Orlando Magic vs. Sacramento Kings: Game Preview

Evan Fournier
by Dan Savage

ORLANDO -- Over the last four games, the Orlando Magic have morphed into one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the NBA.

During that stretch, they’ve knocked down 44.1 percent of their shots from long range, second-best in the NBA over that span.

Now, Orlando (8-10) will put its hot shooting to the test on Wednesday when it hosts the Sacramento Kings (6-10) at 7 p.m. ET.

The Magic are looking to build on an impressive win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday where ball movement, offensive execution and a strong shooting performance were all key factors. Amidst a stretch with seven of eight games at home – and all within the state of Florida – Orlando is looking to string together a series of victories with a difficult West Coast swing awaiting it on the other side.

“It’s very important to keep building and to keep winning,” said Magic shooting guard Evan Fournier, whose return from a nine-game absence due to back spasms has coincided with the team’s improved shooting. “We have a good stretch at home, seven games out of eight that we play at Amway, so we need to capitalize because after that we are going to the West Coast for some tough games, and we do need to gain confidence and build a foundation for the rest of the season.”

In order for the Magic to pull off a victory, they’ll need to limit a Kings squad that’s capable of putting up points in bunches. Sacramento is top five in the NBA in points in the paint and top 10 in scoring overall.

“They can really score, they are built to score,” Fournier said. “They have a terrific young point guard with (De'Aaron) Fox, (who is) extremely fast. They have weapons. Buddy Hield is a terrific scorer, (Hassan) Whiteside is obviously a force down there, and they play hard. We have a game plan and we’re going to have to stick with it if we do want to win because that’s a team that can score.”

KEY STATS: Over the last three games, the Magic have connected on 53 triples (17, 17, 19). Per Sportradar, that ties a franchise record for the most trifectas during a three-game span. Orlando also made 53 3-pointers during a three-game stretch from Jan. 9-13, 2009.

Against Charlotte, the Magic overcame a 15-point deficit to beat the Hornets, 117-108. It marked the fourth time this season that Orlando overcame a double-digit deficit to win. The largest comeback victory in team history is 25 points, back on Nov. 8, 1989 in Cleveland.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “That’s the highest level I’ve seen him play. I think the main difference, really the only thing that’s changed is, because he’s so consistent, is three-point shooting compared to last year or even two years ago. He’s been just himself as far as inside and mid-range, it’s just he’s taken another step at the three-point line and that opens up so many more things for us. Congrats to him because he’s shooting a lot before and after practices. I’m glad his work has paid off.” – Fournier on Nikola Vucevic, who’s averaging 23.5 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. Through 18 games, the Magic center is shooting 43.5 percent from deep.

INJURY UPDATE: Al-Farouq Aminu (right knee rehabilitation), Michael Carter-Williams (sprained left foot), Markelle Fultz (torn ACL, left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee rehabilitation), and Chuma Okeke (left knee bone bruise) are all listed as out. Karim Mane (G League/two-way) is also not available.

“MCW will be the first guy back,” Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford explained. “He won’t be able to play tonight, but he’s getting closer. Then, I think the way things are going now, I think that Chuma would be the next one back and Chief would be the third one. I don’t really have a feel for what the timeframe would be for Chuma or Chief, but MCW, he did shootaround this morning and he’s not ready yet but maybe even by Friday.”

For the Kings, Whiteside (left hip; soreness) is probable, Nemanja Bjelica (back spasms) is doubtful, and DaQuan Jeffries (left ankle sprain) and Jahmi'us Ramsey (left groin strain) are out.

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