AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jesse Johnston
For a good chunk of the game, the Toronto Raptors were in control against the Orlando Magic. As has been his custom during the Raptors’ winning streak, Jose Calderon quarterbacked the offense while Toronto got enough help from the supporting cast — including a surprising contribution from rookie Terrence Ross (13 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the floor including two thunderous dunks).
The Magic further helped the Raptors’ cause by not taking care of the basketball. Orlando committed 18 turnovers for the game. By comparison, Toronto had nine turnovers. So even though Orlando outshot and outrebounded the Raptors by a wide margin, turnovers proved to be their undoing.
The crazy part is that this game was there for the taking for the Magic despite the turnovers.
With 4:13 left in the game and Toronto leading 91-80, Orlando went on a 10-0 run to pull themselves within one.
Arron Afflalo, who had one of his best games of the season with a James Harden-esque 26 points on 11 shots, kicked things off by breaking down Alan Anderson off the dribble, making a layup plus drawing a foul, and converting a traditional three-point play.
A little bit later, Gustavo Ayon kept the run going by making an offensive rebound putback, then drawing a foul himself with the Magic in the bonus and making two free-throws.
Then with less than a minute to go, Jameer Nelson made a three-pointer at the top of the key with Calderon draped over him. Nelson can thank the jab-step he took, just before launching the three-point shot, for creating enough space for him to get a clean shot off.
After two Amir Johnson free-throws gave the Raptors a 93-90 lead with 42.6 seconds left, Orlando had a chance to cut their deficit to one or tie the game. But Ayon committed a turnover after he was unable to catch a difficult pass from Redick, who dribble penetrated and tried to make a dump-off pass to Ayon in traffic. Yet a foolish decision by DeMar DeRozan gave the Magic another chance.
Rather than run out the clock and leave Orlando with very little time left, DeRozan took an ill-advised contested jumper with 14.3 seconds left and seven seconds left on the shot clock.
Unfortunately for Orlando, they were unable to capitalize. Redick missed a long three-pointer from the right wing on a sideline out-of-bounds play with former Magic teammate Mickael Pietrus contesting the shot. Orlando was able to get the offensive rebound with about five seconds left, but Nelson committed a turnover before the Magic could get another shot off.
A fitting way to end the game for Orlando — their four-game winning streak snapped.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
A number of Magic players had solid performances. Afflalo was uber-efficient and Nikola Vucevic (16 points and 12 rebounds) and Ayon had double-doubles (12 points and 13 rebounds). But at the end of the night, it wasn’t enough.
In Orlando’s first game of the season decided by three points or less, 18 turnovers proved to be their downfall. It’s appropriate that, on the last two possessions of the game, the Magic ended both of them with turnovers.