Three Is The Magic’s Number Against Raptors At ACC

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November 1, 2009
Mike Ulmer - raptors.com

Toronto - DeMar DeRozan might recall it as his Welcome To The NBA Moment in Sundays 125-116 loss to the Orlando Magic.

Should history prove picky, the game clock showed 41.2 seconds in the third quarter.

DeRozan launched himself toward the Magic hoop only to encounter Howard who at this point seemed adamant that the Raps' rookie swingman not pass.

It was like a Mack truck, said DeRozan. I saw my life flash before my eyes.

Now DeRozan is an unfailingly polite young man,but there is not much you can say when you describe running your bike into a concrete culvert which is pretty much what the collision was like.

The Raptors are bruised today and while this loss added up to something less than a moral victory, it is also something other than depressing.

Without Vince Carter, sidelined with an ankle injury, and the suspended Rashard Lewis, the Raptors felt quite rightly that the Magics vaunted outside shooting wouldnt carry them. Instead, the Raptors tried to minimize the hulking Howard.

Threes can happen, said Chris Bosh summing up the game plan. Points in the paint, thats what kills you.

Well, actually both kill you.

The Magic raced to a 36-28 lead after 12 minutes and they wouldnt spend a second without the advantage the rest of the way. They shot seven of 11 from the arc and banked 21 of 36 points via the longball. The Raptors, meanwhile, shot four three-pointers and while they hit on three, the dozen-point difference was really the difference in the game.

I think we came out flat defensively, Bosh said. We didnt do what weve been working on, have all the shots contested and get the rebound. If they are making threes, then we can switch up, but they had a lot of wide-open threes and thats what killed us.

Not without some resistance.

Start with Bosh who scored 10 fourth-quarter points and fought his way to four rebounds in the final frame. Bosh finished with a game-high 35 to go with the 37 he collected in a lopsided loss to Memphis in the second game of the season. He had 16 rebounds Sunday.

Bosh was involved in the games most controversial moment when he collared Howard under the Raps basket. For Bosh, whose kinship with Howard is well-known, the move was old-school and just about as telling were his post-game comments.

It was a hard foul. There were no feelings or anything. I didnt want him to have the chance to make the basket so I wrapped him up.

Im just trying to win basketball games, Bosh said. Im going to do whatever it takes. If it takes a hard foul, so be it.

Kind of what you want to hear from your best player.

Andrea Bargnani, meanwhile, was involved in a minor dust-up with Orlando forward Matt Barnes after the two had scrambled for a loose ball. Tepid early in the game, Bargnani delivered a dozen fourth-quarter points and went two for three from the arc in the final quarter.

Bargnani finished with 26 points.

So there is the good for you: a Raptors team that was initially staggered by a surprisingly strong if shorthanded championship caliber team. Or a Raptor team whose best player hogtied a mountain often disguised as a man to inch them closer to a win.

The inside joke in King Kong is the part where a 100-foot-colossus goes missing in New York City. Its that same way with the magnificent Howard who killed the Raptors with 24 points based on his suddenly credible free throw shooting. Howard has endured a lifetimes worth of struggles from the line.

One of the most important elements of the Sundays storyline is Howards remarkable 14-16 from the stripe. Put it this way, Jose Calderon, the best free-throw shooter in the NBA went 66 per cent on six tries, Sunday. Dwight Howard went 87.5.

If you take away the shooters as we tried later, then Dwight Howard goes to the inside or if we foul him like we did, said Triano. Hes a 50 per cent shooter but he has a great night and he goes 14 for 16.

Hedo Turkoglu scored 19 points with four assists and three rebounds in his first game against the team he left as a free agent this summer.

Calderon finished with a low-key 10 points and a piddling six assists.

Orlando guard Jameer Nelson led the way with 30 points including 15 from beyond the arc. JJ Redick added 27.

The Raptors are back in action with a home game Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons.