Denton's Dish: The 5th Quarter (3/19/14)

By John Denton
March 19, 2014

PHOENIX – Very much in need of a victory to stay in the Western Conference playoff race, Phoenix wiped out a one-point deficit with a big fourth-quarter run to dispatch the short-handed Orlando Magic 109-93.

Here are five takeaways from Orlando’s game on Wednesday night at the US Airways Center:

KEY MOMENT OF THE GAME: The game has frustrating feel to it for a short-handed Magic squad that poured a lot of effort and emotion into the first three quarters of the game.

Orlando led 75-74 with 90 seconds to play in the third period, but that’s where things started to unravel once again. A 3-pointer by Marcus Morris and a Goran Dragic layup off a turnover gave the surging Suns a lead they would not lose the rest of the game.

By the time Phoenix was done, it has delivered a 27-5 knockout punch to the Magic. During that stretch, Orlando kicked the ball away a couple of times and missed 12 of 13 shot attempts. Meanwhile, reserve forward Gerald Green got hot and the Suns pulled away for a much-needed victory.

``It was (shot selection and frustration) and us not getting what we wanted to get offensively,’’ said Magic forward Tobias Harris, who had 23 points. ``We got a little rattled there because we were missing shots and they were making them in transition. We were turning it over. Going forward we have to keep our composure and get what we want (offensively) in those situations.’’

NIK NOT HAPPY: Magic center Nikola Vucevic started the game well by making four of his first seven shots and scoring eight early points. But Vucevic was upset by a Channing Frye blocked shot where he was clearly hammered on the low block and he received a technical foul on the next possession during a stoppage in play.

Seconds later, Vucevic’s frustration uncharacteristically bubbled over again. When Vucevic made a post move, Frye flopped to the floor as if he had been shot in the chest with an elephant gun. Referee Mark Lindsay took the bait and called an offensive foul on the Magic big man.

Clearly frustrated, Vucevic flipped the ball backward toward Frye, prompting an immediate ejection. Vucevic didn’t object to the ejection and simply pulled his jersey out of his shorts before walking to the locker room.

Vucevic, who was very standup after the game and answered questions about the first ejection of his career, said that it was a helpless feeling having to watch the final three quarters of the game from the locker room.

``It was very frustrating. I could have been smarter and I could have been out there helping my teammates,’’ Vucevic said. ``We were playing really well at the start of the game and the reason why I was disappointed was because I felt like I let my teammates down. It’s part of the growing process and I’ll learn from it next time. I’m not really the type of guy who gets affected like that (by frustration). It happened just once.’’

QUOTABLE: Magic guard Victor Oladipo on head coach Jacque Vaughn’s fiery nature in the huddle during timeouts on Wednesday: ``We’re trying to build something here, especially when we play these types of game. We have to keep getting better. I’ve seen (Vaughn) like that once or twice. When he’s like that, he’s serious about what he’s saying. He’s always serious, but when he’s fiery it gets you fired up. We’re in a position where we can’t not play hard. If we don’t, we’re going to pay the consequences. We have to make it a consistent thing.’’

KEY STAT: From the time that Orlando was up 75-74 late in the third period to the point where Phoenix surged ahead 103-83, Orlando missed 12 of 13 shot attempts and turned the ball over eight times.

There was a three-possession stretch to start the fourth quarter where the Magic gave the ball back three straight times – on an Andrew Nicholson offensive foul, a bad pass by Ronnie Price and an errant pass by Tobias Harris. And following Price’s jump shot with 9:46 to play to cut the deficit to 10, the Magic proceeded to miss their next seven field goal attempts.

COMPETING COUSINS: When Orlando’s Harris and Phoenix’s Frye checked one another Wednesday night, it was the first time that the cousins have ever guarded one another in a NBA game.

Harris’ mom, Lisa, is sisters with Frye’s mother, Karen. The two grew up in Long Island, New York, and the elder Frye (by nine years) showed Harris that he too could someday play in the NBA if he worked at improving his game.

The two talked a bit of trash throughout the game, including Harris ribbing Frye about ``flopping’’ on the play where Vucevic lost his cool and tossed the ball back at the Phoenix forward.

``That was the first time that we’ve guarded each other and it was pretty fun,’’ said Harris, who made seven of 13 shots and eight of 11 free throws and grabbed nine rebounds to go with his 23 points.

``I was talking to him during and after the game. I told him that he flopped on the play where Nik got the tech. I told him that he was going to get a warning (from the NBA league office) for that flop.’’
Frye had 12 points, five rebounds, three blocked shots and two 3-pointers in 21 minutes on the floor. Most importantly, he baited Vucevic into the two technical fouls that got Orlando’s standout big man out of the game.