Soobum Im/USA TODAY
For 48 minutes, the Magic's offense looked like the Spurs. That is exactly how Orlando wants things to go in the long term.
The ball moved quickly between players and in and out. The Magic looked to attack the gaps and share the ball where they could. They were relentless going after the offensive glass and scoring putbacks. There were high percentage shots and lots of buckets falling.
Unfortunately, Orlando's defense was not quite at the San Antonio level. Neither was the Spurs, but the Spurs knew how to execute and make the plays needed to win games.
There were the steals and tips necessary to create the stops to secure a comfortable margin. There were the little bumps and bruises, shoulder fakes and head throws to create extra points from fouls or to create the space to get a better shot. The Spurs were simply better.
They took the lead in the third quarter and held off the Magic for a 121-112 win at AT&T Center on Saturday. Orlando could not get the stops they needed to get over the hump as San Antonio answered every run and had as efficient an offense as Orlando.
Tony Parker was the catalyst as usual, scoring 30 points on 11-for-19 shooting. He had just five assists, but was creating for himself and getting into the paint seemingly at will. He wedged himself into the paint and got to the foul line with his crafty moves. Manu Ginobili did much of the same on his way to 24 points.
The Spurs put six players in double figures and shot 53.1 percent from the floor, including 9 for 20 from beyond the arc. It was a typical Spurs performance.
What was atypical was how the Magic played against a strong defense. Almost every player on the Magic made a contribution on offense and did so efficiently.
Maurice Harkless got things going early with some energetic plays off the ball. He had 12 points, but cooled off considerably to shoot 4 for 14 from the field. Harkless also added 10 rebounds. Tobias Harris came off the bench and scored 23 points on 11-for-16 shooting. Nikola Vucevic played extremly well in the post with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Arron Afflalo needed some time to get himself going and was one of the few guys who struggled offensively. But he got his offense working for 17 points on 7-for-18 shooting.
In all, Orlando shot 47.9 percent from the floor and had 24 assists on 46 field goal makes.
That is a sign of the way the ball was moving in this one. The Magic were getting out on the break too, forcing 13 turnovers for 16 points. The Spurs were not entirely sharp offensively early on especially and enabled the Magic to take advantage of mistakes.
Orlando though, as it has throughout the season, struggled to make it a 48-minute effort. The Spurs were crafty and smart, coming back from a small halftime deficit and got a string of stops to take control of the game. The Magic were not getting control back and had to come from behind throughout. They were chasing points and that is not a place you want to be in against this Spurs team.
In the end, there is a reason San Antonio is San Antonio and Orlando is where Orlando is at.
They were little things for the Spurs to get this win. Those little moments where they found points when the Magic hit a rut. Whether it was Ginobili drawing an and-one or Duncan feeding Danny Green for a 3-pointer in secondary transition, San Antonio had the calm, composure and execution to win the game.
The Magic often followed up big shots or big plays with a quick jumper or an isolation. Something that disrupted the flow of the offense.
And San Antonio took advantage of that to further build their lead.
Orlando played well on one end of the floor. But when push came to shove, San Antonio was just better.