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Anatomy of a (Third-Quarter) Collapse

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The Magic held a 60-48 lead over the Pistons with 9:23 to play in the third quarter of Game Four, and gained possession after referee Joe Crawford whistled Detroit's Antonio McDyess for offensive basket interference. At the 9:11 mark, Maurice Evans hit a three-pointer to give the Magic a 15-point advantage. As the media have well documented, the Pistons went on a 15-0 run to tie the game, and eventually won it with Tayshaun Prince's running hook with 00:08.9 to play in the fourth quarter. But whom should the Magic blame for their miscues? This table sums it up, from the 8:55 mark of the third (when Rodney Stuckey missed a three-pointer for Detroit) to the 2:56 mark of the third (when Richard Hamilton tied the game at 63 with a fast-break dunk):

Player Missed FGs Missed FTs Turnovers Total Miscues Points off
Evans 1 0 0 1 2
Howard 1 0 0 1 0
Nelson 3 2 0 5 5
Lewis 2 0 2 4 8
Turkoglu 1 0 0 1 0
TOTAL 8 2 2 12 15

Likewise, whom should the Pistons praise for their resurgence? Again, we have a table:

Player D. Rebounds Blocks Steals Total Plays Made Team Points off
McDyess 4 1 0 5 9
Maxiell 1 0 1 2 2
Stuckey 1 0 0 1 0
Wallace 2 0 1 3 4
TOTAL 8 1 2 11 15

Yahoo!'s Kelly Dwyer and 3QC reader Eyriq both pointed out the appropriateness of this website's name after the Magic lost thanks to a blown third-quarter lead. I've already explained that I started the original site at Blogspot after a similar loss to the Sacramento Kings during the 2006/2007 season. But that's not when I came up with the site's name. In fact, I didn't come up with it at all.

My mom did.

Flashback to 2006. Somehow or another, my dad won free tickets to a Magic game. We went to claim them, hoping to choose the Lakers' visit to Orlando as our prize. As it turns out, we didn't have the ability to choose which game we'd attend, and the Magic representative gave us two tickets to see the Milwaukee Bucks on January 31st. The Magic won big, 98-73, and held a 56-29 lead at halftime, but almost gave the game back in the third quarter after being outscored, 24-13. "Just another third-quarter collapse by the Magic," Mom said later, describing the game. The phrase stuck with me, and I kept it in mind when I started the old site.

And that was that.

Some notes and references after the jump.

A few notes on the tables: the Magic show 12 in their total miscues column, yet the Pistons show 11 in their total plays made column. That's because Nelson's 2 missed free throws lead to only one Detroit rebound. Additionally, for the purposes of determining Detroit's team points scored, McDyess' blocked shot lead to a Wallace rebound and, in turn, 2 points for Detroit. I attributed those two points to McDyess for the block rather than to Wallace for the rebound.

You may recall seeing this same sort of analysis from me before: I did it for this ugly win over Boston in the 2006/2007 season.

I'd like to acknowledge this article by Britt Robson of The Rake for inspiring this post. His playoff update, which rips the Magic for their shoddy play in Game Four, got the wheels spinning in my brain. A major tip of the hat to you, sir.

These play-by-play data from proved invaluable.