Gordon's strong night
After some struggles in his last four games, Orlando Magic rookie Aaron Gordon put together his best performance of the season Friday. Finishing with 17 points and six rebounds, Gordon was one of the main catalysts in the Magic's overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Gordon not only impacted the game with his offense, he was also a force on the defensive end, coming up with a couple of big plays on that end late in the game.
Following the game, coach Jacque Vaughn spoke highly of his young rookie. "He works extremely hard and he's a very intelligent individual," said Vaughn. Vaughn also praised Gordon's energy level, saying he felt as though it was "contagious."
Vaughn continued by saying, "His defense, his ability to just make the right play, kind of stay in the moment, whether it was on a breakaway, whether it was at the end of a shot clock, you know he did a great job of just being ready and that was, you know, after me not playing him in the first quarter, going with a little bit of a different rotation because of their matchup tonight."
Gordon said that basketball is "less fun to me if I'm not playing all-out all of the time." Gordon echoed what coach Vaughn said saying that energy is "definitely contagious" and that "it only takes one person."
He's only 19 years old and still has a long way to go, but it's performances like this one that show what Gordon could possibly become. His high-energy plays were big, and all the work he's been putting in is slowly starting to show on both ends of the floor.
Turnovers an issue again
Through five games this season, the Magic were averaging 17.4 turnovers per game. After a 21-turnover performance against Minnesota, the team's average per game jumped to 18, which would place them 29th out of 30 teams in the league.
It's still early in the season, but these things have clearly been an issue early, and will continue to be if they don't find a way to start limiting them. Some of them come on offensive fouls, most notably illegal screens -- which is one of the officials' "points of emphasis" this season-- which happen in the course of the game. The ones they need to work on and sure up, though, are the careless throw aways.
Yes, with Channing Frye having missed all of preseason, and the team not being able to practice every day because of their schedule, is hurting some of the chemistry, but they're trying to force it. Add in the fact that it's not always the same person who has the bulk of the turnovers on a given night, and you have a big, consistent growing issue. With time I think they'll improve on that area, but right now, it's a huge issue.
Fournier continues strong start
Despite a 2-4 record, there have been some bright spots for the Magic. Nikola Vucevic has looked good overall; Elfrid Payton has shown poise out on the court, and has put together some strong performances. One of the brightest spots, however, has been the play of third year guard Evan Fournier.
Fournier, whom the team acquired on draft night for Arron Afflalo, is one of three Magic men to be averaging over 14 points per game so far this season, with Tobias Harris and Vucevic being the others. Fournier has shown off his solid all-around game, proving able to get to the rim and knock down the outside shot when needed.
Coach Vaughn raved about the team's balance of having Fournier with the ball in his hands, and playing off of it tonight, saying he thought it was "better tonight that it has been." Vaughn also said that they know they have to take advantage of his ability to handle the ball, to get in the paint, and to make plays. Citing the play where Fournier and Vucevic ran a side pick-and-roll that resulted in a trip to the line for Vucevic that ended up tying the game late, Vaughn said that the Magic "trust him with the ball in his hands."
Fournier has talked about being comfortable with the ball in his hands and just being a basketball player, and it's shown with his play early in the season. He's done an admirable job filling in for the injured Victor Oladipo, and once Oladipo is back, could have a good case to stay in the starting lineup, one way or another. If not, his play could translate well off the bench, a role he primarily played while with the Denver Nuggets.