Orlando Magic Grades: San Antonio Spurs 114, Orlando Magic 113

The Orlando Magic felt unfulfilled as they closed every run to give themselves a chance to win. But Evan Fournier’s layup fell no good, leaving only a loss.

Final
Orlando Magic
113
San Antonio Spurs
114

The pain of defeat was written all over the faces of Orlando Magic players as the buzzer sounded, they walked off the floor and even as they met the media. This was a game they wanted to have, a game they should have had.

The Magic left one on the table and they know it. They sought blame in plenty of other places. There was their slow start to the game, the poor defense on 3-pointers. But everything always came back to that one shot.

Orlando lost a six-point lead in the closing moments but still had the fight to get back and give themselves a chance. When Bryn Forbes gave the San Antonio Spurs a three-point lead with 40 seconds left, the Orlando Magic were not going away.

They were going to fight through each last second.

Down by one with 11.6 seconds left, the Magic drew the Spurs into the corner and got a trap. They deflected the ball and Michael Carter-Williams pushed the ball down the court. He found Evan Fournier streaking downs the right side of the court with a shot at the basket. The Spurs’ defenders flew by him trying to slow him down and contest his layup.

Evan Fournier simply overcooked what would have been the game-winning layup. And the team was left picking up the pieces from a 114-113 loss to the Spurs at AT&T Center on Saturday.

It could certainly work its way back and find reasons for their defeat.

The Magic gave up an offensive rebound down one that led to the timeout that set up their near heroics. Terrence Ross dug in too deep to give Bryn Forbes the space for his go-ahead 3-pointer. They lost their fourth-quarter lead with some bad shot selection. They gave up 14-for-31 shooting on 3-pointers, going down by 16 on multiple occasions including right off the bat.

Orlando showed plenty of fight. The team certainly poured its heart into the game. The defense tightened up as the pressure grew. And the team always had a run to get back into the game. The Spurs could never quite take the Magic out of the game.

But they will look back at this as a lost opportunity. A poor start — back to back or rest disadvantage or not — that dug them a hole they struggled to get out of. A lead they had that slipped out of their fingers.

This one stung. And they rightfully pointed the fingers at themselves.

EVAN FOURNIER

G/F, Orlando Magic

B

Evan Fournier was killing himself for missing the final shot. It was a layup and he offered no excuses for missing it. That was a shot he wanted and the team needed. This was an opportunity lost. And Fournier, never afraid to take big shots, took the miss harder than anyone.

Without a doubt though, the Magic do not get to that point without Fournier. He continued to pace the Magic offensive and hit several big shots that helped rescue the offense and propel them further throughout the game. He scored 23 points on 8-for-16 shooting, making 5 of his 10 3-pointers. He added four steals, showing his defensive opportunism.

Fournier really did not even force much of his offense. It was a lot of working off the work from other players. That made some of his late-game play disappointing. He missed a few rushed shots where the offense slowed down. That happens late anyway, but the Magic needed the ball movement that sparked their strongest play. And that missed shot still stings.

Terrence Ross.

Ross certainly delivered for a second straight game. He scored 21 points on 6-for-12 shooting, making four of his seven 3-pointers. He continued to get himself going by cutting shallower into the paint and not relying wholly on his 3-pointer. Orlando is screening and running its offense with a ton more energy. Ross has certainly taken advantage.

Ross was good at changing the energy of the game yet again. Orlando benefited from it and stayed in the game because of him and his energy. Ross has started to find his groove again. The big thing for him is continuing to take good shots in rhythm with the offense and staying more disciplined defensively.

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TERRENCE ROSS

G/F, Orlando Magic

B

The Orlando Magic were searching for energy throughout the game. The Orlando Magic’s defense was struggling to get stops and struggling to keep pace. When it did, the Magic had to take advantage. And whenever Orlando needs that jolt, it needs Terrence Ross.

Ross certainly delivered for a second straight game. He scored 21 points on 6-for-12 shooting, making four of his seven 3-pointers. He continued to get himself going by cutting shallower into the paint and not relying wholly on his 3-pointer. Orlando is screening and running its offense with a ton more energy. Ross has certainly taken advantage.

Ross was good at changing the energy of the game yet again. Orlando benefited from it and stayed in the game because of him and his energy. Ross has started to find his groove again. The big thing for him is continuing to take good shots in rhythm with the offense and staying more disciplined defensively.

Nikola Vucevic is valuable so long as his offense makes up for his defense. That task gets even tougher when he has to play stretch-5s as it takes him away from the basket and forces him into more rotations. He is just not a very mobile center. He does better when he can stand his ground. And offensively, he has to make shots.

Nikola Vucevic continues to find his numbers — 16 points and nine rebounds. But his offense continues to leave something to be wanted. He made only 7 of his 15 shots, missing all three of his 3-pointers. More concerning were his five turnovers against one assist. The Magic struggled with turnovers throughout the game. Vucevic did not do a great job establishing post position, especially with Jakob Poltl out of the game with an injury.

Defensively, Vucevic made first efforts generally well. Early on, the San Antonio Spurs worked the pick and roll perfectly to take advantage of Vucevic’s difficulty setting his line and stopping dribble penetration. That set a poor tone. It got better as the game went on. The Magic’s defense was scrambling better, but he was still struggling at the point of attack.

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NIKOLA VUCEVIC

C, Orlando Magic

C

Nikola Vucevic is valuable so long as his offense makes up for his defense. That task gets even tougher when he has to play stretch-5s as it takes him away from the basket and forces him into more rotations. He is just not a very mobile center. He does better when he can stand his ground. And offensively, he has to make shots.

Nikola Vucevic continues to find his numbers — 16 points and nine rebounds. But his offense continues to leave something to be wanted. He made only 7 of his 15 shots, missing all three of his 3-pointers. More concerning were his five turnovers against one assist. The Magic struggled with turnovers throughout the game. Vucevic did not do a great job establishing post position, especially with Jakob Poltl out of the game with an injury.

Defensively, Vucevic made first efforts generally well. Early on, the San Antonio Spurs worked the pick and roll perfectly to take advantage of Vucevic’s difficulty setting his line and stopping dribble penetration. That set a poor tone. It got better as the game went on. The Magic’s defense was scrambling better, but he was still struggling at the point of attack.

D.J. Augustin’s return to the court after a 15-game absence certainly had its rough moments. He did not have the same rhythm or timing as before. And, like Nikola Vucevic, his offense did not make up for his defensive shortcomings.

In the last few games, D.J. Augustin has started to look more like the player fans are familiar with and the coaches count on. And in Saturday’s game, Augustin was absolutely vital to the team’s success. He gave the team a little more offensive energy and bounce that the team needed to get out of its malaise. He was able to make things happen.

Augustin finished with 12 points and seven assists. He had the bench units playing at a high level once again. Those minutes really helped Orlando get back in the game. And Augustin’s playmaking in the fourth quarter, including a couple of 3-pointers, helped Orlando briefly take the lead. The Magic are glad to have another offensive weapon to use.

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D.J. AUGUSTIN

PG, Orlando Magic

B+

Anytime someone returns from missing significant time, they need a few games to get back into the swing of things. D.J. Augustin’s return to the court after a 15-game absence certainly had its rough moments. He did not have the same rhythm or timing as before. And, like Nikola Vucevic, his offense did not make up for his defensive shortcomings.

In the last few games, D.J. Augustin has started to look more like the player fans are familiar with and the coaches count on. And in Saturday’s game, Augustin was absolutely vital to the team’s success. He gave the team a little more offensive energy and bounce that the team needed to get out of its malaise. He was able to make things happen.

Augustin finished with 12 points and seven assists. He had the bench units playing at a high level once again. Those minutes really helped Orlando get back in the game. And Augustin’s playmaking in the fourth quarter, including a couple of 3-pointers, helped Orlando briefly take the lead. The Magic are glad to have another offensive weapon to use.

Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan took advantage. And the Spurs’ were on the front foot.

San Antonio knows how to whip the ball around and work for open shots. That is part of the team’s m.o. The Spurs played that style. And even as a team that does not take a lot of 3-pointers, they made the ones they took to hit 14 of 31 (the Orlando Magic still ended up with more with 15).

But the Spurs still had their holes. They committed 17 turnovers and let the Magic get to the line. It was no coincidence, Orlando came back from multiple deficits despite playing a frustrating game. The Spurs never really took full control of the game, just going through phases they could hit open shots. They made them. But a big part of their win might have been the rest advantage. They took advantage of it.

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SAN ANTONIO SPURS

25-33, 10th West

B

The San Antonio Spurs had not played since Wednesday and it showed. They looked fresher and crisper in their movements. There was definitely a higher level of focus and intensity early on as they made shots. Veterans like Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan took advantage. And the Spurs’ were on the front foot.

San Antonio knows how to whip the ball around and work for open shots. That is part of the team’s m.o. The Spurs played that style. And even as a team that does not take a lot of 3-pointers, they made the ones they took to hit 14 of 31 (the Orlando Magic still ended up with more with 15).

But the Spurs still had their holes. They committed 17 turnovers and let the Magic get to the line. It was no coincidence, Orlando came back from multiple deficits despite playing a frustrating game. The Spurs never really took full control of the game, just going through phases they could hit open shots. They made them. But a big part of their win might have been the rest advantage. They took advantage of it.

The Orlando Magic are now 27-33 and hold a one-half game lead over the Brooklyn Nets for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. The Magic have been eliminated from having the best record in the Eastern Conference. Their magic number to clinch a playoff spot is 18 Orlando Magic wins or 18 Washington Wizards losses.

The Orlando Magic return home Monday to face the Portland Trail Blazers in their next game.