Raptors Extend Winning Streak to Five, Beat Magic 104-100
TORONTO,ON–A lot was made about the depth this off-season, and when Toronto Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri traded for Lou Williams, the second unit looked to be complete.
Williams combined with James Johnson and Patrick Patterson helped spur a fourth quarter comeback on Tuesday night. Together with Kyle Lowry, the Raptors closed out a 104-100 win against the Orlando Magic. The Raptors now improve to 7-1 on the season and extend their winning streak to five games.
It was a game the Raptors should not have won, considering how they struggled for three quarters. Patrick Patterson was blunt about their poor play in his post game interview, “pretty much three quarters, a lack of effort was shown,” Patterson said. “Our inability to communicate and transition gave them easy buckets in the paint and at the perimeter.”
The Toronto Raptors bench outscored Orlando’s bench 36-14, which Raptors coach Dwane Casey said is the reason they won. “Orlando outplayed us for three quarters, the second unit came in and did what they were supposed to do…we have to bounce back and fight in those situations, and our second unit did that,” Casey said.
The Magic shot well all game (48% FG), and were lights out beyond the arc in the first half. Channing Frye, Evan Fournier and Tobias Harris combined for 11-20 shooting from deep. Nikola Vucevic also provided an interior presence, holding off the Raptors for three quarters. The Magic flirted with a double-digit lead for most of the second and third quarters, and sustained that lead until the 9:50 mark in the fourth quarter, when a Patrick Patterson three pointer tied the game at 83-83.
It’s a new, mature kind of team in Toronto, when at that point, it became clear that the Raptors were going to close out the game. Kyle Lowry entered and with a combination of starters and reserves on the floor, led the team to victory. But Lowry, who led the team in scoring with 19 points and seven assists, refused to take any credit.
“They won the game, Lowry said of the second unit. “We tip our hats to Lou (Williams), JJ (James Johnson), Pat(Patterson). Their intensity, their defensive pressure. They really got into them, and really stuck to the game plan,” Lowry said.
Lou Williams started the fourth quarter comeback, scoring eight points in the first five minutes. He finished with 14 points. Patterson also hit some key shots in the fourth, adding 12 points.
The most unheralded play came from James Johnson, who grabbed the rebound on the Magic’s final shot to tie the game. His box-score may read six points and 10 rebounds, but as coach Casey explained, Johnson did much more than the numbers suggest.
“He was huge. He came in and gave us a disposition, a prescence defensively. He can guard one through four, and probably some five.”
The Raptors starting five-with the exception of Kyle Lowry-didn’t come out to play tonight. They weren’t switching on defense, they uncharacteristicly turned the ball over, and they allowed the Magic open shots from the perimeter and lanes to drive to the basket.
Demar Derozan had a frustrating game, with Magic guards double-teaming him and blocking his lane to the basket. Derozan finished with 16 points.
It was, however, the starting frontcourt which disappointed. Amir Johnson was almost invisible for much of the game, but still managed to chip in 12 points. Jonas Valanciunas at times hurt the team with his inability to finish around the rim. Valanciuncas shot 1-5 from the field, contibuting four points and seven rebounds.
Casey said, with Orlando’s big men shooting well from the three point line, this was not the kind of game where Valanciunas excels.
“When they had Frye at the five, Harris at the four, it was really quick…that’s one of those things where we had to go to a smaller lineup,” said Casey, referring to his decision to play Patterson and Johnson at centre and power forward to close the game.
While playing poorly on the defensive end, Terrence Ross continued once again with his solid three-point shooting. Ross shot 4-5 from deep, scoring 17 points in Wednesday’s win.
The Raptors continue their marathon seven game homestand with things getting a little tougher over the next week. The Chicago Bulls come to town Thursday and the 7-1 Memphis Grizzlies visit next week.
Landry Fields was inactive Wedensday night with flu-like symptoms. Bruno Caboclo dressed in his stead but did not see any minutes. Caboclo has yet to make his NBA debut.
With Demar Derozan scoring 16 points, he is now just five points away from surpassing Andrea Bargnani for third on the Toronto Raptors all time scoring list.
Ahead of Wednesday night’s game, the Raptors and their fans had a moment of silence and a Remembrance Day ceremony for veterans and those who have died in fighting to protect Canadian freedom.