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Postgame Notebook: Aaron Gordon’s return to form, and some odds and ends

Aaron Gordon bounced back in a big way on Monday night against the Bulls.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Orlando Magic Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

A Santa Claus sighting

With everyone in the Christmas spirit, one Orlando Magic player took it a step further, and went all out with his outfit on Monday night.

That player was Aaron Gordon, who surprised teammates with Nintendo Switches before the game, and then turned in a performance that was much needed. The Santa costume clearly was just what Gordon, and his teammates, needed.

Mired in a tough slump, Gordon came out and made an impact in multiple ways. He got after it on the defensive end, notching three blocks, including one monster chase down on Thaddeus Young, and showed off the tools that make him one of the best on-ball defenders the team has.

“AG is a fantastic player,” said Jonathan Isaac. “Everyone goes through their highs-and-lows and his ability to bounce back is uncanny, and he showed tonight how great he is. We just need him to continue to be consistent and do his thing.”

The return to form for Gordon came at the right time. Gordon, coupled with Isaac who put on a defensive clinic of his own, put a strangle hold on a Bulls team that came out firing early. After knocking down nine first half threes — six of which came in the second quarter — Chicago made just four the rest of the game.

“I think that’s one of the things we all know he’s going to do,” said Markelle Fultz. “He’s going to have bad days, and he’s going to have good days. That’s the NBA. We’re all rooting for him to keep playing his game in order for us to win. To see the ball go in, I’m pretty sure he’s good.”

See the ball going in was big for Gordon, who made 6-of-14 from the field. He let the offense come to him and didn’t force things too much, picking and choosing his spots where he could be the most successful.

Things like that are what the Magic need from Gordon to be able to take the next step and continue to progress the way they’re hoping to this season. Monday was just a small step, but one that could be big for Gordon, and the Magic, as the season flips into the new year.

Odds and ends

  • The Magic used a season-high 13 blocks to change the game. Their length gave the Bulls issues all night, and their ability to change shots around the rim, and force guys to think more made an impact all night. They tightened up their interior defense after struggling in the first quarter — 18 of Chicago’s 28 came in the paint in the first — and that changed the game, despite the Bulls getting countless open three-point attempts.
  • Terrence Ross got his groove back. His six three-pointers were a season-high, leading to a season-high 26 points on the night. Teams have been focusing their game plan on him a little bit more, and it’s showed. He’s been run off screens a lot more, and forced to make a play when the ball has touched his hands. Monday, he was able to get free coming off curls, and get off some open looks. Seemingly every time the ball left his hand, it looked like it was going to go in. The Magic are going to need that if they want to build off of this win even more.
  • If Tomas Satoransky could play the Magic every night, he would be an All-NBA player. Once again the 6-foot-7 guard torched the Magic to the tune of 20 points, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. Orlando has struggled to find an answer for him dating back to his days with the Washington Wizards, and that continued on Monday night. The Magic have to find an answer for him sooner than later.