The Orlando Magic's win against the Denver Nuggets on Friday showed Magic fans that this team can survive in the post-Dwight Howard era. This new team can play with more freedom and leeway instead of constantly having to find ways to get Howard the ball. They're certainly unselfish (recording a 24 assists as a team and 11 turnovers) and they share the ball so well that it makes coach Jacque Vaughn beam.
"I am extremely proud," Vaughn said. "That was one of the things that we've been stressing since day one is that on any given possession you don't know who's going to have the ball, who's going to score, who's going to shoot it, and that's okay with us. We shared the basketball tonight, we looked for each other, and it was fun to be a part of."
What's even better about this new-look Magic is the negative atmosphere in the locker room has vanished.
"Before the game, I thanked all the guys," Vaughn said. "There was no elaborate speech or elaborate poem, or quote. I thanked the guys for this month of being together with them, or allowing me to be their coach, of coming to practice, for being on time, for mutual respect, for mutual communication, and at the end of the game, Jameer [Nelson] gave me the game ball. That's the progressive process that we're talking about, that it goes both ways. I'll give and tonight they gave as well."
Nelson, who scored nine points and dished out seven assists in the season opener, appears to have a good relationship with Vaughn.
"For me, you always want to do well for your coach, for your team, and your organization," Nelson said. "Then you have a guy like Jacque, anytime you put so much into the game of basketball as a player and as a coach, you have special moments like that, you want to cherish them and help them with those moments. Before the game, he basically thanked us for working so hard and all that."
Arron Afflalo was one the key pieces Orlando received in the Dwight Howard trade, replacing Jason Richardson. Though he didn't have a standout game, shooting just 3-of-13, he nonetheless felt the good vibes:
"It was amazing to get our first win in this fashion," Afflalo said. "Obviously, J.J. [Redick] and Glen [Davis] stepped up. But it was a real inspired team effort for us. We knew that we had to withstand the run we were expecting in the beginning of the second half. It was a good home opener for us...the expectations haven't been so high for us to get off to this type of start..."
Like Afflalo said, you'll probably see more Redick-Davis pick-and-rolls as the season progresses.