MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Arron Afflalo insists his left hamstring no longer worries him.
But his lungs are a different story.
Afflalo made his preseason debut Wednesday night -- a 115-100 Orlando Magic loss to the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum -- but he feels like he still has plenty of conditioning work left to do. That became clear as he chased Quincy Pondexter around screens.
"The idea is for me to get to that level of conditioning to where I can do that, where I can guard some of the better players that get a lot of attention and still have the energy level to assume some responsibility on the offensive end of the court," Afflalo said afterward.
In almost 19 minutes, Afflalo finished with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
Most important, he didn't suffer any setbacks in his return from a hamstring strain.
"I think he did a good job," Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said. "I think he got into the flow a little bit, and you see his competitive nature come out. It was good to have him back on the floor."
Afflalo made an immediate impact on offense.
He made a backdoor cut, and Hedo Turkoglu threw him a pinpoint pass for a reverse layup.
A couple of minutes later, Afflalo freed himself on the left wing, received a pass from Nik Vucevic and sank a jumper from just inside the 3-point line.
Vaughn planned to play Afflalo in three-, four- or five-minute spurts and then keep Afflalo's time on the bench to a minimum.
Vaughn followed through on the plan, playing Afflalo in stints of 4:54, 6:21, 4:02 and 3:14.
"The thing about Arron is he's a veteran guy," point guard Jameer Nelson said. "He understands what we're trying to do, so the whole time we were practicing everything, he was engaged. He wasn't out of the loop, so it translated to the court."
The Magic need Afflalo to be a defensive stopper this season, to match up one-on-one against some of the tougher scorers in the league.
"The better we get as a unit defensively I think will be a huge key for us this season, because we'll be able to score," Afflalo said.
One of Vaughn's concerns this preseason has been his team's physicality -- or occasional lack thereof.
Vaughn did not like what he saw during Wednesday's first half.
Memphis (4-3) outfought Orlando (2-5) for loose basketballs early on.
Grizzlies big men Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Marreese Speights piled up a 24 to 13 rebounding advantage by halftime.
The Magic remained close only because of their long-range shooting. They sank 12 of their 21 shots beyond the arc overall.
Afflalo helped the team maintain its hot shooting early in the third quarter.
He stationed himself in the left corner, received a pass from Nelson and calmly swished a 3.
A while later, Afflalo used a screen to free himself on the left wing and stroked another trey.
Afflalo wasn't challenged much defensively.
He spent most of the night guarding Wayne Ellington and Pondexter, who are two of the least dangerous shooting guards in the NBA.
Late in the third quarter, Afflalo matched Pondexter step for step as Pondexter used a pair of screens to try and gain some separation. Afflalo didn't give Pondexter any room to maneuver.
"He competes," Vaughn said of Afflalo. "I can count on him to box out. I can count on him to help bigs rebound."
On Wednesday, Afflalo took a step to show his teammates and coaches that they can count on him.
Now all he needs is a bit more conditioning work.
"It's a good start," he said.
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