Magic Keep Composure, Hold On to Beat Heat

By on April 8, 2016
Evan Fournier (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Evan Fournier (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Magic continued their late season tear on Friday night, beating the Miami Heat by a score of 111-109 in front of a home crowd. It was a hard-fought affair for the in-state rivals, featuring 23 lead changes. Tonight’s Magic win snapped a four-game losing streak to the Heat.

A lesser Magic team, one from not so long ago, would’ve crumbled under the pressure of tonight’s back-and-forth with the Heat. This resurgent Magic team, led by forward Evan Fournier and center Nikola Vucevic, was able to match them blow for blow.

The Magic began the fourth quarter down one, but defended a three-point cushion for most of the quarter. That lasted until the final 30 seconds, when old Magic foe Joe Johnson hit a game tying three-pointer. The Magic reacted quickly, with Fournier drawing in the defense and finding a cutting Vucevic for a go-ahead dunk that brought the crowd to its feet.

The lead was only two, however, meaning that the Magic would have to hold for one final defense. After squandering most of the shot clock, the Heat took a timeout. With only three seconds left on the clock, seldom-used Magic shooting guard Devyn Marble wrestled the inbounds pass away from Joe Johnson, and sealed the victory for Orlando.

“I brought him in for defense and he made a great defensive play,” said Magic coach Scott Skiles on Marble’s performance.

Orlando would play a sloppy and generally inefficient first quarter, shooting 36% from the field and trailing by eight at the quarter break. It seemed to be another walkover for the third-seeded Heat, who had won five of their last seven coming into the game.

That would be the last time the Magic were outscored in a quarter, as they shot 58% for the remaining three periods.

Ersan Ilyasova would draw his first career start as a Magic player, due to the absence of Aaron Gordon. Gordon was diagnosed with a concussion after colliding with teammate Jason Smith during Wednesday’s loss to the Pistons.

Due to Miami’s size and Gordon’s absence, Miami out-rebounded Orlando 53-37. The Magic were able to combat this by bucking season trends and winning the free throw battle. The Magic, last in the league in free throws attempted, were able to hit 21 of their 28 shots at the line. Miami made only 11 of their 21 attempts, giving Orlando a 10-point advantage in that category.

A major reason for this was the aggressive play of Evan Fournier. The typically-sharpshooting Frenchman attempted a career-high 15 free throws, sinking 12. The forward also tacked on seven assists, as well as a team-high seven rebounds. His 28 points were second-highest on the team, and he scored them efficiently – hitting 58% of his shots and both of his threes.

“There’s only four games left, and every time I step on the court I play as hard as I can,” said Fournier, “It was a good atmosphere tonight, a good crowd, and it got me going.”

The Magic (35-45) will travel to Miami on Sunday before playing their final home game of the season on Monday against the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s fitting that this surging Magic team will face one final back-to-back to close out the season, a hurdle that they have struggled to cross all year.

 Heat
STARTERS MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
A. StoudemirePF 11 2-3 0-0 0-0 2 2 4 0 0 0 1 3 -4 4
J. JohnsonSF 27 6-13 1-4 0-0 1 0 1 1 0 0 2 2 -5 13
L. DengSF 32 4-7 2-3 0-0 3 7 10 1 0 0 1 2 -15 10
G. DragicPG 30 6-16 1-3 2-2 5 3 8 6 1 0 4 2 -1 15
D. WadeSG 31 7-19 0-3 3-4 1 0 1 5 1 0 3 1 -7 17
BENCH MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
U. HaslemPF 9 3-4 0-0 1-3 0 3 3 0 0 0 0 2 -2 7
G. GreenSF 15 4-9 2-4 1-1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 4 +6 11
J. WinslowSF 23 3-6 0-0 0-0 0 4 4 0 3 0 0 3 +5 6
H. WhitesideC 28 6-12 0-0 1-7 7 9 16 0 0 4 0 3 +4 13
J. RichardsonSG 33 4-11 2-5 3-4 4 1 5 4 1 1 1 1 +4 13
J. McRobertsPF DNP-COACH’S DECISION
T. JohnsonSG DNP-LEFT SHOULDER SURGERY
TEAM 45-100 8-22 11-21 23 30 53 18 6 5 12 23 109
45.0% 36.4% 52.4%

Magic

STARTERS MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
E. IlyasovaPF 24 2-5 0-2 0-0 1 5 6 0 0 0 0 1 -7 4
N. VucevicC 35 12-20 0-0 5-6 3 3 6 1 1 2 1 3 +1 29
E. PaytonPG 37 6-12 0-2 4-7 0 3 3 10 1 0 3 2 +2 16
V. OladipoSG 28 6-12 1-1 0-0 1 3 4 1 0 2 1 2 +0 13
E. FournierSG 46 7-12 2-2 12-15 1 6 7 7 1 0 3 5 +9 28
BENCH MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
J. SmithPF 13 3-8 0-0 0-0 0 3 3 0 0 4 0 1 +2 6
D. MarbleSF 5 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 0 1 0 0 2 +4 0
C.J. WatsonPG 29 3-5 1-1 0-0 0 2 2 1 0 1 1 2 -1 7
M. HezonjaSG 23 4-7 1-2 0-0 0 4 4 3 0 0 1 1 +5 9
A. NicholsonPF DNP-COACH’S DECISION
D. DedmonC DNP-COACH’S DECISION
S. NapierPG DNP-COACH’S DECISION
B. JenningsPG DNP-COACH’S DECISION
TEAM 43-82 5-10 21-28 6 31 37 23 4 9 10 19 112
52.4% 50.0% 75.0%
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