Postgame Report: Magic vs. Raptors (2/23/14)

By John Denton
Feb. 23, 2014

TORONTO – The Orlando Magic’s 90 points on Sunday night spoke volumes as to just how much they missed injured leading-scorer Arron Afflalo against the Toronto Raptors.

But in all actuality, it was Orlando’s dramatic defensive drop off in the second half – and in the third quarter in particular – that paved the way for a frustrating 15th straight loss on the road for the Magic.

When Toronto awoke from a first-half slumber with 12 of 14 shooting and 36 points in the third quarter, the Raptors were able to extinguish any hopes the Magic had of getting their first road win in more than two months. Orlando hung tough for more than a half despite playing without Afflalo (ankle sprain) and Jameer Nelson (eye poke) for a stretch, but it eventually faded in the second half of a 105-90 loss to the Raptors.

``They obviously got a little hot and I don’t know whether it was our defense being lackadaisical or what,’’ Nelson said. ``We were playing them pretty tight and tough the first half and it just looked like those shots in the third quarter were a little too open.’’

The Magic (17-41) continue to be a very confounding team when it comes to the location that games are played. The Magic have won six of their last seven at the Amway Center, including a stirring 129-121 double-overtime defeat of the New York Knicks on Friday.

But outside of Orlando, it’s an entirely different story. Owners of the NBA’s worst road record at 3-26, the Magic lost their 15th straight game outside of Central Florida. The Magic play in Washington on Tuesday and they will be trying to avoid tying the franchise record for consecutive road losses at 16. That mark was set from Jan. 27-March 21 of 2006.

``I talked to the guy and it’s about two things – focus and discipline,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said, referring to his team’s differences between playing at home and on the road. ``We have to have the discipline to continue to do the right thing over and over again. … You continue that mindset throughout the game. No commas, no pauses in between and it’s just a run-on sentence that you keep doing over and over.’’

Up 44-41 at the half, Toronto (31-25) broke open the close game with a 36-24 advantage in the third quarter. The Raptors were sloppy with the ball (20 turnovers through three periods), but they were nearly flawless from the floor just after halftime. They hit 12 of 14 shots and all five of their 3-pointers in the third period, including a 25-footer from Kyle Lowry (28 points and four 3-pointers) at the buzzer.

Tobias Harris made five of his first six shots and had 15 first-half points. He finished with 28 points by sinking 10 of 15 tries. E’Twaun Moore continued his torrid play of late with 16 points, while Kyle O’Quinn added 10 points.

Magic rookie Victor Oladipo, who was coming off arguably his best game as a professional, struggled through a four-of-13 shooting night. Just two nights after battering the Knicks for 30 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds, Oladipo finished with 11 points, four rebounds and two assists.

Orlando was without Afflalo because of a sprained right ankle that he injured on Friday. Afflalo’s loss was a killer for the Magic considering that he was coming off a 32-point effort against the Knicks and he is the team’s leading scorer at 19.7 points per game.

``At the beginning of the game, the ball really moved – not to say that it doesn’t move with Arron – but nothing changed and the concepts didn’t change,’’ Vaughn said. ``But he’s our leading scorer. So plays are designed for him specifically.’’

Nelson moved into fourth place on Orlando’s all-time scoring list midway through the second quarter. When Nelson buried a 20-foot jumper it gave him 8,020 points – one more than Shaquille O’Neal had in his four seasons with the Magic. Only Dwight Howard (11,435), Nick Anderson (10,650) and Tracy McGrady (8,298) are ahead of Nelson on the Magic scoring list. Nelson finished with nine points in 33 minutes.

Orlando took several leads in the first half and trailed 44-41 at the break, but it missed several chances to build a comfortable cushion against the sluggish Raptors in the early going. The Raptors, who throttled the Magic on Jan. 29, look disinterested much of the first half while turning the ball over 11 times and shooting just 41.7 percent. But an Orlando team playing without Afflalo had trouble finding much offense outside of Harris, who had 15 points in the first half.