Denton's Notebook: Sunday, Oct. 21

By John Denton
October 21, 2012

ORLANDO – Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn has said that because of his former playing experience he’s always going to come down on the side of caution as it relates to injuries.

The cautious nature caused Vaughn to hold standout shooting guard Arron Afflalo out of the Magic’s preseason game against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night. Vaughn’s thinking is that Afflalo, who has been out for two weeks with a strained left hamstring, will have Monday and Tuesday to scrimmage before he possibly plays Wednesday night in Memphis.

Vaughn and the Magic want to be safe with Afflalo because his hamstring injury has been somewhat of a chronic issue the past two seasons. He strained the hamstring in September and then ``tweaked’’ it again three days into training camp. He hasn’t appeared in a preseason game yet, and his first action could come Wednesday in Memphis.

``I’m going to see be consistent with my thoughts and be patient with him,’’ Vaughn said. ``(Not playing on Sunday) gives him two days before we get to Memphis and gives him a chance to scrimmage Monday or Tuesday and get some more information.

He went through walk-through (on Sunday morning) and felt good. We’ve put in more plays since the last time he went up and down and I always want guys to feel comfortable out there and not thinking about plays.’’

POP ON VAUGHN: San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, who gave Vaughn his first job in coaching as an assistant, said that the Magic’s rookie coach was a ``no-brainer’’ to become a successful coach.

Vaughn was a reserve point guard on the 2007 Spurs team that won a NBA title and he later returned to the organization as an assistant coach the past two seasons. When the Magic were looking for a head coach, Popovich highly recommended Vaughn even though he had never before been a head coach in the NBA.

``You can look at players on any team and sort of get a feel of who has an intuitive sense of what’s going on and Jacque always had that,’’ Popovich said. ``He understood everyone’s role and where everybody should be all of the time. He was just one of those players you would seek out and get suggestions from when he played, so you kind of know that they could coach if they want to. You try to talk them out of it, but guys like Jacque you can’t talk them out of it. Jacque had that sense of what wins and what loses and what a team really is. He always had that respect no matter what team he played for. He was a no-brainer as far as coaching goes.’’

As one of the NBA’s fieriest head coaches, Popovich has the power to chew out veteran players Tim Duncan and Tony Parker just as much as a non-roster player for the Spurs. Winning four titles has helped him have almost unlimited power within in the organization.

Popovich predicted that Vaughn will be a success as a head coach even though he’s the polar opposite as a coach with his calm and serene nature. Through the Magic’s first five preseason games, Vaughn rarely ever raised his voice at a player or a referee – something that a direct contrast to Popovich’s combustible nature.

``He’ll do it with a lot more class than I do it. When I get angry, it shows on my sleeve and I’ll jump on Tony (Parker) or I’ll get on a referee. But in that sense Jacque is a lot classier and a lot more mature,’’ Popovich said. ``Over time that (calmness) will serve him really well. I have to be who I am and he has to be who he is. But Jacque is a calmer individual. He’ll get miffed from time to time and they will test his patience like any team will and he’ll be as direct as he needs to be. But he’ll always do it with dignity and he won’t denigrate anybody.’’

DEQUAN’S DEBUT: Magic rookie DeQuan Jones made a vow to himself after not getting selected in the June NBA Draft that if he ever got a shot of playing in the NBA he would make sure he wouldn’t be passed over again.

Jones has repeatedly caught the attention of coaches – first in summer league and again in training camp and the exhibition season with the Magic. He had 22 points in a loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday and he was spectacular in Friday’s defeat of Indiana with 10 points, four blocked shots and two thunderous dunks.

``Watching the draft with my family was the longest three hours of my life,’’ said Jones, a University of Miami product. ``I was initially down (following the draft), but I made a comment to myself that I was going to go out and give 110 percent and let the rest take care of itself.’’

Jones, who started a third game on Sunday night in place of the injured Afflalo, knows he is in a fight for a spot on the Magic’s crowded roster. Jones has tried to forget those concerns and focus on proving himself to the coaching staff.

``I’m just trying to play the best basketball that I can and let the rest take care of itself,’’ Jones said. ``Speed and agility are my strengths. Me and coaches met after last game and they talked to me and slowed the game down and showed me how I could utilize my athleticism on defense and cause some matchup problems. It was just a matter of me listening and the end result are the blocks.’’

ETC: Popovich also had flattering words for new Magic GM Rob Hennigan, who got his start in the NBA as an intern for the Spurs. Hennigan ultimately worked his way up to the Director of Basketball Operations during his four seasons in San Antonio and he made quite the impression on Popovich. ``He never held back,’’ Popovich said. ``One thing about people who end up doing well is that they listen first and try to get a sense of what’s going on. Then, when he learns who are and realize that we get on them if they don’t jump in too quickly, we demand stuff from them. Once Rob knew the lay of the land, he had no problem pestering myself, (GM) RC (Buford) and Sam Presti with all kinds of questions.’’ … Asked if he could see him coaching 16 years as Popovich has, Vaughn said: ``One day at a time. I’m going to give you all that I’ve got today and then I’ll recharge my batteries and try again tomorrow. But one day at a time for me.’’ … The Magic play in Memphis on Wednesday and then close the preseason on Friday at the Amway Center against the Houston Rockets. The Magic host the Denver Nuggets on Nov. 2 in the regular season opener.

John Denton writes for John has covered the Magic since 1997. E-mail John at or follow him on Twitter at @JohnDenton555.

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