The Magic fought. They competed. But in the end they lost.
Miami defeated Orlando in the second leg of this home-and-home series, winning 101-99 on a LeBron James jumper with 14 seconds left. Orlando had a few good looks to tie the game, but Arron Afflalo and Victor Oladipo both missed. The buzzer sounded, and the Heat came out of the game victorious, like championship teams often do. Here are our three takeaways from Orlando sixth loss in seven games.
Glen Davis hadn't played since January of last year, when he fractured his foot against the Knicks. As his return drew closer, there was some speculation about how long it would take for Big Baby to get into a groove. But he came back last night and didn't miss a beat.
Davis was banging down low with Miami's bigs all night, using his wide shoulders to generate great position in the paint. He brings a different aspect to this Magic squad, as his physicality is unmatched by any player on this team, save for Jason Maxiell. But unlike Maxiell, Baby wears his emotions on his sleeve, allowing his teammates to feed off it. Last night, they followed Davis' suit, fighting for the full 48 minutes, despite the final result.
Big Baby looked comfortable on the offensive end, already becoming one of Orlando's most adept players on that end of the floor. He scored in many ways, whether it be in the paint or off the pick and pop. Davis showed off his textbook spin move time and time again, shedding his defender on the way to the rim. And he did such a great job of drawing contact, especially when the Magic needed it most -- when they were down three with less than a minute to go.
And guess who drew the hardest defensive assignment in the league for most of the fourth quarter? Davis, that's who. Big Baby shadowed LeBron during the game's final period, fighting to stay with the four-time MVP. All things considering, Davis did a pretty solid job, using heart and hustle to make up for his lack of quickness.
Even in his first game back, Davis is already the unquestioned leader of this team. His gritty style of play is infectious, and his teammates love him. Big Baby is so much fun to watch, and it's great to have him back.
E'Twaun Moore Sparks Orlando's Early Lead
Last season, I wasn't a huge Moore fan. While he was a serviceable backup point guard, he turned the ball over way too much and didn't seem to understand the intricacies of running a team. I felt that Rob Hennigan made a mistake when he kept Moore for another season in the City Beautiful, but the former Purdue star has proved me wrong.
He has moved off the ball for Jacque Vaughn this year, and the results have been encouraging. Moore is currently shooting 50% from behind the arc, and last night, he lit up Miami's strong defense to the tune of 14 first half points. Moore couldn't miss from deep, and along with Victor Oladipo, he led the Magic to a 16 point lead at the break. Unfortunately, that lead just couldn't hold up.
Strong Performance Isn't Enough For Magic To Down Heat
The Magic outrebounded the Heat. They held the defending champs to a measly nine fast break points. And they managed to Miami's third quarter run without surrendering the lead.
But it still wasn't enough to pull one out over the Heat. Against a team with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, the margin for error is so slim, and while the Magic played one of their best games of the season, they made a few mistakes that the Heat capitalized on. Whether it be an ill-advised pass or frustration foul, the Magic couldn't afford any screwups against the Heat, and they had a few too many.
By the time I watched the game this morning, I already knew the outcome. I knew that the Magic would get out to a strong start, only to lose it at the last second thank to a LeBron James game-winner. But it didn't make it any easier to watch.
Orlando's young team fought so hard and played so well. Their defense was spot on for most of the night -- although Miami's struggles from three helped the Magic out. And the Magic had some great individual performances.
In the end though, nothing short of a perfect game would have been enough to beat the Heat. And the Magic, no matter how good they were last night, weren't perfect.
By: Scott Fisher