Denton's Notebook: Sunday, Dec. 2


By John Denton
December 2, 2012

LOS ANGELES – NBA types usually treat homecomings in a variety of ways, ranging from taking advantage of the trip to spend some quality time with family while also fulfilling dozens of ticket requests for friends and high school classmates.

But for Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn, the chance to return to his hometown of Los Angeles was treated instead as a business trip and the socializing with family was kept to a minimum. Vaughn called home to his parents and brothers, but he otherwise chose to stay close to his Magic team and its preparations for Sunday’s game against the Lakers.

``They’ve grown to know me over the years and when I’m here I’m here on business and I’ll see them in the summertime,’’ Vaughn said. ``I love them and hug them in the summertime, but I did not see them (Saturday). They know that’s me.’’

Vaughn grew up in the heart of Los Angeles and said his home zip code (90043) is proof of that. He said he grew up 15 minutes northeast of The Forum, the Lakers’ homecourt during his childhood, but he attended but a few NBA games because discretionary income was scarce.

Vaughn said he owes his success as a player and head coach to his parents.

``I am who I am because of my parents, without a doubt,’’ said Vaughn, whose older brother played basketball at Cal State-Fullerton and got him started in basketball.

``The belief system instilled in me, my ability to see the good in people and the human spirit, that comes from my parents. How I approach work comes from my parents. I remember many mornings smelling the coffee on the stove at 4:30 in the morning as my mom and dad got ready for work. They did a lot for three boys growing up in the inner city. They made me the person that I am.’’

JOKING WITH JACK: Magic veteran point guard Jameer Nelson is never one to shay away engaging in a conversation or even a healthy debate – even in the middle of a game sometimes.

Nelson said that when the Magic play the Lakers at Staples Center he always makes it a point to go over and speak to longtime Lakers’ courtside fan, Jack Nicholson. Nelson said the conversations have been known to get especially lively with the sometimes sarcastic Nicholson. And Nelson has been known to even trash-talk Nicholson when he heats up shooting the ball.

``He sometimes tells me to stay cold and when we’re warming up and laughs and jokes and tells me not to shoot,’’ Nelson said of the banter with Nicholson. ``But then I do get warm. There’s always a possibility that at some point I will get warm. I tell him, `If I take enough shots I will eventually get warm.’’’

ETC: Magic guard Arron Afflalo hails from nearby Compton and had his father, mother and some friends at the game. He said experience has taught him to not get caught up in ticket requests and keep his focus on the game. … Afflalo said now that he’s 15 games in with the Magic that his game is about to blossom fully. His shot has been streaky, his turnovers have been higher than normal and he’s struggled getting to the free throw line. But all of that is about to change, Afflalo said. ``I’ll be much more aggressive, period,’’ he said. ``This season I’ve tried to feel my way out through things and slowly through the good and the bad I’m figuring out what’s going to make me tick in a positive direction. Hopefully this (Lakers game) will be a positive step in the right direction.’’ … Sunday’s game was the first of five on this nine-day roadtrip for the Magic. Orlando will play the Warriors (Monday), Jazz (Wednesday), Kings (Friday) and Suns (Sunday) during one of their longest road jaunts of the season.

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