Hip Injury Will Keep Aaron Gordon Out Tonight

By John Denton
Jan. 30, 2018

HOUSTON – When he awkwardly twisted and felt a pull in his left hip on Saturday, Aaron Gordon played through that pain and thought nothing else of the injury. However, when he woke up Sunday morning, the Orlando Magic forward knew he might be dealing with something that could knock him out of action for a period of time.

Gordon’s strained left hip flexor will keep him out of tonight’s game in Houston against the Rockets and it will most likely shelve him on Wednesday when the Magic are back at the Amway Center to face the Los Angeles Lakers. Beyond that, Gordon isn’t sure when he will play again because of the tricky nature of the injury that he suffered on Saturday night in Orlando’s 114-112 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

``I was trying to make a defensive stop, sliding toward the baseline and I planted and got bumped at the same time. It was just an awkward pull,’’ Gordon said of the play where he was injured with approximately four minutes remaining in Saturday’s fourth quarter. ``I’m glad it’s just a strain and nothing too severe. I felt it throughout the rest of the game and after the game and when I woke up (Sunday morning). It feels better, but it’s still not there.’’

Being forced to play without Gordon tonight is a huge blow for the Magic (14-34) because they could have used the forward’s defensive versatility against the Rockets (35-13). At 6-foot-9 and 225 pounds, Gordon has the strength, length and quickness to guard everyone James Harden to Ryan Anderson to Clint Capella. Now, the Magic will have to adjust their starting five and forward Mario Hezonja will most likely get the nod to replace Gordon.

``Significantly,’’ Magic coach Frank Vogel said when asked how not having Gordon impacts his team. ``Especially when you would have him on Harden most of the night and you need switching flexibility most of the night and size on Ryan Anderson. And (Gordon) is a guy who can hurt switches as well. It’s a big loss, but, you know, we’re going to be focused on the guys who are in uniform. We have an opportunity to get one of our best wins of the season. We won at Boston last week and we beat Minnesota recently, so we have an opportunity to win a third game against a top seven-or-eight team within two weeks. That’s what we’re gunning for.’’

Gordon’s injury hits just as the Magic are about to play their first back-to-back set of games since Dec. 22 and 23. Following tonight’s game and an early-morning arrival back into Orlando, the Magic will be host the Lakers on Wednesday. Vogel doesn’t think the team will have Gordon for that game either.

``He’s not able to go through shoot-around this morning, so I’d guess it’s unlikely that he plays (on Wednesday).’’

Gordon is Orlando’s leading scorer this season at 18.4 points per game and he’s averaging a career-best 8.3 rebounds a game. He has led the Magic in scoring 13 times and in rebounding 12 times. He has two 40-point games, four 30-point games and 11 20-point games this season.

Houston won 116-98 in Orlando on Jan. 3 and that was a game it played without Harden because of a hamstring. The Rockets won’t have Trevor Ariza (hamstring strain) tonight and point guard Chris Paul (groin strain) could be out as well.

Gordon said it pains him greatly to miss a game against an elite team such as the Rockets. Throughout his four seasons with the Magic, Gordon has regularly guarded the opposing team’s best scorer and undoubtedly that would have meant an assignment against Harden, a leading candidate to the NBA’s MVP award.

``Especially playing Houston because these are the types of games that I want to be in – against playoff teams and championship-caliber teams,’’ Gordon said. ``It’s too bad, it’s the way the game works, I’ll be patient and I’ll be back soon, though.’’

Gordon scored a team-high 22 points in Saturday’s loss to the Pacers, but he did not score in the final period. That likely was a product of the pain he was feeling down the stretch. He had a chance to the tie game with 7.9 seconds remaining, but he misfired on his first free throw and missed purposely on the second attempt. Magic guard Jonathon Simmons got an open look on a 3-point shot that could have won the game, but his try was off line.

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