The San Antonio Spurs can do no wrong this season and the Orlando Magic can’t seem to do much right.
The Spurs rallied from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to beat Orlando 98-96 on Kawhi Leonard’s jumper from the top of the key with 0.9 left to play Wednesday night.
Leonard led the San Antonio with 29 points. LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and Patty Mills added 17 points and seven assists for the Spurs, who won their fourth straight game.
"We always pride ourselves on playing the whole 48 minutes of the game," Leonard said. "We just kept pounding and fortunately everything broke for us."
Including the last 0.9 seconds.
That was enough time for Magic guard Elfrid Payton to run down a length-of-the-floor pass and miss an uncontested reverse layup as the buzzer sounded. The miss ended the Magic’s two-game win streak and sent Orlando to the All-Star break with just four wins in their last 19 games.
"We got lucky," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "There was a pick down there and we didn’t react very well."
Evan Fournier, whose 3-pointer tied the game with 13.3 seconds left, led Orlando with 28 points. Nikola Vucevic had 20 points and 13 rebounds, Victor Oladipo scored 14. Payton had 13 points and seven assists.
"In key moments, we struggle to make a game-ending play or combination of plays," Magic coach Scott Skiles said. "We could feel the Spurs picking it up (in the fourth quarter) and we didn’t react well. We started throwing them the ball and became casual."
"I’ve got to make that shot," he said. "I tried to let the ball bounce, but it slipped out of my hands. Still, I make that shot all the time and at the end of the day, I’ve got to make it."
The Spurs were down 81-67 early in the fourth quarter when the Magic began a familiar fourth quarter fade to the finish. That coincided with Leonard, Mills and Danny Green getting serious at the offensive end.
The Spurs trio split the team’s first 21 points of the period evenly, cutting the deficit to 91-88 when Mills converted a layup while falling to the floor with 4:30 to play.
Aldridge, who was passive most of the night, stepped up and scored the next six points for San Antonio, including an 18-foot fadeaway jumper with 1:10 left in the game that gave the Spurs a 94-93 lead. Leonard added two free throws to up the lead to 96-93 going into the final minute.
San Antonio blocked two shots and forced two turnovers in the final minute, but Fournier got free in the corner and made a 3-pointer with 13.3 seconds to tie the game at 96.
After a Spurs timeout, Leonard dribbled the clock down to the final second, rose up over Magic defender Aaron Gordon and buried the game winner.
"It was one of those games where things weren’t going well and we just had to grind it out," Mills said. "We didn’t have a lot of energy, but the ending was a great example of the confidence and belief we have in Kawhi."
Spurs: San Antonio started the game 1-for-9 from the field, then hit 11 of its last 12 shots in the first period. … Tim Duncan (sore knee) returned to the starting lineup after missing eight games with a sore knee. He played only 18 minutes, none in the fourth quarter. … Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili did not play. … The Spurs win percentage, 84.9 (45-8) is the best in franchise history going into the All-Star break.
Magic: SF Tobias Harris (ankle) missed his third straight game. … Reserve C Jason Smith sat out the game with a bad back. … Orlando is just 15-40 (27.2 percent) against San Antonio. … Aaron Gordon had 14 rebounds, but scored only four points. … Dewayne Dedmon had nine rebounds in 10 minutes.