Nicholson & Davis Power Magic Past Spurs
In what was initially hyped as Arron Afflalo’s debut, Magic fans thought they would have to settle for a Jacque Vaughn-Gregg Popovich coaching duel. Hopefully Afflalo plays in Memphis on Wednesday. So Sunday proved to be Orlando’s first preseason test against a championship caliber contender, and Andrew Nicholson and Glen Davis channeled their inner-prime Tim Duncan (production wise) and gave the Spurs fits. All right, the Spurs may be former contenders depending on how you view this aging San Antonio squad. It was a shame a good chunk of Amway Center’s seats were vacant. The 17,012 attendance number is very misleading. It’s not the correct time of the year to be competing with football and postseason baseball I guess. The Magic improved to 2-4 on the exhibition campaign, dispatching of the now 3-3 Spurs 104-100 in what was a solid 48-minute performance. Any win streak will be a wonderful one this season.Andrew Nicholson led all scorers off the bench with 18 points while adding 3 boards and 2 blocks in what was the rookie’s best outing of his young career. Glen Davis added a more than respectable 17 points and 4 rebounds.
Jacque Vaughn on Orlando’s 24 assists and ball movement tonight: “I think that’s been the most important part, is putting in a new system, adding players, and guys really trying to play with each other, and have done a great job of sharing the basketball. “
Jacque Vaughn threw out a Nikola Vucevic, Glen Davis, DeQuan Jones, JJ Redick, and Jameer Nelson starting lineup. Other than Tim Duncan, Coach ‘Pop’ didn’t rest up his rotation guys like he did Saturday in Miami. As a perfect example, Tony Parker played 9 minutes in the entire Heat game. The Frenchman had logged over 17 minutes by halftime. It was nice to finally have a Fox Sports Florida television broadcast, as casual Magic fans were deprived of viewing this continuously developing team. What the Orlando faithful may have initially spotted was Vucevic and Tim Duncan battling each other to about a draw in the first six minutes of the contest. It is very encouraging that the Montenegrin showed little hesitation against the future Hall of Famer.
For the second consecutive game, E’Twaun Moore found himself playing a lot of shooting guard alongside Jameer in the first quarter, and then competing very nicely against Tony Parker at point guard the remainder of the evening. If Moore is making his fair share of 3-pointers while distributing the ball at a respectable assist-turnover ratio, then Ish Smith needs to start worrying about playing time. Although, Manu Ginobili did use his craftiness and great court movement to offensively abuse Moore. E’Twaun should have no shame with 14 points and 8 assists. McRoberts and Harper have to be ‘bubble’ guys as far as making the roster with the amount of meaningful minutes they received. It’s gotten to the point where I’m pleasantly surprised when Justin makes a 3-pointer, let alone a few jump shots.
Coach Vaughn on Andrew Nicholson’s progress: “He’s improving every day. He’s learning something new in every single game.”
Andrew Nicholson’s 2nd period was most definitely a ‘growing moment’ for the St. Bonnies alum. A jumper, a hook shot, then faking Manu into the air while showing the soft touch on a baseline jumper. Add to that a powerful 3-point play dunk and that will make any coaching staff happy about your potential. 12 points at halftime while also finishing with a game-best plus-minus of +16. Keep getting us excited, rook. It proved to be a very entertaining first 24 minutes with Vaughn’s squad once more displaying hard-nosed defense and awesome unselfishness. Orlando was up 50-41 at halftime and shot 48.8 FG% compared to San Antonio’s 35.7 FG% which was the main difference overall.
Gregg Popovich on what is expected at this point in the preseason: “Just want to get through it.”
The third quarter saw Orlando keep its similar 9-point cushion thanks to Glen Davis. Big Baby turned it up after a 6-point first half with an 11-point period. The fourth quarter saw the infusion of guys like Kyle O’Quinn and Chris Johnson, but Orlando never relinquished that lead. You know it’s a solid night when Jameer Nelson is starting ‘The Wave’ with the Amway Center crowd in the middle of the 4th quarter. ‘Mighty Mite’ finished with 12 points and 5 assists on what was a cruise control night for Nelson. Orlando was up 97-83 with 5:53 remaining in the game and were keen on sending the Spurs out of Orlando International Airport in defeat. JJ Redick finished with 14 points and 5 assists. ‘Redickulous’ uncharacteristically missed a few wide open looks. After the game Jacque Vaughn mentioned how “atypical” in comparison to other NBA teams their process has been when it comes to dealing with a 20-player roster, and the fact that no one has been cut yet because of the great competitive practice sessions. There are two games left in the preseason. Orlando heads on the road to play the Grizzlies on Wednesday. You’d expect at least one current Magic man to be cut or bought out.
Coach Vaughn on E’Twaun Moore: “I had a play called I think in the 3rd quarter and I saw him talking to his teammates and I asked him ‘You’ve got a call?’ He said yes and I sat back down. That’s where his progress is – he is seeing the game better.”
Adam Papageorgiou writes for Orlando Magic Greek and is a proud MBO contributor.