The Orlando Magic used a team-wide hot shooting performance against the Toronto Raptors' perpetually porous defense to cruise to a 118-99 win Wednesday night. Rashard Lewis led all scorers with 21 points--including 5 three-pointers--while Matt Barnes scored 20 points on 10 shots off the bench. Dwight Howard approached a triple-double with 18 points, 14 boards, and 8 blocked shots before checking out as the game got out of hand. Orlando held Toronto's Chris Bosh to 20 points, while former Magic player Hedo Turkoglu chipped in 14 (on 2-of-9 shooting) and Jarrett Jack added 13.
|Green denotes a stat better than the team's season average;
red denotes a stat worse than the team's season average.
The game transpired more or less like you might have figured it would based on these teams' reputations going in. The Raptors hung with the Magic early on, but the Magic created just enough separation with an 8-0 run late in the first quarter--fueled by a tough Vince Carter layup and back-to-back treys from Jason Williams--to take a 27-19 lead, and Toronto never really challenged after that. It wasn't always a question of effort, but rather ability; Orlando got whatever it wanted, the Raptors couldn't keep pace with the Magic's blistering shooting, and so it continued for the next 36 minutes. After a while, the Raptors appeared to just say, "screw it," and they mailed in the rest of the game. The way things went for the Magic, you can hardly blame them.
Okay, well, you can, to an extent, but I think you see my point. Things came entirely too easily for Orlando. The misses came on well-executed plays, open, and in rhythm, at least until garbage time, when Marcin Gortat started launching just any old thing he wanted. And by "old thing," I mean "15-footer early in the shot clock."
Howard missed 1 shot all game, and it was an off-balance tip-in attempt. Barnes shot 7-of-10, and one of those misses came on an inexplicably blown dunk with nobody around. Several of J.J. Redick's shots rattled around and out... and on it goes. Nary a blemish for Orlando offensively, at least not when the game really mattered. Turnovers were a bit of an issue, with Anthony Johnson--who scored a lively 13 points off the bench--twice losing the ball off his knee on his way to the hoop. and with the odd push-off against Howard or Redick. Overall, though, what is your chief complaint if you're the Magic? Maybe it's that Mickael Pietrus struggled in his 17 minutes, shooting 1-of-5 with 2 turnovers as he tried to battle through illness. Maybe it's that the Raptors came up with 6 steals, despite being the league's worst turnover-forcing unit. Maybe it's that Bosh scored 20 in 30 minutes, on 7-of-11 shooting. Still, his touches were few and far between, as the Magic dared Jack (13 points on 15 shots) and Andrea Bargnani (12 points on 12 shots) to beat them. A sound strategy, which they executed.
That sentence more or less summarizes the Magic's night. They had a game plan on both ends, they put it in motion, and they prevailed with ease. Really, I'm more impressed with the Magic's defense of the Raptors than I am with their offensive assault against them. A team as gifted as Orlando should light up the scoreboard against a sieve like Toronto. But the Raptors had the league's 4th-most efficient offense coming in, and Orlando shut it down. Howard's rejections helped, sure--and some of them could have been fouls or goaltends, if we're honest, but not nearly enough to swing momentum in Toronto's favor--but rarely did the Magic get burned on that end. So Antoine Wright peels himself off the end of the bench and scores 7 straight points late in the 4th: who cares? Two contested looks in the lane and a three-pointer for a career 29.3% long-distance shooter. You're happy giving those looks up.
Finally, how about Brandon Bass tonight? Coach Stan Van Gundy dusted off Orlando's sparingly used free-agent signee, who played both power forward and center, and he responded. 5 points, 1 rebound, 3 blocks (?!), and the usual energy and aggression in just over 9 minutes for Bass, who's probably a rotation player on just about every other NBA team. I see no reason or him to take minutes from three-point ace Ryan Anderson on a regular basis, but it's always good to know that your 11th man can come in immediately and make an impact.
Sorry if I seem more peppy than usual, but again, there's very little wrong with the way the Magic played tonight. A solid win against a worthy offensive foe, and a chance to rest up on the first night of a back-to-back set. Orlando jets to Miami to play the Heat--themselves fresh off a win against Toronto--tomorrow night.