Denton's Pregame Report: Nov. 30

By John Denton
November 30, 2012

ORLANDO – While the Orlando Magic would have gladly witnessed San Antonio resting their famed ``Big Three’’ of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili a night earlier than Thursday in Miami, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn didn’t want to comment on Friday’s hot-button issue in the NBA.

After all, Vaughn has his work cut out for him trying to figure out a way for the Magic (5-9) to beat the Brooklyn Nets (10-4) tonight for the first time in three tries.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich came under fire on Thursday night when he sent his star players home rather than play against the Heat on a nationally televised game. Duncan, Parker and Ginobili shined a night earlier in Orlando, leading the Spurs to a defeat of the Magic. NBA Commissioner David Stern was upset by Popovich’s actions, threatening major sanctions.

Vaughn is quite familiar with the San Antonio system after playing there for three years and serving as an assistant coach the past two years before taking the Orlando job. But on Friday, he said the Spurs’ situation was of little interest to him.

``The great thing I get to coach the Magic and he gets to coach the Spurs,’’ Vaughn said. ``He gets to coach his team and I get to coach my team.’’

The Magic’s focus understandably is on a Nets team that is coming off a thumping of the Boston Celtics and is riding a four-game winning streak. The Nets won’t have center Brook Lopez because of a foot injury, and they were spared of any suspensions following a melee between New Jersey forward Kris Humphries and Boston point guard Rajon Rondo. Nets forward Gerald Wallace was fined, but not suspended.

The Magic plan to go with the same starting lineup of point guard Jameer Nelson, shooting guard Arron Afflalo, rookie small forward Maurice Harkless, power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis and center Nikola Vucevic. Harkless has played limited minutes as the Magic attempt to put him in positions for success, meaning top reserve J.J. Redick will again see major minutes off the bench.

It will be the third time in a month that the Magic have faced the Nets. Orlando lost to the Nets at home in lopsided fashion and then dropped a closely contested game in Brooklyn two days later. Handling the size and toughness of big guards Deron Williams and Joe Johnson and forwards Andray Blatche, Reggie Evans, Wallace and Humphries is an issue of concern for the Magic.

``Offensively, we have to manage their physicality,’’ Magic guard J.J. Redick said. ``They are a very physical team and especially here they really got into us and took us out of our offensive flow. We have to manage that, take care of the ball and get good looks. In that second game, our halfcourt defense was pretty good against them.
``Sometimes the quirkiness of the schedule just works out this way,’’ Redick said of playing the Nets three times in the first full month of the regular season. ``I remember last year we played Milwaukee four times in February. Last year, we were fortunate to be on the other end of it by winning all four games and this year we’re in a 2-0 hole. So we have to turn things around tomorrow night.’’

Vaughn said his team can take some things from the second game against the Nets in Brooklyn when the Magic had one of their best defensive stretches of the season over the final three quarters. Vaughn also wants the Magic to come out in attack mode tonight after no starter attempted a free throw in Wednesday’s loss to the Spurs.

Vaughn said he didn’t think it was a particular advantage or disadvantage playing the same team so many times this early in the season.

``It’s probably still fresh in our coaches’ minds a little bit, what worked, what didn’t work,’’ Vaughn said of the prep work of facing the Nets again. ``But all those games are individually wrapped, so it could be an entirely different game than the previous two.’’

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