Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey tried mightily to pin Friday night’s 95-90 loss to the Indiana Pacers on his shoulders but Jamaal Magloire, whose shoulders are bigger, was having none of it.
With the score 93-90 for Indiana in the game’s dying moments, Toronto ran an inbounds play in the Pacers end and the last person who should have received the ball was Magloire, the big centre and notoriously poor free throw shooter.
But there was Magloire, who was open near the top of the left elbow and he accepted the inbounds pass from DeMar DeRozan before being immediately fouled by David West with 13.9 seconds left on the clock.
“We knew we could foul if it got late in the clock, but that was pretty early for him to catch that basketball,” West said. “I was just trying to make a play on the ball, be overly aggressive. I got a good slap on him but I was just trying to make a play on the ball.
“We didn't expect him to have the ball in his hands at that moment.”
West’s move was brilliant considering Magloire, a former NBA all-star, is anything but a sure thing from the free throw line as attested by a career 62.2 per cent success rate shooting foul shots.
Magloire, Toronto raised and desperately wanting to come through in the clutch in front of his home town crowd, promptly served up an embarrassing air ball on his first attempt.
His second effort was a bit better, but it still missed and Toronto’s hopes of upending the Pacers without the services of leading scorer Andrea Bargnani in the lineup, also went awry.
Casey was asked afterward if seeing Magloire get the ball at that particular moment in the game was the last thing he wanted to happen.
“It’s on me,” the Raptors rookie coach said. “I take full blame for that. I don’t think they were intentionally trying to foul, but it happened. I should not have had him handling the ball.”
Casey said he should have “flip-flopped” and had Ed Davis at the top and Magloire back down under the basket.
Casey said he considers Davis, who has made good on 72.7 per cent (8-of-11) of his free throws this year, a better bet than Magloire from the foul line.
“That’s my mistake,” Casey said.
Casey said the plan was to try for a quick two-point bucket then foul “and play that game” but Magloire’s misses killed that scheme.
Magloire certainly appreciated Casey’s magnanimous gesture but he wasn’t buying into it.
“I’ve been playing this game long enough that I think I let the team down,” he said. “I can be accountable as a man and say I could have done a better job at the free throw line. As a result we didn’t win the game.”
On the air ball, Magloire said he thinks he just didn’t take his time to set himself before he fired and was maybe a little bit too anxious.
“But again it was my fault...I have to do better.”