ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Orlando Magic hadn’t won three games in a row since the second week of the season, so there was reason to celebrate even after an ugly victory.
Evan Fournier scored 22 points, including eight straight for the Magic late in the final period, and Orlando held on for a 100-98 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night.READ MORE: Trump says he took the Fifth in questioning in New York Attorney General fraud investigation
D.J. Augustin, who took over as the Magic’s starting point guard after Elfrid Payton was traded earlier in the day, had 16 points and nine assists. Marreese Speights added 14 points and Jonathon Simmons had 13 for the Magic, who won despite shooting only 43 percent for the game.
“The players and coaches are starting to show some faith in each other and that’s helping us get through some rough times like we had tonight,” said Speights, who hit four 3-pointers off the bench. “Now, we’ve got to enjoy the feeling of winning and want that feeling all the time so we can push this streak further.”
It didn’t appear the Magic would get there for most of the game. They scored in very short spurts and played long shaky stretches, including the final 5:20 of the first half without scoring at all.
“We just never could find a rhythm the whole game, but we had some guys step up make plays down the stretch to get us a win,” Fournier said.
Fournier and Augustin were those guys. The Hawks and Magic exchanged the lead seven times in the fourth quarter until Fournier started the decisive run with a three-point play, followed that with a 3-pointer, then drained a 15-foot jumper to make it 94-89 with 57 seconds left in the game.
Augustin, who started seven games this season when Payton was injured, added four free throws and Simmons hit two to provide enough of a cushion for Orlando to survive three 3-pointers from Atlanta in the final 37 seconds.READ MORE: Clean air advocates urge Georgia school systems to apply for school bus rebate funding
“I think I did my part to help the team get a win,” Augustin said. “When you get opportunities to play more minutes, obviously you have a chance to do better.”
Taurean Prince and Dennis Schroder led Atlanta with 19 points apiece. Tyler Dorsey and Malcolm Delaney each added 11 points for the Hawks, who were trying for their first three-game win streak of the season.
The Hawks had a chance to tie the game at 98 after a Magic turnover with 22 seconds to play, but Dewayne Dedmon, who hit two 3-pointers earlier, missed.
“We got a lot of stops and gave ourselves a chance to win,” said Prince, who scored 14 of his 19 in the final period, including a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded. “These are the kind of games you want to be in. We just needed to make one more shot.”
HAWKS: John Collins had nine points and 12 rebounds off the bench. . Atlanta shot only 28.3 percent in the first half, but still managed a 39-39 tie. . Schroder was the only player on either team to reach double figures in the first half. He had 12. . Atlanta is second in the NBA in forced turnovers with 16 per game.
MAGIC: PF Aaron Gordon (hip flexor) and C Nikola Vucevic (hand) could return from injuries for Saturday’s game against Milwaukee. . Mario Hezonja had eight points and 10 rebounds.
PAYTON TRADED TO CLEAR CAP SPACE
Payton, who started 44 games in his fourth season with the Magic, was traded to Phoenix for a second-round draft pick to give the team more options this summer, according to president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman. “We added a draft pick, we retained a little flexibility. That’s what we got to today,” Weltman said. “We need those to have a little wiggle room and creativity to assemble a roster. We were concerned about what this summer would look like with free agency, with locking ourselves in financially . . . the alternative could possibly have been that we lose Elfrid for nothing.”
Hawks: Hosts Cleveland on Friday.
Magic: Finish a three-game homestand against Milwaukee Saturday.