Magic try to get on track amid spate of injuries

Magic try to get on track amid spate of injuries

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) 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 athttp://www.twitter.com/khightower

Quick Links

Don't expect a big role for Ramon Sessions with Wizards after signing as free agent

Don't expect a big role for Ramon Sessions with Wizards after signing as free agent

When Ramon Sessions was last with the Wizards, he was the primary backup point guard behind starter John Wall. Now back with the team on a 10-day contract, he is expected to play a much more muted role.

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks spoke of Sessions as the fourth-string point guard, not only behind Wall who remains out to recover from left knee surgery, but also behind Tomas Satoransky and Tim Frazier. The presence of Sessions should not affect Satoransky's minutes as the replacement starter and it doesn't sound like Frazier is in jeopardy of moving down the depth chart, either.

"I don't know how many minutes or opportunities he will get, but with the way he holds himself I feel comfortable if we need him in a pinch," Brooks said. "We have some coverage now if one of our guards goes down or gets in foul trouble."


Brooks mentioned Sessions' ability to play some at shooting guard if needed. He also praised Sessions' penchant for getting to the free throw line. Sessions has averaged 3.9 free throw attempts in just 23.5 minutes per game. That's highest among active players who have averaged 24 minutes or less in their career.

Sessions played well for the Wizards down the stretch of the 2014-15 season and in the 2015-16 campaign. As a member of the Wizards, he averaged 9.2 points and 3.0 assists per game.

He has played for eight different teams, but has always felt a connection to Washington.

"It just always felt like a place I could end up back one day," he said. "People always ask me, being on so many teams, 'what's the home team to you?' I always come back to the Wizards. It was a place I was only here a year-and-a-half, but it feels like much longer than that with the run we had and the fans and the support I get when I come here."

Exactly how long Sessions will be here is unclear. He couldn't crack the Knicks' rotation earlier this season and has a lot to prove. Still, he's excited for the opportunity.


Quick Links

Kevin Durant commits $10 million to Prince George's County public schools


Kevin Durant commits $10 million to Prince George's County public schools

Kevin Durant continues to give back to the community that raised him. 

Durant, who calls Prince George's County, MD., home, recently announced a partnership with Prince George's County public schools. 

The partnership, which comes with a $10 million dollar commitment from Durant, will help fund a program called College Track. Essentially, it's a 10-year program that provides basic infrastructure — test prep, tutoring, college selection and how to get financial aid — that kids from less-advantaged families often times don’t have.

Durant's money will go towards building College Track's Maryland center. There are nine other College Tracks across California, Colorado, and Louisiana, and the program has helped over 3,000 students get to college and beyond. This Maryland center will be the first of three that are planned to go up in the DC area. 

You can read the entire article about Durant and College Track right here.