The Orlando Magic gathered Sunday morning at Amway Center for a day of practice in advance of Monday's game against the New York Knicks. The practice started a little more than 12 hours after Orlando lost its fourth straight home game against the Sacramento Kings, the team's 10th loss in its last 12 games overall.
Here's a look at the stories that developed Sunday.
Orlando's recent poor play has dropped it to 13th in the Eastern Conference. In tough times, its incumbent upon coach Jacque Vaughn and his veteran leaders to keep a positive attitude in the locker room in order to prevent the season from slipping out of reach.
"There's no guarantee just because you play that you're gonna have a winning record every year," Vaughn said. "There are a lot of teams that search for that every single year. That's why I think it's more about your approach and how you carry yourself. Those things, if you continue to do the the right way, will add up. That's what I believe."
Vaughn and his veterans have to model behavior for the team's younger and less experienced players who are not accustomed to losing, particularly at the NBA level. In particular, Vaughn highlighted how the veterans handle game preparation, interaction with the media, and conduct with the referees during a game as instances where veterans can set an example. The 12-year NBA veteran speaks from experience.
"A lot of what I learned as a player, when I was young, was from the men who were around me in the locker room when the coach wasn't there," Vaughn said.
Glen Davis, a team co-captain, praised Vaughn for how he's kept the team together through the lean times.
"I think Coach Vaughn has done a good job of making sure that we stay calm and understand that hard work is hard," Davis said. "Nothing's easy."
At times, Davis said, he's tempted to let his emotions boil over, but he recognizes the long-term development of the team hinges on his ability to keep an even keel. "You wanna scream [sometimes]," he said, "but that's not how you spark things for change."
Bumps and bruises
Davis did not practice Sunday after injuring his left leg in Saturday's loss. Vaughn said there was no specific diagnosis for Davis, but rather that he was just generally sore. "Just gotta get that good rest," Davis said.
Jameer Nelson and E`Twaun Moore also sat out Sunday, though both players attended. Nelson played through an illness Saturday, but Vaughn didn't see the need to put him through the paces in practice. Moore missed Saturday's game with a thigh bruise.
"I just gotta let it heal and be ready to play," Moore said.
Versatility a key
I noted in Saturday's game recap that Tobias Harris spent some time in the second quarter initiating Orlando's offense despite the fact that Victor Oladipo was on the floor. I asked Vaughn Sunday to elaborate on that arrangement, and he explained that it's a wrinkle in Orlando's offense.
"Well, the good thing is in the motion segment of our offense, any three guards can initiate that," Vaughn said. "So what he does is he has the ability to grab the [defensive] rebound and be in attack mode, and then if he doesn't have anything on the initial break, then he can easily get us into our offense, because those three guards, when we're in our motion offense, are interchangeable."
Harris, then, isn't a playmaker per se, but his ability to handle the ball and push it ahead off rebounds enables Orlando to get into its offense more quickly.