Arron Afflalo wears a Size 14 basketball shoe.
On Friday night, he probably wished he wore a 10 or 11.
The toes of both of his feet straddled the 3-point arc at the most inopportune time — just before he elevated for a shot with the Orlando Magic trailing the Boston Celtics by three points with just a few seconds left to play.
He made the shot, but referees correctly ruled it a 2-pointer instead of a trey, and the Magic wound up losing 91-89 at Amway Center.
"It just wasn't a smart play," Afflalo said between heavy sighs. "Even with four seconds on the clock, you have to be able to slow the game down enough to be conscious of where you are on the court. So, I'm very upset at myself for stepping on the line."
But, in truth, that play wasn't the reason the Magic (3-3) lost to the Celtics (2-4).
It was just one of many reasons.
Orlando committed a total of 20 turnovers and made just 19 of its 29 free-throw attempts. Eliminate one or two of those giveaways or swish a couple more foul shots, and the Magic might have celebrated a narrow win instead of regretting a frustrating loss.
"I think overall turnovers kept them in the game early and kept them in the game late," coach Jacque Vaughn said.
The Celtics converted the Magic's turnovers into 25 points.
Few of those miscues hurt more than a steal by Boston point guard Avery Bradley from Victor Oladipo in the Magic's defensive end midway through the fourth quarter.
Coming out of an official timeout, Oladipo received an inbounds pass, and Bradley knocked the ball away, scooped it up and dunked as he absorbed a foul from Oladipo. Bradley's ensuing free throw put Boston ahead 81-77.
"He just stole it," Oladipo said. "He's an aggressive defender. It's not the first time he's done that. I've seen his track record."
After the first quarter, Boston disrupted Orlando's ball-handlers with pressure and prevented the Magic from getting into the offense quickly.
Former Magic power forward Brandon Bass scored a team-high 16 points, while Bradley, former Magic swingman Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green also scored in double figures.
"The thing is we feed off of Avery's energy," Lee said. "Once he starts picking it up, it's only right that everybody else picks it up also to match that."
The Magic took an early lead in the first quarter but seemed to lose focus in the second and third quarters.
They definitely looked out-of-sync.
Nik Vucevic scored 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the first quarter but didn't make another basket until the final period.
"I think it's not the offense that was the issue," Vucevic said. "We gave them too many easy buckets and we had a lot of turnovers that they turned into easy points with fastbreaks."
Afflalo almost willed the Magic back into the game.
With Orlando trailing 86-80 with 1:38 left, he hit a 3-pointer as Bradley fouled him. Afflalo made the ensuing free throw.
After Boston's Kelly Olynyk hit a jumper to extend Boston's lead to 88-84, Afflalo made a driving layup as he was fouled by Bass.
But Bass made up for his mistake just seconds later, making a pair of foul shots with 10.5 seconds left.
That set the stage for the Magic's attempt to tie the game.
Vaughn called a play for Afflalo, who already had 21 points.
Afflalo pump-faked to get Gerald Wallace off his feet. Afflalo slid to his left, toward the corner. He squared his shoulders and shot.
"He ended up making it," Vaughn said. "I just wish his feet were a little smaller. We'd be in better shape."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun