This one was a lot closer than it should have been. It was close to the point where the Orlando Magic were a couple of shots from victory. Ultimately, the Toronto Raptors pulled it out and grabbed the win. There was never any doubt.
Both teams made their fair share of mistakes down the stretch, and this game was likely a case of Orlando’s best versus Toronto’s near worst for at least half the game. With that being said, the Raptors improve to 7-1 on a 104-100 win. While the way the Raps started this game off was unacceptable, the way they closed it speaks volumes about their development as a team, and it was great to watch.
The bench was key in facilitating the comeback in the fourth quarter, with Lou Williams leading the charge. James Johnson and Patrick Patterson were also were huge in bringing it back, and you knew once the Raps were there Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan were going to close it out.
Let’s get to the report card:
Offense – B
If it weren’t for the 32 point flurry in the fourth quarter, the Raptors would have lost this one due to lackluster offense. The movement wasn’t crisp tonight – 16 assists is quite bad.
There was a lot of hero ball – luckily Sweet Lou and Kyle Lowry were heroes tonight. Lowry went for a 19-7-6 statline, while Lou scored 14.
DeRozan struggled as he shot 4-15, however shot 8-9 from the line and scored 16. A shoutout must also be given to Terrence Ross, who has been stroking from three as of late. He had 17 points and hit 4 threes tonight, along with some timely buckets. Patrick Patterson and Amir Johnson both chipped in 12.
Defense – B-
It will not bode well if the Raptors take 3 quarters off against tougher teams. It was simply a matter of intensity tonight, and when the Raptors needed to really turn it on defensively, they did. Sure, there were some calls that didn’t go there way, and the Magic hit some incredible shots, but for the most part, the Raptors defense sucked until the fourth quarter. If they played with that 4th quarter intensity to start the game, the result would have been similar to the past two contests against Washington and Philadelphia.
Tobias Harris, Evan Fournier, Channing Frye, and Nikola Vucevic combined for 84 points. I don’t know what it was, but the Magic kept making the extra pass and finding these guys open. The Magic shot 48% from three – pretty indicative of how the night went.
Rebounding – A-
The Raps outrebounded the Magic 40-39. Orlando is actually a decent rebounding team, so this was encouraging to see. Down the stretch, the Raptors did a fantastic job of securing key rebounds. Again, this leads me to point to intensity.
Game Ball – James Johnson
This guy was unbelievable, especially in the second half. James Johnson led the way with 10 rebounds and stifling defense. This included a key stop down the stretch that stopped Tobias Harris from tying the game up with seconds to go. You have to love what JJ has brought to the table thus far – such an underrated pickup by Masai Ujiri.