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Magic vs Raptors GameThread

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The Magic square off against the top team in the Eastern Conference for the first time this season

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Talk about a tale of two team's heading in opposite directions.

The Orlando Magic welcome the Toronto Raptors, currently sitting atop the Eastern Conference (42-17, one half a game ahead of Boston), to the Amway Center for the first time this year. In fact, this is the first meeting between these two teams this season.

The Raptors, who boast a top-5 NBA offense and defense, come into tonight's game winners of eight of their last nine. The Raptors will be looking to feast on Orlando's porous defense. Toronto has eclipsed the 100-point mark in 12 consecutive games.

Toronto scored a decisive 123-94 victory over Detroit Monday night. The Raptors got 20 points apiece from their All-Star back-court duo, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, in the contest.

Serge Ibaka, who played 56 games for the Magic last season, will be returning to Orlando for the first time since he was traded to Toronto for Terrence Ross last February.

The Magic have lost six games in a row entering tonight's game. Orlando scored 38 points in the first quarter against the Thunder Monday night, but then failed to get much going the remainder of the game (lost 112-105).

Aaron Gordon, who was listed as questionable for tonight's game as he continues to deal with a sore hip, will play in the contest. However, Jonathan Isaac, who was expected to return after his extended absence due to an ankle injury, will not play.

Isaac played two games last week with the Lakeland Magic in an attempt to shake some of the rust off, and has reportedly suffered no setbacks.

"Their rationale is they just want to make sure that everything is 100 percent, everything is perfect," Isaac said this morning. "Obviously, I just want to get back on the floor. I want to do the right thing."

With their loss to the Thunder Monday night, Orlando has already secured their sixth straight losing season.

Vogel Quotes:
On Mario Hezonja's minutes: "I think last game he forced a little bit (too much) at the rim. I don't know if that has anything to do with him coming off the bench or starting. In that game, I think he just didn't make great decisions. But I don't expect his play (coming off the bench or starting) to change a whole lot. It's not like he's playing five minutes a game or anything like that. He's playing a regular role, I expect him to produce."

On the return of Gordon and Vucevic the last three games: "We have more firepower and we're better defensively. Both of those guys are good defenders and enhance what we're doing on that end of the floor. There's also more shooting out on the floor. Aaron didn't shot it all that well last game, but (they give us) more shooting, more post offensive presence."

On the team's offensive struggles when in-game adversity sets in: "We do (address that) regularly. The good news is we're starting strong. The guys are trying to play the right way, everyone's trying to play with the pass. I really don't think that our guys lose focus of that. Defensive pressure picks up and we're a young team, part of growing and developing is learning how to handle that."

On the availability of Marreese Speights: "We'll see how the game goes. He will be available for us, this team does play big with their second unit. There's an option to throw him in there, he really hasn't done much for five days, so there's obviously a concern there."

Toronto Raptors (42-17, Won 1 in a row) @ Orlando Magic (18-42, Lost 6 in a row)

February 28th, 2018

Amway Center

7:00 P.M. EST

TV: Fox Sports Florida

Kyle Lowry

PG

D.J. Augustin

DeMar DeRozan

SG

Jonathon Simmons

OG Anunoby

SF

Evan Fournier

Serge Ibaka

PF

Aaron Gordon

Jonas Valanciunas

C

Nikola Vucevic

TORONTO

ORLANDO

98.0 (12th of 30)

PACE

98.5 (8th of 30)

113.8 (4th of 30)

O-RTG

107.0 (19th of 30)

105.0 (3rd of 30)

D-RTG

111.5 (27th of 30)