AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
ORLANDO, Fla. — If there’s one thing to take away from Courtney Lee’s buzzer-beater in Memphis, it’s that a lot can happen in 0.3 seconds, let alone 0.8 seconds. Coach Jacque Vaughn was aware of the choices the Wizards had on the game’s final possession with the score tied at 89.
“There are plenty of options at 0.8 seconds. You can catch-and-shoot, you can catch-and-turn, you can throw a lob, so they had a lot of options on the last play of the game,” said Vaughn.
Washington chose to throw a lob to Bradley Beal on an inbounds pass from Andre Miller, who’s one of the best lob throwers in the NBA. The play was executed to perfection, as Beal made a game-winning alley-oop layup at the buzzer to help the Wizards top the Magic 91-89 on Wednesday night.
Part of the reason that Miller and Beal were able to execute the lob was because of miscommunication from Orlando defensively. When asked what was discussed in the huddle before that final play, Victor Oladipo explained that the Magic were supposed to switch on everything.
“Yeah, just basically switch when the ball gets in,” said Oladipo. “After the ball’s passed in, just switch. It didn’t work out that way. They did a great job of cutting. It was a great pass and great finish, so credit to them for that.”
However, when asked the same question, Tobias Harris revealed a different answer.
“Basically, everybody just had to guard their guy,” said Harris. “It was a good draw-up they did to get the ball in the air. It was tough for Vic to turn around and try to get that basketball, so it was a good play.”
Because of that confusion, Oladipo and Harris did a poor job of defending the inbounds play. Oladipo and Harris were guarding Beal and Paul Pierce, respectively. Pierce set a screen on Oladipo. Instead of switching onto Beal, Harris stayed with Pierce.
That’s where things broke down for the Magic on defense. Because Harris didn’t switch onto Beal, Oladipo was forced to fight through Pierce’s screen. As a result, Oladipo was a half-second late in recovering and Beal made the game-winner.
This is the second time in eight days where Orlando lost in the final seconds of a game. In the first instance, Stephen Curry made a game-winning 3-pointer to lift the Warriors past the Magic in a 98-97 victory. But that was an example where Golden State won the game instead of Orlando losing it — a great player made a great play.
Against the Wizards, the Magic had the game won and lost it. Orlando had outplayed Washington in the second half and were up 89-86 with 40.9 seconds left with possession after an Elfrid Payton steal, before Harris was called for an offensive foul in transition a few seconds later.
It was evident in the Magic locker room afterwards that the players knew that they let the Wizards off the hook and it was a lack of execution late in the game that cost them a well-earned victory.