It was one of those games that could have gone either way…if the Magic were playing Cleveland or Boston. But against the Raptors on Sunday afternoon, Orlando kept up the pressure and proved the Raps are once again a predictable squad as the game winds down.
Orlando came back from a weak first quarter and traded momentum with Toronto until both teams let their second line players ultimately decide their fates. Jason Williams, starting for the injured Jameer Nelson, and J.J. Redick hit decisive threes in the fourth quarter to put Orlando up by 10 and an eventual victory, 104 – 96.
“I think that our bench is deep,” Redick said. “We missed Vince and Rashard for several games early in the year. We’ve played with that lineup before and we’ve been successful.”
Vince Carter, who was customarily booed all afternoon, finished with 24 points, twelve of them in the third quarter. The former Raptor started the game poorly but kicked it up a notch in the second half…literally.
“The first half was a rough one,” Carter said. “I was just trying to be aggressive, trying to get into the paint, just make plays. Make the referees decide what is what. I think I was a little overly aggressive, playing a little too fast. I was trying to get there but not really playing under control. The second half when I changed my shoes, it was OK.”
Andrea Bargnani struggled for the Raps, scoring just 11 points to go along with 9 boards and fouling out with 4 minutes left in the game. Chris Bosh scored 22 points but was contained well by the Magic who made him settle for jumpers most of the game. Hedo Turkoglu was a non factor, scoring twelve points on 3 of 11 shooting from the field, while Calderon scored 16 points but managed just 4 assists.
The bigger story may have been the disappearing act of DeMar DeRozan. The rookie failed to step up against Carter and was not a factor at all throughout the game. Once again, speculation on whether or not DeRozan will still have the starting job when either Wright or Evans returns is swirling around the ACC. Head Coach Jay Triano appears to be trying to instill confidence in the young guard, but what is it costing the Raptors in the interim? DeRozan scored 1 point and 1 rebound in just over 17 minutes of playing time.
Meanwhile, Jarret Jack continued his strong play of late, handing out 9 assists to go along with 8 points and 7 rebounds.
The Raptors fall to 6 – 8 on the season and will face the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday at the ACC.