At the end of Wednesday's loss to the Spurs, Jacque Vaughn did something a bit different. Usually he points an acknowledgement to the opposing coach at the end of games before heading off to his locker room. For his mentor, Gregg Popovich, Vaughn went down to the other end of the court and visited the Spurs' head man and gave him a hug.
There are a lot of San Antonio influences with the Magic right now. None is more visible than the approach Vaughn has taken directly from Popovich. Vaughn very much got his start in coaching from the Spurs' long-time head coach.
In analyzing and breaking down the game afterward, Vaughn acknowledged that the Spurs had the little details down necessary to win games. That comes from preparation from the "best coach in the league" according to Vaughn. There is definitely a sense of reverence for Popovich from Vaughn's side.
Popovich though was not holding back his feelings about Vaughn and where the Magic are as an organization.
He praised the Magic's ability to fight and play hard for Vaughn and sticking with what the coach is saying despite the apparent talent gaps between them and their opponents.
Ultimately Popovich said Vaughn is doing a good job (via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel):
He's done a great job of just instituting a system," Popovich said of Vaughn. "He what knows wins and what loses, and he knows that in the long run certain elements of the game have to be established and standards have to be set. That's really where he's put his emphasis.
This is certainly high praise and a good shot in the arm for a Magic team with just 19 wins and a half-game lead over the Bobcats for the penultimate spot int he Eastern Conference and the league. It is difficult to find many positives when looking at the short term.
However, the Magic are thinking long term and the growth the young players have shown and the fact the team is still fighting extremely hard despite injuries and experience deficits are signs the Magic are doing things right.
Of course, momentum is the next day's pitcher and it will be interesting to see where the Magic go next with their offseason positioning and the further development of these young players. Not to mention the high draft pick the team is expected.
Still, Orlando has to be pleased that "Big Brother" approves so far.