Strong Performances From Wendell Carter Jr. and Cole Anthony Not Enough in Loss to Raptors

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

For the first 2 ½ quarters, neither the Orlando Magic or Toronto Raptors had full momentum. The lead changed hands 12 times during the first 30 minutes. Then suddenly, in his first start of his NBA career, Paul Watson Jr. exploded to turn the tide. The 6-foot-6 sharpshooter drilled six of his eight 3-pointers and scored 20 of his career-high 30 points in the third period, as Toronto from then rolled to a 113-102 victory at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

Top Performer

A bright spot once again for the Magic was the play of Wendell Carter Jr., who finished with 20 points and nine rebounds. He shot 8-of-12 from the field and made his one 3-point attempt. Extending his range, as he has made just 11 threes this season and 23 in his career, will be key for him going forward.

Rookie Watch

A sprained left ankle kept Michael Carter-Williams out of action on Friday night. With him unavailable, Cole Anthony returned to the starting lineup. He posted 19 points, two shy of his career high, seven rebounds and five assists. It was Anthony’s first start since Feb. 9 when he suffered a rib injury that caused him to miss the next 25 games.

Key Stretch

It was 61-61 with six minutes and change left in the third before the Raptors took full control. Chris Boucher drained three free throws after getting fouled on a 3-point attempt and then Watson sank four straight triples. A mid-range jumper by Fred VanVleet, who otherwise had a rough shooting night, bumped up Toronto’s lead to 15 with 3:18 remaining in that quarter.

Key Stat

You might be wondering how many times an undrafted player, which Watson is, has scored 30-plus points and made eight-plus 3-pointers in the same game. It was actually the 17th time it’s been done, per Stathead. VanVleet, Watson’s Raptors teammate, did it earlier this season, also against Orlando when he scored a Toronto franchise-record 54 points and drilled 11 threes. Even more recently, Joe Ingles accomplished this with Utah when he scored 34 and hit eight threes against Washington on March 18.

The Sidebar

To honor the men, women and their families for their service, the Magic and L3Harris will host Seats for Soldiers Night this Sunday when the Magic take on the Houston Rockets. As part of the evening's activities, the entire Magic team will honor fallen soldiers by holding their jerseys with each soldiers' name listed on the back while standing on court during Taps prior to the National Anthem. Each player will then sign the jerseys to be given to the families of the fallen soldiers. A few of the families of the lost military men and women will be in attendance to receive their family member's signed jersey that night.

Quote of the Night

“Just making the right plays, hitting shots. He just be having fun out there. Cole brings a lot of energy to the team and he a real cool dude to be around off the court and on the court. He just be out there having fun, getting everybody involved and making good plays.” – Chuma Okeke on Anthony

Up Next

Tip-off between the Magic and Rockets on Sunday will be at 7 p.m. at Amway Center. Houston has just one win in its last 11 games. They were blown out on Friday by the Denver Nuggets. Kelly Olynyk, acquired by the Rockets in the trade that sent Victor Oladipo to Miami at the deadline, led the Rockets in the loss with 23 points, while rookie Jae’Sean Tate scored 21.

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