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Raptors 115, Magic 96: An ugly end to a successful season for the Orlando Magic

The Magic were routed by the Raptors in Game 5, bringing an end to a season to be proud of

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

When looking back on the 2018-2019 Orlando Magic season, think not of how it ended. Remember it for what it was: the most successful season of the post-Dwight Howard era.

A playoff spot. A division championship. A resilient and likeable team that had a season to be proud off.

They simply ran into a much better team in the postseason. That was as apparent as ever in Game 5 on Tuesday, as the Raptors led by as many as 37 and defeated the Magic, 115-96, to bring Orlando’s season to an end.

With a Toronto crowd salivating for an NBA Finals run, it was crucial for the Magic to get out to a quick start and quiet the arena. Didn’t happen. The Magic went the first 3:23 without a field goal and didn’t get another until 4:49 remained in the first, missing nine of their first 10 shots. By the time that shot went down, the Raptors had already built a 22-3 lead.

It was the same recipe for disaster for the Magic: poor shooting, turnovers, outrebounded, lack of stops. Adding to it this time around was early foul trouble for Aaron Gordon, who picked up his second foul three minutes in, and Nikola Vucevic, who collected three fouls in less than six minutes.

Kyle Lowry connected on his first five shots, scoring 12 first quarter points. The Raptors’ lead reached 24 in the first when Kawhi Leonard’s three made it 31-7. The Magic second unit - Terrence Ross, Wes Iwundu, Michael Carter-Williams and Khem Birch - then responded with a 12-2 run that helped the Magic pull within 35-19 after the first.

The Magic shot just 36 percent in the first quarter, missing all seven of their three-point attempts. The Raptors shot 56 percent in the opening quarter, connecting on 5 of 8 from three.

Orlando opened the second quarter on a 7-2 run, highlighted by a three-point play by Birch, to cut the deficit to 37-26. The Raptors responded with an 7-0 run to push it back to 44-26.

The Magic missed their first 11 three-point attempts of the game before Evan Fournier finally hit one with 7:55 left in the half to pull Orlando within 44-29. The Magic would hit on their next four three-point attempts, but the Raptors kept pace, maintaining a 58-42 lead with 3:35 left in the second. Orlando went without a field goal until the closing seconds of the half when Iwundu drained a three to make it 67-47 heading into the break.

The Magic shot 36 percent overall and 6-for-19 from three in the half (26 percent), missing many open looks, which has been one of the trends of this series. Rosss and Augustin led Orlando with nine points each and Fournier added eight. Vucevic, who missed all four of his shot attempts in the first, didn’t return in the first half after getting his third foul, playing just five minutes. The Raptors shot 55 percent from the field in the first half, including better than 50 percent from three (10-for-19). Leonard led the way with 14 points, and Siakam and Lowry each had 12.

The Raptors continued to score at will in the third.

A 12-0 run - capped by a fast break by Leonard where he caught the ball and dunked, all with one hand - extended the Raptors’ lead to 30 at 88-58...

The Magic trailed 99-70 entering the fourth. There the lead grew to 37 as the Magic flirted with the worst postseason loss in franchise history, a 35-point loss to Miami in 1997. The countdown to the end of the season was officially on.

Augustin had 15 points to lead the Magic, who shot 38.6 percent, including 9-for-34 from three (26.5 percent). Ross and Iwundu each had 12, and Gordon added 11. Birch had nine points, 11 rebounds and four blocks off the bench. Vucevic, in what could be his final game as a member of the Magic, was held to six points on 3-for-10 shooting in 17 minutes. Jonathan Isaac’s struggles also continued as he shot just 1-for-7 for three points, while not recording a block or steal.

Leonard finished with 27 points on 8-for-11 shooting, Pascal Siakam added 24 points on 8-for-16 shooting, and Lowry had 14 points and nine assists. The Raptors, who shot 48.2 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from three, advance to play the winner of the Sixers/Nets series (Philly about to advance as of this writing).

The Magic dropped four straight games after a dramatic Game 1 win, with three of the four losses coming in lopsided fashion. While Steve Clifford this season has looked to remove the concept of “moral victory” from the Magic’s midset, there are plenty of positives to take from the season, despite it’s disappointing end.

A seven-year playoff drought came to an end, the organizational stigma that comes with it being shed in the process. A young team gained valuable experience playing meaningful basketball, not just in the postseason but also over the final weeks of the regular season. A culture has been changed, with the Magic establishing a clear defensive identity under Clifford. Oh, and there is also this....

Perhaps next season, Aaron Gordon consistently plays as he did in Game 4, Jonathan Isaac takes steps towards a Siakam-like leap, and Mo Bamba and Markelle Fultz become regular rotation players, giving the Magic a pair of lottery picks in what is essentially their rookie year.

The focus now shifts to the offseason, where the Magic will have the 16th pick in the NBA Draft and decisions to make in free agency, starting with their All-Star Nikola Vucevic and Sixth Man of the Year Candidate/Human Torch Terrence Ross.

Whatever happens, the Magic will take the court next season with optimism and a clear goal of taking the next step in the postseason.

Thank you all for sticking with us through the good times and bad. For the first time in a long time, we can truly say that the future is bright for the Orlando Magic.