To the immense relief of their fans, the Raps did not perform another el-foldo in Q4. In fact, after frittering away a halftime lead, the Raps found a lineup which could close a game. The result was an 11-point victory, highlighted by another brilliant performance from Jose Calderon. How many NBA teams would love to hand our favourite Spaniard ballhandler the keys to their squad? Jose dished out 18 assists, many of them to his physic connection, Amir Johnson, who scored 14 of his 15 points in the critical final 12 minutes. Amir even splashed his one 3-ball try, no doubt to the dismay of the Magic, who were, not surprisingly, playing him loose.
The Raptors started the game with authority, & were rolling up points for most of Q1. Bargnani scored the easiest bucket of his life to open the scoring, when Glen Davis made a perfect pass to AB from out of bounds. I wonder if Davis gets an assist? Several times in Q1 the Raps lead was 13, but the sluggishness which affects their offence so often showed up again, & the Magic was only down 10 at the first buzzer. Dominic McGuire continued his under-the-radar solid play with a couple of buckets, on his way to 11 points.
Q2 was distinguished only by missed shots galore from both teams, & the Raps produced 1 basket (from DeMar DeRozan, on his way to a game-high 20 points, many of those on smooth jumpers) in the final 3 minutes. The Raps were up 8 at half.
Q3 was another fumbling effort. Orlando’s grinding offence, led by Glen Davis, pushed the visitors ahead by 2. Jonas Valanciunas was making his presence felt on the offensive boards, yet his free throws wouldn’t fall. DeRozan was pulling down boards on both ends, but the Raps had lots of shots pop out.
In Q4, Coach Casey got what he needed from DeMar, AB, Amir, Kleiza (12 points, including 2 3s in this decisive frame), & Jose. The only substitution was an odd one, John Lucas for DeMar, for about 5 minutes. The Magic last led at 76-74, before the Raps made nearly every shot they took on the way to a 21-6 burst which decided the game. Magic turnovers were critical to the Raps’ success, as was Orlando’s poor shooting. J.J. Redick, their best outside shooter, didn’t dress due to illness, & I’m sure Coach Vaughn was cursing the Fates. They had no weapon to get back in the game, & the Raps worked the clock to a satisfying conclusion.
Favourite son Andrew Nicholson missed a number of shots early, but persisted, & ended with a respectable 8 points in 15 minutes. He looks like a heads-up player to me, & I predict he’ll be a contributor for some time.
The Raps are road warriors next week. 3 games in 4 nights begins with a rematch at Philly on Tuesday.