You know it’s a special night when your point guard slaps a possible dunk away from a premier NBA center. That’s what happened when the San Antonio Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldrige took a pass from Kawhi Leonard early in the fourth quarter Tuesday night. Aldridge lined up for an easy dunk to bring the Spurs within 7 points of the Orlando Magic.
But Magic point guard Elfrid Payton didn’t think the play was over. Payton, who is half a foot shorter than Aldridge, sprinted behind Aldridge, elevated and swatted the ball.
Payton’s block changed the tone of the game and helped propel the Magic to a 95-83 win at the AT&T Center.
“We made a lot of big hustle plays like that — ‘recovery plays,’ we call them — in transition. We scratched and clawed, which we needed to do. We’re a desperate team and we needed a win.” said coach Frank Vogel.
The win ended a 4 game Magic losing streak. They did not perform well during those games, and the offense looked a shambles. With a difficult road trip beginning in San Antonio, they seemed on the verge of a lengthy slide that would put them out of the Eastern Conference playoff race before New Year’s Day. The team is still learning each other.
The Magic had lost 10 consecutive games to the Spurs and hadn’t won at the AT&T Center since Jan. 11, 2009, during the season Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu led the franchise to the NBA Finals.
The Magic (7-11) upset the Spurs (14-4) with defense — a defense that disrupted San Antonio’s rhythm and prevented San Antonio from getting the ball to its preferred options.
The Spurs made a season-low 36.8 percent of their shots and turned the ball over a season-high 19 times.
“I thought their defense was really solid, and I thought it put us on our heels most of the game,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We held the ball a lot because of their defense.”
The Magic next face the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis on Thursday December 1, 8 pm.