Denton's Notebook: Sunday, March 3
By John Denton
March 3, 2013
ORLANDO – If necessity truly is the mother of invention, the Orlando Magic’s need for a point guard while Jameer Nelson has been out injured might have helped make E’Twuan Moore a more well-rounded point guard.
After spending much of the season bouncing between shooting guard and back-up point guard, Moore was moved into the starting lineup with Nelson out with a bruised patellar tendon in his left knee. Moore has always been a shoot-first, pass-second kind of guard, but his delegation to the point guard role has made him become more wary of getting others involved in the offense.
Twice over the past week, Moore has set a new career high in assists. He had 10 assists in the win in Philadelphia on Tuesday and he came back with 11 more assists on Friday against Houston. In his five games as a starter, Moore has averaged 7.6 assists – more than double of his season average (3.1) in assists.
``Over these past couple of weeks I’ve tried to get better running the team as a point guard. It’s something that comes with experience,’’ Moore said. ``When you can shoot and score, and that’s your first and natural ability and what you were known for doing, sometimes it’s tough to balance (scoring and passing). But if you want to be a good player you have to find a way to get teammates open and pick your spots when it is time for you to attack.’’
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn, a former point guard himself during his playing days, has tried to take pressure off of Moore by telling him to ``be a guard,’’ and not worry about a designation as a point guard or a shooting guard. Vaughn said he’s seen major growth of late from Moore as a point guard.
``The good thing is that he sees himself growing and the game is slowing down for him in the sense of his decision-making. When he has multiple opportunities, he’s more apt to make the right one now,’’ Vaughn said. ``That’s a good sign of his growth and that’s produced results in the box score for him and a positive for our team.’’
CONGRATULATORY MESSAGES POURING IN: In his first four games with the Magic, Tobias Harris scored 80 points (20 ppg.) and grabbed 29 rebounds (7.2 apg.). That was quite a departure from his final days in Milwaukee, where he fell out of favor early in the year and hardly played in the weeks before he was traded to Orlando.
Joining the Magic not only re-energized Harris, but it also gave him a chance to show once again that he can be an elite scorer and a versatile player who can shuffle back and forth between the two forward positions. He scored 23 points on Wednesday and set a new career high on Friday against Houston with 27 points.
Harris said that following his fast start in Orlando, he’s received dozens of congratulatory text messages and phone calls from family members, friends and former teammates. Some of the players from the Milwaukee Bucks have reached out to him and congratulated him on making the most of his playing time with the Magic.
``As a player, I’m having fun out there playing again and now I’m just trying to turn these games into wins,’’ Harris said. ``A lot of my teammates from Milwaukee, we still keep in touch. Jon Henson, Drew Gooden, Marquis Daniels and Larry Sanders – those guys are always checking on me. It’s a good feeling that they still care because we were like brothers. To have those guys still checking on me, that’s very cool.’’
ETC: Magic veteran forward Al Harrington, whose ``Cheddar Cheese’’ nickname is a nod to his wide, toothy smile, said that he is planning to take a broadcast course this summer at Syracuse University in hopes of doing some TV work after his playing career is complete. Said Harrington: ``I’m going to take a shot at it and see if it’s something that I like. A lot of people have told me that I should think about doing it. I’m going to try for TNT because I want to be national.’’ … Magic veteran point guard Jameer Nelson missed his sixth consecutive game on Friday night because of a bruised patellar tendon in his left knee. He suffered the injury in a scrum for a loose ball last week in Dallas. Nelson has missed 17 games this season – six with a strained groin, one with Achilles tendinitis, two with a sore left hip, two with a forearm contusion and six with the patellar tendon soreness. … Sunday was the fourth game of the season for Harrington, and he admitted that he’s still in the evaluation phase as it relates to his surgically repaired right knee. Harrington had arthroscopic surgery last spring and then needed three more procedures to clean out the infection. That put him on the shelf for 10 months before he returned Tuesday and scored nine points in his return. Said Harrington: ``I’m feeling pretty good. I’m just trying to get my legs under me, get my wind back and get to where I can play more than 12 minutes. It’s a work in progress. It’s been three games, but I’m trying to use like a five-game segment to really access myself. Playing full speed and banging with guys is a lot tougher than one-on-one and two-on-two.’’ … Injured Magic power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis attended his first game Sunday night since breaking his left foot on Jan. 30 in New York. … The Magic play in New Orleans on Monday night and then face the Miami Heat in South Florida on Wednesday.
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