Archive for the ‘Orlando Magic’ Category

If you missed the game tonight, no, that’s not a typo up there.

The Raptors came up short against the Bobcats despite a good effort on Wednesday, so we were at the point where we were all thinking even a good effort all year long couldn’t get this team much more than 20 wins.

It certainly couldn’t get them a win in Orlando…absolutely not. And even if an admirable effort had them in a close game against the Magic, there is no way anybody on this Raptors team could make the big shot, let alone take it, right?

Here’s what happened tonight in a nutshell.

The Raps and Magic come out of the gate flying, and Orlando had a 9-5 lead less than three minutes into the game, on 4-4 shooting. It looked like we were in for an offensive showcase from both teams, and that the Magic would ultimately pull away and run.

Jay Triano then called what might have been the timeout of the season so far. An unexpected early timeout with his team down only four, it seemed innocent enough. But what that timeout did was halt a Magic offence that was ready to roll. It never fully clicked again all night.

After that point, the Raptors outplayed the Magic and matched them shot for shot, blow by blow. Neither team was able to pull away until the Raps opened up a seven point lead after three, and eventually a 10-point lead early in the fourth.

Admit it; you assumed the Raptors would either shoot themselves in the foot and find a way to lose, or the Magic would simply find a way to shoot themselves past a helpless Toronto team.

Orlando did make their expected run, and a three-pointer from Mickael Pietrus tied the game with less than 30 seconds left.

And then it happened. With every Raptors fan across Canada already breaking down how the Raps let another one slip, Jarrett Jack pulled the defence toward him, then dished to Sonny Weems, who knocked down a clutch three-pointer.

The Magic didn’t even get an attempt at a tying shot, as they did their best late-game Raptors impression by turning it over on the inbound.

I will say this. There were moments in the fourth quarter when bounces around the rim seemed to favour the Raptors for the first time this season, and I kind of had a funny feeling at that point. Up until then, I was definitely one of the many expecting 1-8 after tonight.

Lastly, give this young team credit tonight, and give Jay Triano and the coaching staff credit. Some will blow it off as simply, “Orlando didn’t come to play or under-estimated the Raptors.” But if we are going to lay it on this team when the effort isn’t there, then we should commend them when they play over their heads for a full 48 minutes and get a stunning result like this.

Wow, nearly 500 words and no mention of Vince Carter?

From one “He Who Shall Not Be Named” to another, Miami is up next tomorrow night.

Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 40 Min, 26 Pts, 8-13 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 10-12 FT, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl (DeRozan played the game of his NBA life)

Magic Player of the Game: Mickael Pietrus - 30 Min, 24 Pts, 8-11 FG, 8-11 3Pt, 2 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl

Goat of the Game: Quentin Richardson – 18 Min, 8 Pts, 3-8 FG, 2-7 3Pt, 4 Reb, 1 Stl

Dwight Howard and Vince Carter

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Raptors as they’ve embarked on a four-game road trip that leads off with a brutal back-to-back in Orlando and Miami. The Magic are typically dominant so far, particularly on the defensive end where they lead the league with just 97.8 points allowed per 100 possessions. On offence, they jack up just as many threes as they always have, but they’re not making them like they used to as they’re 22nd in the league in three-point percentage. Somehow, I suspect playing the Raptors might just be the tonic they need to find their range again, especially since Andrea Bargnani might have a bit of trouble guarding Dwight Howard one-on-one.

Injury report

Toronto: The injuries are starting to pile up just like the losses. Leandro Barbosa didn’t travel with the Raptors for this four-game road trip, Linas Kleiza is doubtful for tonight with a sore Achilles heel, while Jarrett Jack, Reggie Evans and David Anderson are all probably with various maladies.

Orlando: No significant injuries that I know of.

Five questions

1. Does Dwight Howard finally have a semi-polished offensive game? According to hoopdata.com, only 22 of his 54 field goals have been made around the rim.

2. Will Julian Wright capitalize on a potential opportunity to show that he should be the starting small forward on the Raptors?

3. Can DeMar DeRozan rediscover his aggressiveness? After earning 22 free throw attempts in his first three games, he’s only gone to the line seven times in his last five games.

4. Does Vince Carter’s hobo beard help his shooting stroke? He’s 52 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc so far this season.

5. Has Rashard Lewis become the most overpaid player in the history of North American professional sports? He’s making $19.5 million this season while averaging 11 points and 6 rebounds on 38 percent shooting

Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Channel: TSN2
Liveblog: Natasha Alibhai on theScore.com and ScoreMobile
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jarrett Jack, DeMar DeRozan, Julian Wright, Reggie Evans, Andrea Bargnani
Orlando: Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Ryan Anderson, Dwight Howard

Tonight’s pregame song is “Hate to Say I Told You So” by The Hives. I’ll let you read into that however you want.