It was almost cruel of the Spurs to win as they did on Wednesday, spotting the Magic a 14-point fourth-quarter lead before snatching it away in game’s final moments. It was then that the clamps came out; the Magic managed just five points in the final 4:31, including a much-needed three from Evan Fournier to tie the game with just 13 seconds remaining.
Kawhi Leonard took it from there.
Leonard isn’t the most dynamic of isolation players, but his shot has come along to the point that his pull-up jumper is a legitimate weapon. All that it took to create the opportunity was a simple crossover to push Aaron Gordon on his heels.
To make matters even more excruciating for Orlando, Magic guard Elfrid Payton was able to leak out on the inbound sequence immediately following Leonard’s make for a clear look at what could have been a game-tying layup:
Win No. 45 for the second-place Spurs was sealed equally by the Magic’s inexperience in protecting their lead, Payton’s jitters on that final sequence and the inevitability of them settling in to get their shots and stops as expected. Leonard was merely the agent of action.