The Orlando Magic put on a blitz in the second quarter, finding a new energy to rout the Toronto Raptors on the Amway Center floor.
Nikola Vucevic had everyone’s eyes on him. The Toronto Raptors were keenly aware of what he was trying to do and trying to find a way to stop him. The shot clock was winding down and the Orlando Magic needed their safety valve.
Evan Fournier dumped the ball into Nikola Vucevic on the block and the defense began to collapse around him. The strongside defender stayed with Evan Fournier, but the weakside defender was cheating off the opposite corner. This was the most difficult pass to make, but the one Vucevic would have to make or drive straight into a double team and a much more difficult shot.
Vucevic turned over his shoulder and saw the defense shifting and adjusting. He quickly whipped the ball on a dime to Jonathan Isaac in the corner. The second-year player calmly drained the 3-pointer.
Vucevic put together a masterful second quarter, scoring 12 points. But it was his passing that should have everyone taking notice. That and his complete dominance on the glass and against anyone the Raptors threw at him.
As if to put emphasis on this, on one third-quarter possession, Vucevic grabbed a rebound with one hand as he warded off a guard assigned to box him out and then turned, took one dribble and dunked it with one hand.
The same statement made by the Magic’s defense, that stymied and quieted the Raptors offense all night long. They scrambled to shooters and made everyone think twice before firing. That moment of indecision knocked Toronto out of rhythm.
The team with the best record in the NBA had no answers, shooting just 29.5 percent from the floor. Orlando used a 35-15 third quarter to walk all over Toronto 116-87 at Amway Center on Friday night.
This was not a case of everything Orlando doing going right. They had plenty of issues including some cool shooting (47.3 percent) and turnovers — 15 in total. The Magic tried out some new rotations that included reinserting Wesley Iwundu into the lineup and Jonathon Simmons playing point guard with the second unit.
And the Raptors gave the Magic a small break with Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas missing the game. But Orlando’s defensive effort was more than enough. The Magic scrambled and communicated well after some struggles in the first quarter. And they never looked out.
The Orlando Magic wrap up their homestand before beginning a difficult six-game road trip on Sunday against the Detroit Pistons at the Amway Center.