On Saturday and again on Sunday morning, Jacque Vaughn spoke with Arron Afflalo to learn how Afflalo's injured left ankle felt. Both times, Afflalo promised Vaughn he could play when their Orlando Magic hosted the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night. Afflalo was right. Wearing two kinds of tape underneath his sock to protect his tender ankle, Afflalo propelled the Magic to a 109-102 win over the Hawks at Amway Center. There have been other games this season in which Afflalo has scored more points, gathered more rebounds and dished out more assists. But when the time arrives to select reserves for the Eastern Conference All-Star team, Sunday's game could tip the scales in Afflalo's favor. He spent the bulk of the night guarding — and limiting — the Hawks' up-and-coming point guard, Jeff Teague, and Afflalo also provided his usual scoring punch. "I knew I could walk," Afflalo said in the Magic's postgame locker room, his sneakers off and his ankle still wrapped. "My ankle was still sore, but I knew I could play. So, for me, if you can play, you play. There's no need for me to sit out." Afflalo played 42 minutes, more than anyone on either roster. Afflalo ran stiffly at times, and the Hawks sent a second defender toward him whenever he posted-up on offense. He still made seven of his 10 shot attempts as he scored a team-high 21 points. He also tallied seven assists. But his defense helped set the tone. Teague has tormented the Magic in recent years. From Dec. 6, 2010, through Nov. 9, 2013, the Hawks won 11 consecutive regular-season games over the Magic, and Teague continuously befuddled the Magic, especially on pick-and-rolls. Vaughn and his assistant coaches wanted to match Teague, who is 6-feet-2, against a tall defender. On Sunday, they assigned Afflalo, who is 6-feet-4, and occasionally used 6-foot-4 Victor Oladipo in that role, too.
Arron Afflalo keys the Orlando Magic's 109-102 win over the Atlanta Hawks
Orlando Sentinel | Dec 30