as I love Andrew, I don’t think I have to worry about Andrew being too fast,’’ continued Vaughn, referring to the rookie’s calmness in the post. ``He’s got the right gear for him and he’s patient. I feel comfortable throwing him the basketball and his teammates are getting to the point of doing that. He’s gained their trust and a lot of times rookies don’t do that. So that’s a good sign.’’

Magic co-captain Jameer Nelson said that there are no illusions about Nicholson’s intentions when he comes into a game. The 6-foot-9, 250-pounder is looking to create offense and score.

``The thing about him is he’s a scorer and there’s no need to get that twisted at all,’’ Nelson said. ``When he gets the ball, he’s looking to score. He puts pressure on people. So when you’ve got guy looking to make a play every time and not just be out there, it’s valuable. And when he comes into the game we go to him because of his ability to score.’’

TEACHING LESSONS: It wasn’t just enough that power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis gave up part of this Thanksgiving Day to be a part of the Magic’s effort to serve breakfast to 800 members of the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. Davis also brought along his 2-year-old daughter, Amari, in hopes of teaching her a few life lessons in the process.

Davis grew up poor in Louisiana and didn’t always have enough to eat, so he wants to teach his daughter that there are people in the world who are down on their luck and not as fortunate as he is now.

``Giving back and helping are a couple of the ways of the world that we all need to stick by. Bringing my daughter, no matter how old that she is, she can understand why daddy is doing this and that,’’ Davis said. ``It just kind of sets the tone that there are people out there in different situations and we can never take our situation for granted. Daddy stepped in the gaps for (Amari) so she doesn’t have to live a life that most people don’t want to live. You want to get that engrained in her as young as possible. Just allowing her to be a part of something bigger than self is an awesome feeling.’’

FIRST-TIME CAPTAIN: Davis is a team captain for the first time in his six-year NBA captain after being named alongside of Nelson prior to the start of the season.

Emotional and reactionary at times in the past, Davis has worked to be more disciplined and accountable this season. Davis said he’s still a work in progress as a captain because he is still working to become a more effective leader for his teammates.

``It’s a big difference, a real big difference,’’ Davis said. ``I don’t care who you are, you can’t just jump into this role and thing that it’s going to all happen within one year or half of a season. It’s a process and this is a character-building role for me. You just have to keep walking the walk and in due time all of your hard work will pay off.’’

Davis said he has talked a couple of times with Boston veteran Kevin Garnett about his style of leadership. Garnett was Davis’ mentor during his four seasons in Boston and the two remain close today. Garnett’s tips have helped Davis become more vocal around his teammates.

``Multiple times I’ve spoken up about how we’re playing and what we need to do,’’ he said. ``But my thing is being more of an action type of guy. I’m sometimes a spur-of-the-moment guy who will say something here and there, but I have to lead with my actions. I’ll leave most of the talking to Jameer.’’

ETC: Nelson said that NBA experience has taught him to no overdo it when it comes to eating on Thanksgiving because of the effects it can have the next day in practice or a game. Said Nelson: ``I only ate once time (on Thursday). I’m a veteran and I know not to stuff myself. I’m able to taste the food, but I still have a job to do and I still have to play the game.’’ Vaughn said he made a point of having the players run a few extra sprints during Friday’s morning shootaround in order to attack any sort of sluggishness that might have come from Thanksgiving eating. … Magic rookie Maurice Harkless got the second start of his professional career on Friday night. Harkless admitted that starting for the first time on Wednesday was a memory that he won’t soon forget. Now, Harkless said he wants to do everything in his power to hang onto his starting role for the rest of the season. ``I tried to not smile too much, but it felt good (when his name was called in program introductions),’’ Harkless said. ``I’m not trying to look back. It’s up to Coach (Vaughn), but I’m trying to start every night.’’ … The Magic’s five-game home stand continues Sunday night when they host the Boston Celtics. The Magic also play the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday and the Brooklyn Nets on Friday at the Amway Center.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.



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