Magic Musings: Free-throw disparity proves tough mountain to climb
ORLANDO, Fla. -- It's only three games into their season, but the Orlando Magic might not see a wider free-throw disparity over the next five months than what they encountered Saturday night against the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors made up for shooting only 39.8 percent from the floor by going 38 of 48 from the line as they came away with a 106-93 victory in sending the Magic to their first 0-3 start since 2005.
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, both of whom averaged more than 25 points a game against the Magic last season, did the bulk of the damage. The 21 free-throw attempts they took were almost as many as the 24 the Magic shot as a team.
The Magic led 52-49 at halftime as rookie Elfrid Payton had 10 points and five assists with just one turnover. And the third quarter started auspiciously as center Nikola Vucevic hit a 3-point field goal for the first time since being acquired by the Magic two years ago.
But things went downhill after that as the Magic lost to the Raptors for the eighth time in a row. Their most recent victory came in March 2012.
Vucevic had 15 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out, while Payton finished with 16 points and nine assists. It was a rough night for the Magic's other first-round draft pick, Aaron Gordon, who picked up three fouls in less than a minute and a half after entering the game in the first quarter. One of those came when he brushed Lou Williams on the arm behind the 3-point arc.
Maurice Harkless, who did not play in the losses to New Orleans and Washington, replaced Gordon with 2:12 to go in the first quarter. He had a 3-point and a dunk off a fast break late in the third quarter to highlight a night where he had seven points and five rebounds.
THE TURNING POINT
After a 3-pointer by Channing Frye tied the score at 69, the Raptors went on a 18-9 run over the final 5:28 of the third quarter. The Magic got within no closer than four points of the lead the rest of the way.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
DeRozan, who made only four of his 16 shots in the Raptors' opener Wednesday night against Atlanta, bounced back to finish with a game-high 26 points.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Magic were whistled for 15 fouls in the third quarter alone, which explains why the Raptors went 14 of 19 from the line during that 12-minute stretch compared to only 2 of 3 for the Magic.
Tuesday night at Chicago, 8 p.m.