For those clamoring for the Magic to get the seventh seed, we just got another sneak peak of what that would be like.
The Raptors are not an easy team to score against, something the Magic have learned all too well in recent history. Orlando’s first half performance against the second-seeded Raptors in Wednesday night’s 109-99 loss was just the latest example of that.
The Magic struggled to find any early offensive rhythm against an aggressive Raptors defense that doesn’t allow anything easy. Orlando shot a dismal 30 percent in the opening half, making just 2 of 16 three-point attempts, en route to scoring 35 points, a season-low for a half.
After trailing 21-6 with 2:26 remaining in the first (and scoring only 11 points in the quarter while missing all nine of their three-point attempts), the Magic went into the break down by 20, evoking memories of their offensively-challenged first round series of last season.
Makin' it look easy pic.twitter.com/J1FK8xvmAx— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 6, 2020
Just as they did against the Pacers, the Magic outplayed a better team in the second half following a sluggish start.
Orlando opened the second half on a 9-0 run, which included a dirty-looking flagrant foul by Kyle Lowry on an airborne and defenseless Aaron Gordon. AG momentarily was down on the court grasping his hamstring and soon after exited the game for good. Hopefully just for precautionary measures.
Even without Gordon, the Magic continued to cut into the Raptors’ lead.
We're on a - run!— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) August 6, 2020
(9-0 to start the half) pic.twitter.com/RVGpccgonB
A three by Terrence Ross extended the run to 16-2, pulling the Magic within 57-47 with 8:30 left in the third.
The Magic later cut the lead to seven following threes by Gary Clark and Wes Iwundu that made it 75-68 with just under 30 seconds left in the third. Serge Ibaka responded with a three to push the lead back to 10 heading into the fourth.
The Magic again got the lead down to seven, but never truly threatened a Raptors team that had answers for each mini-run.
Nikola Vucevic’s struggles with Marc Gasol and the Raptors’ defense continued. Vooch entered the game averaging 23.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists over his first three bubble games, while shooting 61.9 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from three. He was quiet against Toronto, recording 12 points and nine rebounds, while shooting 4 of 10 from the field.
As for the Magic center of the future...
Mo Bamba, despite the Magic playing in the second night of a back-to-back, received his second straight DNP. This occurred on the same day that the Nuggets’ Michael Porter, selected eight picks after Bamba in the 2018 draft, recorded his second straight 30-plus point double-double (as pointed out by our Aaron Goldstone). Frustrating.
Terrence Ross had 15 points and Evan Fournier added 13 to lead the Magic (2-2 in bubble play), who shot 40.7 percent and had 13 turnovers. Orlando went 11-for-41 from three (26.8 percent), with James Ennis going 0-for-6 to bring his bubble total to 3-for-18.
Fred VanVleet had 21 points and 10 assists for Toronto (3-0), who had six players in double figures.
The Raptors completed a four-game season-series sweep of the Magic, with Orlando failing to reach 100 points in all four contests.
The Magic now sit a full game behind the Nets for the seventh seed. Based on Orlando’s play against the Raptors this season (and last season), maybe that’s not such a bad thing.