4th Quarter the Difference

Mike Ulmer
--raptors.com




April 26, 2008

(TORONTO) -- It would have been handy to be able to point to the exact moment the Toronto Raptors lost control of Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Playoff series with the Orlando Magic.

But the 106-94 loss defies any neat packaging.

The Magic outscored the Raptors 33-20 in the fourth quarter to turn a one-point Raptor lead into a rout for the other guys. Over the last five minutes, Orlando banked 18 points, twice the Raptors total.

Bang, bang. Youre dead, or at least, with Game 5 set for inhospitable Orlando on Monday, on life support.

Down 3-1, the Raptors need to remind themselves they came within a wayward Chris Bosh of splitting their first two games in Orlando. It says plenty about your situation when you look for the narrowest of failures.

If anyone should feel cheated, its Bosh who delivered another monster game. In just under 40 minutes of play, Bosh hit 16 of 29 shots, many over, through and around Orlandos 6-11 Dwight Howard. He defended Howard, who is the pineapple to Boshs straw vigorously under the Toronto basket, ran the floor like a colt and has been the best player from either side for most every minute hes been out there.

Bosh finished with 39 points and a team-high 15 rebounds and said when the game mattered most, the visitors played and left the thinking to somebody else.

If you look at it, they werent out there making plays. They were out there playing basketball and when you are at your best, thats how it goes sometimes.

They made shots and got stops, said Jason Kapono, who continued his strong play with a dozen points in 34 minutes. We couldnt make shots and we were out of rhythm.

With the score tied at 86, Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson knocked down a three pointer and Carlos Delfino bricked an attempted three. That was where the rubber left the road but if you are looking for one architect of the victory, point to Orlando clothes horse and coach Stan Van Gundy.

Van Gundy pulled Nelson off the floor at the beginning of the fourth quarter. He came to me and said, youve got to be aggressive, you were just out there, said Nelson who, once awakened, bagged 12 fourth quarter points.

Van Gundy also restored the Magics defensive scheme. The Magic had been over-rotating on the Raptors screen and roll and taking themselves out of position.

The last game we were overhelping, said Rashard Lewis, who turned in a terrific game with 27 points and 13 rebounds. This time we were staying at home and making T.J. or Calderon step up over our big guys.

The Raptors shot a discouraging two for 15 from the three-point line. Three players, Anthony Parker, T.J. Ford and Kapono bagged a dozen points.

Meanwhile, the Raps had few answers for Orlando kingpin Dwight Howard who bagged 19 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked an astounding eight shots.

He did a fantastic job on defence, said Bosh. He was super-aggressive and going after everything.

If there is a Game 6, it will be played Thursday at Air Canada Centre.

Bosh shook his head when asked if winning three straight games was a lost cause.

Do we have a game on Monday? We can sit and mope but we have another game and that means were still alive.

I feel good.