Orlando Magic vs. Toronto Raptors game preview
The Toronto Raptors are taking a circuitous route to complete one of their longest stretches away from home this season.
The Raptors will face the Orlando Magic in London on Thursday in search of their fourth consecutive win.
Toronto (24-15) didn't venture out of the Eastern Time Zone on this trip prior to crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The Raptors opened that stretch with a 122-100 loss at Cleveland on Jan. 4 but have won their past three contests by a combined 39 points even with starting forward DeMarre Carroll recovering from right knee surgery.
They shot 54.7 percent while topping Philadelphia 108-95 on Saturday, and Kyle Lowry scored 10 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter.
"Hopefully, we'll use this trip to England as a mini training camp sort of situation," coach Dwane Casey said. "We have a lot of things to get better."
This is the NBA's sixth regular season game in London, and the Raptors played in the first two from March 4-5, 2011, losing both to the then-New Jersey Nets.
The Orlando Magic had a pair of exhibition games against Atlanta there in October 1993 with current coach Scott Skiles playing point guard.
"I remember playing in London with the Magic in 1993 and I am sure our current players will relish this unique opportunity," Skiles said.
A chance of scenery might do the Magic some good after losing five of their first six games in 2016. Orlando (20-18) fell 105-99 to Washington on Saturday before heading across the Atlantic.
"This trip could help us or hurt us because it's a long trip," guard Evan Fournier said. "Toronto's a very good team and if we lose the game, it can kind of break our spirit. We really have to take this trip seriously as professionals."
Orlando snapped an 11-game losing streak to Toronto and ended the Raptors' franchise-best 5-0 start with a 92-87 victory in the first meeting this season Nov. 6. Tobias Harris led the way with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting and Victor Oladipo chipped in 18, giving him a combined 37 points in the past two meetings.
The lengthy break could give Magic starting point guard Elfrid Payton an opportunity to return from a four-game absence because of a bruised left ankle. Payton practiced Wednesday, and there's a chance he might come off the bench.
He was averaging 11.0 points and 5.9 assists before his injury.
"It felt good to be back out there. Explosiveness was OK, almost back to 100 (percent)," Payton said. "But I'm feeling better, way better. I'm just going to go get more treatment and see how I feel for (Thursday).
"I'm very eager (to return). I want to help my teammates as much as I can."
Payton was held scoreless in the most recent game against Toronto. Harris, meanwhile, is averaging 19.3 points on 57.1 percent shooting in his last four matchups, but he's also averaging 9.0 while shooting 36.8 percent in his first six contests in 2016.
Toronto's DeMar DeRozan has a combined 52 points in his last two games against Orlando.