Aaron Gordon Continues to Focus on Present Moment

By John Denton
Jan. 9, 2018

DALLAS – His thick hoodie dripping with sweat following a lengthy, post-practice shooting session, Aaron Gordon said his primary coping mechanism for dealing with the tough times he’s suffered through with the Orlando Magic is constant hard work.

The only way to bring about change, Gordon stressed, is to better one’s self in hopes that it will impact the group in a positive way.
Gordon has made as much progress this season as any players in the NBA, averaging career highs in almost every statistical category. Still, his Magic (12-28) have slumped badly following a strong start to the season. Gordon has steadfastly continued to work, hoping that someday soon all of his progress and work will get Orlando on the road to success.

``(The losing) hurts and it’s not something that I like obviously, but I do my best to continue to focus on the present moment,’’ Gordon said. ``Win, to me, stands for What’s Important Now. What’s important now is continuing to get better so that when the opportunity presents itself I’m ready and we’re ready as a team. It’s the present that I focus on, staying ruthless and taking steps forward every day toward becoming a winning culture.’’

Gordon hopes that turnaround begins tonight when the Magic face the Mavericks (13-28) in Dallas at 8:30 p.m. ET. It is the start of a three-game road trip for Orlando that will have it play in Milwaukee (Wednesday) and Washington (Friday).

In Dallas, the Magic will be facing yet another team that relies heavily on the 3-point shot. The Mavericks rank fourth in the NBA in makes per game (11.8) and fifth in the league in attempts per night (29.5). In the past two weeks, the Magic have faced Miami (sixth in 3-point makes and sixth in 3-point attempts), Brooklyn (third in makes and second in attempts), Houston (first in makes and first in attempts) and Cleveland (second in makes and third in attempts).

``What is this – five or six straight teams that are in the top five or six in 3-point makes,’’ Magic coach Frank Vogel said. ``So it’s stretches you out and you’ve got to guard them. We’ve had enough practice the last four games.’’

Orlando is hopeful that it will get guard Jonathon Simmons back tonight after missing the past game-and-a-half with back spasms. Simmons, who is averaging a career-best 14.3 points per game this season, went through Orlando’s morning practice and is listed as a game-time decision.

The Magic come into tonight’s game having dropped four in a row and 13 of the last 14 games. Gordon knows full well that Orlando can’t succumb to the pall that surrounds losing and he said he will never find it acceptable to drop games. He pointed out that he’s won at every level of basketball that he’s ever played and he thinks eventually the Magic can find the right formula to be successful.

``Winners are just people who have gone through failure and have responded better than the rest,’’ Gordon said with conviction. ``Everybody has bad days, but how you respond to it is a testament to whether you are a winner or a loser. If you’re in a present state of mind, you know that winning just means, `What’s Important Now.’’’

Gordon has done his part to try and help the Magic shift their season by evolving into the team’s most lethal scorer. In addition to averaging a team-high 19.2 points per game and improving dramatically with his overall shooting (48.4 percent) and 3-point accuracy (39 percent), he’s had 10 20-point games, four 30-point games and two 40-point games. He had 39 points against Miami two weeks ago and 30 on Saturday when the Magic fell 131-127 to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Gordon’s play has certainly caught the attention of others around the league and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said the forward will be his team’s focus tonight when the Mavs host the Magic.

``He’s playing better all the time, he’s getting more refined and more mature,’’ Carlisle said of Gordon. ``He’s obviously a big subject today with our scouting report and talking about how we’re going to defend these guys. His outside shooting is a problem, his rim attacks are a problem and he’s obviously a lob threat. And Frank (Vogel) has done a great job of bringing him along.’’

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