The Magic brought in assistant coach Adrian Griffin upon hiring Scott Skiles to become head coach of the team. Now, Magic players are talking about how excited they are to play for the man who was once a long-time NBA journeyman as a player.
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Deep down, Griffin knew that with all of the Magic’s blossoming talent and Skiles’ coaching acumen that success would be dead ahead for years to come in Orlando. The Magic’s immense promise, combined with his long history with Skiles, helped make it an easy decision for Griffin to become an assistant coach in Orlando.
“That was one of the reasons why I felt comfortable coming to Orlando – because I recalled how hard (the Magic) played against (the Bulls) last season,’’ Griffin said. “Each time we played Orlando, it was always a close game and you could just see the talent on the team. So you keep building because there are no shortcuts in the NBA. The next (actual) game for us training camp and you come to work and you let the cards fall where they may.’’
Griffin got his first Magic-affiliated coaching victory, of sorts, on Saturday when he guided Orlando to a 75-74 overtime defeat of the Los Angeles Clippers. The win was made possible by solid performances from returning Magic players Aaron Gordon (22 points and 18 rebounds), Elfrid Payton (seven points and nine assists) and Devyn Marble (14 points, six steals and four 3-pointers). Payton, who has spent the past month developing a close relationship with Skiles, had high praise for Griffin and the Magic’s new coaching staff.
“They were all very encouraging and they let us know when we messed up, which is good,’’ said Payton, who will already be playing for his third head coach next season. “They stayed on top of us to make sure that we were doing the right things, but at the same time they were uplifting us, too.’’