An MRI has confirmed that Orlando Magic swingman Evan Fournier sprained his right ankle, team officials said.
Although no one has disclosed the severity of the sprain, it seems likely the Magic will be without their second-leading scorer for the foreseeable future, jeopardizing the Magic’s hopes of piling up wins over their relatively soft schedule the remainder of this month.
Fournier did not play when the Magic hosted the Denver Nuggets on Friday and will not make the trip to Atlanta for Saturday night’s matchup against the Hawks.
“It shouldn’t be too long, honestly,” Fournier said before tipoff Friday. “I don’t know what it’s going to be like. It’s going to be day-to-day, obviously. I’m pretty positive.”
Fournier said he didn’t think he’d be out as long as rookie forward Jonathan Isaac has been out. Isaac sprained his right ankle on Nov. 11 and missed his 14th consecutive game Friday.
Fournier played in 26 of the Magic’s first 26 games. He averaged 18.3 points, made 41.5 percent of his 3-point attempts and served as a go-to option in critical situations.
His injury occurred at a time when the Magic already were suffering from the absences of Isaac and swingman Terrence Ross, who suffered a right knee injury on Nov. 29.
Fournier’s absence means the Magic will need bigger contributions from a wide assortment of players, including starters Elfrid Payton, Jonathon Simmons, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic. Veteran swingman Arron Afflalo replaced Fournier in the starting lineup Friday, but the team also will need better play from reserves D.J. Augustin, Bismack Biyombo, Mario Hezonja, Wes Iwundu, Shelvin Mack and Marreese Speights.
Coach Frank Vogel said he considered starting Iwundu, a rookie, because Iwundu could be put with the other starters and would have to do less on the offensive end of the floor. But Vogel was concerned the team would have too little shooting with Iwundu, Payton and Simmons on the court simultaneously.
Vogel also could have started Augustin as a shooting guard, but that would have given the Magic a short backcourt against the Nuggets, who started a pair of 6-foot-4 guards.
Fournier, who was wearing a walking boot Friday, rolled his ankle when he made a floater on the opening possession of overtime in the Magic’s win Wednesday over the Hawks. Fournier landed on Vucevic’s heel.
“He set a good screen, so I can’t really say anything,” Fournier said. “That’s why it’s really annoying. Landing on someone’s foot, it’s stupid.”
But Fournier is frustrated more because the remainder of this month was a portion of the schedule in which the Magic hoped to make up ground in the standings.
“You have very important games at home,” Fournier said. “It’s an important stretch for us. It’s unfortunate.”
The combination of having Fournier, Ross and Isaac out hurts.
“Obviously, Fournier is a big loss,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.
“Evan is a very good basketball player. He puts a lot of pressure on your defense. And then Terrence Ross being out as well, that takes away their 3-point shooting, if you will, from their perimeter. But they still have D.J. off the bench; he’s shooting the ball very well. And then three of their top-five 3-point shooters are their bigs: Aaron Gordon, Vucevic and then Speights off the bench. ”
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