Denton's Notebook: Sunday, Nov. 4
By John Denton
November 4, 2012
ORLANDO – When Hedo Turkoglu went down in the Orlando Magic’s season-opener, J.J. Redick seemed to be the natural solution to move into the starting lineup what with him being the team’s best player in the preseason and a 21-point scorer on Friday night.
But Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn resisted moving Redick out of his reserve role because of his past experience with super-sub Manu Ginobili in San Antonio. Instead, Vaughn started rookie DeQuan Jones at shooting guard and moved Arron Afflalo over to small forward to replace Turkoglu, who is out four weeks with a broken hand.
Vaughn likes keeping a potent scorer coming off the bench because it stabilizes the second unit. Vaughn said that Redick could be a starter in Orlando, and quite possibly two-dozen other NBA teams, but he wants to keep him as a reserve because of the benefits it brings to the team.
``For us J.J.’s role is one that makes both of our units efficient,’’ Vaughn said. ``So that’s the whole (thought) process behind it. … You’ve seen it done before, whether it was Manu Ginobili or James Harden, guys who could start but their ability to help a second team out and provide productivity has been a big help for us.’’
Redick has been instant offense this season for the Magic – both with his shooting and his passing. He was the team’s leader in assists during the preseason and he had another six assists in the opener. Redick said he is simply trying to make the correct basketball play and keep the ball moving by either shooting it or passing it to the open man.
``It’s not something that I’m consciously doing; I’m just making reads,’’ he said of his passing. ``The first pick-and-roll (in Friday’s game) I came off and (Glen Davis) was open on the roll so I gave it to him on the pocket pass. On the next pick-and-roll, (Denver’s Kosta) Koustos was 5 feet off me so I pulled up for the jumper.’’
Vaughn has marveled at the work ethic and professionalism that Redick put in this offseason to get himself ready for the season. Redick is in the final year of his contract and hopes to remain in Orlando long term. He’s been a model player so far, leading on and off the floor.
``He’s been great for us since Day One,’’ Vaughn said. ``His approach is so professional in practice and I just enjoy seeing him work out. I enjoy his approach every day. He’s one of the best I’ve seen since I’ve been around.’’
NELSON OUT, MOORE IN: The Magic also decided to withhold Jameer Nelson on Sunday night after the veteran point guard strained his hamstring and sprained an ankle in Friday’s win. Nelson didn’t practice on Saturday and sat out of the team’s walk-through on Sunday and the hope is that after another day of rest on Monday that he will be able to play Tuesday in Chicago.
``I have to be smart about this. I’ve been through a lot of injuries small and big, so I have to be smart about it,’’ Nelson said. ``I was smart about it with the training staff (Sunday morning) and (Saturday) (by sitting out of the workouts).’’
E’Twaun Moore got the start at point guard in place of Nelson. Moore was impressive in his Magic debut, scoring 13 points and handing out three assists in 23 minutes. Vaughn said he isn’t worried so much about Moore’s designation as a shooting guard or point guard and simply wants the second-year guard playing with confidence.
``I want him to just be a guard and play with confidence, and with that decision-making will come and a great comfort level will come,’’ Vaughn said. ``I think he’s feeling more comfortable with the options in the offense and he’s reading things better than he was earlier in the year. It makes me feel better that he’s understanding what we’re trying to do out there.’’
OVERCOMING THE ODDS: Sunday was the first professional start ever for Jones, who has remarkably made the rise from undrafted rookie to a NBA starter in a little less than six weeks time.
Jones wasn’t drafted in June, but was invited to play on the Magic’s summer league team and later to training camp. He was so good in camp that the Magic decided to waive veteran Quentin Richardson and his guaranteed contract to make room for Jones on the roster.
Jones, who missed the opener on Friday because of a strained abductor muscle, has been highly appreciative of the opportunity to play in the NBA. Following Friday’s game, he stayed at the arena several minutes to sign autographs for fans who approached him.
``It’s unreal,’’ Jones said of the whirlwind turn his career has taken the past month. ``Sometimes people ask me to stop and sign stuff. (Friday) night I stopped and signed a few things and it really hit me that the fans really appreciated it. I signed everybody’s (stuff). I was sitting outside the parking garage for like 10 of 15 minutes signing everything. It’s coming from a guy who is appreciative and thankful.’’
ETC: Gustavo Ayon was active Sunday night after missing two weeks because of a sprained thumb on his left hand. Ayon, just the third Mexican-born player in NBA history, missed the final two preseason games and the regular-season opener because of the injury. … Phoenix center Marcin Gortat, a former standout for the Magic, was happy to be back in Orlando, where he makes his offseason home. Gortat fondly recalled his trip to Orlando last year saying, ``The fans kept telling me that they wished I still played with the Magic. They know it wasn’t my decision to leave. But I’ve got a sweet thing now in Phoenix.’’ … The Magic head out on Monday for their first roadtrip of the season. Orlando plays in Chicago on Tuesday and in Minnesota on Wednesday. Both the Bulls (Derrick Rose) and the Timberwolves (Kevin Love) are missing their star players because of injuries.
John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997. E-mail John at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @JohnDenton555.
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