Magic need to focus on slowing quick point guards

Orlando MagicSportsBasketballNew York YankeesCleveland CavaliersDetroit PistonsKyrie Irving

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving ranks as one of the best young point guards in the NBA. The Philadelphia 76ers' Jrue Holiday continues to make strides.

But Irving's and Holiday's rising-star status probably doesn't give the Orlando Magic much consolation after the youngsters cut through the Magic defense the last few days. Irving scored 22 points in 26 minutes Monday night against Orlando, and Holiday scored 27 points in 20 minutes several days earlier.

"We talked about that today: our ability just to contain penetration and contain the basketball," coach Jacque Vaughn said Tuesday, before his Magic faced the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

It could become a point of concern, especially after the departure of three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard, who erased plenty of teammates' mistakes during his Magic tenure.

Starting point guard Jameer Nelson sometimes struggles guarding quicker opponents. Backup E'Twaun Moore is a combo guard who still has a significant learning curve at the point. Another backup, Ish Smith, who is injured, often struggled to defend without fouling last season.

More physicality

Vaughn wanted to see more physical play from his team on this road trip.

What he saw against the Cavaliers — especially early — concerned him.

In the first half, the Magic attempted only five foul shots, while the Cavs took 19.

"I think there's the aggressiveness in their favor, just by that stat alone," Vaughn said.

Orlando improved in the second half. The Magic had 16 free-throw attempts, while the Cavaliers had 15.

Turk talk

The perception around much of the NBA of Hedo Turkoglu is that his career is on a steep downward slope. Now 33 years old, Turkoglu has endured three consecutive up-and-down seasons since he played so well in the 2009 playoffs.

Vaughn said he's been pleased with what he's seen from the 6-foot-10 small forward so far. This preseason, Vaughn occasionally has played Turkoglu at power forward when the Magic have smaller lineups on the floor.

Vaughn hasn't run many plays so far this preseason, deciding instead to acclimate his players to an offense that emphasizes cutting and movement.

As a result, the Magic have run fewer pick-and-rolls, which are Turkoglu's specialty.

Still, Vaughn insists that he eventually will take advantage of Turkoglu's ability to handle the basketball.

"I haven't initiated as many plays so far with him," Vaughn said. "But believe me, I've drawn 'em up, and they are in the arsenal. It really is a luxury having him."

Layups

• The Magic stayed at the same Birmingham, Mich., hotel as the New York Yankees, who are in town for the American League Championship Series. Some veteran Magic players already knew Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia because Sabathia often attends Magic games when he's in Florida for spring training. Nelson and J.J. Redick also already knew Yankees relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain.

• During pregame warm-ups, Turkoglu spoke with former Magic coach Brian Hill on the Magic bench for a while. Hill is an assistant coach with the Pistons.

• Vaughn and Pistons coach Lawrence Frank greeted each other and spoke on the Magic sideline just before the national anthem.

Josh McRoberts, who had played sparingly this preseason, had one of the Magic's early highlights Tuesday. He received an over-the-shoulder pass from Gustavo Ayón on a fastbreak and slammed the ball home.

jbrobbins@tribune.com

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