VIDEO: Harris’ streak ender
Tobias Harris was already enjoying a season with obvious forward progress, to the surprise of no one who had been tracking his career progress. One of the least-known parts of the Magic rotation or not, next to Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo and 2014 lottery picks Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton, Harris had established himself as an early candidate for Most Improved Player.
Add Saturday night to the resumé. Harris hits the 15-footer as time expires to give Orlando a 100-99 victory over the Hawks.
Tough shot. Not only was time running down, not only was Harris on the move while dribbling to his left, but DeMarre Carroll played good defense. It was commendable defense, actually, the way Carroll fought off a pick, fell down, got up just as Harris received the pass and stayed on Harris the entire way. And when Harris released, Carroll’s left hand was contesting the shot.
It didn’t matter. Harris was fluid and unhurried as he cleared the defense, before the buzzer sounded after the release.
There were 15 lead changes and 10 ties. The biggest advantages were six for the Hawks and five for the Magic. This was a game that deserved to go down to the final play.
Atlanta went up 99-98 on Kyle Korver’s 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds remaining. Orlando called timeout. The Hawks put Carroll in for defense. The Magic, wanting another shooter, put Channing Frye in for Payton.
Harris had pretty much been in the entire way, playing 39 minutes while missing nine of 15 shots before the timeout. Unfazed, he worked his way from near the baseline, through Carroll’s tight defense, called for the ball on the right wing and then dribbled. He was just to the left of the free-throw line when he pulled up.
There went Atlanta’s nine-game winning streak. Not only that, the victories had come by an average of 14 points per. Harris ending that impressive run should get headlines around the league because of what the Hawks had been doing, and also because it is another step in Orlando building confidence. These kind of nights help a lot.
The Magic got the importance. It helped that Harris made the shot on the side of the Magic bench. He basically drifted into waiting arms after the release, He was swarmed there, while the Hawks walked dejectedly off the court at the other end.
It was a big moment all around. Long winning streak on the line, the Magic wanting to make a statement about being able to step up to the moment, Harris needing to create his shot against tough defense and then convert when the opportunity did come — that was big even for mid-December. Three Horrys.