Magic come up short against Nuggets in Evan Fournier’s return to Denver
DENVER (AP) — Arron Afflalo took no special pleasure in helping beat his former team.
Afflalo scored 17 points for Denver in his first matchup against Orlando since being traded, and the Nuggets beat the Magic 93-90 on Wednesday night for their third consecutive win.
"The fact that it was the Magic doesn’t make it any sweeter," Afflalo said. "I’m just happy we won. Just being out there on the court, they’ve gotten better from when I was there. Their confidence, their aggression, their strength, everything about them has gotten better. They just need more time."
Against the Nuggets, they ran out of time.
Evan Fournier, who was acquired by Orlando in the offseason trade sending Afflalo back to Denver for a second tour with the team, had 14 points, but misfired on a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
"They were kind of in scramble mode and looking for a 3-point opportunity," Afflalo said. "He’s a good shooter and he got a decent look at it."
Fournier got the shot off under defensive pressure.
"It was a tough shot, step-back 3 on my right," he said. "Unfortunately, it didn’t go in, but it was a tough play."
Ty Lawson led Denver with 23 points. The Nuggets also got a key contribution from Jusuf Nurkic, who had eight points in his first career start in place of Timofey Mozgov, who was traded to Cleveland earlier in the day in exchange for two first-round draft picks.
"It was a little funky; he was tired," Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. "The adrenaline from starting the first game made it seem like he was gassed early in the game. He did OK. He just really seemed to be gassed."
Nikola Vucevic scored 20 points for the Magic, who lost for the sixth straight time in Denver. Victor Oladipo had 17 points.
After Elfrid Payton’s jumper gave the Magic a 53-52 lead, the Nuggets ran off 10 straight points. Afflalo capped the run with a driving layup, and Denver carried a 63-58 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Nuggets got a boost from Nate Robinson, who scored each of his 13 points in the final period, including a pair of free throws that gave Denver a 78-68 lead with 5:49 left.
Orlando got within five when Tobias Harris swished a 3-pointer, but Lawson answered with his third 3-pointer of the game.
The Magic rallied again with a trio of 3-pointers, including two by Andrew Nicholson. Orlando trailed 93-90 with 56.4 seconds left.
The Nuggets missed two long jumpers, giving Orlando a chance for a tying 3-pointer, but Fournier’s attempt from beyond the arc went off the rim and out.
"They made some big timely 3s; they’ve got a lot of fight," Afflalo said. "But at the end of the day, we came out with a win."
Magic: Channing Frye failed to score in 19 1/2 minutes after he was listed as questionable because of elbow and triceps soreness. He was 0 for 5 from the floor. … After going winless during a three-game homestand, the Magic opened a four-game road trip.
Nuggets: The chance to build on the Nuggets’ roster through the acquisition of two first-round draft picks factored heavily in the team’s decision to trade Mozgov to the Cavs, general manager Tim Connelly said in a pregame news conference. "It’s never easy to trade a guy that does everything right, did everything we ask," Connelly said. "We just thought the opportunity to get two future assets was too good to pass up." He said the Nuggets’ frontcourt depth also figured in the decision.
Magic: Visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
Nuggets: Visit Sacramento on Friday night.