Aaron Gordon will see some familiar faces when the Denver Nuggets host the Orlando Magic on Sunday night.
The Nuggets took over Gordon from the Magic on the March 25 trade deadline after spending 6 1/2 seasons in Orlando.
Denver has won the first three games with Gordon on the field, four games in a row and 13 of 16. The 25-year-old had a solid all-around performance with 14 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals in the 101st Thursday. -94 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
“I kept telling him he was the difference maker,” said Nuggets swingman Will Barton of Gordon’s takeover. “I think he kicked us over.”
Gordon registered 79 double-doubles in 428 games with Orlando, but never lived up to the promise of being the fourth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
He has averaged 14.6 points and 6.6 rebounds in 25 games for the Magic this season, but things were starting to turn sour. Expressing his frustration with the organization, he asked for a trade, and the Magic agreed to the deadline for the deal with the Nuggets forwarding agent Gary Harris to the Magic.
The best thing about Gordon being in Denver for Gordon is the difference in standards. The Magic also shipped center Nikola Vucevic and security guard Evan Fournier on the deadline as the Nuggets prepare to make a title run.
“It feels great,” said Gordon of the change in the environment. “By being able to play in meaningful games, I can just pull out all the stops every night and expect nothing less than a win. That expectation and pressure is something I look forward to being a part of.”
Gordon is well aware of what happens when the Nuggets and Magic play – Denver usually wins.
The Nuggets have won the past nine meetings and 14 of the last 16. Denver built a 22-point lead at half-time to record a 110-99 victory on March 23 in Orlando.
Gordon had 13 points, six assists and three rebounds in what turned out to be his penultimate game with the Magic.
Orlando stumbles to Denver after being toppled 137-91 by the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.
The Magic had won their previous two games, but was no match for the red-hot Utah, which set an NBA record with 18 three-pointers in the first half on their way to a 78-40 lead.
The Jazz finished 26th out of 55 from a 3-point range on a night in which Orlando made only 2 out of 23.
The Magic only had eight players in uniform and figure to have the same number on Sunday.
“Eight guys had a lot to do with it,” Orlando coach Steve Clifford said of the worst setback of the season. Obviously, the journey is exhausting you, and they play just as well as anyone else in the NBA. We weren’t ready for that. ‘
RJ Hampton, who had 12 points and eight rebounds against the Jazz in 31 minutes, was one of the players to receive the Magic in the Gordon trade.
He said he is looking forward to playing against his former teammates.
“It’s going to be very special,” Hampton said. “All those guys are my friends and took care of me while I was there. The key to beating such a great team is to lock in defensively. … We have to lock early tomorrow or something like this will happen again.”
Harris stays out with a groin injury he sustained in mid-February while with the Nuggets.
– Field level media
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