The NBA is in good hands with the plethora of young talent blossoming before our very eyes. A few of them were in action Friday night in Toronto, including the entire Orlando Magic starting five. Each shined and made big plays throughout the night. In the end, despite a valiant comeback attempt, it was the Raptors’ most proven player, Fred VanVleet, who willed his team to a 110-109 victory by scoring 16 of his 19 points in the final seven minutes.
After a pair of Jalen Suggs free throws put the Magic up three early in the fourth quarter, the Raptors responded with an 11-0 run. OG Anunoby buried a pair of 3-pointers and had a big dunk in that span. Orlando refused to go away quietly. They in fact had a chance to win it in the final seconds after trailing by 12 with just over two minutes left. After the ball was knocked away from him, Cole Anthony went in the backcourt to retain possession but his last-second heave from half-court came up short.
Anthony is having a terrific start to his sophomore NBA season. He scored 24 points, his third 20-plus-point performance already this season, making seven of his 13 shots overall and five of his six 3-point attempts. The pairing of Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr. is working out well. Bamba stuffed the stat sheet against the Raptors with 14 points, 18 rebounds, five assists and three blocks, while Carter registered 17 points, 12 boards and three dimes. Suggs had his best game of his young career, going for 21 points and four assists. Franz Wagner scored 10 and hit the 3-pointer with 33.2 seconds left that trimmed Orlando’s deficit to one.
Like the Magic, the Raptors have a young and versatile squad. Their best player from the last two seasons, Pascal Siakam, has yet to play this season due to offseason shoulder surgery. On Friday, just a few hours before the Raptors and Magic squared off, he was assigned to Raptors 905 of the G League, where he will continue his rehab and work on his conditioning. Without him, Toronto has been able to feature a few of their up-and-comers – notably Anunoby, who has gotten off to a terrific start and is an early season Most Improved Player Award candidate. Scottie Barnes, the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, has made a big impact using his length, athleticism, and high basketball IQ.
Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), Markelle Fultz (left knee), E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain) and Chuma Okeke (right hip; bone bruise) were out for Orlando. Mychal Mulder, signed recently to a two-way contract, was also unavailable. For Toronto, Siakam, for reasons detailed above, and Yuta Watanabe (strained left calf) were out.
This Day in History
On Oct. 29, 2003, opening night that season, Tracy McGrady scored 26 points and made a game-tying layup in the final second to force overtime against the New York Knicks. In the extra session, Tyronn Lue, currently the head coach of the L.A. Clippers, knocked down a couple of big shots to help Orlando pull out a thrilling victory.
Quote of the Night
“That’s the thing about this team. That’s who we are. We’re going to keep fighting until that final horn goes off. Down the stretch, obviously, we regrouped. We got ourselves together in the huddle to understand the play that we’re going to run. We were going to get a good look at it, (Gary Trent Jr.) got a hand on the ball and killed some clock time. Again, they executed that portion of it. (Got) the ball inbounds the right way. And as he came down, he just got a hand on the ball at the right time.” – Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley on the team’s effort down the stretch and Orlando’s final offensive play
The Magic’s three-game road trip continues Saturday when they visit the Detroit Pistons at 7 p.m. The Pistons are the only remaining winless team. Their most recent defeat came Thursday to the Philadelphia 76ers. Second-year forward Saddiq Bey led the Pistons in that contest with 19 points, while Jerami Grant and Kelly Olynyk each scored 14 points. Yet to play this season is No. 1 overall 2021 draft pick Cade Cunningham due to an ankle injury. However, there is a possibility he will be activated and make his season debut against the Magic.