Raptors Survive Late Orlando Onslaught to Claim 5th Straight Win
Amir Johnson didn’t jinx his squad by getting that hideous claw etched into his head. The crazy thing is the Raptors are still only 9-19 after surviving the Magic’s late comeback 90-93. It’s the first contest Orlando has lost when shooting 50% or better from the field this season. With their four-game win streak snapped, Orlando dips to 12-14 overall despite riding a signature 10-0 run late in the game to up the drama factor immensely. JJ Redick was able to avoid being food-poisoned by a lamb burger this time around, but missed a heavily contested 3-pointer in the final 10.7 seconds that would have tied the game. Sloppy ending to conclude a poor performing Friday evening as the Magic did indeed finally play in a game decided within 3 points. On the bright side, Gustavo Ayon finished with a season-high 12 points and 13 rebounds off the pine. Arron Afflalo led all scorers with 26 points. Nik Vucevic notched 16 points and 12 boards.
Orlando had to find a way to compensate with their leading scorer Glen Davis being out due to a left shoulder sprain. Still no timetable set for Glen’s return. Rookie Andrew Nicholson was tapped to receive his first ever NBA start in yet another homecoming. Uncle ‘Drew couldn’t shake off nerves offensively, but he did step on Jonas Valanciunas hand, breaking the Lithuanian’s right ring finger and knocking him out. Orlando trailed 15-20 after twelve minutes because of tough jump shot misses and not being able to get anyone but Vucevic going.
I’m impressed with Toronto’s depth and energy they display without having Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry. Raptors Coach Dwane Casey knew how to spread that Orlando defense thin to create plenty of decent looks. O-Town took forever to get their ball movement going. I may truly never complain about Big Baby being a blackhole ever again once he returns. Orlando was actually down 24-35 before going on a 10-0 run thanks to the insertion of Gustavo Ayon. The Vooch-Goose frontline was quite effective. Orlando only trailed 39-42 at the break thanks to fabulous 10-point, 10-rebound and 7-point, 7-rebound first halves from Vooch and Goose.
Afflalo was hobbling all night, but that didn’t prevent him from carrying some of the scoring load vacated by Big Baby’s absence. Goose’s hustle kept Orlando around for a while, but the men in blue-and-white were behind 62-71 heading into the 4th quarter. Too many Magic turnovers negated their high percentage shooting. Orlando’s tendency of falling behind caught up with them tonight.
I don’t understand why Jacque went away from Vucevic in the second half, the same gripe I had in Orlando’s November 18th defeat. The Goose-Vooch twin towers that helped Orlando reel in Toronto in the first half wasn’t utilized nearly enough as it was sacrificed for ‘small ball’. Toronto punished Orlando with 6 players reaching double figures. The Magic lick their claw wounds and come back home to host the Utah Jazz at Amway Center on Sunday.
Adam Papageorgiou runs Orlando Magic Greek and is a proud MBO contributor.