By John Denton
January 24, 2013
It was Redick who was guarding DeRozan when he hit an off-balanced runner with 38 seconds to play and it was Afflalo who started off checking the Toronto guard on the game’s final play. Afflalo got picked off, but Davis there was to defend. It did little good as DeRozan’s high-arcing jumper barely touched the net on its way to the floor. DeRozan scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter when he made seven of eight shots.
``I was in the middle of the lane and it looked – I didn’t know how he got the shot off first of all – but it looked good,’’ Redick said. ``Guys that are scorers are going to score and hit tough shots. For the most part, he hit tough shots. Even the one before (the winner), he hit a one-legged step-back (shot) on me when I hit the ball as he’s going up. He just hit two tough ones down the stretch.’’
Thursday’s game was the Magic’s 42nd of the season, meaning the season is just beyond the official halfway point. Despite the loss, Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn was impressed with the team’s defense in the second half and he thinks the team can build off Thursday’s heart-breaking loss.
``I thought there were multiple times throughout the course of the game where we got multiple stops in a row and that’s what we want to focus on – being able to get stops on demand,’’ Vaughn said. ``That’s the basketball that we need to see every night.’’
The Magic will be off until Sunday when they will host Detroit. It was the Pistons who thumped the Magic 105-90 in suburban Detroit on Tuesday. Orlando won the first two meetings of the season between the two teams.
Orlando will then begin a five-game, nine-day roadtrip in which it will face Brooklyn (Monday), New York (Wednesday), Boston (Friday), Milwaukee (Saturday) and Philadelphia (Monday). Because they are playing the Nets and Knicks two days apart, the Magic will spend three days in New York City. Also, the team will be off in Philadelphia on Super Bowl Sunday.
Thursday’s game was the fourth and final meeting of the season between the Magic and the Raptors. The Raptors, who lost in Miami in overtime on Wednesday night, won the previous three meetings with the Magic, winning twice in Toronto and once in Orlando.
``We have been in situations a lot where the ball didn’t bounce our way and eventually it was going to come to us,’’ DeRozan said of the Raptors’ first four-game sweep of the Magic since the 2006-07 season.
Vaughn was desperately searching for some energy and efficiency late in the game and he started the fourth quarter with a lineup of Ish Smith, Redick, E’Twaun Moore, Maurice Harkless and Gustavo Ayon. That grouping kick-started a rally that eventually stretched to 14-4 and allowed the Magic to wipe out a nine-point deficit. When Davis rebounded a miss and fed Nelson for a layup, Orlando led 84-83 – its first lead since late in the second quarter.
Redick had two free throws with 1:25 to play and the dramatic four-point play with 53 ticks left to knot the game at 93. And after a DeRozan shot, Moore tied the game again with a follow-up shot after Davis had tipped the rebound away.
Down two points after a closely contested first half, the Magic fell into a 75-66 hole by the start of the fourth quarter because of troubles on both ends of the floor. Orlando had nearly as many turnovers (four) as field goals (six) in the third quarter. The 19-point third period was eerily similar to the 14-point third quarter in Detroit on Tuesday night.
The Magic led by as much as eight points early on, but eventually lost the lead and trailed 48-47 at the break. Orlando once again struggled to get stops and allowed Amir Johnson (14 points) to have his way inside in the first half.
Afflalo, who did not attempt a shot in the first 34 minutes of Tuesday’s loss in Detroit, got off the Magic’s first two shots of the night on Thursday. He scored six points early on by getting back to his usual aggressive self.
Vucevic, a double-double machine over the past month, nearly hit that mark in the first half when he compiled 14 points and nine rebounds in the first 24 minutes. He opened the game by making seven of 10 shots – two of them on tip ins and three of them on jump shots.
But in the end, the outcome came down to one final play. Unfortunately for the Magic, DeRozan’s fall-away shot found nothing but the net and Orlando was left with another back-breaking close loss.
``I thought we had some key stops, but we just have to do a little bit more,’’ a frustrated Afflalo said. ``Both teams made good plays down the stretch. They just got the last one.’’
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