Fournier leads Magic past winless Pelicans, 103-94
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — After hitting his second consecutive 26-foot jumper inside the final 1:13 of the fourth quarter, Orlando’s Evan Fournier let out a primal roar as he trotted back toward the defensive end.
Those last two clutch shots had lifted him to a career-high 30 points and sealed the Magic’s first victory of the season, 103-94 over the still-winless New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night.
“It was something like, ‘Ah, finally, we’re going to get that one,’” Fournier said when asked out his vocal outpouring of emotion. “I felt like after that shot the game was basically over. So it just felt great because we lost two very close games, heartbreaking losses.”
The Magic’s previous two losses had come in overtime against Oklahoma City and by a point against Washington. But they got over the hump without too much of a struggle against the reeling, injury-plagued Pelicans, who have now lost all four of their games under new coach Alvin Gentry by nine or more points.
“Really disappointed, disappointed all around really,” Gentry said. “I didn’t think we competed at the level that we needed to. ... We didn’t do a very good job defensively. We got back-cut, couldn’t contain dribble penetration and then I didn’t think our offense had any rhythm to it, so we’ve just got a lot of work to do.”
Nikola Vucevic had 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Victor Oladipo added 12 points for the Magic, who, like the Pelicans, entered the contest at 0-3.
Eric Gordon had 21 points for New Orleans, which trimmed an 18-point, first-half deficit to 95-90 with 2:46 to go.
Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson each scored 14 for the Pelicans, who have given up more than 100 points in all four losses. New Orleans also shot poorly, hitting just 36.6 percent (32 of 90).
Thanks in part to the Pelicans’ poor shooting, Orlando outrebounded New Orleans 55-46. Tobias Harris grabbed 13 rebounds for the Magic.
New Orleans also missed seven of 25 free throws, while Orlando was a perfect 12 of 12.
CONFIDENCE IN THE CLUTCH
Fournier made 12 of 20 shots, but he was only 2 of 7 from 3-point range before unleashing his pair of clinching rainbows from deep.
“I felt like I had enough space to get it up. I’m working on my shot every day, so I felt like it was not a comfortable shot, but a shot that I can really make,” Fournier said. “I got lucky, I guess.”
The Pelicans were thin at center after Omer Asik, who has played in only one game this season, was ruled out with a right calf strain. Alexis Ajinca started but contributed only four points and four rebounds. Davis, normally a power forward, had to play some at center and did not look entirely comfortable. He went 3 of 12 from the field and finished with nine rebounds and five blocked shots.
“I just want to be the best I can be to help the team win. I feel I’m not doing it right now. That frustration is on me,” Davis said. “I can’t find a way to put the ball in the basket. I’ve just got to stay with it.”
Magic: Orlando outshot New Orleans 54.5 percent (24 of 44) to 31.9 (15 of 47) in the first half, and the Magic led 57-43 at the break. ... C.J. Watson needed some attention from trainers after taking an elbow to the face from the Pelicans’ Toney Douglas, who was driving to the basket and was called for an offensive foul.
Pelicans: New Orleans also was without guard Tyreke Evans (right knee), forward Quincy Pondexter (left knee), guard Norris Cole (left ankle) and center Kendrick Perkins (right pectoral). ... The Pelicans hit only one of their first 13 3-point attempts before making 11 of 23 the rest of the way. ... Gentry was assessed a technical foul by official Brent Barnaky moments after calling timeout in the second quarter. ... The Pelicans would have trailed by 17 at halftime if not for Ish Smith hitting a 25-foot 3 as time expired in the first half.
Magic: Visit Houston on Wednesday night.
Pelicans: Host Atlanta on Friday night.