Stan Van Gundy plopped down into his chair for his postgame press conference and groaned.
This loss hurt.
If just one or two little things had gone differently, the Orlando Magic could have beaten the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. Instead, the Magic lost 85-83 in overtime.
Van Gundy blames himself for not making key adjustments quickly enough. Von Wafer missed a foul shot that would have tied the game late in the extra period. And although J.J. Redick swished a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the end of overtime, he released the ball just a fraction of a second after the final buzzer.
“Our guys made a great, great, great effort and played extremely hard and played very well defensively,” Van Gundy said. “And had I done a couple of things differently, we might have walked out with a win.”
But, in the end, here’s what the game really came down to: The Magic lost the point-guard matchup and lost it badly. The Spurs’ Tony Parker bedeviled the Magic late, scoring 14 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense was great, and then Parker got going,” Redick said. “That pretty much was the difference, I think, in the game. It was him.”
Orlando’s point guards fared much worse. Starter Jameer Nelson scored only four points on 2-of-16 shooting. And although he had five assists and just one turnover, he simply could not match Parker. Backup Chris Duhon did not score a point in almost 15 minutes, and he was on the floor 10 of Parker’s fourth-quarter points.
“On the defensive end, we allowed Tony Parker to get too deep, and he was able to score or kick it out for guys for 3s,” said Dwight Howard, who scored 24 points and hauled in 25 rebounds.
Van Gundy took the blame for Parker’s success, saying he should have decided earlier to have players to be more aggressive on Parker’s pick-and-rolls. Van Gundy had his players play “under” on those plays to take away potential drives to the hoop.
“I’m just kicking myself that, you know, you do a couple of things differently and maybe you walk out with a win, and our guys deserved to win with the effort they put in tonight,” Van Gundy said. “So I’m not real happy with myself right now.”
The defeat ended the Magic’s five-game winning streak, and it also ended a grueling stretch in which the team played three games in three days.
Playing without injured starters Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu, the Magic used 10 players. But Nelson still wound up playing just over 38 minutes, and Van Gundy said afterward that was too much.
But the Spurs (10-5) were playing their 10th game in 15 days, and they also were without injured guard Manu Ginobili. They also had not won on the road in five tries this season.
“They were aggressive,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They were physical and, more than anything, they just played through whatever was going to happen on the court.”
Although Orlando trailed 73-69 with 1:02 remaining in the fourth, the Magic forced the game into overtime when Redick scored their final six points in regulation.
In overtime, Spurs reserve Gary Neal made his only basket of the night, a 3-pointer over Nelson to put San Antonio up 84-81 with 39.2 seconds to go.
Wafer made a driving layup as he was fouled on Orlando’s next possession, but he missed the ensuing foul shot.
After Richard Jefferson made one of two foul shots to extend the Spurs’ lead to 85-83 with 14.4 seconds left, the Magic (10-4) chose to go for the win.
After Nelson drove toward the hoop, he kicked the ball out to Ryan Anderson on the right wing. But Anderson missed his shot.
Howard rebounded the ball, and passed it to Redick. But Redick had to pump-fake to get his defender in the air, and that extra maneuvering forced Redick to shoot the ball a fraction of a second too late.
“It was a tough night, I think, for a lot of different reasons,” Redick said. “I’m not a guy who enjoys [moral victories like] ‘way to fight’ [and] ‘rah-rah.’ ”
He added: “We should’ve won that game. That’s the bottom line. We should have won.”
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