Gordon's big night
After a shaky start in the season opening loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, Orlando guard Ben Gordon rebounded with a vintage game. Coming off the bench, Gordon scored in a multitude of ways, finishing with 22 points and two three-pointers. While Gordon's scoring outburst was huge for the Magic to fight their way back into the game, it was the other things that he did that stood out. Gordon had four assists, including a couple of needle-threading bounce passes to cutting teammates, and was seen diving all over the place for loose balls late in the game.
Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn has praised Gordon for his great work ethic in his time here, and it finally paid off. "It was great to see him continue to trust what we are doing," said Vaughn. "I looked beyond the offense and I thought he battled tonight, whether that was trying to get a loose ball, diving on the floor, boxing out, getting deflections throughout the course of the game. So not only did he make shots for us, he created some opportunities energy-wise and effort-wise."
Gordon got a few congratulations from his teammates following the game, and was praised by Channing Frye for what he brought to the table. Gordon said that he knew the team brought him in for his shooting and scoring ability, so he was happy to be able to make an impact in those areas against the Wizards.
It's hard to figure out what the Magic might get out of Gordon on a night-to-night basis. He has the capability to light it up on any given night, it's just a matter of his shots falling. In Thursday's game, however, it was Gordon's all-around game that helped him to have an all-around good night.
After missing almost all of training camp and all eight of the team's preseason games with a sprained MCL, the free agent signee Channing Frye made his return to the court Thursday. While he only knocked down one of his three shot attempts, his impact was felt early. The team's spacing was much better with Frye on the floor, which allowed the likes of Evan Fournier and Elfrid Payton to drive and get to the basket easier.
Vaughn said that he thought Frye played "pretty well."
"He moved well, he was able to get into our sets," said Vaughn. "I think he showed the veteran savvy, whether it was playing post defense or just being in the right place."
Frye talked about how he just needed to "learn the schemes to find ways to get open and how he could be effective." Frye also said that he felt as though his wind was good and his legs were good. "I think it was just me out there not fully understanding certain ways of getting open," he said. "I want to make sure that I'm getting open; I want to be a threat. I was doing a lot of standing around like 'what's this guy going to do?' and that's not how I play. No offense, but I need to get up more than three shots. I need to be more effective. It comes down to watching film, being a pro, and coming in tomorrow."
The return of Frye should end up making a large impact on the team. He's still going to have to learn and grow some continuity with guys, but with time, Frye's impact should be felt up and down the roster.
- Turnovers were a big problem once again for the Magic. They turned it over 18 times, leading to 17 Wizards points. While the turnovers were an issue, they did only turn it over once in the fourth quarter, which was a big part of them being able to fight their way back into it. It's early, players are still getting completely comfortable with each other, but it needs to be fixed and fast.
- After getting pounded on the boards in New Orleans, the Magic did a much better job on Thursday night. They allowed just six offensive rebounds, which turned into eight second-chance points for the Wizards. Overall, they hit the glass better, and they got bodies on players, unlike Tuesday night.
- Maurice Harkless was a "DNP-CD" for the second straight night. Coach Vaughn said he's still trying to find continuity and that Maurice's time will come. When is that time, however? That seems to be the question that will continued to be asked until Harkless finally sees some action.