Denton's Notebook: Tuesday, Nov. 13
By John Denton
November 11, 2012
ORLANDO -- Because Orlando’s Jacque Vaughn is the NBA’s youngest head coach at 37 years old, there are times when he not only faces veteran players he competed against as a player, but also ones who are even older than him.
When Vaughn’s Magic hosted the New York Knicks on Tuesday night, Vaughn was among many of the contemporaries from his playing days. Kurt Thomas (40 years old), Jason Kidd (39), Rasheed Wallace (38) and Marcus Camby (38) are all older than the Magic’s rookie head coach.
Vaughn, who played in the NBA for 12 seasons, had a similar situation over the weekend when his Magic twice faced Brooklyn. Nets reserve forward Jerry Stackhouse and Vaughn played in the 1993 McDonald’s High School All-American Game, a contest in which Vaughn was named the MVP.
Vaughn marveled at Kidd, who has already compiled a Hall of Fame career and is still considered one of the game’s best point guards. Kidd and Vaughn played together for two seasons in New Jersey from 2004-06 with Vaughn starting at point guard so that Kidd could play the off guard at times.
``It’s fun to see those guys still playing and I’m always rooting for them, that’s for sure,’’ Vaughn said. ``Jason’s ability and understanding of the game of basketball are amazing, those things aren’t leaving anytime soon. He’s one of the smartest players I ever played with. Just his knowledge of the game and being in the right place, he’s using the mental and the physical to continue playing. It’s good to see.’’
FOR STARTERS: With the Magic’s offense struggling much of the past week, Vaughn turned to J.J. Redick – Orlando’s best reserve much of the past three seasons – to start at shooting guard to inject some scoring.
Redick said he’s fine with either role of coming off the bench or starting, but the mindset of the two jobs is completely different. And heading into Tuesday’s game, Redick’s results were dramatically better coming off the bench.
In five games as a reserve, Redick has averaged 15 points a night while shooting 51.4 percent from the floor and 47.4 percent from the 3-point range. In his first start of the season on Sunday, Redick played 38 minutes and scored just 10 points after making just three of 12 shots and missing all four of his 3-pointers.
``(Starting or coming off the bench) is irrelevant to me,’’ Redick said. ``In terms of me, the mindset is the same. The mindset is, `How do I help my team win?’ What changes is who you are playing with. You are with a more offensive group when you start. But if I’m coming off the bench, I have to create a little more. So that’s the biggest difference.’’
NELSON STILL OUT: Jameer Nelson practiced without pain on Monday and showed no ill effects, but Vaughn made the decision to hold the veteran point guard out of Tuesday night’s game. The thinking is that with the Magic not playing again until Friday, Nelson will have two more days to fully heal and practice before returning as Orlando’s starting point guard.
``He’ll have three days because we count (Tuesday), (Wednesday) and Thursday and then we have a three-game roadtrip. We’re just hopefully being wise and giving him a couple more days to get more progress and positive results,’’ Vaughn said.
Nelson strained his groin/hamstring in the season-opening win against Denver and has missed the past six games. Nelson practiced for the first time on Monday and even worked at times against Vaughn, who filled in because the starters were being rested.
If all goes well with Nelson’s progress, he could play Friday night when the Magic play the Detroit Pistons in Auburn Hills, Mich.
``I know that he wants to play, but it’s my job as a coach to make sure that he’s ready for us not only tonight, but also for the rest of the year,’’ Vaughn said. ``So it’s just a judgment call and hopefully it pays off for us the rest of the year.’’
ETC: Veteran small forward Al Harrington, who has yet to play this season for the Magic after having four procedures on his knee over the summer, visited a doctor in Colorado on Monday. Vaughn said the Magic got a favorable report back from Harrington’s progress, but the 14-year veteran has yet to be cleared to resume basketball activities. Harrington had arthroscopic knee surgery and then three procedures to clean out a staff infection. Said Vaughn: ``Al went to visit the doctors and things are going well with his protocol and he’ll continue to do his rehab. I do not have a timeline.’’ … The Magic also withheld rookie DeQuan Jones, who is still hampered by an abductor strain in his groin. Jones, who made the roster despite being a tremendous longshot as an undrafted free agent, suffered the injury in the final preseason game. He started two games before experiencing pain once again. Like with Nelson, the Magic are hoping that with two more days of work that Jones will be ready to play by Friday against the Pistons. … Redick was the Magic’s most consistent player in the preseason and he started the season with two torrid games, but hitting a dry spell with his shot. Redick said that while he has the utmost confidence in his abilities, it’s often a constant battle to remain confident with his shot. ``Confidence is a fickle thing and it comes and goes,’’ he said. ``There are certain days that it feels like the ball won’t go in and certain days where you can’t miss. But the comfort level of playing in the NBA gets better every year.’’
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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