Magic-Raptors Preview

Dwight Howard remains the centerpiece of the Orlando Magic, but

3-point shooting is also proving key to their success.

Coming off one of their most impressive offensive performances

of the season, the Magic visit the Toronto Raptors on Monday night

to open a road trip of three games in four days.

Howard, a six-time All-Star, leads Orlando (24-14) with 20.4

points per game, and his 15.0 rebounds lead the NBA.

While their center continues to dominate in the paint, the Magic

are also now a threat from beyond the arc. They’ve attempted a

league-high 1,003 3-pointers, hitting 39.0 percent of them.

J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson and Chris Duhon are all shooting at

least 42.0 percent from 3-point range.

That trio made 9 of 15 3-point attempts Saturday, when Orlando

went 14 of 27 from beyond the arc in a 114-98 victory over

Milwaukee. It was the Magic’s second-highest scoring output of the

season.

“We’re a tough team to guard, because you have to pick your

poison,” said Anderson, who hit 3 of 6 3-pointers and scored 16

points. “If you want to double-team on Dwight (Howard) and take him

out of the game, you’re going to leave open one of our

shooters.”

Orlando made 12 of 27 3-point attempts in their first meeting of

the season with Toronto (12-25) on Jan. 1, en route to a 102-96

home victory. Anderson led the way with 24 points – 15 of them

coming on 3-pointers.

Howard added 19 points and 15 rebounds in that contest. He’s

averaging 29.5 points and 11.5 rebounds over his last six visits to

Air Canada Centre.

He enters this meeting looking to build on a pair of impressive

performances. Howard had 28 points and 14 boards Saturday, two days

after scoring 33 in a 105-102 loss to Oklahoma City.

The Raptors, 6-12 at home, are trying to record back-to-back

victories for the third time this season. They haven’t accomplished

the feat since Jan. 24 and 25, dropping 12 of 18 games in that

span.

A strong defensive effort spurred Toronto to an 83-75 win over

Golden State on Sunday. The Raptors held the Warriors to 28 points

in the second half to rally from a nine-point deficit.

“I told them the game is about frustration,” coach Dwane Casey

said. “It’s how we fight through this. Feeling sorry for ourselves,

fatigue, it’s not that important. What’s important is how we

approach our job as NBA players. They came out and really faced the

challenge.”

DeMar DeRozan continues to be vital for the Raptors’ offense

while Andrea Bargnani nears a return from a calf injury. DeRozan

scored 25 points against the Warriors, two days after he was held

to four in a 102-99 loss to Memphis.

DeRozan is averaging 19.0 points over his last five meetings

with Orlando. He finished with 17 in the New Year’s Day loss.

Orlando, which has won five of its last seven road games,

continues its trip with games at Charlotte on Tuesday and Eastern

Conference-leading Chicago on Thursday.