In their second game of a back-to-back on the road, the San Antonio Spurs came into Orlando with game-weary legs, and despite their winless road record this season, hung on for a hard-fought overtime victory, 85-83.
A slow start to Wednesday night’s game led to a wild finish in overtime, with Orlando opting for the win on a three-pointer rather than going for the tie off Dwight Howard’s offensive board which could have sent the game into a second overtime.
Moments before in the overtime period, the Spurs Richard Jefferson had given his team an 85-83 lead when he split a pair of free throws with 14.4 seconds remaining.
After a quick Magic timeout, Ryan Anderson launched a three ball and missed, but Howard was there for the rebound, as he had been all night. Instead of going back up for the tie, he threw it out to J.J. Redick for another three-point attempt.
Redick’s shot was good, but he fired the ball just after the game’s final buzzer, giving the Spurs their first win on the road this season.
“It shows our margin for error,” Jefferson said after the game, MySA reports. “We were point-five seconds away from having our hearts broken.”
The Magic were closing out their lone back-to-back-to-back of the season, having defeated New York and Charlotte in the previous two games and brought a five-game win streak into the Spurs game.
For the Spurs, a key to the game was stopping Orlando’s rebounding efforts. It never materialized. The Magic, one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the league, had out-rebounded the Spurs, 60-41, by game’s end. Dwight Howard was unstoppable, grabbing caroms off both ends of the floor. He finished the game with 24 points and 26 rebounds, including nine on the offensive end.
As could be expected, the game started off ugly, with fatigue showing on both teams. The Spurs had less than 24 hours to recover from the drubbing delivered by Chris Bosh and LeBron James of the Miami Heat. Still weary from that blowout loss, they shot just 4-for-16 from the field in the opening quarter against the Magic, missing their last six shots.
The Magic finished the first quarter on an 8-1 run and took a 19-13 lead into the second. Orlando out-rebounded the Spurs in the opening quarter, 20-7, with seven coming off the offensive boards.
Orlando and the Spurs traded baskets in the second quarter, and the Magic took a 40-37 lead into the half.
The Spurs went on an 11-2 run in third quarter to get back in the game, and trailed by one, 58-57, going into the final quarter.
Point guard Tony Parker carried the Spurs in the second half, and was dominant during the final quarter. At one point in the second half, he scored 16 of 18 Spurs points, including 7-of-7 shooting in the fourth quarter for 14 points.
Up by four with just over a minute to play, Tim Duncan committed two costly turnovers in the stretch which allowed the Magic to tie the game at 73 on Redick’s shot off the glass with 36.9 seconds left in regulation.
With the Spurs up by two, Redick again tied the game on a pair of free throws, with 17.7 seconds left.
After hitting eight straight baskets for the Spurs, Parker’s fade-away jumper from inside the arc short, and the game went into the wild overtime finish.
For the game, the Spurs hit just 2-of-17 from beyond the arc, but none was more crucial than Gary Neal’s right-wing trey, off a designed play, with 28.2 seconds left in overtime. It was his only basket of the game and gave the Spurs an 84-81 lead.
For the Spurs, Duncan had another double-double, with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Jefferson added 11, and second-year player Tiago Splitter, off the bench, scored 10 points and grabbed six boards.
Along with Howard’s monster night of scoring and rebounding, he also had three blocks, an assist and a steal.
Von Wafer, coming off the bench, scored 15 points, while Anderson scored 17 and added 11 rebounds. J.J. Redick finished the game with 13 points.
Of Neal’s big shot, Assistant coach Don Newman, speaking on Spurs Radio after the game, said, “Pop set up the play for him and Gary came up big for us.” Regarding the game overall, Neman added, ““It was probably one of the ugliest games of the year.”