Denton's Dish: The 5th Quarter (3/25/14)
By John Denton
March 25, 2014
ORLANDO – Tobias Harris scored 25 points and Nikola Vucevic added 22 more and the Orlando Magic held the Portland Trail Blazers to their lowest point total in almost two months in a 95-85 win at the Amway Center.
Here are five takeaways from the Magic’s victory on Tuesday night:
NO EXCUSES ALLOWED: The Magic didn’t arrive back into Orlando until 5:30 in the morning on Monday following their seven-night, four-game road trip that ended with a loss to the Lakers on Sunday.
Several of the players complained of sleeping issues on Monday. Some slept throughout the day and couldn’t go to sleep at night, while others stayed awake all day and battled through the exhaustion of missing a night’s sleep and dealing with the three hours time difference.
But Magic coach Jacque Vaughn made a point of telling his team on Tuesday that fatigue would not be an excuse against the Blazers. And with the exception of a lull midway through the first half, the Magic played with much more energy, zest and precision than the short-handed Blazers.
``It was tough for me because I didn’t get too much sleep (Monday night),’’ Harris said. ``I caught myself yawning a couple of times during (Tuesday’s) game. But I just pushed through. I know what we’re up against and that’s to play hard and feed off the energy of my teammates.’’
Added rookie Victor Oladipo: ``I tried to set the tone on both ends of the floor by playing hard and making fatigue not a factor. I wasn’t worrying about how tired I was. We did get in at 5:30. I didn’t go to sleep until 7 a.m. and I was just trying to get used to the time. We could have come in here and been tired, played lazy and used that as an excuse, but we just have to build a great habit of playing hard every night.’’
DEFENSIVELY DOMINANT: The Blazers came into the game second in the NBA in scoring at 107.3 ppg., but they were held to their lowest output since scoring 81 points against Memphis on Jan. 28.
``We focused on a few things, sprinting back in transition and making sure they weren’t getting any early threes on us,’’ Vaughn said. ``Offensive rebounds kept them in the game early and that’s something that we talked about in the huddle a few times. It was impressive to hold that team to 85 points.’’
Orlando held Portland to 37.2 percent shooting. More importantly, the Magic ran the Blazers off the 3-point line and made them take difficult shots. A night after getting up 39 3-point attempts in Miami, Portland attempted 26 threes against the Magic and connected on just seven.
``They played with more energy,’’ Portland guard Wesley Matthews said. ``They rebounded the ball. We scored 85 points. We are a team that scores in the hundreds. We need to keep playing basketball and playing with urgency.’’
PLAY OF THE DAY: Near the end of the third quarter, Portland’s Will Barton drove down the lane for what looked like would be an easy floating basket to get the Blazers to within 10 of Orlando.
However, power forward Kyle O’Quinn came flying across for a dazzling blocked shot that ignited the Magic break. Point guard E’Twaun Moore scooped up the loose ball and got it ahead to Oladipo, who dunked with authority and hung on the rim for a second longer for emphasis. The play gave Orlando a 14-point lead going into the fourth quarter and sent the Magic on their way to their first win in the past 10 games.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: When the Magic surged ahead 86-67 in the fourth quarter on a Doron Lamb 3-pointer, it gave them their biggest lead in a game in six weeks.
The 19-point spread was the largest since Feb. 5 when Orlando was up by 20 points on the Detroit Pistons.
QUOTABLE: ``Going into this game, everybody’s focus was to do what you can on the floor individually to help us win the game. Everybody did that tonight and we’re going to need that every night. It’s a collective effort to win games. Any type of games – home games or away games. It just takes a collective effort from everybody.’’ – Tobias Harris, who led the Magic in scoring (25 points), rebounds (11) and offensive boards (six).