Magic try to get on track amid spate of injuries

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 10, 2012
It may take until the very end of the preseason before Magic coach Jacque Vaughn gets a true glimpse of what his team will look like this season. Still, however murky the picture is right now, there's plenty from their first 48 minutes on the court together for the first-year coach to analyze. ''We really didn't set a goal on what we were going to measure it by,'' Vaughn said of his impressions following Orlando's 85-80 preseason-opening loss to New Orleans. ''For us it's really just putting in enough things for the first week for our guys to compete in the first preseason game. I think we were able to do that. And putting in some principles that I think will carry us throughout the year. I think we were able to do that. ''But we've still got some work to do.'' Tuesday was the Magic's first time back on the practice court since Sunday's game and one of only two workouts they'll have before Thursday's home preseason opener against Philadelphia. It's one of the main reasons Vaughn staged his longest workout so far - just over two and a half hours - as he and his staff continue to install schemes for a roster working to get back to full strength. Forwards Maurice Harkless (sports hernia surgery) and Al Harrington (knee surgery) are working through rehab programs along with point guard Ish Smith (shoulder surgery). Harkless and Smith did end the day doing shooting stations. Joining them on the sidelines Tuesday were guard Arron Afflalo and swingman Christian Eyenga, both nursing hamstring injuries and likely to miss Thursday's game as well. But with actual game film to breakdown for the first time, Vaughn is seeing some early bright spots. One of the most noticeable was the effort of E'Twaun Moore, who led the Magic with 16 points and seven assists against the Hornets. The offseason free-agent pickup played sparingly in 38 games last season with Boston as a rookie and was signed to compete to be the backup point guard behind starter Jameer Nelson. Smith appeared in 20 games for the Magic last season, but is not a definite to be at full strength to begin the regular season. That leaves a huge opportunity for Moore to make the roster and be the lead backup. ''I'm just trying to get a feel for the game,'' Moore said. ''That, and just go over the things we worked on in practice, and go out there and try to jell everything together. I definitely feel comfortable playing with the second unit and I'll keep going from there.'' Vaughn also was very complimentary of the effort by his younger players on Sunday, including strong play at center by Gustavo Ayon and Nikola Vucevic. Ayon had 12 points and Vucevic nine rebounds. Vaughn said spots in the rotation are truly wide open. ''Goose (Ayon) started at the center position and that's probably going to change throughout preseason and until we find a combination that we want to start with for the year,'' he said. ''I thought E'Twaun and Armon (Johnson) did a good job, and Jameer was great with his leadership. So, some good things from both positions.'' Veteran Quentin Richardson sat out Sunday's game with an illness, but said his impression from watching was that Orlando has a group of young players hungry to contribute. ''They're working hard and trying to do the right things - I was impressed,'' he said. ''It's very good for them to be able to get out there and get a lot of reps in training camp, practice and then actually getting in the game to show what they can do. As banged up as the team is right now, Richardson said the excitement level in the locker room remains high. ''The good thing is it's really early right now and guys are starting to slowly but surely get back out there,'' Richardson said. ''It's a good thing. Some guys just have some serious things they got to handle and get right before they get back out there. Sometimes that's just the way it goes.'' --- Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower
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