|2008/2009 NBA Regular Season|
|February 2nd, 2009|
|Air Canada Centre|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||Jose Calderon|
|Courtney Lee||SG||Anthony Parker|
|Hedo Turkoglu||SF||Jamario Moon|
|Rashard Lewis||PF||Chris Bosh|
|Dwight Howard||C||Andrea Bargnani|
|November 18th: Magic 103, Raptors 90|
|January 4th: Raptors 108, Magic 102|
The Orlando Magic travel to Toronto to take on the Raptors in another Sunday matinee meeting between these two teams. Four weeks ago, the Raptors stunned the Magic with a brilliant shooting performance despite the absence of Jose Calderon and Jermaine O'Neal, two key starters. Today, both players are healthy, although O'Neal has shifted into a reserve role.
In that last meeting, Dwight Howard matched a career-high with 39 points, but was held to only 8 rebounds. The iron was unkind to his sidekicks: Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, and Jameer Nelson combined to shoot 14-of-39 for 44 points. Meanwhile, Toronto got steady point guard play from Will Solomon and Roko Ukic, and a season-best effort from Anthony Parker. I have a hard time imagining the factors that conspired against the Magic that day will continue today, just as I doubt that the good mojo the Raptors got from the likes of Parker and Ukic will continue.
It'sbeen a disappointing season for the Raptors, who figured to be among the Eastern Conference's elite this season but instead sit at 14th place in the conference. And this is not a team that has shown much resiliency. After an embarrassing loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night, Raptors beat writer Doug Smith wrote the following:
Try to remember the last time this team played with joy, with some obvious love for the game, looking like they were truly having fun out there.
There may be a minute or two during each game but consistently? Nope. And until they get that kind of all-for-one, one-for-all passion on a regular basis, there will be more nights like last night.
And that was no fun for anybody.
If Orlando puts Toronto in a big hole early, I don't expect the Raptors--except for All-Star forward Chris Bosh, whose mean-streak is underrated--to put up much of a fight. Then again, as Rashard Lewis said after he was named an All-Star himself, the Magic are going to get their opponents' best efforts from now on.
The tip's at noon to accommodate that football thing that's happening later in the day. Go Magic.