Denton's Notebook: Sunday, Oct. 26

By John Denton
October 26, 2012

ORLANDO – Along the sidelines, Jacque Vaughn sometimes seems like the antithesis of a fiery head coach what with his serene nature and his unwillingness to act garishly or berate players and officials.

But deep down below, there’s an edge to the rookie Orlando Magic coach, veteran power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis said.

``He has a little grit to him. (The media) sees him poetically speaking, but me being a guy of emotion I can see that he has some grit in his eyes,’’ Davis said. ``He’s calm and collected, but at the same time if you look into his eyes you can tell that he’ll bite you. And I like that about him.

``He holds the monster inside,’’ Davis continued. ``I just love his coaching methods and his methods fit me. He’s a motivator and he’s always on the positive side wondering what you can do better and what you can do to make the team better. That’s what I’m all about.’’

Vaughn was praised recently by San Antonio head coach and mentor Gregg Popovich for his ``mature and classy’’ manner of dealing with players and reacting to situations during games. Vaughn said he picked up only one technical foul in his 12 years as a NBA player – he still remembers the referee and the city he was playing in when it happened – and he doesn’t figure to be into it much with the officials. After all, Vaughn said he will continue to follow one piece of advice that Popovich gave him when he coached under him in San Antonio: Don’t try to pretend to be someone he isn’t.

ON FURTHER REVIEW: After watching the replay of his delayed debut with the Magic, standout shooting guard Arron Afflalo saw several areas where he can improve between now and the start of the regular season on Friday.

Afflalo played in his first preseason game with the Magic on Wednesday in Memphis after missing two weeks because of a strained hamstring. He was used in four and five-minute bursts to protect the leg and he ended up scoring 10 points and hitting two 3-pointers in 18 minutes on the court.

Afflalo came out of the game realizing that his conditioning needed to improve in order for him to be both a defensive stopper on the wing for the Magic and a consistent scorer offensively.

``I’ve got to be more mindful of some of my defensive responsibilities,’’ Afflalo said. ``That’s going to be a huge area of improvement for myself –becoming a better team defensive player and focusing on rebounding. Those are the two things that I definitely want to improve on – being more versatile defensively more so than just guarding my man one-on-one and being a much, much better rebounder this year. I expect scoring and leadership and things like that to always progress, but for me, it’s going to be the rebounding and the team defense.’’

Afflalo said he will use the next week of practice to continue rehabilitation on his recovering left hamstring. He said he should be 100 percent by the time of Friday’s opener against the Denver Nuggets, the team that Afflalo played three seasons for prior to a trade to Orlando in August.

``I’ve got to continue to be smart and have a good week before the opener,’’ he said. ``I’ll continue to ice and rehab and be efficient with my body.’’

STERN’S LEGACY: When NBA Commissioner David Stern announced on Thursday that he would be retiring on Feb. 1, 2014, many around the league started trying to quantify his impact on the league over the past three decades. Stern has overseen enormous growth in the NBA over the past 20 years, growing the game around the globe while also greatly expanding television ratings.

Some feel that Stern will go down as one of the greatest commissioners in the history of pro sports because of where the NBA stood when he first took over and where it resides currently on the sports landscape.

``I think David has done a great job and has been a great commissioner,’’ said Houston coach Kevin McHale, whose 30-plus years in the league exceeds that of Stern’s. ``A lot of times in life you’ve got to match up the right timing with the right plan and the timing was Magic (Johnson) and Larry (Bird) and the plan was to really promote it. It worked out really well.

``When I first got in the NBA, The Finals were tape-delayed and it wasn’t a huge event as it is now,’’ McHale said. ``Within two or three years of David taking over the NBA, (The Finals) were a much, much bigger deal.’’

ETC: Shooting guard J.J. Redick, the Magic’s most consistent player this preseason, did not play on Friday night because of a sore hip. Redick, who scored 23 points and hit four 3-pointers on Wednesday in Memphis, is expected to practice with the team on Saturday. … Friday’s preseason finale served as a homecoming for Rockets’ small forward Chandler Parsons, a Lake Howell High School product. Parsons said that it felt somewhere eerie playing in Orlando because he had come to NBA games his whole life and pulled for the Magic. In fact, he said his grandparents still owned season tickets. They were two of the 50 family and friends that Parsons had at the game. Said Parsons: ``It’s the first time playing here because last year our first game of the season was here and I didn’t check in. This is crazy to me after coming here so many years as a fan. When I was growing up we’d park at the orthodontist’s office across the street (from the old Amway Arena) and walk over to the arena. Today, we pulled to the back of the arena and I was wondering where we were going? But it will be fun to play in front of my family.’’ … Vaughn made no bones about what his ultimate goal was for the final preseason game. ``For everyone to be healthy at the end of the night. That’s the most important goal for (Friday) night.’’ … Vaughn is eager to get Ish Smith, just recently back on the practice floor following shoulder surgery in July, on the floor because of his quickness. ``He has a degree of quickness that not too many guards have. He has an ability to push the ball, to defend the basketball. That’s good because he’ll push the pace for us.’’

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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