Culture of Hoops

San Antonio Spurs too much for Orlando Magic to handle

Image courtesy of Katie Haugland/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Katie Haugland/Flickr.

The Orlando Magic were in San Antonio last night to take on the San Antonio Spurs, the team Jacque Vaughn served as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich for two years. After an embrace with Tony Parker, his team was set for tip off, but it would be a tough test as the Spurs are competing for one of the top seeds in the West and Orlando held the third-worst record in the league coming into last night. Rookie guard Victor Oladipo sat out for the second straight game nursing a sore left ankle. Vaughn decided to give Kyle O’Quinn the starting nod, moving Tobias Harris to the bench. This came after a string of great games the second-year big man put together since the departure of Glen Davis.

For a majority of the first quarter the teams were trading baskets through an even distribution among all starters. Danny Green hit a couple of three-point shots to eventually give the Spurs a small lead but Orlando muscled back with a number of hustle plays, namely O’Quinn’s work on the boards. Tobias Harris checked in with about five minutes remaining in the first period with a chip on his shoulder, possibly in reaction to being moved to the bench. Being the competitor that he is he immediately looked to make an impact and in the first play he saw he pushed the ball hard to the basket off a defensive rebound and converted on a three-point play.

Towards the end of the first quarter Tony Parker began to take over, scoring 11 points in the period. As the half progressed the game heated up. Some strong play from Nik Vucevic and Tobias Harris kept the Magic competitive. Eventually, Orlando dialed up its defense and took advantage of the Spurs in transition, propelling them to a 55-48 lead. But with just a couple minutes remaining in the half the Spurs mounted a 7-0 run behind the play of Manu Ginobili. After an errant inbound pass from Tim Duncan, Arron Afflalo was able to scoop up a steal and put up a shot as time expired to give his team a 61-59 lead going into the break.

The second half was under way in a game that lacked defense up to that point. Both coaches almost assuredly touched on that subject in the locker room, especially Popovich as his team forced just one turnover the entire first half. The Spurs definitely made defense a point of emphasis in the third quarter as they forced more turnovers and tougher shots for Orlando. The Magic’s field goal percentage dropped to 37 percnt in third period after shooting about 50 percent in the first half. Meanwhile, the Ginobili-Parker tandem continued to excel offensively which gave the Spurs a five-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter.

The Magic lost the third quarter and were in a deficit because of it, but still within striking distance against one of the best teams in the league. Unfortunately, Orlando was unable to stop the Spurs when they needed to as different players kept stepping up. Once the Magic found a way to contain one guy, the next guy would take advantage. And with Kawhi Leonard draped all over him, Orlando’s leading scorer Arron Afflalo was unable to score enough the keep up with the opponents.

Magic Game Notes

Harkless steps up his play

Moe Harkless had been playing very well as of late and last night was no different. His game has done a complete 180 since the start of the season; he is now playing with a lot of confidence. His confidence is translating into production on the floor as he has become much more aggressive on both ends of the court. He has seen a drastic increase in productivity from beyond the three-point line where he is shooting the ball at a high efficiency. He finished last night’s game with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Ginobili is crafty

The 11-year veteran guard from Argentina continues to play very well despite his 36 years of age. He’s able to perform well due to his plethora of crafty moves that more than compensate for his diminished athleticism. His guile was good for 24 points and five assists last night.

Magic almost there, but not ready to compete with Spurs

No matter which way you spin it, the final result of this game was due to the veteran excellence the Spurs possess and the Magic are just not quite ready to compete with a team that good and that experienced. While Orlando certainly gave them a run for their money and look as if they will be there soon, the Spurs as a whole were too much to handle. San Antonio has so many players that can hurt you in so many ways, and it seemed like one by one each of them did just that. It was the combination of Parker scoring early and often, Ginobili using his crafty Euro-style moves, Kawhi Leonard shutting down Afflalo, and Duncan doing all the above that did it for the Spurs.

Stat of the night

As a result of winning this game the Spurs are now tied with the Thunder for first place in the Western Conference.

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