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Vaughn Goes on Making His Point

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by Fred Kerber
New York Post

The Nets drafted Zoran Planinic in 2003 to be the full-time backup point guard to Jason Kidd; didnt work out. Among the additions the team made to help fill the job last year was Jacque Vaughn. This summer, they also signed Jeff McInnis.

Planinic and Vaughn now both realize that they may need to scrape and claw for every minute. Planinic, who received a setback in training camp with an achy hamstring and back, figures to get more time at off guard. Vaughn just approaches the matter with his usual professional determination.

"I want to make it hard for Coach not to put me in the game," said Vaughn, whose pressure defense late last season helped turn the Nets campaign around. "Thats my approach. I know I can help the team in a lot of different ways and my goal is to make it hard for Coach to keep me on the bench."

Coach Lawrence Frank was looking to tighten his rotation in the final two preseason games - including last nights tilt at the Meadowlands against Boston. So Planinic and Vaughn sought to keep their names in the mix - possibly a formidable task if Frank only goes eight deep.

"I know I have to go in and get every minute. So were going to see. If I play five, 10, 15 minutes, I need to go in and play hard," said Planinic, whose option must be picked up by Monday - it likely wont be - or else he will become an unrestricted free agent. "I havent heard anything and I cant worry about it."

Frank sounded cautious talking about Planinic, noting, "He played well. He practiced very well [before the injury]. Its experience, consistency, dependability, reliability. Can we count on it every single night?"

Vaughn, in his ninth NBA season, probably gets more slack than Planinic because of his experience and his 2005 contributions.

"I know [Frank] knows what Im capable of doing and I was able to show some of those things at the end last season. I have to just keep reinforcing those things in practice because thats the opportunity I get," said Vaughn. "If the minutes arent there in the game, then practice is my game."

Vaughn helped provide a rest for Kidd during the 2005 playoff drive, working alongside the team captain and accepting much of the ball-handling chores until he broke his foot eight games from the finale.

"Jacque always finds a way," Frank said. He has shown he can play on or off the ball. He is a very good on-ball defender."

Even as the third point guard?

"Theres a need," Vaughn said, a little playfully. "Look at training camp. Jeff was hurt [with a bad back]; Zoran was hurt. If I wasnt here, that would leave J. Kidd to run the blue and the white squad."