Denton's Notebook: Wednesday, Dec. 5

By John Denton
December 5, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY – Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn played for some of the most successful coaches in the history of the NBA and college basketball, and he’s borrowed parts of their coaching ways to form his own style.

He said the way he demands that players to play with sustained intensity and focus is a direct link to his days playing in Utah for Jerry Sloan. Vaughn spent the first four years of his NBA career in Utah, backing up Hall of fame point guard John Stockton and learning some tricks of the coaching trade from Sloan, the former Jazz coach.

``I played for an unbelievable coach, that’s the first thing that comes to mind. He taught me how to be a professional, how to work hard and as he would say bring my hard hat every day,’’ Vaughn said. ``I’ve taken a lot of lessons I’ve learned along the way, but playing for Coach Sloan there are a lot of lessons that I go back to. One of them is that you approach this like a job and you are professional about it. You approach it with a hard-hat mentality.’’

As the Magic’s team bus pulled into Energy Solutions Arena on Wednesday it drove past the statues of Jazz legends Karl Malone and Stockton. Vaughn said those two players were the perfect role models for a young and impressionable player. They, too, had a big impact on his work ethic.

``John was in every single practice and every drill. Even as (Vaughn was) a rookie, he was in front of me in every drill,’’ Vaughn remembered. ``And Karl, was unbelievable. His approach, his physicality and taking care of his body were unreal and it was good for a young player to see. And when I left here, it was even more appreciated than when I was here.’’

PRAISE FOR J.J.: The ultimate praise for a NBA player is when a coach puts the ball in his hands late in the game and gives him the freedom to make the right play. Increasingly, that player has become J.J. Redick.

The Magic shooting guard came into Wednesday’s game having scored 13 points, handed out eight assists and made three 3-pointers in the fourth quarters of the past two games.

Vaughn usually puts the ball in Redick’s hands and lets him run side pick-and-roll plays with Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis. Then, Redick is charged with reading the defense and either taking a shot or passing to a teammate. His cohorts on the Magic have raved about the way that Redick has progressed as a playmaker with the pass or the shot.

``He has a high IQ of the game and he also knows his limitations and what he can do well,’’ Davis said. ``I love screening for him and he gets me open and I get him open. We complement each other. When you have a team atmosphere like we have you have to be like that.’’

Added Magic point guard Jameer Nelson: ``Each year he’s added something new to his game. He’s the second best playmaker on the team (laughs). … (Critics) knock him for his defense because that’s the only thing that they can find, but he’s gotten better by working on his game.’’

Said Redick of his progress as a playmaker: ``I’d put myself in the top seven or eight on the team. Definitely Jameer would have to be up there, too.’’

ETC: Magic players have a new nickname for veteran Josh McRoberts after he was forced into a point-forward role on Sunday against the Lakers. He had three assists and three rebounds in 12 minutes, prompting teammates to call him ``JaBron McJames.’’ … In the fourth quarters of the wins against the Lakers and the Warriors, the Magic incredibly had 24 assists on their 26 baskets. The improvement has come, in part, because of an improved familiarity, but Vaughn said the team has also made progress by repeatedly watching film of their blunders and successes in the fourth quarter. Nelson, who missed six games early in the season because of a strained groin, said improved health also plays a role in Orlando’s offensive improvement. Said Redick: ``It’s learning each other and it’s getting healthy. We had guys out and J.J. was starting when he’s probably more comfortable coming off the bench. We still have some things to get better at. We know the ball is going to be in certain guys’ hands and we know where those guys want to get on the floor.’’ … Orlando’s longest roadtrip of the season – five games stretched across eight days – heads to Sacramento where it will face the Kings on Friday. The roadtrip concludes Sunday in Phoenix against the Suns.

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