Looking to finish off their four game homestand undefeated, the Orlando Magic welcomed the Toronto Raptors to the Amway Center. After playing a pair of games the controlled, the Magic were tested all night, but came up short against the East-leading Raptors, 93-91.
Somewhat predictably, the Magic’s offense came crashing back down to earth early against a stout Toronto defense. The Raptors, led by former Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard, held the Magic to a woeful 5-of-17 shooting in the opening quarter. The shots the Magic did get, unlike the previous nine games, were not in the flow of the offense, with Toronto knocking them off their spots, and keeping them from finding any flow whatsoever.
As shots continued to clank off the rim left-and-right, the Magic defense began to suffer. Toronto picked apart the Magic defense with penetration, leading to kick outs for open shots on the perimeter. Toronto also gave the Magic some problems on the boards, out rebounding them 14-9 in the quarter, adding seven second chance points off of three offensive boards.
After one, Toronto were in firm control, leading 29-17.
Desperately searching for a spark their starters couldn’t give them, the Magic were let down by their bench once again. The Magic’s second unit, which has been inconsistent to say the least this season, once again struggled on both ends, failing to find any better flow, and not defending at a high level. Jonathan Isaac, who showed off some flashes of what he can be offensively on Sunday night, showed more confidence in his shot, taking a pair of off-dribble mid-range jumpers, but was unable to get much else going.
Toronto continued their strong play, pushing their lead to as many as 18, while knocking down six of their 19 three-point attempts in the half. The Magic got Leonard in foul trouble, with the All-Defensive First Team player notching three personal fouls for just the 110th time in 420 career games. The Magic were able to have a little more success with Leonard on the bench, cutting the lead down to 10, 47-37 at the half.
Out of halftime, the Magic came roaring to life behind hot shooting from Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier. The duo helped propel the Magic to an 19-8 run to help the Magic grab their first lead of the game at 61-59, knocking down four three-pointers, while combining for 19 in the quarter. The hot shooting allowed the Magic to score more points (38) than they did in the entire first half.
Defensively the Magic struggled with rotations, leaving shooters open too often, but weren’t burned by it. Toronto shot over 52 percent in the quarter, but went just 1-of-10 from beyond the arc, compared to the Magic’s 5-of-7. Thanks to their surge, and sudden crisp play on the offensive end, the Magic carried a two point lead, 75-73, into the fourth.
With the lead, the Magic turned to the Mo Bamab-Isaac-Gordon trio for the first time this season, and it backfired on the Magic in a big way. With Toronto having it’s two best players, Kyle Lowry and Leonard, on the bench, the Magic desperately needed to get the ball inside to Gordon or Isaac to some easy looks. Instead, they settled for poor jump shots left and right, allowing Toronto to once again take the lead before putting their two All-Stars in.
Having no momentum, the Magic went back to their starters, and began finding their footing a bit more offensively thanks to Fournier. Defensively they still found themselves a step slow on rotations, giving up a pair of open three’s to Danny Green. After a pair of baskets from Serge Ibaka and Leonard gave the Raptors a four point lead, Fournier scored two at the rim to tie it back up with just over a minute to play.
Following a missed open three from Gordon, Ibaka nailed a mid-range jumper with Nikola Vucevic in his face to give Toronto a 91-89 lead with 43 seconds to play. Out of the timeout, Fournier missed a three, but Toronto was unable to push their lead up, giving the Magic a chance to tie it with 8.4 second left.
Out of the timeout, off a double screen for Fournier and Terrence Ross, Fournier took it and flew by Green for a two handed slam to tie the game at 91 with 2.3 seconds left. Green redeemed himself, knocking off the Magic at the buzzer.