Denton: Magic-Raptors Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
April 3, 2011


In the grand scheme of things, the game meant very little to the Orlando Magic. But, still, Sunday night’s loss to the woeful Toronto Raptors seemed to defy all sort of logic for a stunned Magic squad.

Facing a Toronto team that had lost six games in a row, was playing on the second night of a back-to-back and was without its two best players, Orlando seemed to have a gimme – especially after jumping to an eight-point lead early in the fourth quarter.

But when the Raptors keep pounding the glass and getting big shots from their guards and the Magic faded badly down the stretch it resulted in a puzzling 102-98 defeat for Orlando at the Air Canada Centre.

Orlando (48-29) lost because it got outrebounded 48-30 by a Toronto team that was without 7-footer Andrea Bargnani and point guard Jose Calderon. The Raptors (21-55) grabbed 15 offensive boards, three of them coming in the final two minutes to keep possessions alive that doomed the Magic.

``You get outrebounded by 18 and you give up 21 second-chance points and 14 fastbreak points to two … I mean, look, they deserved to win,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy fumed. ``One team played a lot harder than the other team so they win. I can understand our guys being tired at the end, but we weren’t ready to play in the first quarter. They wanted to win and we didn’t care, so they won.’’

Magic superstar center Dwight Howard had a game-high 31 points, but his double-double streak ended at 33 games when he grabbed just nine rebounds. Howard started the streak on Jan. 21 coincidentally against the Raptors.

The Magic had no answer for DeMar DeRozan (24 points) and Jerryd Bayless (23 points) and the rebounding work of Reggie Evans (17 boards). Also, an Orlando team that was again without J.J. Redick (lower abdominal strain), Gilbert Arenas (flu) and Chris Duhon (sprained thumb) ran out of gas late in the game, getting outscored 29-19 in the fourth quarter.

Jameer Nelson scored 21 points, while Jason Richardson and Brandon Bass each chipped in 13 points. Hedo Turkoglu, who was booed each time he touched the ball in his first regular-season game back in Toronto following his one disappointing season with the Raptors in 2009-10, had 11 points.

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Sunday’s game at the Air Canada Centre:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

  • Howard dominated throughout on the offensive end, making 11 of 20 field goals and nine of 15 free throws. He scored almost at will against Reggie Evans and Amir Johnson early on, scoring 19 first-half points.

    Howard had three dunks in the first half and avoided getting in foul trouble against Evans, who has given the Magic’s star center trouble in the past with his flopping defensively. Howard had no trouble converting inside, once backing Evans down for a dunk and converting baskets three times early on as he was fouled.

    But the game went sideways for the Magic early in the fourth quarter when Howard went to the bench for a rest. The Magic led 81-73, but crumbled when the Raptors routinely attacked the rim with the two-time Defensive Player of the Year resting on the bench.

    ``It’s a little ridiculous that we can’t even let Dwight get a drink of water, but that’s the way that it is,’’ Van Gundy fumed. ``When he leaves we have no defense and today we had very little defense. It’s crazy, but we should be able to take him out to get a drink of water.’’

  • WHAT WENT WRONG

  • Turkoglu said he couldn’t wait to return to Toronto, but he didn’t have a great game in front of the booing fans. He missed several shots badly early in the game. He missed four of his five 3-pointers and all three of his free throw attempts in the game.

    Richardson had three 3-pointers, but he struggled defensively throughout the game. In his 43 minutes on the floor, the Magic were outscored by 22 points.

  • The Magic’s bench has struggled mightily of late without Redick’s shooting and ball-handling and his loss – combined with Arenas’ illness – was glaringly obvious Sunday night.

    Orlando’s reserves – what’s left of them at least – were outscored 34-9. Ryan Anderson (six points) and Quentin Richardson (three points) combined for three 3-pointers, but neither was on the floor for long. Earl Clark is no longer in the rotation and Malik Allen struggled trying to fill in for Howard at center.

  • FINAL OBSERVATIONS

  • Redick, who has spent the past week in Vancouver, British Columbia working with an abdominal specialist, rejoined the Magic in Toronto. Bu the veteran shooting guard, who has missed the past 12 games with a lower abdominal strain, is still uncertain about when he will be healthy enough to return to action.

    ``I don’t have an answer to that question right now,’’ Redick said when asked when he might return. ``After my time in Vancouver I realize that I can’t target a date or pinpoint a date because I was doing that before and it just led to more and more disappointment.

    ``The frustration right now is very high,’’ Redick continued. ``I’ve missed a good chunk of the season and the important time leading up to the playoffs. I expect myself to be as sharp as possible when I do return – whenever that is.’’

  • Howard, who has been forced to play smarter this season in an effort to stay out of foul trouble because of the lack of center depth behind him, had quite possibly the best stretch of his career without committing a foul.

    Howard did not commit a foul over the final 8 minutes, 10 seconds of Wednesday’s game in Atlanta. He played 38 minutes against Charlotte on Friday without committing a foul. And on Sunday, he made it the first half without picking up a personal foul. His streak finally ended with 7:42 left in the third period when DeRozan threw his body into Howard as he was having his shot blocked and he was bailed out by the foul call.

  • John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com. Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at AskJD@orlandomagic.com.