Denton's Notebook: Friday, Nov. 9

By John Denton
November 9, 2012

ORLANDO – Orlando Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn has made it a point to say that he entered this season with no preconceptions upon meeting the team’s players so that he could form his own opinions about them.

In that vain, Vaughn thought long and hard before naming team captains for this season. He wanted to get through training camp and the preseason and watch how players interacted with others before deciding on the leaders for the ballclub.

Jameer Nelson and Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis were named captains prior to the start of the season. Nelson was a co-captain under the previous regime, serving alongside of all-star center Dwight Howard. For Davis, it’s a first for him after asking for more responsibility and accountability this season.

Vaughn said holding the title of captain is one that the players should take seriously because of the added responsibility he heaps on the team leaders. They are basically responsible for making sure that the four rookies on the team know the plays and their jobs.

``It’s an added responsibility that you have to take an additional ownership with this team,’’ Vaughn said. ``Jameer has to make sure that Mo Harkless knows every single play. Glen Davis has to make sure that Andrew Nicholson knows what he’s doing on the weak side (defensively). So there’s additional responsibility and accountability and during film sessions those two names (Nelson and Davis) are going to be called first and used to show the other guys the rights and wrongs.’’

ADVICE FROM K.G.: Davis called on a big gun from his past to help him make adjustments to his game following a two-game dip in production.

Davis sparked the Magic to two wins by averaging 25.5 points and 9.0 rebounds while shooting 46.8 percent in the first two games of the season. But he struggled mightily against the big front lines of Chicago and Minnesota, averaging just 10 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting just 29 percent.

Davis, who is listed at 6-foot-9, repeatedly had his shot blocked by Chicago’s Joakim Noah and he knows he has to find other ways to score inside against bigger players.

For advice, he turned to Boston all-star Kevin Garnett, his mentor during his four season while playing for the Celtics.

``I talked to K.G. last night and he was telling me some great advice that could most definitely help me,’’ Davis said. ``He told me, `Now you’ve graduated. Now you’re a Navy Seal.’ And I see it.

``I call (Garnett) because we’re like brothers and at the end of the day I needed some advice,’’ Davis continued. ``He was just telling me that I know how to play and to keep playing the right way and let the game come and flow. He said don’t press yourself and feel like you have to do everything. I can still be aggressive, but I have to realize that I’m a student now. I have to play the game whole and not just one way. I have to pass it, cut, set screens and be a student.’’

Davis carried the Magic offense versus Denver on Opening Night, making 13 of 25 shots and coming within one basket of his career high with 29 points. And he followed that up by overcoming a slow start against Phoenix and finishing with 22 points and eight rebounds.

Facing Chicago defensive mastermind Tom Thibodeau, a former assistant in Boston while Davis played there, the Bulls gave the Magic’s power forward fits all night. Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah (five blocked shots) used their length to frustrate Davis on the inside and hold him to seven of 22 shooting. Davis even took a forced 3-pointer with 56 seconds remaining and the Magic trailing by four points.

Davis again had problems in Minnesota finishing around the basket and missed seven of his nine shot attempts. That prompted the call to Garnett and the promise to make changes for tonight’s game against Kris Humphries and the Nets. Davis acknowledged that he is now a focal point of opposing teams’ scouting reports – something that is a first for him – and it’s on him to adjust.

``I can feel it out there, but it’s still any man’s ball game and you still have to stop it,’’ Davis said of other teams focusing in on stopping him. ``Now, it’s about being a real student of the game and realizing what you can do and can’t do and making adjustments.’’

NELSON STILL OUT: The Magic were without point guard Jameer Nelson for a fourth consecutive game Friday night because of a strained hamstring/groin combination. Nelson said he is making progress and hopes to return by Sunday’s game in Brooklyn, but he sounded like next week might be a more realistic option.

``I’m making a lot of progress, but I just know with hamstrings and groins that it’s a little trickier than a sprained ankle,’’ Nelson said. ``So I just have to continue to progress and listen first and foremost to my body. And I have to communicate with the coaching staff and training staff about how I feel.’’

Nelson has been impressed with his replacement at point guard, E’Twuan Moore, who has averaged 13.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists in his first four games with the Magic.

``He’s a young guy who is kind of learning how to play the point guard role in terms of having more minutes and more of a role,’’ Nelson said. ``He’s doing a great job of being in attack mode, scoring and being who he is.’’

ETC: Harkless, who missed all of training camp and the preseason following surgery to repair a sports hernia, made his debut in Minnesota on Wednesday and contributed seven points, three steals and two blocked shots. Vaughn said he will continue to use the 19-year-old small forward in spots where he can continue to learn and be successful. Said Vaughn: ``In Minnesota the opportunity presented itself for him to get an extended amount of minutes. He came in and did some good things. We will put him in a position where he can help our ballclub and help himself develop at the same time. That’s our job as a coaching staff.’’ … The Nets made a big push to trade for former Magic center Dwight Howard in the offseason, but couldn’t work out a suitable trade with Orlando. Nets point guard Deron Williams said he has not talked to Howard, formerly a close friend, since the all-star center was dealt to the Lakers. And Brooklyn coach Avery Johnson said his team has moved on from the idea of acquiring Howard, saying: ``That’s in our rear-view mirror now. He plays for a West Coast team. Brook Lopez is our starting center and Andray Blatche is the backup. We’ve moved on.’’ … Magic small forward Hedo Turkoglu rode a stationary bike on Friday while holding his splinted left hand out by his side. Turkoglu broke the fifth metacarpal bone in his left hand in the opener and is expected to miss four weeks (14 games). … The Magic and the Nets will play again on Sunday at 3 p.m. in Brooklyn at the new, $1 billion Barclays Center.

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

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