Denton's Notebook: Wednesday, Feb. 27

By John Denton
February 26, 2013

ORLANDO – A day after authoring one of their best victories of the season in Philadelphia, the Orlando Magic’s offseason deal that heavily involved the 76ers continues to show more and more promise.

Forced to trade Dwight Howard in August, the Magic made the most of a haul that was once derided as insufficient because of the haul that Orlando got in return supposedly lacked star appeal.

On the one hand, Orlando got from Denver shooting guard Arron Afflalo, the team’s leading scorer at 16.8 points per game. But where the Magic made the most of the deal was their intake from the 76ers. First off, Orlando passed on Andrew Bynum, who has yet to play this season because of two sore knees, and traded away veteran shooting guard Jason Richardson, who played just 33 games for the 76ers before needing season-ending knee surgery.

The Magic pried 7-footer Nikola Vucevic away from the Sixers, and he’s given every appearance so far as if he could be Orlando’s center for the next decade. Vucevic, who played 51 games last season in Philadelphia, entered Wednesday’s game ranked third in the NBA in rebounding and he’s the league’s only second-year player to be averaging a double-double (12.3 points and 11.5 rebounds).

The Magic also acquired forward Maurice Harkless from the Sixers, and the rookie continues to make strides on an almost nightly basis. On Tuesday, he had 10 points against Philadelphia, including a key jump shot in the second half when the Sixers were making a run. Harkless entered Wednesday’s game averaging 15.4 points and 6.4 rebounds over his previous five games.

To make matters even better for the Magic, Orlando also acquired Philadelphia’s a conditional first-round pick from the Sixers for the 2015 NBA Draft. Magic coach Jacque Vaughn doesn’t think the team’s front office, led by GM Rob Hennigan, has gotten enough credit for the talent-producing deals that Orlando has executed.

``Rob and his staff have confidence in my ability to coach the guys that he brings in and our coaching staff has complete confidence that he’s going to bring in the right type of guys,’’ Vaughn said. ``He’s going to bring in the right character guys, the right kind of competitors and guys who want to work on their game and be in our locker room. Those are the words I stated my first day here and I don’t see that changing any time soon.’’

HAPPY TO BE HERE: Stuck on the bench much of their time in Milwaukee, newcomers Tobias Harris and Beno Udrih seem to be revived by the trade to the Magic. They were dealt to Orlando last Thursday along with Doron Lamb for J.J. Redick, Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith.

Harris had a solid first month to this season in Milwaukee, but he fell out of favor and was hardly playing in the days leading up to the NBA Trade deadline. But in Orlando, he’s scored 14 and 16 in the two games before Wednesday.

``I’m just coming with a lot of energy, focusing on the little things and playing my game out there,’’ Harris said. ``I’m just trying to get everybody involved and be a leader out there on the floor.’’

Udrih, a nine-year veteran, has been just as impressive while making the adjustment to his new Magic teammates. He was miserable in Milwaukee while being stuck behind Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, and said he feels reborn in Orlando. In his first two games with the Magic, Udrh accounted for 16 assists.

``He’s (played point guard) his whole life and he’s done it at a high level and in big games,’’ Vaughn said of Udrih. ``He’s seen a lot and I think he’s enjoying the ability to play. He’s learning his teammates rather quickly. He’s been very good for us.’’

ETC: Veteran Magic point guard Jameer Nelson missed his third straight game on Wednesday night because of lingering pain from a bruised patellar tendon in his left knee. Nelson, who injured his knee in last Wednesday’s game in Dallas, was relieved recently when a MRI showed no tendon damage. Nelson reported earlier in the week that the knee was feeling better. He’s a possibility to play on Friday when Orlando hosts the Houston Rockets. … Vaughn said the Magic received a great emotional boost Monday night from veteran power forward Al Harrington, who returned to game action after missing 10 months with a knee that needed four surgical procedures. Harrington, who was told he might never play again because of the trama in his knee, scored nine fourth-quarter points in Monday’s victory. Vaughn said he will use Harrington based on matchups over the rest of the season. … The Magic host Houston on Friday and the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday. The Magic play in New Orleans (Monday) and Miami (Wednesday) early next week.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.




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