The money man Aaron Gordon pulled through when the Orlando Magic needed him most. Gordon, who signed a 4-year, $84-million dollar extension towards the end of last season proved on opening night against the Miami Heat why he was paid the high amount. The high flyer scored 26 points and snagged 16 rebounds as the Magic got by the Heat 104-101 at the Amway Center Wednesday night.

With the victory, Orlando start off 1-0 on the season under the direction of new head coach Steve Clifford, who most recently was the lead man for the Charlotte Hornets. The Magic, whom only won 27 games all of last season, are now just 26 away from matching last year’s totals. Orlando will take the floor again this Friday when they host Clifford’s old team, the Hornets.

”Offensively, we were here and there, but the story of the game was the bench,” said Clifford. ”When they went in the game they picked up our defense and we played offense off our defense, which is something you have to do earlier in the year.”

The Magic (1-0) had six players score in double digits and Gordon led the way with a double-double. Rookie Mo Bamba was effective coming off the bench for Orlando and scored 13 points and nabbed seven rebounds in 25 minutes of play. Second year forward Jonathan Isaac started at small forward and provided solid defense, played 18 minutes and scored six points and grabbed six boards.

”I was so nervous going out there, but it was everything that I expected. It was a fun game to play in,” said Bamba. ”It’s just a matter of doing that 81 more times.”

Orlando was able to outscore Miami in the second quarter (29-20) and the fourth (25-23), in which the Magic built up an 11-point lead with under eight minutes remaining. Heat point guard Goran Dragic led the team with 26 points.

About The Author

Andy Villamarzo has covered high school and youth sports for the Tampa Bay Times and The Tampa Tribune as a correspondent since 2008. He is a native of Holiday, FL, who graduated from Gulf High School and studied at St. Petersburg College. He has covered various prep, collegiate and professional athletes throughout his writing career, including Josh Johnson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Patrick Schuster (Arizona Diamondbacks) and currently writes for other publications like The Suncoast News, Friday Night Football Magazine and TopDrawerSoccer.com.

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