CHICAGO | As an athlete, you learn the golden rule of sports.
There are no exceptions. This is not multiple choice. Your playing time depends on following that rule. It's really quite simple.
E'Twaun Moore was prepared as an Indiana All-Star at E.C. Central, as a college all-American at Purdue, and as a second-round NBA draft pick.
The Celtics took him, then traded the 6-foot-4 guard to Houston after his 2011-12 rookie season. The Rockets immediately waived him, but Moore worked feverishly on “preparing” his game and the phones went crazy.
Tuesday night against the Bulls, Moore made his second start at point guard for the Orlando Magic, who are waiting for veteran Jameer Nelson (hamstring, groin) to heal completely.
Judging by Moore's showing, Nelson better hurry.
“They score the ball easily. They have a number of guys who've been in big games before,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said before the game. “E'Twaun Moore is an excellent young player who's getting established in this league.”
Maybe it was his early season averages of 14 points, 4.5 assists and 4 rebounds per game that drew light praise from the demanding coach.
Could it be the 23-year-old has found a home in Orlando with a team that's in a rebuilding mode?
“I hope so. I really do,” said new coach Jacque Vaughn. “He's done a great job of fitting in; of being a guard for us; making shots and playing with confidence when called upon.”
Translation: Moore is prepared for any challenge.
“I had no pre-conceived notions when I took over,” Vaughn said. “For me, E'Twaun was going to have the opportunity to play basketball and he's done that.”
If you know E'Twaun Moore, you know he's still the same quiet, unassuming kid. Two hours before Tuesday's tipoff, he was sitting in his cubicle, sorting through a lapful of game tickets for family and friends headed to the United Center to watch him.
He was smiling, but not overwhelmed by this recent run of good fortune. He was calm and content, happy to finally belong at this level.
“Being ready has definitely paid off for me,” Moore agreed. “Any time your number is called, you got to be ready. And in order to do that, you gotta work hard at practices for nights like this.
“This is a good team. We got guys who are hungry. We got guys who want to win.”
Thibodeau was impressed at how hard the Magic play. Vaughn said it's expected and the only way his team can win games.
“I'm here and I just have to keep getting better and turning my game up a notch. That's the main thing,” Moore said.
In his first start against Phoenix, Moore had 15 points and career-highs of six assists and 38 minutes played.
“My first (start) went well; just have to keep it up,” he said. “It's a little different 'feel' starting. Not much pressure, though. It's still basketball.”
You want guts?
Tuesday night, Moore attempted and nailed Orlando's first shot -- a 3-pointer from the court side seats -– making him 5-for-8 so far this season as Jameer Nelson sat twitching on the bench.
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