Denton: Friday's Finish Was Special Treat For All Those In Attendance
Friday night’s game-winning dunk at the buzzer – the first in the NBA in four seasons – qualified as a Magical moment for so many reasons. To wit:
First, the opponent was of the highest quality. OKC came into the Amway Center with the most wins in the NBA and had victories in 12 of its previous 13 games. And Durant, of course, was fresh off a January that was the highest-scoring month of his prolific career.
It was Durant who raved before the game about the Magic’s blossoming young talent. Afterward, Durant admirably took some of the blame for the result, saying he probably should have made the shot with 4.9 seconds left and he definitely should have sprinted back on defense instead of watching Harris dunk.
Said KD, who had 29 points: ``I didn’t think they had enough time, to be honest. (The Magic) raced it up there and there were only a few seconds to go. It was a good play.’’
What made the victory even more impressive was that Orlando had to battle back from a 17-point, second-quarter deficit. OKC made 70 percent of its shots in the first quarter and at one point had hit 21 of its 31 tries from the floor.
But Orlando kept coming by weathering each Durant haymaker, making as much as 57 percent of their shots at one point and riding the emotional lift provided by their second unit. And no play exemplified the Magic’s team-first attitude more on Friday than forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis drawing a charge with a minute to play. The winner doesn’t happen without Davis sacrificing his body.
Said Big Baby: ``Giving yourself up for the next guy – that’s what it’s all about. I know how to do that very well. I didn’t play the whole fourth quarter, but at the same time you have to be ready to go in. I just seized the opportunity to help the team because that’s what it’s all about. If we can keep that mentality, we can win ball games.’’
All of it allowed Orlando to stay within distance and then win it at the end on the Oladipo-to-Harkless-to-Harris connection.
``I’m always excited for our guys,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said of the national attention the play garnered. ``They can see that they come to work every day, put in a hard day’s work and they can see that if they continue to do that over and over again you’ll put yourself in a position where some good things can happen for you.’’
Lost in the excitement of the finish of Harris’ dunk was just how much effort the talented forward exerted on the play in totality.
When Durant’s shot went up, Harris boxed out OKC center Serge Ibaka – a selfless move that had him positioned under the Thunder backboard. After seeing Oladipo come up with the loose ball, Harris used his 4.2-mile-per-hour speed and ran nearly every inch of the 96-foot length of the court. He could have easily watched like Durant, but he ran at full speed, even blowing past speedy OKC point guard Reggie Jackson. I’ve said it all season and I’ll say it again – nobody on the Magic runs harder on the break than Harris. That moment just rammed home my point again.
Raved Oladipo: ``That’s just (Harris’) will to win. We all just want to win. We just have to continue to play hard and build off that play.’’
Added ``Big Baby’’ Davis: ``If anybody is going to pass the ball to anybody, Tobias is the guy because he’s a scorer. He’s running straight to the rim to score.’’
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