DENVER (AP) — Evan Fournier was having a horrid game against his former team. One big shot, though, turned his entire night around.
Fournier hit a late 3-pointer and Nikola Vucevic had 18 points and 13 rebounds, helping the Orlando Magic beat the Denver Nuggets 85-74 on Tuesday night.
"It’s always good to win on your ex-team’s floor," Fournier said.
With the Magic up by two and 2:38 remaining, Fournier knocked down a 3-pointer — his only basket of the game — as the team improved to 3-1 on their five-game road swing. Not only that, but Fournier’s shot kept another impressive string going: Orlando has made a 3-pointer in 677 straight games dating to 2007.
"That felt good," said Fournier, who was traded by Denver to Orlando on June 26, 2014. "But we have to play better than that."
The pivotal play by Fournier was actually a late audible. Elfrid Payton decided to swing the ball over the Fournier, knowing the team’s leading scorer was overdue for a big bucket.
"Evan is somebody I trust, somebody who’s made big shots for us all year," said Payton, who finished with 18 points as the Magic snapped a five-game skid against the Nuggets.
Reserve Will Barton scored 23 points for the Nuggets, who fell to 0-11 this season when scoring less than 100 points. Kenneth Faried had a rough shooting night, finishing 2 of 12 for seven points.
It wasn’t a pretty game all around for Denver, which was outrebounded by a 54-47 margin and turned the ball over 17 times. The team also shot 33.7 percent from the field.
"Our offense is on a milk carton — it’s missing. I don’t know where it is," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. "It’s very simple: When you turn the ball over, when you can’t make open shots and when you can’t finish, you’re going to have a hard time scoring."
Denver was thin up front with Joffrey Lauvergne out because of sickness and Darrell Arthur leaving in the first half with right knee soreness. That opened things up for Vucevic down low. The Magic outscored Denver 54-34 in the paint.
"It wasn’t the prettiest, but we’ll take any win," said Tobias Harris, who had 17 points. "We have to figure out a way to get off to a little bit better start. In the second half, thought we played some good basketball. They made a run, but we kept coming back. That was a good sign for us."
Andrew Nicholson celebrated his 26th birthday with a career-high 14 rebounds. He also had eight points.
"We said we were going to get the win for him," Harris said. "We held up to it."
STILL A LOSS
Although Barton had his ninth career 20-point game, it was little consolation.
"We came up short. The team and I didn’t make enough plays to finish out the game," Barton said.
Magic: F Aaron Gordon (sprained right ankle) and guard C.J. Watson (sore left calf) didn’t play. … The Magic play in Phoenix on Wednesday. They are 5-2 in back-to-back outings this season — 4-0 in the first game and 1-2 in the second. … Vucevic recorded his ninth double-double of the season. … Orlando had 20 turnovers.
Nuggets: Malone was a big fan of Scott Skiles when the Magic coach played at Michigan State. "I’ve always loved his toughness. I think the teams he coaches take on his identity," the Nuggets coach said. "It’s great he’s back in the league. I loved him as a player and have a lot of respect for him as a coach." … Arthur had no points and one rebound before exiting with a knee injury. … Gary Harris missed his sixth straight game with a concussion. … Faried and J.J. Hickson each had 11 rebounds.