TORONTO, Canada (FNN SPORTS) – In the NBA there are 82 games in a season, so calling a game in late January a must-win might be a stretch, but for the Magic, their match against the Raptors on Sunday at Air Canada Centre was a game they had to win. The Magic’s problem: Their opponent was the team many consider the second best in the Eastern Conference which got back their All-Star Shooting Guard DeMar DeRozan after missing the last three games due to an ankle injury.
Led by Nikola Vucevic’s 25 points and 10 rebounds and D.J. Augustin scoring 21 off the bench, Orlando got a win they desperately needed by the score of 114-113. This was the team’s second win in the previous eight games and, as Jeff Green stated at the end of the game,
“We still have a chance to make the playoffs believe it or not, no matter how bad we’ve been.”
After a first quarter where the Magic were down by nine, Orlando turned it up on both ends of the court in the second quarter. They shot 11 for 17 (65 percent) and knocked down 4 of their 6 attempted 3-point shots. On the offensive side, they closed the quarter on a 21-2 run and the Magic were up 60-51 at the half.
Even more impressive for Orlando was their defensive effort in the quarter. In what might have been their best defensive quarter of the season, the Magic held the Raptors without a field goal over the final 6:52 and held them to 5 for 16 shooting.
“It is as bad as we have played all year. It’s everybody, the second team comes in and they’re making mistakes.” – Raptors Head Coach Dwayne Casey on the Raptors play in the final 7 minutes of the first half
Orlando had the game in control for most of the second half and even led by 15 with less than 6 minutes to go in the game. But Toronto, led by DeRozan and All-Star backcourt mate Kyle Lowry, made its final push to win the game. The Raptors went on a 16-5 run and the duo scored 7 of them, capped by a DeRozan jumpshot to make the score 105-101 with 2:20 to play in the 4th quarter.
Then Green scored 5 of his 16 points in a 21-second span and Vucevic hit two clutch free throws with 3.6 seconds to go in the game to seal the deal for Magic. Orlando is now 19-30 for the season.
Points Of Interest:
- It was the second loss this season for the Raptors in which Kyle Lowry scores 30 or more points (he had 33)
- Led by Green and Augustin, Orlando outscored Toronto 44-32 in points off the bench
- Raptors 2016 playoff hero Bismack Biyombo returned to Toronto, recieved a huge ovation from the crowd and 4 points, 5 rebounds and an assist in 14 minutes off the bench.
- Elfrid Payton’s 11 points and 10 assists gave him his 6th double-double of the season
Danny Thompson is a contributing NBA reporter for Florida National News. He can also be found over at NBA Full Court Press Radio.