The Toronto Raptors were very fortunate to get a win over the Orlando Magic Tuesday night.
A stellar fourth quarter performance allowed the Raptors to complete the comeback and beat the Magic 104-100. With the win, the Raptors improve to 7-1, and have their first 5-0 home record since the team’s 2003 campaign. Raptors fans will be happy they came away with the win this week but the team must still answer for their non-existent defense in the first three quarters.
The only reason this game stayed close is because the Magic failed to convert several key free throws throughout the game.
The Raptors were slow getting back to the zone after converting and gave the Magic way too many clean looks from the three point position. Magic forward Channing Frye and guard Evan Fournier took advantage of this early in the game.
Frye went 5-8 from the three point position, ended the first quarter with 13 points and 19 points overall. Fournier went 4-7 from three point range, had three steals and ended the game with 24 points.
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Defensive Woes Continue
DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciuna really struggled in the defensive end for the Raptors. Valaciuna was stripped of the ball twice and had his passes picked off on several occasions. He ended the game with just four points to his name.
The Magic did a wonderful job double-teaming DeRozan and forcing him to attempt contested shots, and send the Magic to the free throw line. Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic used their speed and size to get around DeRozan and score some easy points. However, DeRozan still ended the game with 16 points.
If the Raptors don’t tighten up in the defensive end, they won’t be at the top of the standings for much longer. Guys like Valaciuna lacked the determination and intensity required to gain ground against the Magic in the first half. As a result the Raptors fell behind by 10 and stayed behind until the fourth quarter.
Bench crew bails out starters
Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross and the bench crew really bailed the Raptors out in this game. Lowry carried his team in a big way. He forced offensive fouls, had three steals, seven assists and ended the game with 19 points.
Ross went 4-5 from three point range and ended with 17 points and Lou Williams came off the bench to convert several key three pointers as well. These guys never quit.
Patterson, Williams and Lowry kept the game simple and were determined to complete the comeback. They didn’t let bad calls get the better of them and gave the players a much needed morale boost in the closing stages of the game. That fourth quarter was a wonderful display of how a bench crew can quickly change the momentum of a game.
It’s going to be very hard for head Coach Dwayne Casey to choose a starting lineup now. Patterson was certainly better than Valaciuna. Regardless, the Raptors next game is against a much tougher opponent in the Chicago Bulls Thursday night. I can’t wait to see what Coach Casey will do to try and get Valaciuna, DeRozan and the defense back on track before Toronto’s next game.