Fournier Leads Magic Past Jazz in Wake of Tragedy

By on November 14, 2015

 

 Evan Fournier (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Evan Fournier (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Magic defeated the Utah Jazz on Friday night by a score of 102-93. The final score does not tell the full story – on or off the court – as the shorthanded Magic wracked up 33 points in the first quarter and led wire to wire in the home win. With his home country in turmoil, Frenchman Evan Fournier led the Magic with 21 points on 7-15 shooting.

Despite his stellar performance, basketball was the last thing on Fournier’s mind as he left the Amway Center.

A normal day at work turned into a nightmare with news of Friday’s bombings in Paris – a city incredibly familiar to Fournier. He was born just 10 minutes away, in a suburb called Saint-Maurice. Fournier declined to speak to the media directly after the game, but said through Twitter “Sometimes winning a basketball game means nothing… so so sad man… all these innocent people… #prayforparis”

As the Magic prepared for Friday night’s game, news began to spread of a terrorist attack on the French capital. Gunfire could be heard inside Bataclan, a Parisian concert venue. Authorities soon reported that “dozens” of civilians were taken hostage inside the venue by armed captors.

Multiple shootings and bombings erupted in six different locations within the city, leaving the last reported death toll as high as 153 (via CNN) and climbing with each new report.

On the basketball side, the team took the floor without star shooting guard Victor Oladipo, who suffered a concussion in Wednesday’s thriller against the Lakers. Head coach Scott Skiles responded by starting veteran Channing Frye at power forward and rotating Fournier over to fill Oladipo’s spot at two guard.

As if this wasn’t enough drama, the team had to make a flight to Washington DC shortly after the game for a back-to-back against the Wizards on Saturday.

Despite all of this, the Magic rarely faltered.

It started at the opening tip with a smooth and selfless brand of basketball that continued throughout the quarter. Orlando opened with an 11-2 run, and extended it to the largest lead of the season (21) before long. This was also the Magic’s second highest scoring quarter of the year, just missing the record of 35.

“They just came out and hit us first,” said Jazz forward Trey Lyles, “We never replied until it was too late as the score showed.”

Fournier led all scorers with nine on the quarter, followed by center Nikola Vucevic with eight. The team finished with eight assists in the period.

The Magic made only four shots from the field in the second quarter, and committed nine turnovers, but still managed 19 points thanks to Utah fouling at a league-leading rate. Orlando finished the first half 15 of 16 at the line, a large part of their 52-40 halftime lead.

In the fourth the Magic took the reigns again, extending the lead to as much as 21 before putting in the subs. Utah used this opportunity to go on an 11-2 run, while the starters looked on from the bench.

To stop the bleeding, Skiles made a lineup change with with just under three minutes to go. After a night of domination, the Magic found their lead in jeopardy.

The Jazz cut their deficit to 97-90 on a Joe Ingles three-pointer, but couldn’t make any more progress from there. The Magic were able to hit their free throws, and a freak turnover due to a slippery court sealed the Jazz’s fate.

The Magic will take on the Wizards in Washington tomorrow before enjoying some much-needed downtime to heal their wounds. The next matchup will come against the Timberwolves at home on Wednesday.

1 2 3 4 T
UTAH 15 25 23 30 93
ORL 33 19 28 22 102

 

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