AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
The Orlando Magic have made a habit out of losing close games this season. The Magic’s narrow two-point defeat at the hands of the Toronto Raptors, thanks to DeMar DeRozan’s buzzer-beating game-winner, was the latest example. With the loss, Orlando is now 3-7 this season in games decided by five points or less.
Let’s fast-forward to the fourth quarter.
Trailing 93-89 with 1:05 left in the game, things were looking bleak for the Magic, as they appeared headed toward another close loss. But J.J. Redick’s four-point play with 53.1 seconds left tied the score at 93-93 and breathed new life into Orlando.
The sequence began when Glen Davis tried to score on the right block against Amir Johnson, but was unable to create space for himself and get a clean look at the rim. Instead, he kicked the ball out to Jameer Nelson on the right wing. Then Nelson dribble penetrated and kicked it out to Arron Afflalo at the top of the key. With the shot clock winding down, Afflalo drove into the lane and for whatever reason, Terrence Ross decided to leave Redick open on the perimeter to provide help defense.
Ross’ decision to contain Afflalo’s dribble penetration proved costly. Redick, open on the left wing, stepped up to take advantage of Afflalo’s drive-and-kick pass. Redick got the ball, then hoisted up a three-pointer while drawing contact from Ross, who was late recovering on the perimeter. In the process, Ross fouled Redick, who made the shot and converted a game-tying four-point play.
With the score tied at 93 apiece with 53 seconds remaining, the Raptors responded with a basket of their own. Jose Calderon and Amir Johnson executed a 1/4 pick-and-roll. Calderon made a swing pass to DeRozan, who caught the ball, dribble penetrated, then pulled up for a 12-foot jumper near the right elbow over Redick.
On the ensuing possession, Afflalo missed a three-pointer from the right wing that would have given the Magic a one-point lead. However, the Raptors were unable to secure the rebound. As a result, E’Twaun Moore snagged the offensive rebound, then immediately put up a floater, which tied the game at 95.
Then with 4.3 seconds left, after Glen Davis committed a foul (Orlando had one to give), DeRozan struck back by making a game-winning shot at the buzzer.
On the last play of the game, DeRozan curled around a screen set by Johnson on the right elbow. Calderon passed the ball to DeRozan, who darted to the left corner in front of the Magic bench, then hoisted up an incredibly difficult fadeaway jumper over Davis and Afflalo. The shot went in.
It was an impressive fourth quarter for DeRozan. He scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, including a highlight-reel dunk early in the period. His shot selection was questionable at times, including the game-winner, but there’s no denying the end results — the Toronto’s third win of the season against Orlando.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Who else but DeRozan? He scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter (7-for-8 shooting in the period) and hit the buzzer-beating game-winner to give the Raptors the win over the Magic.
Even though he didn’t play in the final period as coach Jacque Vaughn opted to go with a small lineup, Nikola Vucevic deserves an honorable mention for his performance (19 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks).
With the score tied at 95 apiece with 4.3 seconds left, DeRozan nailed a difficult fadeaway jumper over Davis and Afflalo from the left corner in front of Orlando’s bench to win the game for Toronto.