Denton's Notebook: Monday, Dec. 3


By John Denton
December 3, 2012

OAKLAND – When Orlando Magic shooting guard J.J. Redick takes to Twitter during the NBA season it’s usually to post a picture of the latest dish he’s whipped up or to give a shout-out to a band he’s currently listening to.

But in the early hours of Monday morning, as the Magic were still in the afterglow of their 113-103 defeat of the Los Angeles Lakers and former Orlando center Dwight Howard, Redick wanted to dedicate the victory to the team’s loyal fan base.

Redick, who is in his seventh season with the Magic, wanted the fans to enjoy Sunday’s win after all they had been through over the past year as Howard had forced his way out of Orlando. Posted Redick on Twitter: ``Sweet win. That’s for Orlando. On to the next one!’’

On Monday, Redick talked about the pride that he felt for the fans back in Orlando who had to be enjoying the victory against a Lakers team that acquired Howard in a transaction last August after the superstar center had demanded a trade.

``For fans, sports are some sort of outlet and fun and something that lifts their spirits. I think our fans went through a lot and it hurts when you see someone in a way turn against you,’’ Redick said of Howard’s messy departure. ``Obviously, Dwight had to do what was best for him, but at the same time I can understand how our fans would take it personally. For me, I was just giving a shout out to those fans who have been loyal and true to the Magic for (24) years and we’re grateful for their support.’’

Redick said it didn’t take him long to get past playing against Howard after spending the previous six seasons playing alongside of him. He did get a chuckle out of the Magic using a Hack-A-Howard approach on the center after seeing the strategy used several times before when Howard played for the Magic. He made just nine of 21 free throws in the game and missed six crucial ones late in the fourth quarter.

``It wasn’t necessarily surreal playing against him,’’ Redick said. ``The last month of last season we didn’t have Dwight so it felt like he was already on a different team. In terms of how it went down (Sunday) night, it went down how it was supposed to, I think.’’

 IN THE NIK OF TIME: One of the biggest winners to come out of Sunday’s victory for the Magic was Howard’s replacement at center, Nikola Vucevic.

The 7-footer started the season strong, registering five double-doubles in the team’s first eight games. But he had struggled mightily of late against the likes of Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Andray Blatche. Coming into Sunday night’s game against Howard, Vucevic had made nine of 20 shots and saw his rebounding production fall off dramatically.

But he was a difference-maker against the Lakers by scoring 17 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking four shots. Just as importantly, Vucevic played tough around the rim and finished three plays with thunderous dunks.

``That game was really big for my confidence because I had a couple of games where my offense really hasn’t been there,’’ said Vucevic, a second-year pro. ``I wasn’t playing well, but fortunately my coaching staff kept believing in me and my teammates were throwing me the ball. And I was able to finish around the rim which was huge because that’s something we’ve been talking about me doing better.’’

Vucevic said that his father, Borislav, got to watch the game back in his home country of Montenegro. Borislav, who played professionally for 24 years and was once a part of the Yugoslavian National Team, usually calls his son after games to offer pointers.

``He told me nice game and good job,’’ Vucevic said.

ETC: When the Magic carved the Lakers apart for 13 assists in the fourth quarter on Sunday night it proved to be a record-setting performance. It was the most assists in Magic franchise history in a fourth period and just one shy of the team mark for any quarter. The 13 assists led to 30 points in the final 6 minutes of the game and 40 points overall in the fourth quarter. Said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn on Monday after reviewing the video footage: ``We’ve been talking about executing and that was our best-executed fourth quarter this year. We really shared the basketball and got good looks. And we were really disciplined in our approach and how we were going to execute. It was something that was really fun to see.’’ … Coming into the Sunday game, rookie center Kyle O’Quinn had played in just eight games this season and appeared mostly in mop-up time. But Vaughn called on O’Quinn early against the Lakers because of his defensive abilities against Pau Gasol. He delivered with six points, two rebounds and two blocked shots and also delivered three fouls. It meant a lot to O’Quinn to be called upon in such a big game. ``It means a lot to go out there and play alongside the veteran group that’s been out there teaching me every day and giving me leadership,’’ he said. ``With (Vaughn) calling my name, that’s a sign of a little bit of trust from him. I’ve just got to keep working on my game and hope that I get better and better.’’ … The Magic’s nine-day, five-game roadtrip continues Wednesday in Utah against the Jazz. Orlando also plays in Sacramento (Friday) and Phoenix (Sunday) during the longest roadtrip of the season.

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