It wasn’t pretty, but the Toronto Raptors managed to come away with a 105-100 victory against the Orlando Magic improving their positioning in the Eastern conference playoff standings. The win places the Raptors just a game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for first place in the East. The Raptors were without three key toational players; Cory Joseph sat out for resting purposes, Patrick Patterson had an ankle injury, James Johnson is dealing with plantar fasciitis and Jonas Valanciunas is still nursing his hand injury. There wasn’t much of a rhythm for either team in this late afternoon matchup, and it’s scrappiness refleected in the amount of times the Raptors went to the line. Luckily the Magic are a young team who’s late game execution simply stinks and the Raptors were able to prevail as a result of mental errors on the side of Orlando.
The Magic were led by Evan Fournier and Victor Oladipo who combined for 42 points in the road loss. The Raptors had five players finish in double figures led by DeMar DeRozan who finished with 24 points 4 rebounds and 5 assists. Toronto’s next game is Wednesday where they’ll face the Boston Celtics for the second time in three games.
Cage’s Report Card
The Raptors managed to put up 105 points, however the team only shot 43% against a team with below average defence. The Raptors were missing two players in Joseph and Patterson who contribute heavily to the Raptors offensive production. With Joseph out, Delon Wright got backup duties and did an admiral job controlling the team. In a game like this it would’ve been nice to have Joseph in the lineup because his energy is what propels a team in a weird afternoon game like this. Sometimes it’s hard for stars like DeRozan and Kyle Lowry to get up mentally for an opponent who’s not going to make the playoffs.
The game was much tighter than it needed to be as it was the little things that caught up with the Raptors this afternoon. Toronto did a great job of drawing contact from Orlando and it showed in the box score with the Raptors getting to the line 45 times. However out of those 45 attempts the Raptors missed 16 free throws – not gonna cut it in the post season.
The defence today was average at best. This may even be a generous evaluation for the Raptors effort as Orlando shot 48% and had their way with Toronto for most of the night. The Raptors defence didn’t show the Magic any sort of resistance early on. If anything it was the Magic’s lack of executional ability that allowed the Raptors to squeal away with the victory. The Raptors need to be thankful for a player like Bismack Biyombo in this game as he finished with the contest with 6 blocks.
Toronto won the battle of the boards against the Orlando Magic, 45-40. Biyombo and Jason Thompson put up a great effort on the glass combining for 21 rebounds. Mississauga native Andrew Nicholson had a nice game of his own finishing with 9 rebounds and 15 points. It was the Raptors second chance efforts that really allowed them to get to the line and get the edge in this contest.
Game Ball: Bismack Biyombo
Game ball goes to Bismack Biyombo who finished with 12 points 11 rebounds and 6 blocks. Biyombo’s ability to alter shots and protect the rim was integral to the Raptors win tonight. After Lowry and DeRozan, it was Biyombo who saw extended minutes on the floor. His physicality, dunk-first mentality and understanding of his role should all be appreciated in a win like this.