Villanueva, Raptors Blow Past Magic
Toronto 121, Orlando 97
TORONTO, Jan. 4 (Ticker) -- Rookie Charlie Villanueva is making the Toronto Raptors look good. Without Grant Hill, the Orlando Magic looked very bad.
Villanueva scored 11 of his 24 points in the second quarter as the Raptors opened a 19-point lead en route to their fourth straight win, a 121-97 triumph over the Magic.
With star forward Chris Bosh on the bench for the final 20 minutes of the first half because of two early fouls, Villanueva, who was drafted seventh overall after two inconsistent years at Connecticut, fueled a 31-14 run over the last 9 1/2 minutes as the Raptors opened a 61-42 lead at the break.
"Charlie has an unbelievable knack of scoring," Peterson said. "It looks like he's not playing hard but that's just his demeanor. He plays hard and tonight he hit some big shots for us. He's coming along well and he's going to develop into a great player in this league."
Scouts never questioned the 6-11 forward's skills, but there were a lot of questions about his desire and makeup. But Villanueva seems to be answering his critics, being honored as NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in December and scoring 11 of his 13 first-half points Wednesday over a six-minute span in the decisive spurt.
"I still carry that in my pocket the way guys criticized me when the Raptors drafted me No. 7," Villanueva said. "I want to prove my critics as liars."
Villanueva, who made 10-of-13 shots, started the run with a dunk, added a 3-pointer, a perimeter jumper and a trio of inside hoops. In the first half, Toronto shot 59 percent (23-of-39), held a 21-9 edge on the boards and forced 12 turnovers.
Toronto increased the edge to 75-50 midway through the third period and led by at least 19 points thereafter. The Raptors set season highs in points and winning margin, while shooting a franchise best 63 percent (46-of-73).
"We wanted to continue attacking them all night and not give them any life," James said.
The club won for the sixth time in eight games after a 4-20 start and for just the third time in 15 home contests. The margin of victory was the largest by the Raptors vs. the Magic.
"We dug such a deep hole in November but since then we've been playing good basketball," James said. "We are starting to get into a rhythm as a team but it's going to take a joint effort to do something special because of our poor start."
Hill, who missed the first 19 games of the season after having surgery for a sports hernia on October 31, did not play due to a strained groin and is listed as day-to-day.
Jameer Nelson scored 26 of his career-high 31 points in the second half for the Magic, who dropped their second straight after three wins and set a franchise low with 21 rebounds.
"The stats mean nothing to me unless you put something in the win column," Nelson said.
"I thought we were totally outplayed and outcoached and I give credit to the Raptors for an outstanding performance," Magic coach Brian Hill said.