ORLANDO, Fla., April 9 (Ticker) -- The fourth quarter was not pretty, but Tracy McGrady and the Orlando Magic will take it.

NBA TV highlights from
56k | 300k
McGrady scored 37 points on 11-of-18 shooting as the Magic built a big lead before holding on to defeat the Raptors, 88-82, to snap a four-game losing streak and move closer to securing a playoff berth.

"Well, it was a win," Orlando coach Doc Rivers said. "I actually thought we played pretty well until the fourth quarter. I thought we obviously didn't close out the game the way we would like to."

The Magic led throughout, holding a 49-43 advantage at the break before opening the second half on a 22-2 run. Rookie Gordan Giricek capped the burst with an alley-oop layup off a feed by McGrady with 5:55 left to make it 71-45. Orlando took a 79-58 advantage into the fourth quarter.

McGrady, who scored 16 points in the third period, exited the contest with 59 seconds left in the period amid chants of "MVP! MVP!" and appeared as though he would not return. But after Toronto climbed within 14 points midway through the fourth quarter, McGrady returned. Even he could not prevent the undermanned Raptors from making things too close for comfort.

After rookie Chris Jefferies nailed a 3-pointer with 1:01 left to get Toronto within 88-82, the Magic shut the Raptors down to secure the victory. Coupled with ninth-place Washington's loss to Boston, the seventh-place Magic saw their magic number to secure an Eastern Conference playoff spot reduced to one.

"We can't have letdowns like that, especially at a time where this is a much-needed win for us," McGrady said. "It was disappointing because I thought I was going to be able to sit out the whole game but let our guard down and had to come in. A couple guys had to come in and save the day."

McGrady sat out the fourth quarter of the Magic's 114-93 loss at Houston on Sunday with bruised ribs but looked spectacular in this contest, throwing down a remarkable dunk in the third quarter in which he lobbed the basketball over Rafer Alston off the backboard and then jamming it forcefully.

"I remember doing that as a kid - on the Nerf basketball," Rivers said.

"I told (teammate) Chris Whitney that I felt like I was about to go, I told him I was going to throw it off the glass," McGrady said. "And I don't think he believed me. And sure enough, the next possession, I got the opportunity to do it, it was right there. It was a little dead in the TD Waterhouse tonight, so I had to liven things up."

But not everybody was enthused about the play.

"I told (McGrady) not to come back in here for the mere fact that there were a few plays out there where I could have let him get hurt," Raptors forward Jerome Williams said. "I know I am not a dirty player, but when someone is going to take a cheap shot at your team and just try to embarrass you out there - I told him I wasn't going to stand for it nor try to protect him anymore."

"I'm not saying you do anything to hurt anybody, but you don't want someone to embarrass you, either," Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens said.

Giricek added 14 points but was the only other player to reach double figures for the Magic, who shot 46 percent (33-of-72) from the field and limited the Raptors to 37 percent (28-of-76).

Alvin Williams scored 15 points and Alston 14 for Toronto, which is playing the remainder of its schedule without injured stars Vince Carter and Antonio Davis.

"I like the fact that we got back in the game and made them have to go to the bench," Wilkens said. "Our guys played hard. They didn't always do the right thing, but they played hard, and down the stretch if we hit a couple of shots, it could've been a one-point game."

"I am not glad the season is going to be over," said Raptors guard Mo Peterson, who scored just 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting. "I wish me made the playoffs, but I am looking forward to next year. I know all the guys are. We realize this has been a very disappointing season for us with all the injuries and things going on. Hopefully we can bounce back and work real hard this summer and do the thing that we need to do."