Magic 102 – Raptors 94: Misfiring
The Raptors faced the Magic for the second time in a week, and stumbled again. Toronto shot barely 25% in the second half to remain in their slump.
The bleak midwinter of the Toronto Raptors continued last night in Orlando. Another weak team, the Magic, hung around during the first half, then took advantage of a Raptors offensive stallout in Q3. Toronto came close to overtaking the lead midway through Q4, but couldn’t do so, and never threatened in crunch time.
While coach Dwane Casey may remain in high dudgeon about his squad’s defense, the real problem is on the other side of the ball. Two starters, Patrick Patterson and DeMarre Carroll, contributed no points. 2-Pat at least had an excuse; he left the game after 6+ minutes and didn’t return. He sustained a “left knee contusion” and is listed as day to day.
Carroll’s shooting has deserted him, and coach sat the disappointing small forward after 18+ minutes, less than 5 of which were in the second half. Three turnovers and no points – it’s hard to imagine a worse night.
Kyle Lowry suffered through his worst shooting game in quite some time, making only 2 of 11 from beyond the arc (he was 5 for 20 overall). With DeMar DeRozan still sidelined with right ankle difficulty, the team can’t afford its All-Star point guard having an off-night.
Norman Powell has stepped in admirably, and contributed 18 points, although he and every other starter was minus for the game.
Terrence Ross rediscovered his 3-point stroke, making 4 of 6. Now if he could figure out how to score a regular bucket, he’d be well placed to replace Carroll as the starting SF. TRoss’ bungling of an uncontested reverse slam dunk summed up Toronto’s frustrating night.
Fred VanVleet got a bunch of minutes – has he suddenly pushed ahead of Cory Joseph on the depth chart? V-squared helped his cause, scoring a career-high 15 points in 22+ minutes (compared to CoJo’s 6:30). In the Raptors’ disastrous Q3, Fred managed 2 of the team’s 4 baskets. One of those was the only made 3-ball of 10 attempts, including 4 misses by the normally reliable Lowry.
The Raptors visit Brooklyn tomorrow at noon, as the NBA has a light schedule on Super Bowl Sunday. While Toronto has to be happy to be playing the league’s worst team, the Raptors’ recent results give us little cause for optimism.