Home > Uncategorized > Just Say It: In The Final 34 Seconds, The Orlando Magic Choked

Just Say It: In The Final 34 Seconds, The Orlando Magic Choked

It’s difficult to say that about a team that was clearly outplayed for 40 minutes and was losing at the moment of obstructed breathing, but I’ll say it again: The Magic choked Tuesday night.

With about eight minutes to play, Kendrick Perkins fouled out on an iffy illegal screen call. Orlando then scored six of the next eight points — all of which came from inside the paint and make you wonder how different the score would have been if Perkins didn’t have six fouls. But suddenly, it’s a two-point game.

For the majority of the remaining six minutes, it was a back-and-forth contest with big shots made on each side. Kevin Garnett’s fading baseline jumper with 2:45 left was absolutely ridiculous.

The real drama began with 34 seconds on the clock and the Magic trailing, 95-92, after Paul Pierce made two free throws.

Attempting to go two-for-one, Vince Carter forced the action, slashed to the basket and was fouled by Pierce for his sixth personal. Just as Pierce made his two free throws a few seconds earlier, Carter sunk his shots smoothly.

Oh, that’s right. The exact opposite of that happened.

The first hit off the side of the rim. The second was a tad strong and popped up off the back of the rim and into Glen Davis’ mitts. That display caused many to start evoking the name of Nick Anderson when comparing Vince’s misses. That’s a big-time diss in Orlando.

But hey, that’s OK. All the Magic needed was a stop with 30 seconds left, and they got it. Garnett got a fairly open look just outside the key, a shot that he’s made about 90,000 times in his career. But a late hand in the face by Dwight Howard may have forced the shot off the mark. In any case, the Magic got their stop and the defensive rebound. Now all they needed was a timeout to set up their final shot with seven seconds on the clock.

Just gotta get that timeout.

Timeout? Anyone??



But alas, J.J. Redick and the Magic let valuable seconds flow freely off the clock like BP’s oil management. While Redick mindlessly decided to dribble the ball up court, Rashard Lewis and even Stan Van Gundy were too busy protesting a no-call by waiving their hands in the air, waiving them like they just don’t care about this game.

A timeout wasn’t called until 3.5 seconds remained. And because Redick moved with the ball before the stoppage, it cost Orlando more than three valuable seconds and valuable positioning on the inbound pass.

Through all this madness, the Magic still trailed by just three. Now was the time for one well-diagrammed play to pull this one out of the fire. But I’m certain that whatever Van Gundy said in the huddle didn’t contain any part of this:

“OK, guys. Here’s what we’re going to do. J.J.’s gonna be the inbounder. Now, everyone else needs to start coming toward him to receive the pass and then in one synchronized motion, all of you run away like baby deer near a pack of lions. Completely look like you’ve forgotten about the ball. Boston won’t know what hit them.”

For some unknown reason, every Magic player on the floor decided it would be wise to turn their back on Redick and just run away from the inbound pass. Finally, Jameer Nelson figured out that obviously no other player wanted the ball, so he sprinted into the back court and hoisted a contested 40-footer that hit nothing but net. Unfortunately, someone should tell Magic fans that the ball must pass through the rim for that whole “nothing but net” fragment to count for something.

I want to come away from this game talking about Boston’s defense or that Howard did all he could offensively. I want to talk about the strange officiating or that the Celtics have somehow transformed from another step on King LeBron’s coronation staircase to the best team in the Eastern Conference. But when you look at these final 34 seconds of Game 2, it just makes you shake your head and ask an iconic question. Unfortunately, the Magic draw that type of reaction far too often during the playoffs.

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