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Despite just '15 wins' this season, Jacque Vaughn is keeping positive

Jacque Vaughn is trying to stay positive in midst of the Magic's slide

The question Wednesday was simple, but the response it evoked offered a rare glimpse into Jacque Vaughn's thinking.

Given how the Orlando Magic improved defensively the other night after Vaughn began the second half of a game with Dewayne Dedmon at power forward, is Vaughn now more inclined give Dedmon additional minutes?

"I'm more inclined to play anyone that's going to help us get more than 15 wins," Vaughn answered.

In other words, he'll continue to search for answers and it doesn't matter if it looks like a conventional solution?

"We have 15 wins, and we've had injuries along the way," Vaughn said. "We have 15 wins."

Translation: Vaughn will try anything to try to snap his team out of its slump when it hosts the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night. The Magic hold a 15-33 record and are mired in a tailspin, having lost 12 of their last 14 games.

Vaughn, who has a career head-coaching record of 58-154, has been frustrated by his team's recent slide, but he's just too disciplined to show it. The closest he's come have been a pair of postgame news conferences — following a loss Nov. 15 in Washington and following a loss Jan. 23 in New York.

"It's just not my nature to just call out a guy individually," Vaughn told reporters.

"I haven't done it. I don't think that's the way you do it. Everything I tell you guys, I've said to that person one-on-one. And we've rubbed some backs and some bellies along the way, and sometimes you've just got to grow up a little bit. Maybe being at 15 wins we're getting to that stage where we won't pat and rub bellies anymore. We'll grow up a little bit."

So far, players said, Vaughn has remained positive.

"I think it's been tough on him, just like on all of us," center Nikola Vucevic said. "He obviously knows that we're capable of more, and he wants us to do more. It's tough, just like all of us, because we know that we're so close and we're just missing something that's going to take us over the hump.

"He's been trying to find ways at times to motivate us in different ways but nothing too crazy. He's just being himself, and I think that's what all the guys want him to be: just himself, the guy he is. Him being calm works pretty well with the team."

Surely, Vaughn must vent his frustrations somehow.

How does he do that?

His family's Yorkshire terrier, named "Deuce," helps.

"I've got a dog at home who looks forward to seeing me no matter what the score of the game was," Vaughn said. "When I come into the home, he just comes over and licks me. He has no idea what happened two hours before. No idea."

jrobbins@orlandosentinel.com. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog and follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.

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