ORLANDO — There was a time Glen Davis referred to himself as “Ticket Stub,” a mini version of Kevin Garnett. Davis played four years as an understudy to Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen until his 2011 trade to the Magic for Brandon Bass.
After the Magic shipped All-Star center Dwight Howard to the Lakers and decided to carry out a major rebuilding project with a youth movement, Davis became one of the team’s veterans. And new coach Jacque Vaughn asked Davis to be a co-captain along with veteran point guard Jameer Nelson.
It’s light years from where he was in Boston, where he was criticized by coach Doc Rivers for his immaturity. Davis is now a cornerstone of the Magic and relishes the opportunity to display his improved game and attitude. Davis, who scored 15 points with seven rebounds in the Celtics’ 116-110 overtime win Sunday night, is averaging a career-best 14.9 points per game as the Magic’s starting power forward.
“It’s been different,” Davis said of his leadership role. “Something I never really encountered. I love it. It’s something I’ve always wanted. You think of all the guys who have [led] at a high level and the consistency that they had to bring every day. You appreciate the game even more, especially when they’re that successful. It kind of makes me think, ‘Have I been working truly as hard as I can?’ It forces you to see if you can go to the next level or why players stay the way they are, why they don’t get better.”
Davis expressed gratitude for his learning experience with the Celtics.
“I’m pretty lucky, really, getting drafted and going straight to Boston and seeing the way high-level players perform and you kind of put yourself in their shoes,” he said. “How did they play? What did they do? They went to the next level and became superstars in this league and hopefully I can use this as a platform to push me to a different level.”
After four sometimes difficult seasons under Rivers, who was especially tough on Davis because of his immaturity and inconsistency, he is now learning from 37-year-old Vaughn, a first-year head coach who, like Rivers, came from the Spurs tutelage.
“They’re two different guys, Doc is a more military-minded kind of guy, obviously a [former] player, Jacque is more of a Gandhi type of guy, soft but powerful,” he said. “Doc is more of a get-the-job-done. Jacque is more of a guy who can ask you what will make you feel comfortable to get the job done. I think that’s different with players but sometimes I think my system and the way I feel, the way I function, I feel like I function better in Jacque’s system.
Rajon Rondo collected 16 assists to tie John Stockton for second on the all-time list with 37 consecutive games with 10 or more assists. There was little suspense Sunday as Rondo collected No. 10 with 9:49 remaining in the third quarter. Rondo needs 10 more games to pass all-time leader Magic Johnson.
Rivers again downplayed the record.
“Listen I want him to get the record, it’d be great,” Rivers said. “When you just said [Rondo tied Stockton], I actually thought he had already passed him. So that tells you how much I’m paying attention to that. But there is a record out there and he should go after it. But he could keep playing. Rondo should get 10 assists every night. He really should, by the way he plays and that’s what he’s doing. When he looks for [assists], he talks to me. When he just plays, he’ll get them anyway.”
Some glass work
The Celtics collected a season-high 51 rebounds and outrebounded an opponent for just the third time in 14 games. Boston also grabbed more rebounds than Miami Oct. 30 and Toronto Nov. 17 . . . After registering a season-high 17 points in Friday’s win over Oklahoma City, Jeff Green scored 1 point on 0-for-9 shooting. “I thought Jeff played great, he just didn’t score,” Rivers said. “He blocked shots, rebounded, just played a good floor game for us. He missed some makeable shots and you can’t do anything about that.” . . . Rivers said he has no idea when Avery Bradley will return from double shoulder surgery but Bradley has been traveling with the team and working on his jumper before games. The team initially announced Bradley would return in December but it is uncertain whether he is getting close.
Gary Washburn can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe.