Denton's Notebook: Sunday, Feb. 10

By John Denton
February 10, 2013

ORLANDO – Orlando Magic rookie Andrew Nicholson, who has played some of his best basketball of the season of late, was picked on Sunday as a replacement to play in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge at NBA All-Star Weekend.

Nicholson will replace Detroit rookie center Andrew Drummond, who is out for a month with a back injury. In a strange twist, Nicholson could be opposing Magic teammate Nikola Vucevic in the all-star exhibition on Friday night in Houston.

Nicholson, who scored 21 points on Friday in Cleveland, entered Sunday’s game ranked 10th among rookies in scoring (7.6 points per game) and second in field goal percentage (53.7 percent).

What could make Nicholson’s possible appointment especially interesting is the fact that he would most likely be on the opposite team as Vucevic, the Magic’s starting center. The NBA changed up the format for the teams this season, allowing TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal to pick the teams. Vucevic, who ranks fourth in the NBA in rebounding at 11.4 boards a night, was a seventh-round selection by Barkley.

Drummond was a third-round pick by O’Neal, and his replacement would likely play for that squad. There will already be one other scenario with teammates facing off in the exhibition game with Cleveland’s Kyre Irving, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller facing off against Tristan Thompson. Prior to his injury, Detroit’s Drummond and Brandon Knight were slated to play against one another. Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes will team up on the same squad, as will Charlotte’s Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

NOT ACCEPTABLE: Veteran point guard Jameer Nelson, the Magic’s longest-tenured player, said that even though the team is in the throes of their worst losing streak since 2004, he doesn’t ever want to get to the point where he brushes it off as simply a cause-and-effect of a rebuilding year.

As one of the team’s co-captains, Nelson said it’s important that he teach Orlando’s four rookies that they can never simply accept losing. Nelson said even now, in his ninth NBA season, it burns him inside that the Magic haven’t been able to find ways to win games of late.

``I told the young guys and everybody else we can’t accept losing,’’ Nelson said. ``We still have to prepare to win and do things in a professional manner and do everything right, because when you hit adversity, you have to do that. You have to go back to the drawing board and kind of start over and get out of the funk that we’re in.’’

ETC: Vaughn said that, like any coach, he’s slightly worried about the health of Vucevic as he heads to the Rising Stars Challenge during All-star weekend in Houston. The second-year center is the only Magic player to appear in all 51 games this season and his 32.7 minutes a game have had him icing his knee and Achilles’ tendon of late because of soreness. Vaughn said recently he might put in a call to friend and former colleague Mike Budenholzer, an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs and the coach for Team Chuck, to pine for Vucevic to play reduced minutes. Said Vaughn: ``It takes one play, whether it’s an all-star game, a pick-up game or a real game (to get hurt). With Nik, he’s played a lot of minutes for us and I’d love for him to enjoy his break. I’d love for him to get some rest.’’ … Arron Afflalo scored 23 points on Friday in his first game back after missing six games with a strained left hamstring. Afflalo said he was sore after the game, both in his calf muscle and the rest of his body. ``My body was a little sore, but I got a lot of treatment and got in the cold tub,’’ he said. ``I’m doing my best to relax and stretch and I’ll be ready to go. … Because I had been off, my legs were well-rested. I did fatigue later in the game, so I just have to slow myself down. And when I get a little tired I have to smarten up and make good decisions.’’ … The Magic will play their final game before the all-star break on Wednesday at the Amway Center against the Atlanta Hawks. Following that game, the Magic don’t play again until Feb. 19 when they host the Charlotte Bobcats.

ORLANDOMAGIC.COM FEATURES: Busy Days Ahead for Hennigan | Vucevic Earns Spot in Rising Stars Challenge

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