Fournier Hopes to Play Tonight in Charlotte

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

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By John DentonNov. 21, 2014

ORLANDO – When Evan Fournier landed awkwardly early in the second half of Monday’s win in Detroit, the first thing that went through his mind was the searing pain emanating from his left heel.

But one thing that never crossed the Orlando Magic guard’s mind was pulling himself out of the game because of the bruised heel that he had suffered.

``It was already bad, but it’s not like I can say, `OK, I’m going to just stop and not play,’’’ Fournier recalled. ``It was a very important game for us and I wanted to play through the pain. We got the win in that game and that’s all that really matters.’’

Fournier was fabulous in Orlando’s 107-93 defeat of Detroit on Monday, but as a result of the heel contusion that he suffered he had to sit out of Wednesday’s ugly home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. In addition to the pain in his foot, Fournier had to deal with the pain of having to miss a game for the first time. Not just this season or during his three NBA seasons – the first time he’s missed a game of any kind because of injury since he turned professional as a 16-year-old in France.

``It was hard for me to be on the bench the other night, but I felt like I had to because the pain was very strong. So I think I did the right choice,’’ Fournier said on Friday before the Magic’s shoot-around practice. ``That was the first time that I’ve missed a game since I was a pro when I was 16. So that was really hard for me.’’

Fournier is hopeful that he can play tonight and that’s a great thing for the Magic (5-8), who will be facing the slumping Charlotte Hornets (4-8) at 7 p.m. The 22-year-old guard has been a breakout star this season while averaging a career-best 17.3 points per game and shooting 50.9 percent from 3-point range and 48 percent from the floor.
On Friday, he stressed that he felt better and he was adamant that he’ll be ready to give it a go tonight versus the Hornets.

``I’m going to play tonight even if I’m not 100 percent,’’ Fournier said confidently.

Fournier was at his do-everything best on Monday, scoring 14 points, handing out eight assists and drilling three 3-pointers – all while playing through the heel pain suffered when he landed on the back of his foot following a dunk attempt. He went through a workout session early on Wednesday in hopes of playing, but the decision was made to rest him because of the lingering pain in his heel.

The loss of one of their most efficient players played somewhat of a role in Orlando’s unsightly 114-90 loss to the Clippers. Some of blame for that loss could be attributed to L.A. shooting an uncharacteristically high percentage from 3-point range. And certainly some of it could have been because of the loss of Fournier, who has been a boon to Orlando’s offense with his abilities to shoot from afar, drive to the hoop and also make plays for others with his passing.

``The way we are with our ecosystem, we need everybody,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``Playing well one night and then missing a guy who had eight assists and helps us play well (on Monday in Detroit), it was a little bit of not a great flow for us. He’s just a big part of our ecosystem.’’

Orlando comes into Friday night tied with Oklahoma City for the most road games in the NBA with eight. Tonight will be the ninth and the most in the league – the Thunder are playing at home – and it’s the start of another difficult stretch of eight road games in the next 10.

Following Saturday’s home game in Miami, the Magic will be in Cleveland on Monday to face LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. Orlando will host the high-powered Golden State Warriors on Wednesday before leaving for a 10-day, six-game trip that starts in Indiana, ends in Sacramento and stops in Phoenix, Oakland, Los Angeles (Clippers) and Salt Lake City in between.

``It’s just about accepting this challenge,’’ Vaughn said. ``This is a good stretch. There are a lot of games and we’ve played three more games than some teams. A lot of teams won’t even catch up to our amount of road (games) until January. But the ability for us to gain confidence – and you can gain confidence being on the road and being in games and finishing them – hopefully we can continue to do that.’’