Toronto Raptors 99, Orlando Magic 95


It really amazes me that a team with Dwight Howard can be so bad at rebounding. Tonight, the Magic – particularly Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu – were exposed on the boards. The Raptors outrebounded the Magic 49-35. Toronto’s starting forwards, Chris Bosh and Shawn Marion, combined for 27 boards. Lewis and Turk? 13. The worst part was, after a night of brickly shooting and sloppy defense, the Magic still had a chance to win the game. With the Magic down three with 10 seconds left, Marion missed two consecutive free throws to give the Magic a fighter’s chance. A quick two would’ve been no problem, and 10 seconds was plenty of time to create an open 3-pointer to tie the game. But wait, there was a problem – the Magic allowed Anthony Parker to sneak in and snag the offensive rebound. The Magic deserved to lose this game. It was an ugly performance that broke a six-game winning streak. It was the first loss at home since February. Three keys revisited: 1. Get Bargnani in foul trouble, or hope he’s off. Yes. Andrea Bargnani did some damage while he was in there — 16 points on 7 of 12 shooting — but he played only 25 minutes before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Consequently, the Raptors spent some time with Joey Graham and Chris Bosh guarding Dwight Howard. Amazingly, the Magic still struggled to score. 2. Do what they do better. No. The Magic’s pace was fine, but they couldn’t hit any shots (free-throws included). Too often they settled for outside shots, and I’m looking at you Rashard Lewis (11 3s, eight 2s). 3. Hit your 3s. No. Try 7 of 26, or 26.9 percent. The Magic struggled all night from 3-point range. And when Rashard Lewis saw a wide-open, game-tying 3-pointer in the final minute, what’s that sound? Clank. Key figures: 10: Fourth-quarter points for Hedo Turkoglu, who scored the first eight points of the quarter to get the Magic back into the game. Turkoglu’s stat line doesn’t look that great — 4 of 12, 19 points — but he was awesome taking it to the basket. He made 10 of 11 free throws. 21: Feet away from the basket when Chris Bosh hit the game-icing shot in the face of Dwight Howard. Bosh’s foot was on the 3-point line, and it was really a prayer more than anything with the shot clock winding down. But Bosh is a bonafide superstar, and he proved it tonight. 48.7: The Magic’s true shooting percentage, with 31 of 76 field goals and 26 of 41 free throws. That kind of percentage isn’t going to win you too many games. Magic’s best: A surprise to no one, the Raptors could do nothing to slow down Dwight Howard. He finished with 30 points and nine rebounds, while getting to the line 21 times. He also had a block and three steals. Magic’s worst: Rashard Lewis has to fight the urge to be a one-dimensional outside shooter. Lewis fell into the lure of the long ball, hoisting 11 3-pointers. He’s such an all-around, talented player – it’s really frustrating to see him waste it on nights like this. Defending Dwight: The Raptors went to the smite-a-Dwight, fouling him all game long. Howard shot 21 free throws, making 10. Howard does what he wants against Toronto, double-team or no double-team, and the Raptors did a little bit of both tonight. If Howard got anywhere close to the basket, he went to the free-throw line. Playoff watch: Boston outlasted the Bobcats in double overtime, and the Pistons lost to the Nets. The Celtics are a game ahead of the Magic, but they’ve played two more games (meaning that if the Magic win those extra two games, they’re tied. Why no one mentions this is a mystery to me). The Pistons are now three games back of the No. 6 seed… Maybe it’s best the Magic stay at the 3-spot anyway. Up next: It could get ugly. The Magic now face their most difficult back-to-back of the season: Cleveland on Friday and Atlanta on Saturday. Two more losses would make the No. 2 seed near impossible.