The urgency was awoken within the Magic late in the fourth quarter. Wittling down an 11-point lead would no longer cut it with time running out. Drastic action was needed.
A J.J. Redick 4-point play to tie the game with 50 seconds left. A Glen Davis offensive rebound and pass to E'Twaun Moore for a game-re-tying floater with 20 seconds left. A key foul from Davis had the Raptors taking the ball out of bounds with four seconds left.
DeMar DeRozan had killed the Magic all quarter. He got the ball and dribbled toward the left baseline. He was not passing it and he has Arron Afflalo chasing him and Glen Davis pushing him further out. With a little less than a second to go he raised up, faded away and shot over Davis' outstretched hands and sileneced an awoken Amway Center crowd.
DeRozan's 14 points in the fourth quarter and that jump shot proved to be the difference in a 97-95 Raptors win at Amway Center on Thursday. The Magic could only look up at the scoreboard in disbelief as the Raptors celebrated their way off the floor with the first season sweep of the Magic since 2006.
Orlando had to scratch and claw to get back into this game after falling down by 11 points in the fourth quarter. The Magic were playing from behind the entire second half, digging themselves a hole on a 6-0 Raptors run to start the second half that gave the visitors a seven-point lead.
The Magic never seemed to let the Raptors get too far away, but they could not make a run themselves to retake the lead. Not until the frantic fourth quarter when Orlando's offensive energy and defensive attentiveness were at their peak. Again, urgency brought the best out of the Magic.
Until then, the game involved Orlando turning the ball over — 14 for 16 Toronto points — and committing fouls. The Raptors erased an 8-point Magic lead in the first half because the Raptors were able to get to the line, shooting the majority of their 19 free throw attempts in the second quarter.
The Raptors though never quite pulled away. Jose Calderon played great, but not spectacular. Amir Johnson was cleaning up the glass, going head-to-head with Nikola Vucevic for much of the evening, but was not a dominant post player by any means. DeRozan had 14 points in the fourth quarter and took over the end of the game, but had only 22 points for the game. He played distributor more with seven assists.
For Orlando, Nikola Vucevic proved to be the Magic's most reliable offensive option, cleaning up the glass for 14 rebounds and four offensive rebounds, and scoring 19 points. But he was not seen at all in the fourth quarter. Jacque Vaughn matched up with Toronto's small lineup with a four-guard lineup of his own with Jameer Nelson, E'Twaun Moore, J.J. Redick, Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis.
The strategy worked as it slowed down Toronto a bit and was scoring to get Orlando back in the game. There did not seem to be any regret in that decision.
All five Magic starters scored in double figures but the three guards — Nelson, Redick and Afflalo — shot a combined 15 for 40 (37.5 percent). Those inefficiencies sometimes had the Magic playing too much one-on-one basketball. That put back from Moore only happened because Afflalo took a stand-still jumper over a defender rather than running through the offense.
The end result though was a winnable game. It would have only taken little adjustments to get the win. A little burst of effort or a shot going in… or rimming out.
Oftentimes in this losing streak, that has been the case. The frustration level would understandably be high. Hopefully, the team uses this effort as a springboard and does not hang its head after this one. Again, the opportunities are there. It is about going out and seizing them.
A buzzer beater like this though can be extremely deflating. And the homestand is running short on time.