Warriors hang tough but can’t finish off Magic
ORLANDO, Florida - Evan Fournier’s turnaround season is helping the Orlando Magic in the win column.
Fournier matched a career high with 32 points that included the game-deciding basket, lifting the Magic over the Golden State Warriors 100-96 on Sunday night.
Fournier, who had a dismal shooting season last year, was 13-for-21 shooting, including 6 of 10 from 3-point range against the Warriors. His biggest basket came with 9.3 seconds left in the game and Orlando clinging to a 96-95 lead.
Fournier went one-on-one with Draymond Green, a former defensive player of the year. He beat Green off the dribble and continued through a wall of interior defenders to lay the ball in and give the Magic a 98-95 advantage.
“That was a great play,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “He’s not just scoring for us, he’s scoring efficiently, I mean 32 points on 21 shots, that’s efficient offense.”
“This was a big-time win,” Fournier said. “There are more opportunities for me (because of injuries) and coach (Steve Clifford) calls my name more. I’m trying to make the right play.”
Terrence Ross came off the bench to score 19 points for the Magic, who struggled to make a shot. Orlando shot 42.5% (37 of 87), but the combination of Fournier’s shooting and solid team defense were enough to get the win.
Jonathan Isaac had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Markelle Fultz contributed 14 points and nine assists for Orlando.
Glenn Robinson III led Golden State with 19 points. Eric Paschall scored 17 points and Alec Burks 15 for the Warriors, who had all five starters score in double figures, yet lost for the fifth time in six games.
Golden State was down six going into the final minute and trimmed the deficit to 96-95 on a 3-pointer by Burks.
The Magic called on Fournier, and he drove around Green and through the heart of the Warriors defense to make a layup that gave Orlando a 98-95 lead with 9.7 seconds left.
Burks hit one free throw to make it a two-point game and had one more attempt, but missed a 3-point try from the corner in the final seconds.
Aaron Gordon’s two free throws pushed the final margin to four.
“Tonight was a really good fight,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We were able to compete, and we defended like crazy. We couldn’t do that against anybody in the first part of the season, so that’s an improvement. We’ll get over the hump, but it’s just not there yet.”
The fourth quarter was back-and-forth, with neither side able to get more than a three-point lead until Ross drained a 3-pointer from the wing to make it 93-89 with 1:23 left in the game. Orlando increased its lead to six when Khem Burch made two free throws, but Golden State wasn’t done.
The Warriors made three of four free throws and Burks drilled a 3-pointer to make it ?96-95 with 33 seconds left.
Golden State couldn’t finish off the rally from there.