Denton's Notebook: Wednesday, Nov. 7


By John Denton
November 6, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS – Like most NBA coaches, Orlando’s Jacque Vaughn lives and dies a little with each win and loss. But he said he resisted the temptation of showing his Magic video of the critical moments of Tuesday’s loss in Chicago and instead moved onto preparation for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Vaughn didn’t want to belabor his points about sharing the basketball and defending hard with the game on the line, and instead gave his team talking points rather than a long video review of Tuesday’s 99-93 loss to the Bulls.

``We more talked about the situation if we were in that again, and it probably will be a fourth-quarter game again (soon),’’ said Vaughn, who watched the Chicago film early Wednesday morning and again after he awoke in Minnesota. ``When we’re down four or up four with a minute to go, it was a good talking session for us, but no film,’’ Vaughn said.

The Magic led after each of the first three quarters, but suffered their first loss of the season on Tuesday night when the Bulls made their first seven shots – all jumpers – and 10 of 12 attempts to open the fourth period. Vaughn said Chicago simply executed its plays better and the Magic didn’t share the ball as well in the crunch time as it had earlier in the game. Vaughn likened it to a teaching moment for his team.

``We learned about ourselves from that and where our success will come from and what we need to do down the stretch of a game. Watching the tape, Chicago didn’t do any spectacular plays or anything complicated, but they did it extremely hard. A good lesson for us was that at the end of the game you have to do things in the fourth quarter just as well as you did in the first quarter. And that includes sharing the basketball.’’

REDICK WILL PASS: A running joke in the Magic locker room is that veteran J.J. Redick was miscast at Duke University – he should have been a point guard instead of a shooting guard because of his passing prowess.

Heading into Wednesday’s game in Minnesota, Redick was averaging a whopping 6.3 assists a game. Jameer Nelson is the team leader at 7.0 assists a night, but he’s played in just one game because of a strained hamstring. Redick averaged a career-best 2.5 assists last season and he upped that total to 3.2 assists a game in the playoffs last spring.

Redick said his dramatic rise in assists is hardly by design. Instead, he is simply making reads on pick-and-roll plays and attempting to get the ball to the right place on the floor. Redick said one of his primary goals is to ``be a player that others like playing with,’’ because he makes the correct plays with the ball.

Redick has become so efficient that he said it’s a tight race between whether he likes shooting 3-pointers or making a pass that leads to a dunk. That’s quite a feat for a player who owns an instructional shooting video (``Better Basketball With J.J. Redick’’) and a player who carved out his niche in the NBA with his marksmanship from the perimeter.

``I can’t decide what I like more – an executed pocket pass that leads to a lay-up or dunk or a 3. Hmmmm, it would be about the same for me,’’ Redick said.

Reminded that he used to be a shoot-first-and-ask-questions later type of player, Redick laughed. But comfort in the Magic’s offense and maturity in his own game has allowed Redick to become as big a threat with the pass as the shot.

SHARING IS CARING: Magic power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis caused a few laughs last week when he described the Magic’s willingness to move the ball with the phrase, ``Sharing is caring.’’

Because the Magic have only one player on the roster who has ever made a NBA All-Star team – Nelson in 2009 – the team has to share the ball and create opportunities for one another.

In their first three games of season the Magic utilized the strategy to get two wins and play with great efficiency. They headed into Wednesday’s game tied for second in the NBA in fewest turnovers (36), while also ranking sixth in the league in assists (73). The Magic had one preseason game with 30 assists, and Vaughn said the team needs the assist total to be in the mid-20s for it to be successful.

``For us, (sharing the basketball) is our existence and that’s how we have to play,’’ Vaughn said. ``Basketball is a team sport and the challenge we have every night is to play with each other. We’re sharing the basketball and that’s the most important thing for us. And a lot of times that has carryover on the defensive end of the floor. Thus far, I’ve been pleased with our progress.’’

ETC: Vaughn started converted power forward Josh McRoberts at small forward on Wednesday night in place of rookie DeQuan Jones. At 6-foot-10, McRoberts had success at guarding Luol Deng and had four rebounds in 14 minutes. Said Vaughn: ``(Playing McRoberts) helped us rebounding for sure against a quality rebounding team like Chicago. He’s athletic enough that he can guard (small forwards) and give us some rebounding support. Ideally, this situation of playing (small forward) and (power forward) and going back and forth isn’t good? But he’s done a great job of being a teammate and when called upon being ready to play.’’ … Magic point guard Jameer Nelson missed his third consecutive game with a strained hamstring suffered in last Friday’s opener. Nelson saw a doctor about the injury and was advised to rest the leg until it is fully healed. Said the Magic captain, who hopes to play Friday against the Brooklyn Nets at the Amway Center: ``I’m just trying to be smart about it. They didn’t really give me a timetable and they just told me to sit the (Chicago and Minnesota games) out to let it rest. Not saying that I couldn’t play, but I don’t want it to linger all year. To avoid that, I just want to let it heal all that I can. I’m not putting any pressure on anybody to let me play and they’re not putting pressure on me, but I do want to get back out there. I’ll continue to do some rehab and see how I feel when I wake up on Friday. I’m just going to be honest about it.’’ … Vaughn said that 19-year-old rookie Maurice Harkless is making progress and is close to playing in a game. Harkless missed all of training camp and the preseason following surgery to repair a sports hernia, and he’s spent the past two weeks working with the team. Said Vaughn: ``He’s been good and making progress. He’s been practicing, has been scrimmaging, playing one-on-one, three-on-three and five-on-five. So he’s getting there.’’

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

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