Raptors hold off Magic for 5th straight win
Stan Van Gundy had warned his Orlando Magic players that not giving a full effort every game, even against teams with losing records, was bound to catch up with them.
Unfortunately for Van Gundy, he was right.
Chris Bosh had 24 points, including a 22-footer over Dwight Howard with 29 seconds left that put the game out of reach, and the Toronto Raptors beat Orlando 99-95 on Wednesday night to bounce the Magic from the Eastern Conference's second seed.
"You try to talk about it and warn, but we've gotten away with this kind of play in just playing the fourth quarter too many times and our guys keep thinking they can bail out the game that way and then they didn't," Van Gundy said. "It's disappointing because we didn't bring a full enough effort and focus."
Toronto sure did.
Jose Calderon had 21 points, and Shawn Marion added 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Raptors, who nearly blew an 11-point lead before holding on to extend their season-high winning streak to five games. Rashard Lewis missed a potential tying 3-pointer with 20 seconds left to seal Toronto's win.
The Raptors find themselves far out of the postseason picture, but they don't believe they're merely playing the role of spoilers even though they are six games out of the playoffs.
"It's not bittersweet. It's not over," Bosh said. "It's not over yet. We're going to keep playing, see what happens. We still have a chance."
With nothing to lose, Toronto is playing loose. But its best ball of the season simply might have come too late.
"We're in a great situation," Calderon said. "We're just playing. We've got five (wins) in a row now and we've got to keep working until the last day."
Howard had 30 points and nine rebounds for Orlando (55-19), which fell percentage points behind Boston (57-19) for the East's second seed. The Magic host first-place Cleveland on Friday night in a game that has now lost some of its luster.
The Raptors made sure of that.
"It's unfortunate to go out and lose a game we probably should go out and win and dominate," Magic guard Anthony Johnson said. "We let it get away from us down the stretch."
Marion had consecutive fast-break dunks, and Calderon hit a 3-pointer after a three-point play to cap a 15-3 run that gave the Raptors an 11-point lead with a minute left in the third quarter. It was the largest lead for either team in an up-and-down game that had 21 lead changes and little defense.
But it would quickly evaporate.
Hedo Turkoglu made a 3-pointer, then converted a three-point play after being fouled by Joey Graham on a driving layup to cut Toronto's lead to 84-81 early in the fourth quarter. But Toronto's 26 made free throws to Orlando's 13 proved too much.
"We've been taking a lot of things for granted," Van Gundy said. "We've got a real tough stretch coming up here, and if we continue to play like this, it could get real ugly. ... Hopefully, it will serve as a wake-up call."
The Raptors shot nearly 70 percent in the opening quarter, making nine of their first 10 shots. The Magic also shot an impressive 55.6 percent, but Andrea Bargnani's 12 points in the period helped put Toronto ahead 32-28.
The scoring would settle in the second.
Neither team could pull away in an up-and-down first half that saw 15 lead changes. The Magic went on a 10-2 run that gave them a 43-40 lead, but it wouldn't last. Anthony Parker hit a 3-pointer in the waning seconds that helped put the Raptors ahead 53-52 at the half.
In an April Fool's joke, the Magic made the crowd think a real fan was shooting a half-court shot for $100,000 at halftime. The fan was blindfolded, and the crowd was told beforehand to cheer as if he made the shot. The young contestant missed badly but acted as though he believed he won and danced around the court in a frenzy. Before being told it was a joke and showed the replay he said, "I just got laid off at work." He was given a 100 Grand Bar of candy, but the joke was on the crowd. ... The Magic eliminated the Raptors in the first round of last year's playoffs, winning the series 4-1.