Evan Fournier Making Progress

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

By John Denton
Jan. 22, 2017

ORLANDO – Shooting guard Anthony Brown knows that as a 10-day signee by the Orlando Magic he must walk the fine line between fitting in and trying to stand out enough to earn a long-term deal with the team.

Down two shooting guards because of injuries, the Magic inked Brown – a 6-foot-7, 211-pounder – to a 10-day contract on Sunday to provide depth on the wings. And the signing proved to be absolutely necessary on Sunday when reserve point guard D.J. Augustin suffered a grotesque ankle sprain that could keep him out for an extended period of time.

Brown, a former standout at Stanford who has played in the NBA previously with the Lakers and Pelicans, was called up from the Magic’s Development League affiliate, the Erie (Pa.) BayHawks. In 16 starts with Erie, Brown averaged 21.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists while shooting 47.2 percent from 3-point range.

With the Magic, Brown wants to fit in to the team concept while also showing the team that he is willing to do whatever it takes to potentially stick for a second 10-day contract and beyond.

``The only way that you can really stand out is by your energy and effort,’’ said Brown, who had two points and three rebounds in six minutes in his Magic debut in Sunday’s 118-98 loss to Golden State. ``Everything else, you can’t really control. But if you are new and coming into a team you can’t really go outside the box. I guess the biggest thing for me is doing the little things with energy and effort because those are things that you can see and everybody can recognize that.’’

Magic starting shooting guard Evan Fournier missed his fifth straight game on Sunday with a bruised right heel, while Jodie Meeks was out for a second game after dislocating his right thumb on Wednesday. The Magic are hopeful that Fournier can return sometime next week, while Meeks is expected to be out four-to-six weeks because of sprained ligaments in the thumb.

Now, the ankle injury to Augustin could mean more time for Brown.

``Next man up,’’ Magic coach Frank Vogel said following Sunday’s game. ``We’ve got Anthony Brown on a 10-day (contract) and if D.J. is out he’ll see some significant minutes. And we’ll continue to see C.J. and Mario (Hezonja) and C.J. will have to play (point guard) when Elfrid is out. But everybody is going to have to step up.’’

Brown said that he got a crash course on the Magic’s offensive and defensive sets from the coaching staff on Sunday morning. He feels his prior NBA experience and his basketball smarts will help him mesh quickly.

``The coaches did a good job of introducing me to a few of the basic sets and from there you’re just going to have to have a good basketball knowledge,’’ Brown said. ``If you know how to play the game you’ll fit in. Obviously there are a lot of things that I don’t know, but me being a high IQ player, I feel like I know how to blend in with guys on the fly.’’

FOURNIER FEELING BETTER: Having the benefit now of hindsight, Fournier feels that he returned too soon from the heel injury that knocked him out of five games at the end of December and early January. Fournier, Orlando’s leading scorer at 17 ppg., came back and played five games, but he was a shell of his former self as the pain spread from his heel throughout his right foot.

Magic coach Frank Vogel said there is a temptation to get Fournier back on the floor as soon as possible, but the team also wants him to fully recover from his injury this time around. Vogel started veteran C.J. Watson a second consecutive game in place of the injured Fournier on Sunday.

``It’s a fine line and (Fournier’s desire to return) probably does work against him,’’ Vogel said. ``We want this to be put behind him. We don’t want him to play a couple and then have to sit another two weeks, play a couple and have to sit. Hopefully when we get him back this time it’s behind him.’’

WAKING UP WARRIORS: Sunday’s opponent, the Golden State Warriors, came into Sunday facing a noon tip-off time – the equivalent of a 9 a.m. start for them as they make the adjustment from the Pacific Time Zone.

There were also other challenges for the Warriors as they had their postgame trip to Orlando cancelled on Friday night because of severe storms in Houston. Golden State then travelled to Orlando on Saturday and chose to conserve energy rather than practice before facing the Magic on Sunday afternoon.

``Well, it’s too early to have a team meeting because some of our players too an 8:30 (a.m.) bus over here (to the Amway Center),’’ Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. ``So we didn’t have a team meeting and our flight was cancelled two nights ago and we didn’t have a practice. So our preparation doesn’t look very good.’’

That worried Kerr because of the talent that the Magic possess. Orlando has played some of its best basketball against some of the NBA’s best teams, winning in San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Atlanta and Washington already this season.

``I’m concerned about this game because of the starting time and what we’re coming off of,’’ said Kerr, referring to a week in which the Warriors have beaten Cleveland, OKC and Houston. ``Orlando has had a strange season and they are capable of beating anybody. They haven’t done it consistently, but they are absolutely capable of coming in here and handling us.’’

BIG-GAME FEEL: Two days after the Magic played before the second-largest crowd in the history of the Amway Center, the Magic and Warriors attracted yet another big crowd.

An Amway Center crowd of 18,846 jammed inside the arena, making it the ninth sellout of the season for the Magic. To put that into perspective, Orlando had just nine sellouts all last season.

For Golden State – the champions in 2015 and the runners-up in 2016 – playing before a big crowd was nothing new over the past three seasons. In 20 road games prior to Sunday, the Warriors were playing before an average of 18,749 fans – second in the NBA only to the 18,914 average to watch the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James this season.

Kerr, who won three championships while playing for Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and two more while with Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs, has been able to impart some of his wisdom onto his team about how foes get up to play the elite teams.

``I saw this a lot in Chicago because it was always an event when the Bulls came to town. You had people waiting outside the hotel at 2 a.m. trying to get autographs and stuff,’’ Kerr said. ``We’ve seen this now (with big crowds) for a couple of years and our guys are used to it. It’s flattering and it helps us get up for every game because every game seems to be an event. There’s a good energy and environment in every building. So it’s a good problem to have.’’

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