The Orlando Magic helped the Toronto Raptors end their six-game losing streak Sunday evening, 102-98, in an embarrassing display that had coach Stan Van Gundy simmering afterward. The Raptors, without starting point guard Jose Calderon or centre Andrea Bargnani, outworked the Magic from start to finish, with a 48-30 advantage on the glass. "They outhustled us, they outquicked us, and they deserved to win," Van Gundy said, and it's hard to find fault in his argument.
The speedy trio of Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, and Leandro Barbosa befuddled Orlando's defense throughout the evening, combining for 61 points on 61.6 percent True Shooting. Small, quick, role-playing guards have enjoyed success against Van Gundy's Magic over the years, but perhaps not to this extent, with three such players popping off in one game. It's worth noting that Bayless, a career 31.1 percent three-point shooter, went 3-of-6 from deep; he just made shots the Magic, like any good defensive team, want him to take. The difference is the team didn't do enough to offset his fluky, but nonetheless impressive, performance.
Orlando didn't do itself any favors at the foul line, shooting 15-of-27 for 55.6 percent, yet Dwight Howard wasn't the culprit. Indeed, by shooting 9-of-15, he boosted his team's average. Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, and Brandon Bass--three-fifths of the Magic's starting unit--went 1-of-7.
|Team||Pace||Efficiency||eFG%||FT Rate||OReb%||TO Rate|
|Green denotes a stat better than the team's season average;|
red denotes a stat worse than the team's season average.
The game turned in the early stages of the fourth quarter. Orlando built its lead to 6 after three periods, and would have held an 8-point edge had anyone bothered to contest Barbosa's long two-pointer just before the horn to end the period sounded. Turkoglu opened the fourth by knifing into the lane off a Howard screen and sinking a leaning jumper, all while drawing contact from DeRozan. Van Gundy pulled Howard as Turkoglu stepped to the line for his free throw. Which he missed.
Less than three minutes later, the Raptors took an 85-84 lead. During Toronto's 12-3 run, it scored 8 points in the immediate basket area, points which would have been harder to come by had Howard stayed in the game. "It's a little ridiculous that we can't even let Dwight get a drink of water," Van Gundy said.
Howard returned at the next dead ball, which came when Richardson tried feeding Malik Allen, whose back was turned to the basket, with two seconds remaining on the shot clock. Allen couldn't get a shot up in time.
Neither team really excelled offensively down the stretch. The difference is the Raptors gave themselves more room for error by crashing the offensive glass. With a two-point lead, they managed to run 56 seconds off the clock on one possession, missing two jumpers before Barbosa cashed in with his toe on the three-point line, putting Orlando down 4 with 1:54 to go. The teams traded empty trips until Bayless chased down a Barbosa miss with 43 seconds to play, forcing Orlando to foul.
A report from Fox Sports Florida's Paul Kennedy indicated Van Gundy challenged his team during a timeout at the 4:22 mark to limit the Raptors to 100 points. They had 95 at the time. Toronto only topped that total because the Magic had to play the foul game going down the stretch, adding five points to Toronto's score. The team's defense on initial shots was solid, forcing typically poor shooters to create for themselves off the dribble. Yet the Magic struggled to finish the task by chasing down defensive rebounds.
They also didn't do anything, really, at the offensive end. Richardson drilled an academic three-pointer just before the final buzzer. Prior to that, all the Magic managed since that timeout was a free throw by Howard and a deep two-pointer by Bass. That's 3 points in 7 possessions against the league's worst defensive team while it fielded a three-guard lineup.
Let that last sentence simmer for a bit. Okay. Moving on...
The Raptors just had more fight in them tonight, and it's becoming more and more clear the Magic, apart from Howard and their coach, aren't as engaged as they ought to be.
For what it's worth, Turkoglu scored his 10,000th career point with a driving layup in the first quarter.