News » Familiarity breeds contentment Taylor enjoys comfort zone as he adjusts game


Familiarity breeds contentment Taylor enjoys comfort zone as he adjusts game


Familiarity breeds contentment Taylor enjoys comfort zone as he adjusts game ORLANDO, Fla. - After so many nights in the stands at Amway Arena, and even one day spent wandering in one of those arena tours, Jermaine Taylor was back, on the court, and with a job to do.

He was a ball boy. Following the first shootaround of his rookie season, Rockets veterans kicked balls into the stands and ordered rookies to retrieve them.

Finally back where he carried his team at Central Florida, Taylor, 22, was another rookie trying to find his way.

But by Friday evening, he had an elevated role, even if it was far from his job in college. He came off the bench to score 14 points, his best outing of the preseason, but the Magic pulled away in the last minutes to win 113-104.

With the Rockets within three, Rashard Lewis hit a 3 and Jameer Nelson sank a 20-footer to seal the win. Chase Budinger led the Rockets with 17 points; Aaron Brooks, Kyle Lowry and Taylor each had 14, with Taylor making five of 11 attempts as he makes the transition from star to rookie.

Star to rookie

"Actually, that's the biggest adjustment," said Taylor, a 6-5 guard. "I'm not used to it. Coming from UCF, I was the man. I mean, I really was the guy. And now, I got to start all over again. That was probably the hardest adjustment."

The on-court adjustments have been a greater challenge than fetching a few basketballs or delivering practice gear to hotel rooms. Taylor made three of 11 shots in the first two preseason games after struggling with his shot through much of the summer league. He improved his shot-selection during the summer workouts, but continues to face a balancing act between moving the ball the way the offense demands and being aggressive.

"It's a big difference playing against guys in our league," coach Rick Adelman said. "It's a matter of trying to give minutes and seeing how he progresses in these eight (preseason) games."

Homecoming night

Taylor grew up in Tavares, two turns and 45 minutes north of Amway Arena. The UCF campus is about 20 minutes east. But Adelman said he had no plans to warn Taylor to not get caught up in the potential homecoming temptation of playing to the more than 100 friends, family members and Central Florida fans at the game.

"That's what we tell him all the time anyway, you have to stay under control and try to get better each game," Adelman said.

Taylor was usually under control. His first basket came when Budinger poked the ball free from Vince Carter and sent Taylor on his way to a breakaway slam. His more impressive effort came when he grabbed an offensive rebound and took off for a strong dunk in traffic.

That offered only a sample of his college scoring. He left Central Florida as the school's all-time leading scorer, averaging 26.2 points per game last season, earning C-USA Player of the Year honors.

With the Rockets , he often has to play off the ball, requiring him to catch and shoot.

"I'm allowed to take a lot of pressure off myself," Taylor said. "Everything doesn't have to go through me. On my college team, everything had to go through me. To not have that responsibility is a big relief.

"I feel like it's going pretty good. I'm learning every day. Every time I step on the court, every practice I'm just trying to suck everything in."

But for now, he worked on those things in his hometown, which was preferable to sitting in the stands or chasing balls kicked into them.

"I felt a lot more relaxed here," Taylor said. "I don't know why, probably because it's Orlando, my hometown. I just felt comfortable out there."

jonathan.feigen@chron.com


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 13, 2009

 

 
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