Playing a game on the NBA trade deadline is always a tough ask, as teams never know who will suit up for their squads when the opening tip comes. Such was the case for the Orlando Magic, who sent starting point guard Elfrid Payton to the Phoenix Suns for a second-round pick just prior to the 3 P.M. deadline on Thursday, and then turned around and played a game at 7.
The Magic were now without every member of their starting five from opening night except Evan Fournier, and yet they rallied as a group to overcome the Hawks and win their third-straight game overall.
It was a back-and-forth affair with 11 lead changes and 11 ties which stayed within five points for almost the entire second half until Evan Fournier scored eight straight points to slam the door on the Hawks.
Fournier finished with a game-high 22 points on 50 percent shooting, including 2-of-4 from beyond the arc and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line. He was everything thing the team needed in terms of a closer on Thursday night.
D.J. Augustin, Payton’s former backup, was solid in his new starting role, pouring in 18 points, nine assists, two steals, and three rebounds in one of his best efforts so far in pinstripes.
“Yeah well, (Augustin and Shelvin Mack) are solid,” said Magic coach Frank Vogel on replacing Payton’s production, “you know they know how to run the team and they’ve been two of our better players over the last three or four weeks.”
The pair of Fournier and Augustin were a dynamic duo for the Magic, as they took turns nailing threes and sinking clutch free throws to put away the game.
Still, the Hawks had a chance late on another Magic inbounding turnover, which gave Atlanta the ball down three with the shot clock off. Luckily, it was Dewayne Dedmon, yes, that Dewayne Dedmon, who missed a step back three to ice it. It was his eighth three-point attempt in the game, a career high for the seven-foot center.
The Orlando Magic (18-36) will stay at home for a bit, taking on the Milwaukee Bucks (30-23) at the Amway Center with hopes to extend their win streak to four games. The Magic are 5-5 in their last 10 and have won three straight for the first time since October 27 when they beat the Spurs at home in the fifth game of the season.