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Raptors 112, Magic 101: Magic make up some ground in the tank standings

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Despite the return of Ross, Gordon and Vucevic, the Magic are now in position to compete for the league’s third worst record

NBA: Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Magic were winners before they even stepped on the court on Sunday.

With Orlando needing the Hawks to win one of their final two games to even have a chance of tying for third worst record in the league and improving their lottery odds, Atlanta shocked the shorthanded Celtics in Boston with a 112-106 win.

That meant that the Magic just had to do their part to keep pace in the tank standings....even with Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon back in the lineup, and with Terrence Ross making his return after missing 57 games because of a knee injury.

The Raptors, even while playing without DeMar DeRozan, made tanking pretty easy for the Magic. Toronto moved the ball well and shot efficiently early on, taking a 35-24 lead with seconds remaining in the first quarter on a three by C.J. Miles.

Toronto connected on 10 of 22 threes in the first half (45.5 percent), taking a 61-50 lead into the break despite the Magic shooting 46.5 percent from the field themselves.

The Magic cut the lead to 71-65 on Gordon’s contested 30-foot three with the shot clock winding down with 5:40 remaining in the third.

Gordon scored 10 points in the third, including another three that cut the lead to four. But the Raptors closed the third on a 15-4 run to take an 89-74 lead into the fourth. The highlight of the quarter though was this block by Aaron Gordon....

The Raptors blew it open in the fourth, taking a 101-81 on an and-one by Serge Ibaka with just under seven minutes to go.

Miles led all scorers with 22 points, shooting 5-for-10 from three, and OG Anunoby added 21 points, hitting 5 of 8 three-point attempts. The Raptors made 17 of 40 threes in the game and had seven players finish in double figures. Ibaka had 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for Toronto, which increased its franchise record for single-season victories by improving to 58-22.

Gordon shot 6 of 12 from the field to lead the Magic with 16 points. Hezonja added 14 points and five assists. Khem Birch, a Montreal native playing professionally in Canada for the first time, had another strong game with 12 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.

Ross checked in for the first time with just over three minutes remaining in the first quarter, receiving a polite applause from his former home crowd. Ross played five minutes in the first half, missing the first two shots he attempted. He converted a three early in the fourth and finished with three points on 1-for-5 shooting in 10 minutes.

The Magic conclude a back-to-back on Monday against the Milwaukee Bucks, who are currently tied with the Miami Heat for the sixth seed. Important game for both, as each team will be playing for positioning: the Bucks in the playoff standings and the Magic in the lottery standings.