Raptors 102, Magic 98
The more Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy watches his team struggle, the more concerned he gets about how they'll fare in the playoffs.
Van Gundy was unimpressed with the Magic's poor performance against one of the NBA's worst teams, Orlando's third defeat in four games.
''They wanted to win, we didn't care, so they won,'' he said.
After Friday's win over Charlotte, Van Gundy said his team needed to start playing at a ''higher level'' before the postseason, adding that the Magic won't be able to just flip the switch come playoff time. Sunday's loss only reinforced that sentiment.
''We certainly didn't even try to turn it on tonight,'' he said. ''Our guys want to try to pick their spots. I'm not at all confident. I'm confident in what we're able to do when we want to play, but I'm not confident that our guys will come with an approach to really come out and play hard and play with great energy. I'm not confident in that at all.''
Howard wasn't bothered by Van Gundy's blunt assessment.
''I don't want to say I don't care what Stan says but sometimes he is very passionate and he says things that we might not like,'' Howard said. ''I just have to do whatever I can to motivate my team and get ready for the playoffs.''
Toronto outscored Orlando 29-19 in the fourth quarter and outrebounded the Magic 48-30 overall.
''You don't see teams get outrebounded by 18,'' Van Gundy said. ''That's absurd.''
Trailing 81-73 after Turkoglu scored the opening basket of the fourth, Toronto answered with a 12-3 run to take an 85-84 lead with 8:56 remaining.
It didn't help Van Gundy's mood that the run happened with Howard catching a breather on the bench.
''It's a little ridiculous that we can't even let Dwight get a drink of water, but that's the way it is,'' he said. ''When he leaves we have no defense and today we had very little offense. It's crazy, but we should be able to take him out to get a drink of water.''
Nelson tied it at 90 on a running jumper with 5:22 left but DeRozan replied with a three-point play.
Howard made just one of four from the line after being fouled on consecutive possessions, allowing Toronto to maintain a 95-93 lead with 3:41 left.
Orlando trailed 97-95 with 1:10 to go when Raptors rookie Ed Davis stepped in front of Howard to steal a pass from Nelson. Barbosa missed a jumper with the shot clock winding down but Bayless came up with a key rebound and was fouled as he drove to the basket. Bayless made both, giving the Raptors a 99-95 lead with 24 seconds to play.
Nelson missed a 3 at the other end and Howard got the rebound, but DeRozan stole it. Bayless came up with the ball and was fouled, making one of two to put the Raptors up 100-95 with 13.3 seconds left.
''Everybody is playing well right now,'' Bayless said. ''We're playing well, moving the ball and everybody is touching it. It's a fun way to play.''
For the fourth consecutive game, the Magic were limited to just nine healthy players. Guard Gilbert Arenas (illness) did not travel to Toronto, while sixth-man J.J. Redick, out since March 11 with an abdominal strain, rejoined the team after spending the past several days in Vancouver, British Columbia, undergoing treatment on his lingering injury. Guard Chris Duhon missed his third straight game with a sore right thumb.
Toronto also was without two starters. Center Andrea Bargnani sat for the third time in four games with a sore right ankle while guard Jose Calderon missed his second straight game with an injured left hamstring.
NOTES: Toronto had just 22 hours turnaround time between its Saturday night loss at Chicago and Sunday's game against Orlando. ... Eight members of the Blue Jays attended the game but, due to a ticketing mix up, pitchers Ricky Romero and Casey Janssen were seated on press row. ... Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer sat courtside.