Raptors Rampage Through Orlando
The Magic were destroyed in front of a maximum capacity Amway Center crowd by a Toronto squad that has now won 7 of their last 8 contests. Orlando is now 12-18, and have dropped 5 straight games as they were annihilated 123-88 Saturday night. All one can do is shake their head and shrug in bewilderment. Orlando’s calling card all season has been strong defense. Well that has rapidly evaporated as injuries begin to pile up. Games will be lost when 36 points in the first and fourth periods are coughed up. Orlando now owns a 0-8 record against Atlantic division teams, including dropping all 3 games versus Toronto.
Coach Vaughn on Toronto’s 3-point shooting: “It was just a heck of a start for them. They just made shots and they got a lot of confidence going early and made a tough uphill battle for us the rest of the night.”
Hedo Turkoglu returned after missing 28 games following the breaking of his left hand in the first game of the season. ‘Turkey Dance’ came off the bench against his former Raptors team. It wouldn’t matter, because Jameer Nelson sat out with a left hip injury. Nelson is listed as day-to-day and was dearly missed this evening. E’Twaun Moore was also out nursing his sprained left elbow. So that meant Ish Smith received his first ever start as the Magic’s point guard. Ish would get obliterated on numerous occasions in his feeble attempts to defend Jose Calderon and Kyle Lowry. However, Ish did obtain a career-high 13 points. Only other bright spot for the home side was Andrew Nicholson’s career-high 22 points.
Calderon would be making a lot of money in this league if he played the Magic every game. 7 points and 6 assists in the first period was typical output from the Spaniard would set the pace for the evening. 70 FG% during the initial twelve minutes as Toronto held a commanding 36-21. The Magic were settling for too many jumpers and panicked at the sight of Toronto drilling often from deep.
Coach Vaughn on Hedo: “I thought he attacked the rim pretty well, he finished a couple of and-ones and it was good to see him with the ball in his hands distributing, making passes, and in pick-and-rolls.”
At halftime, the Raptors led 67-47 thanks to 10-of-14 shooting from 3-point range and an overall 58.1 FG%. Vucevic had 8 points and 8 rebounds at halftime, and I honestly don’t know why he didn’t receive more minutes when he was the only Orlando man displaying any kind of success. Jacque needed to throw his set rotations out the window.
Coach Vaughn on Andrew Nicholson: “We went to him a little bit on the post and he provided some scoring for us and that was good to see.”
There was improvement in the 3rd quarter as Orlando’s help defense did a MUCH better job of switching at the top of the key. Jacque Vaughn’s men still trailed 87-71 entering the fourth period despite a 14-point third period from Andrew Nicholson. I have no qualms with anyone if you erased the final 12 minutes from your memories as Toronto would go back into ‘blow out’ mode. The Raptors had their luggage long ready for the flight out of the City Beautiful. Orlando now begins a stretch of playing six consecutive games against playoff opposition. The Miami Heat come to town on Monday as we’ll be treated to a Sunshine State battle to close out 2012. I will go out on a limb and say the Magic won’t lose by as many as 35 points.
Adam Papageorgiou runs Orlando Magic Greek and is a proud MBO contributor.