The Orlando Magic finished one of the lightest weeks on their schedule winless on Saturday with their 123-88 loss to the visiting Toronto Raptors. Toronto, which played an overtime game on Friday before having to travel to Orlando, bombed the Magic from three-point range, making seven of their first eight attempts from beyond the arc. The seventh make, from lightly regarded forward Alan Anderson, put Toronto up by a 49-29 margin less than five minutes into the second quarter. Toronto would finish 15-of-27 on threes.
Indeed, the night would be a long one for Orlando, which could not have counted on the Raptors being dialed in from three-point distance. With top point guards Jameer Nelson and E'Twaun Moore out, Orlando had fewer three-point shooters with which it could try to chip into Toronto's lead.
But dominance from three-point range wasn't the only reason for Toronto's victory. Its success on triples is indicative of the precision with which it ran its offense. The Raptors tallied 33 assists on their 46 baskets as Orlando failed to take any of their options away. The Raptors moved the ball quickly and purposefully to generate open, in-rhythm shots; it was as cohesive a unit as the Magic have faced all year. Fifth-year swingman DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 21 points without attempting a single three, instead doing his damage by pulling up for twos off down-screens.
Given the Magic's shorthandedness at the point, one might have expected their possessions to be hard to watch. For the most part, those fears proved unfounded, as Ish Smith kept the team organized. It became clear, however, that Arron Afflalo and J.J. Redick --the Magic's best hopes for offense with Glen Davis sidelined--wouldn't be able to provide much scoring for the hosts. The pair of shooting guards combined for 4-of-15 shooting in the first half as the Raptors built a 20-point lead.
Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn unleashed Andrew Nicholson in the third quarter, and the rookie power forward helped bring the Magic back to within 12 points. Limited to 10 minutes in the first half, Nicholson, making his second career start, played the entire third quarter and scored 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting from the floor. His ability to score with his back to the basket was one of the bright spots for Orlando, insofar as a team that can have any bright spots in a game it loses by 35 at home.
Toronto stemmed Orlando's run thanks to the pairing of point guards José Calderón and Kyle Lowry. The former set up Lowry and Ed Davis for consecutive baskets to push the Raptors' lead to 14, and then followed those passes up with a long two-pointer. A pair of free throws from Lowry on Toronto's next trip put the lead back to 18 points.
Lowry opened the fourth quarter with a long two-pointer off the dribble after drawing Magic power forward Josh McRoberts on a defensive switch. He buried a three-pointer after Redick missed at the other end to put the Raptors up 22 points.
Hedo Türkoğlu returned to Orlando's lineup following a 28-game absence and played both forward positions as well as point guard. His rust was evident, particularly in the lack of lift he generated in a first-quarter dunk attempt which may have succeeded on an eight-foot rim; he still scored on the play. Türkoğlu finished with eight points, five rebounds, three assists, and two turnovers off Orlando's bench. Toronto outscored Orlando by 37 points in his 23 minutes.
Smith, who entered the game shooting 18.8 percent from the floor, performed admirably in his first start since joining the Magic in February. Though he still has a nasty tendency to run himself out of plays on both ends of the floor, he played a solid 33 minutes and contributed 13 points, four rebounds, six assists, two steals, two blocks, and no turnovers.