Tobias Harris delivers on promise with another game-winning shot for Magic

BY foxsports • December 13, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The last thing the Orlando Magic needed Saturday night was another last-second loss.

Tobias Harris refused to let that happen.

Yes, the Magic were happy to have Nikola Vucevic back after a six-game absence and to see Victor Oladipo come through in a close game after he had labored through a horrendous first quarter. But none of their contributions would have meant a thing if Harris, who has emerged as a leader at age 22 in more than the scoring column, didn't hit a shot going to his left at the buzzer with DeMarre Carroll of the Atlanta Hawks on his hip.

The degree of difficulty in his shot was exceeded only by the degree of excitement and emotion displayed by Harris in front of the Magic bench following the 100-99 victory over the Hawks, who were riding a nine-game winning streak that included a defeat of the Magic the night before in Atlanta.

"We needed this one," he said. "When I got off the plane yesterday when we landed, I told everybody, 'We're going to get this win tomorrow.' And when I woke up this morning, I told myself all morning and all afternoon that we're going to get this win. When I walked in here, I said, 'We're going to get this win.' So it was the mindset I had and everybody on this team had that we were going to fight all the way until the end."

It was Harris' second game-winning shot of the season. As was the case last month at Philadelphia, it came after coach Jacque Vaughn designed a play to have him take an inbound pass from Evan Fournier.

Both Harris and Fournier had a lot riding on the outcome. Harris, an 82.2 percent shooter from the free-throw line, could only split two attempts with 8.4 seconds remaining to keep the Hawks down by two instead of three. And Fournier was the defender who Kyle Korver nailed a 3-point shot over to give the Hawks a 99-98 lead.

"I was praying because Korver had that shot," Fournier said. "So I was saying, 'Please, please, save me, TB.' "

"I felt like I kind of let my team down with the (missed) free throw," said Harris, who had 20 points to lead four Magic starters in double figures.

With the memory of Bradley Beal's lay-in over Oladipo at the buzzer Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards still raw, Harris more than justified Vaughn's confidence in him.

"That's the biggest component to making those shots -- wanting to take the shots," Vaughn said. "I really believe there are few people on both benches who really want to take that shot at the end of the game."

Added Harris: "The biggest thing is every one of my teammates know that's a shot I'm capable of making. Coach drew up the play and had great confidence in me. The guys on the team trusted me to take that shot and make it."

The Magic improved to 5-2 this season in games where they have shot 50 percent or better. Of their 37 field goals, 26 came off assists, including on 15 of their first 17 baskets.

"Coach got on us before the game about sharing the basketball and getting everybody else involved and being unselfish," Harris said. "And that's what we did, and that's why we were able to be successful."

Oladipo tied Elfrid Payton for team-high assist honors with seven and also scored seven of his 15 points in the final 2:45 to redeem himself from a first quarter in which he turned the ball over five times. The Magic had 10 turnovers after one quarter but only five the rest of the way.

"The first half was rough," he said. "I was moving too fast, stumbling. It seemed like I was back to my rookie year. But at the end of the day, the beauty of the game is that it's long. Thank God it's not one half. I just tried to stay poised and pick my spots."

Vucevic picked his spots as well. While most of his scoring and rebounding took place in the first three quarters, he scored on a lob from Oladipo with 1:43 to go and followed that with a block of a shot by Hawks guard Jeff Teague.

"It's great to have him back," Oladipo said. "A couple of times when we were trying to get back in the game, we'd just throw it in there and he'll get a bucket for us. That's huge for us."

Not half as large as what Harris did to save them from heartbreak.

"I want to win more than anybody," he said. "And to see guys on our team with the same attitude is very pleasant."

Added Oladipo: "Watching him in the summer, watching how hard he worked and watching how good he's gotten -- nobody in this locker room deserves it more than him."

You can follow Ken Hornack on Twitter @HornackFSFla or email him at khornack32176@gmail.com.



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