The conditions were right for the Orlando Magic to pick up a rare win, but they fell short once again on Thursday, this time to the Toronto Raptors, by a 97-95 final as DeMar DeRozan drilled a long, fading two-pointer over the defense of Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis as time expired. Toronto was playing the second night of a back-to-back following an overtime loss to the Miami Heat on Wednesday, whereas the Magic had the benefit of a day of rest. In addition, Toronto had lost five of its last six.
But the Raptors, using a balanced offense and accurate shooting, would take control in the second half and fend off a late Magic rally to complete their four-game sweep of Orlando, their first since the 2006/07 season. The Magic yielded 50 percent shooting, while DeRozan led six Raptors in double-figure scoring with 22 points, including 14 in the fourth.
A small, unconventional lineup, featuring Davis at center alongside four guards, helped Orlando turn the tide in the third quarter. A three-point play by Davis brought Orlando within a point at 81-80 with 6:50 to play. Moments later, E`Twaun Moore scooped up a loose ball, and though Jameer Nelson's first shot attempt missed, Davis recovered the offensive rebound and hit a cutting Nelson for a layup to give Orlando an 84-83 lead, its first since the 1:26 mark of the second quarter.
A mental error cost Orlando one key possession with 3:04 to play. Under Toronto's basket after a timeout, Moore failed to inbound the ball within five seconds, resulting in a turnover. DeRozan responded with a fading jumper on Toronto's next trip to give the visitors a three-point lead. After a Davis miss, Alan Anderson scored an easy driving layup to put Toronto up five with 2:09 to go.
A four-point play by J.J. Redick tied the score at 93 with 53 seconds to play, but DeRozan answered with another fading jumper. Moore knotted the score again with a put-back of an Afflalo miss, giving Toronto possession with 20.9 seconds to play.
Toronto scored on its first six possessions of the third quarter to build a 62-55 lead. Nearly four minutes elapsed before a short-rimmed Jose Calderón jumper gave the Magic their first defensive stop of the half.
One third-quarter play typified the Magic's energy level on the night: off an out-of-bounds play, Amir Johnson launched a long two-pointer with six-tenths of a second remaining on the shot clock. As the shot was in the air, Johnson and three other Raptors retreated to get back defensively. The rebound landed between Magic players Maurice Harkless, Jameer Nelson, and Nikola Vučević, but Ed Davis--the lone Raptor not sprinting back in transition--came up with the loose ball to keep the possession alive. Toronto was the team on the second night of a back-to-back, but one wouldn't know it based on its energy and approach.
A long three-pointer by rookie Terrence Ross, off the dribble with the shot-clock winding down, gave the Raptors a 10-point lead, their largest of the night, with 1:16 to go in the third. A free throw by Vučević marked the only scoring for either team for the remainder of the period, giving Toronto a nine-point edge. The officials changed Ross' basket to a three-pointer after a video review between the third and fourth quarters.
The game was close, if not exciting, in the first half: the Raptors led by just one point at halftime, 48-47, and the game featured 10 lead changes and seven ties to that point. Nikola Vučević had 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting despite hardly having any plays called for him: he went 5-of-6 on tip-ins and layups in the half. Moore, too, made his presence felt: the second-year player drove to the basket and drew three fouls, setting a new career-high with six free-throw attempts in the half alone.
But, in a familiar story, Orlando's defense suffered because it failed to force turnovers or wall off the paint. Like Vučević, Johnson feasted as a finisher inside, scoring 14 of his own on 6-of-10 shooting.
Coming off a miserable night against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, some of Glen Davis' fortunes changed against the Raptors. He shot 3-of-5 before halftime for six points and he snared three rebounds as well, but he also picked up three fouls and drew a technical foul, his third of the season, for getting physical with Raptors center Aaron Gray. After referees whistled Davis for his third foul, the veteran big man tossed his hands into the air and walked away, muttering to himself, before approaching official David Jones to discuss the play. Later in the quarter, Davis lingered on Orlando's bench while his teammates huddled with coach Jacque Vaughn during a timeout. Davis did eventually join the huddle, but his frustration was plain to see.
Davis' night soured just 43 seconds into the second half, when he picked up another foul trying to take a charge against Johnson. To make matters worse, Johnson made the shot, leading to an and-one situation. Vaughn kept Davis in the game.