ORLANDO, Fla. — Down by 16 points entering the fourth quarter Thursday night in their home opener against the Washington Wizards, the Orlando Magic wound up making things interesting with a lineup combination unfamiliar to their fans.
Ben Gordon, Luke Ridnour and Evan Fournier, all of whom were added during the offseason, teamed up with Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris to throw a scare into the Wizards, who were coming off a loss Wednesday night at Miami. But the Wizards held on to come away with a 105-98 victory.
Vucevic had his second double-double in as many games with team highs in points (23) and rebounds (12). But in a game where Kyle O’Quinn was inactive because of a left ankle he sprained Tuesday night at New Orleans and Channing Frye had only two points in 25 minutes in his Magic debut, the spark came from unexpected sources.
Fournier, making his second start in a row at a guard spot in place of the injured Victor Oladipo, had 14 points at halftime and finished with 21. Gordon and Ridnour played the entire fourth quarter, with Ridnour running the offense while rookie Elfrid Payton watched from the bench.
The Magic committed eight turnovers in the first nine minutes, including four by Payton, who wound up with six of their 17 turnovers.
Gordon’s three free throws after being fouled by Otto Porter cut the Wizards’ lead to 100-98 with 44.1 seconds to go. But a driving layup by Wall on the their next possession gave them breathing room.
THE TURNING POINT
After Wall’s 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Wizards a 54-51 halftime lead, they opened the third quarter by outscoring the Magic 18-6. The run included a free throw by Wall a minute into the quarter following a technical foul against Magic coach Jacque Vaughn.
All five starters for the Wizards were in double figures less than halfway through the third quarter. Wall ended up with 27 points and 12 assists, while former Magic center Marcin Gortat finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
STAT OF THE GAME
Gordon had 22 points off the Magic’s bench, 18 of which came in the second half. His top outing last season in 19 games with Charlotte was 12 points.