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Raptors 104, Magic 95: Magic comeback falls short as offensive struggles continue

It was a career-night from Jonathan Isaac, and a no-show for Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon

NBA: Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

When you turned the game on and saw the Raptors’ throwback court and jerseys, it felt a lot like 1995.

When you watched the start of the game and saw the Magic’s offensive struggles, it felt a lot like the 2019 NBA Playoffs.

When you saw the Magic make a valiant run and take a late lead on a night when it seemed impossible to do so, it felt a lot like the end of Game 1 of that Magic/Raptors series.

The Magic, though, couldn’t hold on as the Raptors came away with a 104-95 win.

The Magic’s cold shooting from their loss against the Hawks carried over as Orlando shot just 32 percent in the opening quarter. They missed their first 10 two-point attempts and didn’t get their first points in the paint until Markelle Fultz hit a floater with just under three minutes remaining in the first. The Raptors meanwhile shot over 50 percent in the quarter, led by Pascal Siakam, who had 11 points.

Matching Siakam in scoring in the first was Jonathan Isaac, who hit three three-pointers en route to a 13-point first half performance to help keep the Magic from being down more than they were.

The Magic, after shooting a dreadful 16 percent on threes against the Hawks, connected on 4 of their first six attempts in the first (though they would miss their next four attempts in the quarter). Still, the Raptors, who led by as many as 14 in the quarter, took a 31-22 lead into the second.

The Magic’s defense tightened up in the second quarter, surprisingly keeping them in a game where it felt like they should have been down by 30. Both teams struggled from the field in the second, so much so that after an Anunoby layup with 6:59 remaining, neither team would make a field goal until Evan Fournier’s bucket with just 31.5 seconds left in the half, which pulled the Magic within 46-43.

The Magic, after a strong defensive stretch, allowed a pair of far-too-easy layups to Kyle Lowry in the final 30 seconds, sending Orlando into the half trailing 51-46. The Magic shot just 30 percent in the half, including 22.7 percent from three (5-for-22). The two main culprits of the poor shooting performance were Aaron Gordon, who was held scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting, and Nikola Vucevic, who had five points on 1-for-9 shooting and was a no-show offensively just as he was during the playoff series against the Raptors. The Magic, though, were fortunate to be down only five thanks to the Raptors shooting just 37 percent.

The Raptors opened the third on an 11-2 run to increase the lead to 62-48. Everyone on the Magic not named Evan Fournier was held without a point for the first 7:08 of the third. Fournier scored the first six points of the quarter for the Magic until Isaac hit his fourth three of the game with 4:52 left in the third to pull the Magic within 65-55.

Gordon’s first and only points of the game didn’t com until 4:16 was left in the third when he hit a pull-up jumper. Though AG was contributing in other ways...

A three by Kyle Lowry opened a 72-59 lead for the Raptors with 2:51 remaining in the third. Fultz then orchestrated an 8-2 run for the Magic by hitting an 18-foot pull-up jumper, finding Mo Bamba for a three, and then connecting on a three himself to cut the deficit to 75-67. Michael Carter-Williams fouled Lowry on a three attempt in the closing seconds and he hit all three free throws to put the Raptors up 78-67 after three.

With Vucevic benched from the 3:24 point of the third on, and the Magic utilizing a lineup of Isaac, Gordon, Fournier, Fultz and Augustin, Orlando went on a run that ultimately gave them the lead.

The Magic got within seven when Isaac connected on his fifth three of the night with 8:44 remaining. Isaac’s three-point play with 6:39 left gave him 22 points, establishing a new career-high for the 22-year-old, as he eclipsed his previous best of 20 points set in February.

On the next possession, Fournier hit a three off a feed from Fultz, pulling the Magic within 87-82. A pair of free throws by D.J. Augustin increased the Magic run to 8-0 and cut the Raptors’ lead to 87-84. Isaac added a pair of free throws to pull the Magic within one. Ross then followed with a three with 4:18 left to give the Magic an 89-87 advantage for their first lead since the opening two minutes.

After a three-point play by Siakam put the Raptors back on top, Fultz attacked the basket and converted a pretty reverse layup to put the Magic up 91-90.

Lowry responded with a three that sparked a 7-0 Raptors run and opened a 97-91 lead. A putback dunk by Fultz later pulled the Magic within 100-95 with 1:06 to go, but on the ensuing possession, Fultz lost the ball while driving to the basket. The Raptors sealed it from there.

Valiant effort by the Magic, who managed to nearly steal a win on a night where they shot 38.6 percent and Vucevic and Gordon combined for seven points on 2-for-19 shooting. Vooch finished 1-for-13 from the field and will probably pretend to have the flu the next time the Magic play the Raptors. Isaac finished with a career-high 24 points, connecting on 5 of 7 attempts from deep, and also adding seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Fournier added 18 points. Fultz had 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting (1 of 4 from three, with five assists and three turnovers. The Magic (1-2) have failed to reach 100 points in each of their first three games.

Lowry led all scorers with 26, Siakam added 24, and Marc Gasol (aka the Vucevic Silencer) added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors (3-1).

The Magic now return home, where they will play eight of their next 10 games, starting with the Knicks on Wednesday. Hopefully they shoot a little better in Orlando.