The Toronto Raptors held on to defeat the Orlando Magic, 98-93, on Sunday, sweeping the three-game series between the teams. Orlando, which trailed by as much as 21 in the third quarter, tied the score on two occasions in the fourth and had a chance to pull off the upset.
"We actually played defense," Magic rookie Victor Oladipo said regarding what drove his team's big comeback. "We were more crisp with our defense from both the bigs and the guards. We were finally on the same page."
Here's a look at the stories that developed Sunday.
Inbound woes continue
Trailing by three points, with possession and 8.9 seconds to play, Maurice Harkless lined up to inbound the ball for Orlando. Despite getting screens from Nik Vučević and Tobias Harris, Arron Afflalo couldn't get himself free. Harkless tried to signal for the Magic's final timeout, but referee Scott Foster instead whistled him for a five-second violation.
"I guess he just didn't acknowledge me," Harkless said. "He said he didn't hear me, but I called timeout a couple of times." The second-year forward said he couldn't hear Foster counting down the time.
"I thought Moe called timeout, but I guess the ref was on a different count," said Oladipo. "Again, you just gotta learn."
It's tempting to view that costly turnover as the play upon which the game hinged, but coach Jacque Vaughn urged perspective.
"It's more than just that one play, guys," Vaughn said during his postgame press conference after fielding a second question about the inbounds violation. "There was a 30-point quarter we gave up in the second quarter. It's more than one possession at the end of the game. I think what we can look at is the totality of the game and the fact that we allowed a 16-point quarter in the third quarter."
Vučević agreed. "That's not the play that decided the game," he said, pointing out that Orlando should not have come out as flat as it did. The Raptors went on a 23-4 run spanning the first and second quarters to take an 18-point lead, and led by 19 at halftime.
The inbounds gaffe is simply the latest in a line of Magic inbounding miscues that's spanned much of the season. "We'll continue to get better at it," Vaughn said. "The good thing is, we'll continue to be in those situations and we'll get better at accomplishing them."
Trouble finding Vučević
Based on his 18-point, six-rebound tally at halftime, one might have expected Vučević to finish the night with another monstrous line not dissimilar to the 24-point, 23-board one he posted against the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday. Instead, Vučević scored only four second-half points on three shot attempts.
"Their defense picked up," Jameer Nelson said of Toronto's work against Vučević after halftime. "They keyed on him a little more. We tried a couple things to get him the ball, but they were just more aggressive."
"The ball just didn't find him," Vaughn said. "But definitely we were cognizant of his ability to score on the block for us. He carried us [in] the first half for sure."
Not a fashion statement
Oladipo played Sunday wearing a blue compression sleeve on his right arm. After the game, he had his right elbow wrapped in ice. He offered an explanation for his new on-court gear.
"I just got a little fluid in my elbow," Oladipo said. "Nothing too big, but I gotta wear a sleeve now to protect it so it won't get any fatter. Something I gotta get used to. I shot with it in workouts before the game. Didn't feel too crazy."
Wearing the sleeve, Oladipo shot 7-of-12 from the floor for 16 points off the Magic's bench.
Free-throw disparity costly
DeMar DeRozan, who led all scorers with 28 points, shot 16 of the Raptors' 27 foul shots Sunday. The Magic, as a team, managed only 14 attempts. Orlando's players had a uniform reason for the disparity: aggressiveness.
"We were shooting a lot of jumpers tonight," said Harris. "We weren't aggressive enough going to the rim," said Vučević.
Vaughn's perspective? "I'm just going to say the referees were great throughout the game and I'm going to leave it at that," he said.
Nelson offered a mix between the two views.
"A lot of referees make mistakes [when] they make calls. You have to live with them. They're human too," he said. "I'm not gonna say it was the refs' fault. Maybe the other team was more aggressive. Maybe they wasn't. I don't know."