Great Defense, Resilience Helped Set Up Fournier's Clutch Shot
ORLANDO – Monday’s thrilling victory over the Cavs will forever be remembered for Evan Fournier’s game-winning jumper at the buzzer.
What deserves just as much attention, though, is what occurred beforehand. A pair of steals and a blocked shot preceded the 26-year-old’s clutch shot, giving the Magic the opportunity to win in stunning fashion.
Jordan Clarkson attempted to catch a pass from Cedi Osman that appeared to be intended for George Hill. Clarkson, however, was a little too far ahead of the ball, causing the Cavs’ guard to mishandle the pass. Quick to react, D.J. Augustin grabbed the ball and then was inadvertently fouled with 18.7 seconds left. The Magic’s starting point guard, subsequently, sank both free throws to pull Orlando within one.
The Cavs advanced the ball to their frontcourt after calling timeout. J.R. Smith, the inbounder, located Kyle Korver, an excellent free throw shooter, coming towards the sideline. Smothering defense by both Fournier and Terrence Ross resulted in a steal, however. Mo Bamba caught the fumble mid-air, passed it ahead to Fournier, who was fouled as he attempted a layup at the rim with 13.0 seconds remaining. Fournier evened the score on the first free throw but missed the second.
On Cleveland’s final possession, Hill – who was scorching hot throughout the fourth quarter – exploded down the lane. Nikola Vucevic was ready to challenge, though, and the Magic big man blocked Hill’s shot immediately after it was released on the drive. Although Hill retained possession, he was met by multiple swarming Magic defenders, who helped knock the ball out of bounds off the veteran guard with 1.8 ticks left.
Fournier, then, buried his second game-winning shot of his career. This was his first game winner at the buzzer, though, as his last pressure-packed bucket came in 2015 when he sank a go-ahead 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds left in overtime against the Timberwolves.