Orlando Magic Grades: Toronto Raptors 113, Orlando Magic 102

Gary Harris and the Orlando Magic found it tough to operate in the second half as the Toronto Raptors tightened their defense. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Harris and the Orlando Magic found it tough to operate in the second half as the Toronto Raptors tightened their defense. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Final. 102. 38. 113. 81

The Orlando Magic were playing with the right energy all night. Their offense found itself in the paint plenty, able to kick out for open shots or drives to the basket that got them to the foul line. The defense was active, helping force turnovers and contesting shots at the 3-point line.

It was not pretty. But the back-and-forth first half was exactly how the Magic want to play. The game could grind to a halt at points, but the team controlled the pace and was able to right itself enough to stay in control and stay ahead.

The Magic knew the drought was coming. And the question was just how much their defense would be able to hold up in those moments.

Even then, sometimes it does not really matter.

Orlando suffered that drought in the third quarter, scoring just 19 points and making 7 of 17 shots, missing all five 3-pointers the team took. That might have been something the team could have survived. Except for Paul Watson.

The Raptors guard went off as part of a 15-0 run on five consecutive 3-pointers or three-point plays from the Raptors. He scored 20 points on six 3-pointers to completely flip the game from a four-point deficit to a 15-point lead.

The Magic were able to play the Raptors even the rest of the game. But those five minutes proved decisive in a 113-102 Raptors win at Amalie Arena on Friday.

The Orlando Magic gave up a three-point barrage in the third quarter that drained their energy and led to a defeat in Tampa against the Toronto Raptors.

Orlando seemingly had the life sucked out of it after that third-quarter run, just unable to muster up enough offense to make a final push to cut the deficit down. Even just is not good enough for the team with the deficits it is facing.

Unlike the first half, the Magic were not able to get their best players going. The pick and rolls the sprung Wendell Carter and caused the defense to collapse were not present. Chuma Okeke could not get much going to the basket and his shot attempts and sot making decreased. Cole Anthony looked every bit a rookie with some poor decisions, especially in the third quarter.

It just all added up to an inexperienced team unable to adjust to the different way the Raptors play and allowing mistakes to compound.

B+. . C. Orlando Magic. WENDELL CARTER

For the first half, Wendell Carter was superb with 16 points and a dominant style that made him a force in the paint on both sides of the ball. He did a great job working around the rim and rolling to the right spots to stay available and occupy the defense. The Magic got a lot of the shots they wanted.

The Raptors though picked up their physicality on cutters and in the paint. And that seemed to shut out Carter from the rest of the game. He scored just four points in the second half and took only two shots (making both). All the easy rolls and dump-offs the Magic used to set him up in the first half were gone with the physical play.

Orlando has to find a way to get him more involved. But Carter will also have to learn how to keep himself involved. That will happen by attacking the glass more and being a factor on defense. Carter’s defense was superb in the first half and gave the Magic a ton of energy. But with the team struggling in the second, he got sucked into the ball too much and gave up easy shots in the paint.

PG. Orlando Magic. COLE ANTHONY. B.

Cole Anthony was the heartbeat for the team in this game. He was able to get loose and into the paint, firing nice passes in the pick and roll to Wendell Carter and hitting floaters and shots at the rim. The ball was moving based off his initiation into the lane.

Even in the fourth quarter as the Magic were trying to climb back, Anthony found his groove again with some strong shooting and playmaking. He had a little bit of an edge to get to 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists on 6-for-12 shooting.

But the third quarter was his undoing. The Toronto Raptors increased their physicality and pressure on him and Anthony struggled to get the Magic organized and into their offense. The team was a bit of a mess, turning the ball over four times for nine points. The point guard has to take some responsibility for struggling to get the team into its sets. This is an area where he still needs to improve.

B. . F. Orlando Magic. CHUMA OKEKE

Like Wendell Carter, Chuma Okeke was on a tear in the first half. He was good at positioning himself for spot-up 3-pointers. If the defense closed out, he gave a quick pump fake and drove in for a one-dribble pull-up. He felt aggressive enough to try to dunk over a player in one instance, drawing a foul. Okeke continues to be a strong player when teams sleep on him.

But like Carter, he disappeared in the second half. He scored only two of his 14 points in the second half. He made just one of his five shots in the second half, so this was not a matter of him not getting enough opportunities. Okeke is still learning how to play against defenses that are keying in on him more. And his defense, like it is for most rookies, is still spotty (with signs of being really good). This was a learning experience game for him.

GARY HARRIS. B-. . SG. Orlando Magic

Gary Harris had one of the more interesting stat lines you will see. He missed all seven of his shots, including two 3-pointers, but finished with seven points on 7-for-8 shooting from the foul line and added four assists.

It is very clear how much better Harris can make this team. He is good at driving through the paint and keeping his dribble alive to find shooters on the perimeter as he twists the defense. He has good explosion to get to the rim and draw fouls, something the Magic desperately need. He is also very good defensively. He does not give up on plays and rotates well to challenge shots. Give him a lot of credit for slowing down Fred VanVleet (six points, 3-for-11 shooting).

But the Magic need him to make shots. That is part of his role and part of his job for the team. The Magic need his offensive push to be successful. Their margin for error is too small. And Harris not being able to get even his open shots to fall was a point of concern.

B+. . 23-34. 10th East. TORONTO RAPTORS

The Toronto Raptors played the Orlando Magic with one hand tied behind their back — resting OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam in addition to being without Kyle Lowry. Still, the Raptors are plenty used to playing undermanned and plenty used to competing hard. That is their franchise’s culture. And they delivered. Paul Watson scored 20 of his 30 points in the third quarter, hitting six of seven 3-pointers in the frame. That was the difference.

But Toronto continued to get players to fill in. Yuta Watanabe scored 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting to pace the Raptors throughout the game. Toronto’s bench unit did a good job keeping the energy up and taking Orlando out of its game. It was hardly a pretty performance, but Toronto had the weapons to finish the job.

Next. What the Heart & Hustle Magic can teach the 2021 team. dark

The Magic fall to 18-38, 14th in the Eastern Conference and 4.5 games behind the Raptors for the final spot in the Play-In Tournament. The Magic have now been eliminated from receiving the third seed in the Eastern Conference.

Orlando will be eliminated from contention for the Play-In Tournament with any combination of 11 Toronto wins or 11 Orlando losses. The Orlando Magic will be eliminated from receiving the top odds to win the NBA Draft Lottery with 16 wins or 16 Detroit Pistons losses.

The Orlando Magic are back in action Sunday at the Amway Center against the Houston Rockets.