Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors game preview

BY The Sports Xchange • March 27, 2017

TV: FOX Sports Florida


TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 7 p.m.


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TORONTO -- Terrence Ross will return to the place where he started his NBA career Monday when the Orlando Magic play the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre.

It will be the swingman's first game against his former team.

Ross was traded with a first-round draft pick to the Magic for forward Serge Ibaka on Feb. 14.



"I spent the first part of my career there, so I'm sure it'll be nice to see everybody and everybody's going to get a little touchy," Ross said. "It's going to be nice to go back."

Ross was a first-round draft pick by the Raptors in 2012.

With DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry the dominant players in the Toronto offense, Ross was used mostly to provide scoring and some defense off the bench for the Raptors. The Magic require Ross to play a bigger role.

"I want him to think of being a scorer, not just a third or fourth option," Magic coach Frank Vogel said. "He's athletic in the open court. He does a lot of things well, a jack-of-all-trades so to speak. He's really solid on the defensive end. He's the kind of player that we want to have here: guys that are complete on both ends."

Ross led the Magic (27-46) in scoring with 18 points in 21 minutes Friday night in a 115-87 win over the Detroit Pistons at Orlando.

Elfrid Payton had 14 points, 10 assists and 11 rebounds for the Magic to record his fourth triple-double in the past 10 games and the seventh of his career.

"We're trying to build some momentum going into next season," Payton said. "We're just playing as hard as we can."

The Magic will be going against a team that clinched its fourth straight playoff appearance with a 94-86 victory over the Dallas Mavericks Saturday night. Ibaka and DeRozan each scored 18 points.

The Raptors (44-29) have won five consecutive games as they continue to play without Lowry, who will not return until near the end of the regular season or in the playoffs after wrist surgery.

They have lost their past two games against the Magic, however, 102-94 at Orlando Feb. 3 and 114-113 Jan. 29 at the ACC. The Raptors defeated the Magic 109-79 at Orlando on Dec. 18.

The Raptors sit fourth in the Eastern Conference, one game behind the Washington Wizards. Toronto does hold the tiebreaker over Washington should that be required.

"We want to make sure we're trending in the right direction," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "That's the most important thing right now. We'll take it (playoff berth) and we don't take it for granted. Our organization is still in that growing stage and there's no shame in that, but we've got to make sure we're trending in the right direction, don't get satisfied and don't relax."

An important trend for the Raptors on Saturday was the performance of forward Patrick Patterson, who has had his struggles this season, mostly because of injuries.

He scored 14 points off the bench, was 4-for-4 from 3-point range and grabbed five rebounds against the Mavericks.

"That's what we need from Patrick," Casey said. "He played with energy, he guarded Dirk (Nowitzki), spacing the floor, shooting the three, that's the Patrick Patterson that we need. He did an excellent job of finding the openings, finding the weak side. When they zoned us, the play is for him to get the shot and he knocked them down."

The Raptors used a different script Saturday. The have come back to win 19 times after trailing by double digits, which leads the NBA. They scored the first seven points at Dallas, however, and were never behind. They had trailed by 15 points in the previous two games before beating the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat.

"I thought we came out and set the tone," Casey said. "That has been our struggle. We have been fighting uphill for the last two or three games and that is something that we wanted to make sure we fixed when we came out."

"We've got to look at this win, understand how we came out aggressive and carried it over to the whole game," DeRozan said.

Orlando's Jeff Green, who has back spasms, will not play Monday.

 


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