The Atlantic Division leading Toronto Raptors didn’t do anything to distinguish themselves in their 105-90 win over the tanking Orlando Magic. In fact, the game started out being so poorly played by both teams that Head Coach Dwane Casey had little good to say about it.
“I think we set basketball back 15 years in the first half, both teams,” Casey lamented. “Like I told our guys, we are going to have a lot of games where we are going to have to grind it out.”
Both teams shot 35 percent in the opening quarter and the Raptors permitted 5 steals that they only offset by getting 8 extra rebounds. Loose, sloppy and careless with poor execution adequately covers what went on over the first 12 minutes. For a while it looked like neither team would crack 70 points on the night.
Some aspects of the game tightened up as it went along, at least Toronto started hitting shots and in the third quarter, the Raptors shot 85.7 percent from the field to score 36 points and take an 80-65 lead.
“For whatever reason we struggle in the first half, come through and turn it on,” Casey said. “But I think that’s also a little bit of growth on our part. I’ve seen times when it has been a struggle for closer to 40 minutes.”
The Orlando Magic have waived veteran forward Glen Davis and they are concentrating on developing their young players. Maurice Harkless got the start in Davis’ spot, but it was Tobias Harris who had the hot hand from the opening tip. Harris had 10 first quarter points and finished with a game-high 28 points. Rookie sensation Victor Oladipo got his second start in a row after coming off the bench the previous 6 games and had 11 points and 5 steals.
Leading scorer Arron Afflalo didn’t travel with the team because of a sprained ankle. Veterans Jason Maxiell and Ronnie Price were DNP-CD as they do not fit into the team’s youth movement.
The last time Orlando visited Toronto, they were held to just 33.3 percent shooting from the field, but on Sunday they managed to improve that to 41.4 percent, although they’d probably be better off just not mentioning how well the two teams shot the ball.
The Raptors got a scare when Amir Johnson went down and then hobbled straight to the locker room with what looked like a badly sprained ankle, however, Coach Casey left some room for optimism.
“(Johnson) got kicked in that spot,” Casey said. “He kicked it and turned it a little bit, but I don’t think it is as bad, so we’ll see how he feels. Again, next man up.”
Johnson has experienced problems with his ankles going back to previous seasons, but he rarely misses games and willingly plays through pain when the trainers permit him. Keep an eye on how quickly he can get back up off the floor for an indication of how well he’s really doing.
Kyle Lowry enjoyed another high scoring night against the Magic. In January, Lowry scored a game-high 33 points against Orlando and this night he tied the game-high with 28 points. Lowry improved on his 6-11 from three-point range last time with an even more efficient 4-5 from deep. DeMar DeRozan scored an easy 24 points and Terrence Ross contributed 16 points.
At the end, Toronto was shooting 52.3 percent from the field, 52.9 percent from three and had out-rebounded the Magic 50 to 32. If the Raptors had not handed the Magic 14 steals and picked up 24 total turnovers leading to 25 points, this game would have been a monster blow out.
The Magic head to Washington for a game on Tuesday and the Raptors head to Cleveland for a game on the same night.
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Chicago Bulls Kirk Hinrich Is Running Out Of Shoot-A-Rounds
“It is fun,” Hinrich admitted. “The games and being around the guys, I think that’s what when you look back on it you are really going to miss – the camaraderie, the competing with a group of guys you respect. Some things are not as fun as they used to be. We joke sometimes about shoot-a-rounds. I don’t know how many more shoot-a-rounds I have in me, but anytime I feel like I don’t want to do it or I don’t want to be here today, I just go back to the thing that the guys, we all depend on each other and we need to be into it.”