Fournier Bounces Back with Career Shooting Night in Win Over Rockets
Evan Fournier didn’t start off his Celtics career the way that he hoped he would, but he’s certainly on the right track now.
During his first two games in Boston, the veteran wing tallied just six points on 3-of-16 shooting from the field, including 0-for-7 from 3-point range – certainly a result of him getting used to playing with a new team for the first time in nearly seven years. But on Friday night, he looked more than comfortable, as he put on the best long-range shooting performance of his career while helping to launch his Celtics past the Rockets, 118-102, at TD Garden.
After shooting 1-of-5 during the first three quarters, Fournier suddenly caught fire at the start of the final frame. He made four triples during the first four minutes of the quarter, which helped the Celtics turn a 12-point lead into a 19-point advantage.
But Fournier wasn’t done yet. He went on to make all six of his 3-point attempts during the fourth, which was when he scored 20 of his 23 points on the night. He would finish the game 7-of-11 from 3-point range, which gave him a new career-high in long-distance makes. It was also the second-most 3-point makes for a Celtics reserve in team history, trailing only Eddie House’s 8-of-9 effort on Jan. 28, 2009.
Evan Fournier's career-high in 3-point makes was 6 before tonight. And then he went and did this: 6-for-6 from deep in less than 6 minutes during the 4th quarter. pic.twitter.com/MxfAgnUoV7— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) April 3, 2021
"I always try to stay in the moment,” Fournier said of his bounce-back performance. “Never too high; never too low. It's been my motto for years now. I've played nine years in this league now; I know who I am, and I know what I'm capable of doing.”
The Celtics know what he’s capable of doing, as well. And that’s why head coach Brad Stevens didn’t blink twice after Fournier’s 0-for-10 debut against New Orleans Monday night.
“I can already tell he's not really a guy that rides the emotional roller coaster,” Stevens said. “He's a pretty even-keeled guy and he's come into work every day and has gotten his normal amount of shots up. He doesn't look bothered by the fact that he started in that first game 0-for-10. Didn't look bothered by the fact that we didn't give him enough shots as a team the other day. He's just trying to figure out how he can help impact us and we did a better job of finding him tonight, especially once he got going.”
And Fournier was confident that it was only a matter of time before he got going after his rough start.
“That first game against NOLA was not the way I wanted to start with the Celtics, but it's not going to define who I am with this team,” he stated. “I said it many times, I'm going to try to impact winning as much as I can and I'm really happy about the win tonight. Period. Moving forward, I'm going to try to play as hard as I can and help the guys."
As for the other guys, they were beyond ecstatic to see Fournier break out of his mini-slump. In particular, Kemba Walker was going nuts for Fournier during his 3-point barrage, which only made Fournier more confident.
"As a new guy, when you see your teammates, first of all, looking for you on the court and second, be happy for you, it means a lot,” Fournier said. “When you come in and you don't know anybody really, and you see the guys being that excited for you, it means a lot. I really appreciate them."
Fournier also knows that he’s going to have to acclimate himself to them. This Celtics team is much different than the Magic team he was coming from in that he is no longer the go-to option from the wing. He’s going to have to learn how to play alongside other elite perimeter scorers such as Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Kemba Walker. And he’s looking forward to doing so.
“I have to adapt to the guys,” Fournier said. “They obviously have really good scorers and very good creators. I have to find open spaces, play within the system and be aggressive … I understand what we are trying to do on offense and defense, and I will find opportunities to help this team.”
Fournier more than helped this team Friday night, as he brushed off his shaky start and responded with the most efficient 20-point quarter since Paul Pierce in 2009. And for that, he deserves to celebrate.
"It's my first win as a Celtic, and it's just a good overall night,” Fournier said. “I'm going to enjoy a glass of wine tonight and I'm going to sleep very well."