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Magic 105, Kings 96: Orlando responds to late run, hangs on to top Sacramento

Orlando used a 9-0 run late in the fourth quarter to hold off the Kings.

Carl Landry and Tobias Harris
Carl Landry and Tobias Harris
Cary Edmonson - USA Today Sports

The Orlando Magic finished their longest roadtrip of the season Saturday on a high note, holding off the Sacramento Kings for a 105-96 victory. Tobias Harris turned in another sterling performance, finishing with 25 points, including the clinching long two with less than a minute to play, to lead the Magic. And though Victor Oladipo didn't shoot well, going 6-of-15 from the field, he made some solid plays out of the pick-and-roll en route to a 16-point, seven-assist night.

Darren Collison led Sacramento with 22 points, including a trio of three-pointers in the fourth quarter, the only treys the Kings would make all night. In the midst of a miserable season, Jason Thompson did a bit of everything with 18 points, eight boards, and four assists.

The Magic's bench helped them create some separation in the second quarter, building the lead to as large as 11 points. Ben Gordon's shot-making played a role here, but so too did Orlando's defense: the visitors forced the Kings to miss 14 of their first 15 shots of the period. Credit Dewayne Dedmon and Andrew Nicholson for holding their ground in the post, making life difficult for the Kings' interior players.

And yet the Kings closed the half trailing by only three points: the Magic's inability to keep their hands to themselves sent Sacramento to the foul line early and often. That trend isn't an anomaly: Sacramento leads the leage in free-throw attempts, thanks in large part to the Collison's speediness at the point of attack and DeMarcus Cousins' sheer size. But Cousins missed Saturday's game, and few of Orlando's fouls seemed wise, so it didn't have that excuse.

The Magic extended their lead in the third quarter by keeping the Kings off the line and getting Oladipo in the lane. After an early hiccup adjusting to Sacramento's increased ball pressure, the Magic sophomore calmed himself and finished the third with six points, three assists, and no turnovers. Two of those assists went to open three-point shooters.

Gordon opened the fourth period with consecutive jumpers to boost Orlando's lead to 16, its largest of the night. A slightly more experienced club might have controlled the game from there. Instead, the Magic let the Kings back into the game, yielding a 15-2 run over the next four-plus minutes. The Kings' reserves played scrappy, aggressive bal, and Orlando's second unit couldn't quite keep up.

The Kings continued their push, even when Vaughn reloaded with his starters. Key to this run: reserve forward Derrick Williams, widely considered a Draft bust. Scoreless entering the final frame, Williams went for 11 points in the opening eight minutes of the fourth, including three dunks. The second one came after Thompson floated a high-low pass over the undersize Evan Fournier, who was fronting Williams. Vaughn's decision to pair Oladipo and Elfrid Payton pressed Fournier to small forward, making him have to tangle with Williams, a gadget forward, and that mismatch was one the Kings felt good exploiting.

Williams' third jam tied the score at 90, but to the Magic's credit, they responded: Payton scored with an aggressive drive, Channing Frye bailed Orlando out with a deep trey off a broken set, and Oladipo took advantage of Collison's slipping while trying to navigate a screen by burying an open 18-footer.

Frye's shot was one in a million--he scooped up a loose ball Thompson initially controlled being in just the right place at the right time after Rudy Gay rejected Payton's offering--but, as the saying goes, it is sometimes better to be lucky than good.

After another Kings miss, the Magic rebounded and took a timeout. Harris came out of it looking to score, and he did, making a long-two pointer to push the Magic's lead to nine with less than a minute to play, effectively icing the game. Most teams can plausibly surmount a three-possession disadvantage in less than a minute, but not one was woeful from beyond the arc as the Kings.

The Magic return to Orlando for three days off following their 3-3 trip.

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