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Fournier Looking to Shake Out of Shooting Slump

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

PHILADELPHIA – When Orlando Magic standout guard Evan Fournier – the team’s leading scorer each of the past three seasons – struggled through a poor-shooting preseason, he summarily waved off the issue and quipped, ``I’m not bugging about it.’’

Now, that those issues have stretched into the first two games of the regular season, the veteran guard is clearly bugging about his wayward shot. Fournier’s history, however, suggests that this shooting slump shouldn’t last too long.

Fournier made just five of 15 shots and only two of nine 3-point shots in Friday’s 120-88 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. Fournier’s woes seemed to rub off on his teammates as Orlando shot just 38.3 percent from the floor and it missed 25 of 31 3-point tries.

Fournier, a prideful player who doesn’t take losing or poor performances easily, sounded shocked and embarrassed by what took place in Friday’s loss. The Magic trailed by 22 in the first half and by as much as 37 points in the fourth quarter – numbers that didn’t sit well with Fournier.

``We’re going to have to have better purpose for sure, but it’s not going to erase what we did (on Friday). It’s too late already,’’ Fournier fumed.

Fournier might want to erase how he’s shot the ball thus far in the preseason and in the first two games of the regular season. In five exhibition games, he hit on just 17 of 54 shots (31.5 percent) and only five of 22 3-pointers (22.7 percent). His Friday performance combined with pedestrian numbers in the season-opening defeat of Miami (five of 15 overall, zero of five from 3-point range and three free throw misses) dropped Fournier to 10 of 30 from the floor and two of 14 from 3-point range before Saturday’s game in Philadelphia.

``We have to get better looks, man,’’ said Fournier, who could be still adjusting to a move back to the shooting guard position after mostly playing at small forward last season. ``The offense was stagnant (on Friday). I thought we did a good job against Miami. (Friday) was, not a setback, but we were looking for offense, taking shots early, being stagnant and not moving the ball side-to-side. Bad spacing, bad motor and bad everything, really.’’

History says that Fournier is bound to turn things around as the season progresses. Over his first seven years in the NBA, he’s a 44.7 percent shooter from the field with a 37.8 percent success rate from 3-point range. In his previous four seasons in Orlando, he’s shot better than 45 percent from the floor twice and he topped the 35 percent plateau from 3-point range four times.

SIMMONS OUT: Magic guard Jonathon Simmons missed Saturday’s game so that he could attend the funeral for his uncle, Ben Simmons, back in his hometown of Houston.

Ben Simmons, not to be confused with the Philadelphia 76ers star, had been battling an illness over the past year and died two weeks ago. Simmons’ uncle, Ben, was the brother of his mother, LaTonya Simmons.

Jonathon also missed the Magic’s Oct. 10 preseason game because of the death of his uncle. The talented guard is expected to rejoin the team in Boston on Sunday and be available on Monday when the Magic face the Celtics. Simmons had 12 points and five rebounds in Orlando’s opening win and seven points and three rebounds on Friday.

Orlando planned to use forward Wes Iwundu on Saturday night to replace Simmons’ spot in the regular rotation. The Magic also activated rookie forward Melvin Frazier Jr., a second-round pick from last June’s NBA Draft.

``I thought Wes was really good in the preseason and he played well (on Friday) night,’’ Magic coach Steve Clifford said.

GORDON’S BOARDIN’: When Magic forward Aaron Gordon tied his career high for rebounds in Wednesday’s opener against Miami, it didn’t come by accident. He and Clifford talked repeatedly in the offseason about ways the 23-year-old can make individual improvements and rebounding was one area the coach has had his forward concentrate on.

Not only did Gordon batter the Heat with 16 rebounds in Wednesday’s opener, he snagged four caroms off the offensive glass. The 16 boards equaled his previous career high, which he had accomplished three times earlier – most recently in March of 2017 at Boston.

Like many of his teammates, Gordon struggled with his shot in Friday’s loss to Charlotte. Still, he rebounded well, nabbing 10 boards and snatching three offensive rebounds.
The mission to become a better rebounder, Gordon said, has forced him to go back to the basics.

``Cliff has just been preaching boxing out and it’s taken me awhile to realize that you actually have to box out in this league,’’ said Gordon, who averaged 5.8 rebounds a game over his first four pro seasons. ``It seems silly because I always thought you could just jump and get the rebound. But, you’ve got to box out in this league and that’s helped me.’’

BAMBA’S FEET FEAT: Magic rookie Mohamed Bamba accomplished something of a boyhood dream on Thursday when he signed an endorsement deal with Under Armour. Bamba, the No. 6 pick in last June’s NBA Draft and owner of the longest wingspan in NBA history at 7 feet, 10 inches, announced his new partnership on social media, posting a picture of himself wearing a black and white T-shirt adorned with Under Armour’s trademark X across the chest.

``It’s awesome and what makes Under Armour so unique is that I’m not just one of (many endorsers); you can kind of blaze your own trail and do something different,’’ Bamba said.
Two-time MVP and three-time champion Stephen Curry is Under Armour’s most prominent endorser in the NBA. The 20-year-old Bamba said he has a lot to accomplish in the NBA before he gains the kind of endorsement profile of a megastar like Curry. After delivering a 13-point, seven-rebound, two-block effort in the opening win against Miami, Bamba missed all four of his shots and went scoreless in 18 minutes on Friday.

``You’ve got to do some stuff in the league before you get your own shoe,’’ Bamba said with a hearty laugh. ``But, they have a lot of good, collaborative work (at Under Armour).’’

UP NEXT: After completing its first back-to-back set of games of the season, Orlando will receive a much-needed day off on Sunday.

The Magic were scheduled to fly to Boston following Saturday night’s game. They will face the deep and talented Celtics in Beantown on Monday night at TD Garden. Boston opened the season with a home defeat of Philadelphia before getting throttled by Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors on Friday. The Magic and Celtics will be on similar rest with Boston playing the Knicks in New York on Saturday night.

The Magic will be back at the Amway Center on Thursday when they host Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors.