The Orlando Magic (9-9) lost to the Toronto Raptors (14-4) in heartbreaking fashion last night 93-91 at Amway Center. It was a night of frustration and heroics. Evan Fournier drove past the Raptors’ Danny green for an emphatic dunk to tie the score with 2.3 seconds left, leaving most thinking that the game would be going into overtime.
But Green had other ideas, and found an opening for a fade away shot over two Magic players to drop the winning shot.
“It was a good drawn-up play by Toronto. I ran Danny off the screen and got caught up. He was open and hit a tough fadeaway shot,” said Magic guard Wes Iwundu, one of the defenders on that final play.
That final shot led to the eastern conference leading Raptors ending the Magic’s 3-game winning streak, with impressive wins over the 76ers, Lakers, and Knicks.
The start of the game was anything but stelar for Orlando. At one point in the first half, they were down as much as 18 points and looked cold as ice as they couldn’t make any shots. They kept up the fight, even after missing 11 straight shots and missing 6 consecutive 3-point tries.
The Magic did not give up, which seems to be a habit that’s now in the past. The just kept grinding and little by little worked their way back into the game.
“It was a tough first half offensively, very good third quarter and really the story of the game for us was, I believe, we scored two points in the first, I think, 6 minutes and 10 seconds of the fourth. We did a good job fighting there at the end,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said.
Led by a Fournier surge, the Magic started the second half by hitting 10 of their first 12 field goals, including 5 of 7 3-pointers. The Magic took their first lead with 5:27 left in the third and held on to remain on top 75-73 entering the fourth period.
“We were just playing hard,” Gordon said. “We wanted to go out and show a competitive spirit and fight … really wanted to compete.”
Neither the Raptors or Magic could take control of the fourth period, going back and forth with turnovers during one stretch of the 4th quarter. A Jonathan Isaac put-back and a Vucevic basket put Orlando back in front 83-82 with 4:02 left. But that would be their last lead of the game.
But the final minutes of the game proved that they just came up a little short.
Orlando center Nikola Vucevic, the NBA’s reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week after leading the Magic to a 3-1 mark, scored 14 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. Aaron Gordon chipped in 16 points for an Orlando team that shot 40.5 percent from the floor.
“This just shows what we’re capable of.” Said Iwundu. “They’re a top defensive and offensive team. We held them under 100 points and we did what we had to do on the defensive end. It could have been a little better on the offensive end, but we fought with the best team in the East and that’s a positive sign that you want to see moving forward.’’
The Magic face a major test in the next week with five games in 8 days and will be going out west to face Denver on Friday night followed by games at the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns.
Another series of tests to see what this team is about.