Evan Fournier scores career-high 28, Magic hold off Knicks
NEW YORK (AP) — This was the fourth quarter the Orlando Magic needed a night earlier, and it sure helped that Carmelo Anthony had to watch a key part of it.
Evan Fournier scored a career-high 28 points, and the Magic bounced back from a poor finish with a good one, handing the New York Knicks a sixth straight loss with a 97-95 victory Wednesday night.
Nikola Vucevic added 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Magic, who led by 11 points after three quarters in Toronto on Tuesday, only to lose 104-100. This time, they trailed 85-84 midway through the final period before taking control.
"We got an immediate test after being in a tight game from the night before. We were able to close out the game tonight. A great job by a lot of guys tonight," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said.
Anthony scored 27 points for the Knicks, who were held to 19 in the fourth quarter and still haven’t reached 100 this season. But he picked up a fifth foul and went to the bench with 5:41 to play, and the Knicks were shut out during the 2 minutes he sat as the Magic extended their lead.
"Losing is tough. I thought this was a game we could have went out there and gotten tonight, kind of get that monkey off our back. So this is a tough one to swallow," Anthony said.
Vucevic’s basket had just given Orlando an 86-85 lead when Anthony went out. Luke Ridnour made one of the free throws on Anthony’s foul, then Fournier was credited with a basket on a goaltending call with 4:27 left to cap a run of five straight points and give Orlando an 89-85 lead.
The French guard later added another free throw during an 8-2 run that made it 92-87, as the Knicks had just one basket in 4 1/2 minutes.
"We showed a lot of good things, especially defensively," Fournier said. "Put in a lot of energy. I’m just proud. It shows we are a good team."
The Knicks had a chance after Anthony made a 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds to cut it to 96-95. Fournier missed the second of two free throws with 3.8 to go, but J.R. Smith was nowhere close on a potential winning 3-point attempt. Coach Derek Fisher said he didn’t draw up a play looking for a 3-pointer, only that there were multiple options and that Smith trusted himself to take the shot.
Smith finished with 19 points.
Orlando snapped a four-game losing streak in New York.
"Of course to come in back-to-back after a tough loss says a lot about this team," Vucevic said. "We stuck together and we didn’t just give up."
The Magic scored the final seven points of the first quarter to take a 31-27 lead. They had another 7-0 spurt to finish the first half and take a 56-50 advantage to the locker room.
Magic: A number of Magic players have ties to the New York area, including Tobias Harris (Dix Hills, New York), Ben Gordon (Mount Vernon) and Maurice Harkless (St. John’s University). Gordon and Harkless didn’t play. … The Magic have played two sets of back-to-backs. They are 0-2 on the first night and 2-0 on the second.
Knicks: Quincy Acy started at forward for the first time since Nov. 2 against Charlotte, the third game of the season. The Knicks had won the only two games he started. … Tim Hardaway Jr. sat out the entire first half, but started the second. He finished with two points on 1-of-8 shooting.
ORLANDO ON TOP
The Magic’s victory allowed them to remain on top in the all-time series. They are now 49-47 against the Knicks, who had won eight of the previous nine meetings.
HAVE NO FEAR
Fisher, on the Knicks’ struggles: "Right now guys aren’t trusting that they know how to win right now, closing games out," he said. "We have to find a way to break through that, break through that fear of failing, fear of not succeeding."
Magic: Host Milwaukee on Friday.
Knicks: Host Utah on Friday.